Ad astra haiku

Kansas admitted to the Union, Jan. 29, 1861

Eighteen-sixty-one
Midwifed by prairie turmoil
Kansas was born free

Two-thousand fourteen
Still free, precariously,
The state of my heart

Beauty, ugliness
Across this crazy-quilt land
A most human place

Harsh state for cities:
KCK and Wichita,
Topeka — tough towns

Johnson County sprawl
Insatiable concrete maw
Cul-de-sacs, strip malls

Small farm towns, small farms
Struggle gamely to survive
Agribusiness scythe

Lawrence, Manhattan
Now you’re talking — we know how
To do college towns

And the hills and plains
Providence made them perfect
Glorious to view

Some “leaders” right now?
Hard-hearted “Christians” astray
Jesus, let us pray

Yes, we Kansans make
Our share of awful mistakes
In fear, ignorance

But we also work
For each other’s good and share
Our food with the world

So don’t take our worst
To be our best as we find
Our way through dark times

Through difficulties,
One hundred fifty-three years
We’ve looked to the stars

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“Last call for Monet” haiku

A YouTube clip of rare Monet footage reminded me of these verses, from the last day of the Monet show last summer at the Nelson Gallery in Kansas City.

Stock markets crashing
A brave helicopter, too
Death and destruction

Monet’s exhibit
Beckons, one last day of peace
Amid the chaos

Cleveland, St. Louis,
KC rejoin their triptych
Of water lilies

Yes, Monet beckons
Grainy black and white film clip
Of a smoking bear

Museum writings
Talk of history and technique.
Soul, they can’t explain

Pure tranquility
Spotlights on the canvases
In dimly lit room

Pure tranquility
Flows across the canvases
42 feet wide

Pure tranquility
Reunites the canvases
Three friends breathe as one

I sit, stand, kneel, rest
Immersing myself in them
From every angle

Can’t see from afar
Without people in the way
They’re part of the show

Round-faced baby girl
Stooped man in tourist-plaid shorts
Three handsome siblings

The Nelson’s garden
Blooms with these human flowers
Shapes, colors, ages

Monet’s panels each
Have a shimmering center
Of yellow and green

Each draws you, calls you
To get lost in reflection
As Monet once did

Clusters of lilies
Give each panel its own life
Different from the rest

Wisps of peach and rose
Deep red here, darker green there
Cream saucers and swirls

Beloved garden
Monet’s refuge from a war
That ravaged his time

Beloved garden
That became his obsession
To paint and rework

Beloved garden
A peace we magically share
Across time and space

“Requiem for a heavyweight” haiku

Walt Bodine’s last show is today on KCUR, 10-11 a.m.

It’s been a great ride
For our city’s talk show king
Walt ruled for decades

From his dad’s drugstore
To his KCUR mic
Memories galore

Linwood and Troost was
Crossroads of Kansas City
— And America

As a soda jerk
Walt soaked it all up — asking,
Telling, retelling

This city became
Part of Walt Bodine, and he
A big part of it

Walt found his calling
Behind a radio mic
First in Sedalia

Next came Atchison
Then WDAF
Other KC jobs

1983
KCUR called, and Walt
Had found his last gig

The talk of the town
Whoever and whatever
Walt had on his show

Movies and restaurants
Politics, history, gossip
Walt served it all up

Walt’s been fading, true,
For some years now. Still I’ll miss
That voice of our town

World heavyweight champ
Rocky Marciano called
It quits on this date

Walt Bodine signs off
On this date, too. There are no
Coincidences

A nice look at Walt’s career is here.