Autumn Haiku

Autumn leaves

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

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Spring haiku

Bobby Ball standing in the DuBois' driveway, late 1960s. on Rea Street.
Courtesy of Susumu Wakana

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


NOTES: When I was a junior, my high school hosted a foreign exchange student from Japan.  Susumu stayed with the DuBois family, who lived a few blocks away.

A couple of years ago, through the miracle of Facebook, I reconnected with Susumu.  When I discovered he had taken several photos of his days in my hometown, I was excited.  He very kindly shared them with me, and I have been lovingly looking through them and rekindling old memories.

Those photos include precious images of teachers long since gone.  Of friends and classmates not seen for decades.  And simple scenes of my hometown, a town that has changed so much since I walked its streets.

One of the photos was of me.  I don’t remember it being taken.  All evidence points to it being the spring of 1969.  I am outfitted in what passed for a tennis uniform in those days.  I must have just finished practicing with Susumu’s host brother, Dave DuBois.  We were teammates on the Marshall High School tennis team, and we practiced out on the new hard surface courts at Missouri Valley College.

From the foliage, it was early spring.  The tulip tree was in full bloom, but the other trees had not leafed out.  I wore a leather bracelet on my right wrist, which was the cool, hippie thing to do.

My hair was growing out and would need to be cut before football practice started in August.  (Coach Cecil Naylor really didn’t like long hair!)

Ah.  If I only knew then what I know now.

Hometown sonnet

Hometown
Life used to bustle round our stately square …

Hometown Sonnet

The old hometown is aging, as am I.
The once wide streets grow narrow with the years.
As night descends, you all but hear a sigh,
For what once was has gone, and twilight nears.
 
Now, friends and kinsmen number fewer too,
And memories fade like the painted sign
Proclaiming that the city “welcomes you!”
Strange how one’s soul and place so intertwine.
 
Life used to bustle round our stately square
’Til commerce shifted to the edge of town.
The grand facades are now much worse for wear.
Some landmarks have been torn completely down.
The business of my life took me elsewhere.
Cracks grew in walkways of both man and town.