Mother’s Day, 2012, haiku

If a bar band can’t go wrong playing Beatles songs, I guess a poem can’t be too bad if it’s about Mom. To Tina, the mother of our two very lucky children. (Though for her, somehow, the gray hair and wrinkles haven’t showed up.)

She waits, globe belly
A whole other world within
About to be born

She stoops, back aching
Two small arms circle her neck
Tiny kisses heal

She reads, lids heavy
Prays blessed slumber comes first
To her little ones

She drives, endless miles
Bouncing balls, musical notes
Practice makes better

She worries, they grow
In mind and body. But will
Love, wisdom follow?

She grays, and wrinkles
They walk up aisles, diplomas
Down aisles, rings and vows

She smiles, now she knows
They’ll still fall, but they’ll get up
For she showed them how

She’ll love, forever
Even after she is gone.
No other. Mother.

And last year’s Mother’s Day batch is here.

May 10 haiku

May 10 is one of the fuller days on the musicians’ birthday calendar, requiring probably the most ridiculous mash-up I’ve mashed up. Written a year ago.

Today’s birthdays: Fred Astaire, Maybelle Carter, Donovan, Sly Dunbar, Steve Thomas, Sid Vicious, Dave Mason, Marvin Young (Young MC), Bono. Yow!

May 10’s birthday song?
Broadway tunes, country, reggae,
Folk, punk, rock and rap

Fred Astaire, dancing
On air, so cool, so classy
Never missed a step

Dance on the ceiling?
If anyone could ’twas he;
No one filled his shoes

From Baryshnikov
To Balanchine, other greats
Worshiped at his feet

Oh, he could act, too
And sing with the best of them
Though his voice was light

“Night and Day” and “They
Can’t Take That Away from Me”
He sang first and best

Ginger spiced his act;
They had “A Fine Romance” and
Called the whole thing off

Diction and phrasing,
Lyricism, elegance
He was the top hat

“Country” was the word
For Mother Maybelle Carter
And her wondrous clan

Maybelle sang and played
Her unique guitar technique
Was “the Carter scratch”

She had three daughters
Including Johnny Cash’s June
They were quite an act

Listen and you’ll hear:
Her voice and guitar stylings
Play on in Nashville

Donovan didn’t
Play bluegrass but he might have
Rolled some and smoked it

“Catch the Wind” he did
Flower power’s troubador,
Sunshine Superman

Not nearly so great
As his ego said he was
But still tons of fun

Hey, who else would rhyme
“Laleña” with “can’t blame ya”?
Or hail “Atlantis”?

So hail Donovan
Still trippin’ out there somewhere,
Keepin’ things groovy

Reggae’s groove supreme
Often starts with the sticks of
The man Sly Dunbar

When Sly sets the beat
It’s Jamaican poetry
With Shakespeare on bass

The rhythm section:
Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare
Their names say it all

Sly, Robbie, so hip
They’re joined at the studio
By music’s top acts

Sly’s the beat, the kick
The tom, the highest high hat
He’s the music, mon

Another drummer
To celebrate: Steve Thomas,
Of Shooting Star fame

The classic rockers
From KC keep going, and
Steve keeps the beat

“Hang on for Your Life”
Was good Shooting Star advice;
Too bad Sid couldn’t

Sid Vicious was punk
Personified, charisma
Beaucoup attitude

Funny thing, he played
A Fender Precision Bass
With no precision

His bass chops were lame
Sid memorized Ramones’ licks
Still, he roundly stank

Edge and energy
Were his specialties, shy boy
Desp’rate for something

But the heroin
Trumped the music, so often
That drug’s legacy

Girlfriend Nancy dead,
A bloody murder, for real;
Sid soon followed her

Dead at 21
A total waste, burying
Punk’s pivotal prince

Opposite of Sid?
Try Dave Mason: Killer chops,
Workmanlike on stage

Dave Mason was great
With Traffic, Hendrix, the Stones,
Clapton, Harrison

You think he’s not great?
It’s only you and me, and
We just disagree

Marvin Young found fame
“Let ’Em Know” “My Name Is Young”
With his early hits

He made a career
Though he had to read his raps
Take notes with his notes

Though Young MC’s not
Young anymore I bet he
Still can “Bust a Move”

Last we have Bono
Always rock’s ambassador
Ready for a cause

From streets of Dublin
He rose to fame with his band
Passionate, sincere

Bono, eyes shaded
Sensitive to light, and plight
Of the world’s needy

U2 and me too
We’re all in this together
Bono rightly says

May 10th’s symphony:
For all who still haven’t found
What we’re looking for

“Art break” haiku for Keith Haring

Keith Haring, May 4, 1958 — Feb. 16, 1990

Google “Keith Haring”
Google anything today
And check out his art

That’s right, he’s the dude
And doodler extraordinaire
Whose lines burst with life

Inspired by Disney
And Seuss, no wonder his work’s
So vibrant, direct

Subway chalk drawings,
NYC, drew attention,
Seat on train to fame

“Radiant Baby”
Showed simplicity’s power
Lines, colors, and shapes

Circle expanded
Warhol, Grace Jones, Madonna,
Basquiat, Burroughs

But he stayed focused,
Helped causes, made public art
People could enjoy

He got HIV
Joined efforts to fight AIDS, but
HIV got him

So young to leave us
But true pictures do not die
Radiant baby

Haiku for two classics

Written April 23, 2011

What a birthday day
Shakespeare and Roy Orbison
Two like no others

To haiku or not
To haiku? That’s the question
On this busy day

Whether ’tis nobler
To wax poetic or get
These darned dishes done

Shall I compare thee
To a summer’s day? Or get
To mowing the lawn?

Anon will not do!
The Bard merits tribute now
However humble

For where would we be
Without Hamlet, Othello,
Venice’s merchant?

Or the Kings Henry
Romeo and Juliet,
Macbeth and mad Lear?

No “As You Like It”?
I wouldn’t like that one bit,
How bitter a thing

Midsummer nights would
Have no dreams, our madnesses
No method in them

We might be pricked and
Not know to bleed, be tickled
And not know to laugh

So my verse may be
Much ado about nothing.
Still, fine Will I toast

“I will wear my heart
“Upon my sleeve,” full knowing
Whose prose I purloin

And speaking of hearts
Worn upon sleeves, who could sing
Of pain as Roy did?

April 23rd,
1936, birthday
Of Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison sang
For the lonely, sang
For you and for me

Age 6, a guitar
Age 8, on the radio
He was born to sing

He couldn’t see well
And lived in a town called Wink
Full of grease and sand

He left it behind
As soon as he could
Then saw Elvis twitch

Johnny Cash told Roy
To get himself to Memphis
Sam Phillips signed him

He rocked out at Sun
But “Go-Go-Go” wasn’t what
Roy was born to sing

His career fell off
He struggled to find his way
In the late ’50s

Roy found his real voice
When writing with Joe Melson:
“Only the Lonely”

Suddenly the world
Heard Roy Orbison the way
He was meant to sing

His range was measured
Not in notes but in octaves
In songs right for him

On “Running Scared” Roy
Hit a natural high G
— Sharp — and the room froze

“Crying, “Dream Baby,”
“In Dreams,” “Blue Bayou,” the hits
Just kept on coming

Elvis, the Beatles,
The Stones, the Beach Boys, all were
In awe of that voice

“Oh, Pretty Woman,”
“It’s Over” put him over
The top on the charts

But he lost his wife
And two sons in accidents,
Lost his way again

Roy drifted, faded
In and out of the picture
In the ’70s

Others revered him
Still, from Springsteen to Bono,
Kept his flame alive

Then “Blue Velvet” put
Roy and his haunting music
Back in the spotlight

The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall
Gave Roy Orbison his place
With the other greats

Then the Wilburys
Gave Roy a true super group
To sing and play with

And Roy made magic
On one last solo album,
His “Mystery Girl”

And then Roy’s heart stopped
In the midst of his comeback
One last tragedy

It seemed so unfair
And yet so like Roy to go
Out on a high note

“Saints, sinners, survivors” haiku

April 3 birthdays: Doris Day (1922), Jan Berry (1941 — March 26, 2004), Wayne Newton (1942), Billy Joe Royal (1942), Richard Manuel (1943 — March 4, 1986), Richard Thompson (1949)

What a birthday day
Lives echo on — musical,
Magical, tragic

Doris Day was fun
Before she was a virgin
Que sera, sera

Jan Berry wrote, sang,
Produced, rode the wild surf’s waves
With lifelong pal Dean

They seemed like two goofs
But led the TAMI show, played
My favorite surf tunes

Eerily, Jan crashed
His Corvette into a truck
Close to “Dead Man’s Curve”

But he did come back
Never gave up, walked again
Helped others go on

Billy Joe Royal
Wrong-side-of-the tracks classic
“Down in the Boondocks”

(And it just wouldn’t
Have been the same if that
Guitar were in tune)

Wayne Newton, lounge king,
Once won big libel case, told
Jury “Danke Shoen”

Richard Manuel
One of the Band’s great talents
And its troubled soul

A keyboard killer
And lights-out high-note singer
Spelled Levon on drums

But trouble found him
Brought cocaine and Grand Marnier
— Cases of the stuff

“Last Waltz” was more like
“Last Stumble,” though he cleaned up
And made a comeback

But his mentor passed
Richie couldn’t cope, became
The “Fallen Angel”

Richard Thompson — saved
The best for last — his guitar’s
As good as it gets

Six heartstrings, plucked out,
Unrequited, echoing
With what might have been

Walking on a wire?
He’ll show you the way — to fall,
Hit, bounce, and bleed on

“In a word” haiku

World Poetry Day
Shanti, irini, malu
Béke, fifa, peace

Of what use are words
Vrede, wolakota, fred
Sérë, amani

If not to heal hearts
Sidi, layeni, hoa binh
Kapayapaan, paz

If not to bind wounds
Heiwa, rukun, hasiti
Ukuthula, pasch

If not to spread love
Soksang, pokoj, santiphap
Peoning hwa, pax

All we are saying
Paix, taika, rongo, baris
Uxolo, paci

Is give peace a chance
Solh, mir, pau, hetep, shalom
World Poetry Day

“End or beginning?” haiku

Elvis Presley, Jan. 8, 1935 — Aug. 16, 1977

Happy birthday, King
Wish you were still drawing breath,
Exhaling magic

Why do we recall
The end, not the beginning
When something’s over?

Yes, I do it, too
Remember deaths of Elvis,
JFK, Dad, Mom

The life of a dream
— Hero, loved one, pet, romance —
Always ends too soon

But making dreams real
Is still our hope, our work, with
Their inspiration

Their memories, lessons,
Melodies, words inform life’s
Never-ending song

Happy birthday, King
Seems the magic can live on
In each one of us