Single Stems

Spring Haiku

Surely alder has
a purpose. But every spring
I sneeze and wonder.

Love Haiku

It’s quite obvious
you complement me so well,
I’m missing some things.

Winter Haiku

Even in winter
one whiff stirs a remembrance
of spring long ago.

Autumn Haiku

Autumn’s first full moon
upstaged by earthly beauty
and a rusty truck.

23andMe Haiku

So the gene results
are in. Your ancestors did
rape and pillage mine.

Classmate Haiku

You exuded cool.
We all wanted to be you.
And now you’re gone.

Father Haiku

Greased-stained forever,
Dad’s shirt bore proof of hard work,
and so did his hands.

Midsummer Haiku, Again

The pasture is brown,
and snow has left the mountains.
But the sky. The sky!

Haiku Haiku

The haiku master
explicated his own work.
So I could do worse.

Spring Haiku

When the sparrow sings
deep in the woods all alone,
is it still lovely?

Hometown Haiku

Just miles south of town
missiles waited in silos,
hell in a cornfield.

Motorcycle Maintenance Haiku

There once was a time
motorcycle maintenance
meant something to me

California Haiku

Seems fitting somehow …
cold day in San Francisco,
reading Kerouac.

so much beauty and money
in one single place.

Hometown Tanka

Dear upperclassmen,
we idolized you so much,
you were like heroes.

Then, that class trip fiasco,
And class trips were abolished.

Hometown Haiku

cheerleaders stirred crowds and our

Spring Haiku

Such a great view here.
The Cascades are breathtaking.
You’ll need to trust me.

Spring Haiku

There once was a time
when blossoms and I were both
fresh and unabashed.

Late Winter Haiku

The old crow lingers
on his cold and barren branch
although I draw near.

Hometown Tradition Haiku

So blithely we scrapped
our outmoded traditions.
But what did we know?

Hometown Haiku

Father, when you spoke
I believed you, for you spoke
with authority.

Ancestor Haiku

Generations tilled
to eke out a meager life. Now I
scribble in comfort.

Hometown Haiku

Thank you, my teachers.
You endeavored alchemy
on our feckless minds.

Crow Haiku

Far wiser than I,
the crow knows to seek shelter
from cold autumn rain.

First Snow Haiku

The year’s first snowfall
always makes me feel just like
I’m a kid again.

December Haiku

Crow all you want, cock.
You can’t make the sun pierce through
this late autumn gloom.

Thanksgiving Haiku

We may have been poor
but we always had clean clothes.
Our mother made sure.

Civics Haiku

Let me not forget
my dual citizenship,
and which one will last.

Autumn Haiku

Autumn squall moves through
felling branches and needles.
Fragrance of cedar.

Cat Haiku

The grey cat crouches
in the lush October grass,
wary and alert.

Halloween Haiku

The modest ginkgo
adorns herself in splendor
for All Hallows’ Eve.

Hometown Haiku

When I was a child
my heroes were immortal.
Now, they’re mostly gone.

Autumn Haiku

In the autumn night
the rains return, much louder
than I remember.

Late Summer Haiku

Last night of summer
highway hum and jets muffle
the coyote’s cry.

Parable Haiku

Like the gentle dove
I neither hate nor judge. But …
like the snake, I watch.

Hot Car Haiku

Strategic brothers,
knew the key to a girl’s heart
involved a hot car.

Dog Haiku

Dog bed sits empty
in a house sitting quiet.
Sadness fills the void.

Hippie Haiku

“Liberate the pool!”
We presumed naked meant free.
We didn’t know jack.

Hometown Haiku

Mother’s old Bible,
Worn out from years of long use.
Much like its owner.

Father’s Day Haiku

How to explain Dad?
Outstanding in his field, he
lived a simple life.

My dad always had
just the right tool for the job.
I’m just making do.

Hometown Haiku

My town’s motto states:
“Smart dog, nice folks ….” Pretty sure
the dog, too, was nice.

Love Haiku

While you are away
thank God I have your pillow …
your fragrance lingers.

Florida Haiku

How do I explain
the flatness of Florida?
In so many ways.

Florida Haiku

For a place rumored
to hold the Fountain of Youth,
folks are quite old here.

Respect for Elders:  A Tanka

Made strong by hard times,
they stood up against tyrants,
and laid down their lives.

So sorely missed by us now,
the Greatest Generation.

 Old San Juan Haiku

Ponce de Leon
searched for the fountain of youth.
He now, too, is dead.

Vieques Haiku

I don’t think I’ve seen
so many blues, greens, blue-greens,
or green-blues — ever.

Yes, in paradise
lest you forget suffering,
a thorn in the flesh.

Mother’s love is pure,
even amidst the squalor,
love and life persist.

A Haiku Prayer

Once upon a time,
when tyrants assailed the world …
there rose up heroes.

Love Haiku

Before you met me
you seemed so cool and carefree …
and a bit badass.

Early Spring Haiku

Before I met you
I’d never stolen lilacs
for anyone else.

Hometown Haiku

Who would have thought it —
my old neighbor does so well
they rename the street?

Hometown Haiku

The calloused farmer
cradles his newly born son,
awkwardly tender.

Love Haiku

Before I met you
I thought I was so darned cool.
Clueless, more like it.

Hometown Haiku

My dear old classmates,
so very innocent, and,
so very human.

Automobile Haiku

From an early age
I was taught that modern truth:
The car makes the man.

Love Haiku

Your grandmother said,
“You want to find a good man?
Go to church, honey.”

Waking at midnight …
tender words and embraces …
drifting off assured.

May it never be!
That I fail to remember
the gift of your love.

I may be away,
but my thoughts lie down with you,
my beloved one.

Grief Haiku

I must turn away
All the suffering I see.
I cannot bear it.

Midwinter Haiku

Midwinter warm spell,
Evening mist, tree frog calling,

Hard Times Haiku

I guess we were poor.
Didn’t know what we were missing.
Quite unlike today.

Football and Love Haiku

If not for football
Or the women I have loved
I’d hardly know pain.

Hometown Haiku

Pop fixed everything.
Pity that talent wasn’t

Faith Haiku

Faith of our forebears.
No organ. No liturgy.
Just Jesus. That’s all.

Burnt Bacon Haiku

I had just one job:
“Watch the bacon, don’t burn it.”
Forgive me, I’ve sinned.

Haiku for My Brothers

No way we could know
at this playful reunion,
it would be our last.

Gnome Haiku

They came for the gnomes.
I didn’t speak — I wasn’t a gnome.
So it starts like this.

Haiku about poetry and life

We’re playing a game,
calling out “Marco!” “Marco!”
just to hear “Polo!”

 Haiku of Experience

Today’s conclusion —
the world is tinged with sorrow
even amidst joy

 Haiku for My Parents

Depression couple,
Never quite got the memo
That it was over.

Christmas Haiku

That the author casts himself
In such a small role.

Hometown Haiku

All ready to sell,
the childhood house stands empty,
but for memories.

Hometown Haiku

One day, you get word,
The very first girl you kissed
Long ago … has died.

Cat Thanksgiving Haiku

Impossible, eh,
to teach a cat etiquette?
Wonders never cease.

Love Letter Haiku

Musty old letters.
One loved more than the other.
It’s an old story.

Veteran’s Day Haiku

Yankee ancestor,
Had Reb been a better shot
I wouldn’t be here.

Autumn Haiku

I’ve never been one,
For wallowing in the past,
But, the falling leaves …

Hometown Haiku

We lost the big game,
But at least we’d never say,
That our lives peaked there.

Minnesota Haiku

In Minnesota
People are generally nice,
But they’re fallen, too.

Autumn Haiku

The fragrance of leaves.
The chill that comes with evening.
Old wounds ache again.

Mouse Haiku

It’s your lucky day,
Mouse caught in my sink.  No cat.
No heart for killing.

Sunset Haiku

It’s been a good life.
I am falling asleep now.
I’ve loved and been loved.

Summer Wedding Haiku

My friend with no arms
Got married. Must have needed
Another challenge.

When our widower
Friend remarried, we rejoiced
At love’s sweet encore

Planetary Haiku

We all saw the face
Of Pluto on Pluto. Where’s
Mickey and Goofy?

Hometown Haiku

Old streets remind me
I did not know compassion
When I walked them then.

What one among us
Could bear his innermost thoughts
Inscribed on the wall?

My ethical code
With its low expectations
Was even too tough.

Just be a nice guy
And don’t hurt anybody.
Harder than you’d think.

Stacks of old letters
Broken hearts and promises.
How clueless I was.

So very grateful,
As one acquainted with sin,
Forgiveness is free.

Modern Haiku

Seen from the airplane
This gigantic thunderstorm …
Quite enlightening.

Memphis Cat Haiku

Houseful of kittens
Reminds me how my own home
Somehow lacks something.

Memphis Haiku

Such humidity!
I think I know why folks here
Walk and talk slowly.

Reverend Al Green
Stirring both body and soul
Giving us courage.

We ain’t north, north, north.
So why’s it a good idea
To go to Wild Bill’s?

If only they hadn’t
Shot Martin down, you think things
Would be different?

Poet Haiku

Poets are liars
And scoundrels. I know because
One told me himself.

Midsummer Haiku

Hidden in the trees
A solitary dove calls.
Again, my heart breaks.

Across the back fence
Neighbor boy plays violin.
Could be good, some day.

Ah!  Midsummer sun.
Blonde girl walking a black dog.
All downhill from here.

Father’s Day Haiku

Amidst the clutter,
Dad’s last bottle of Old Spice.
Today, I’ll wear some.

Hometown Haiku

The old hometown seems
Smaller than I remember.
Once, it was magic.

Last time going home,
The old place sitting empty.
Memories and dust.

Mother and Father,
And all three of my brothers.
I alone remain.

Well over sixty
Dad built a barn by himself.
Now it, too, molders.

Father’s old Bible
Held together with duct tape.
Now he’s face to face.

(A few years ago, on an earlier visit, my brother and I walked through the town cemetery)

Last time I saw him
We wandered between tombstones.
Now, he has his own.

I left to find truth.
Yet here I am seeking scraps.
Scraps of memories.

More Hawaii Haiku

Sometimes don’t you wish
It could be like this always?
Mai tais at sunset!

Odor of mildew,
Shelves too full and disheveled.
Bookstore in Hilo.

Excited by blurs,
Amateur astronomers.
Cold night on Kea.

One night we visited a cousin of our friends on the Big Island. Our friend’s cousin had married a woman from Polynesia. His mother-in-law was the first to greet us, coming out of her garden. I was struck by the similarities of simple country folk, wherever they come from.

Hands full of basil,
The woman greets visitors,
So like my mother.

While we were at Hilo, a strong storm blew in from the northeast, with wonderfully big waves.  At first we watched the waves from a home safely atop a high cliff overlooking the sea.

Orion rising
To merry clinking glasses.
The night of big waves!

We drove down to a seaside park for a closer look. Then, an especially large wave came …

When you dared the wave,
It came, all right, making us
Climb trees like monkeys.

One adventure involved a very long hike through the Kilauea volcano park. It was like another world.

Lava and cinder,
Much more than I’d imagined,
Lava and cinder.

Japanese women
Warming themselves by steam vents
Of Kilauea.

Hawaii Haiku

At Haiku Marketplace, Maui
Tried to buy poems
But they weren’t selling any.
False advertising.

Torpid Maui days
Lazy, languorous, and slow.
Kiss writing good-bye.

Give Maui credit
As for my wife, I must say,
She looks younger here.

Kapu is kaput,
The old gods are long banished.
You wonder who lurks.

So long Hawaii
Sure hate to leave your warm sun.
I have things to do.


Last call to my dad.
Nurses wheeled him to the phone.
Couldn’t hear a thing.

Spring Haiku

Relax, noisy crows,
I mean your babies no harm.
The cat, however …

Great day to walk, dog.
You poop, I’ll write some verse.
We’ll both be happy.

Old dog so blind and deaf
We’ll never finish our walk …
Sniffs every tree!

Plum trees bloomed early
For us old dog. I don’t mind
If we walk all day.

Pink trees everywhere,
So perfect, what could go wrong?
Uh oh … wait … a-choo!

 Late Winter Haiku

One grey leaf still clings
to the branch, curled up and dry.
Could fall any day.

Hawaii Haiku

“We walk the roof of
Hell,” said Issa. He must have
hiked Kilauea

What kind of island
is this never-winter place?
Even the sand is green!

Young hippie couple
living how I’d tried to live
thirty years ago

“Would you mind if I
went topless?” she asked.  Why no,
not on Green Sand Beach!

Cat Haiku

Today I bring cheese
my little wild black cat, but
you will not be bought

The old cat forgets
to groom his matted fur. But
there — on snow — feathers!

Little cat using
me for shade doesn’t care I’ve
nothing left to give

Waking with a stretch
the cat falls off the bed’s edge —
dignity wounded

Winter Haiku

Smokers perched outside
Like hunched up, huddled starlings.
No warm place to go.

Summer Haiku

As night turns to day
Summer’s last full moon slips down
making not a sound


©Bobby Ball 2015


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