A Clear-Eyed, Clean-Shaven Friday Afternoon at the Haikulodeon

Here’s this week’s heap of haikus:

Halloween’s over.
We have saved enough Daylight.
Next stop: Thanksgiving!

 I sail into the
darkness.   The sunset leaves me
without any friends.

(Photo courtesy Kristina Rebelo)

The fear we will die
and no-one will remember
motivates many.

Cold and rainy days
chill me right to the bone, so
I make some hot soup.

I told the barber,
“Cut it all off” … but then
he shaved my eyebrows.

Watching the sunrise
Albino Darth Vader thinks,
‘Look on the bright side.’

(Photo courtesy Kristina Rebelo)

A lonely bus stop
on a Monday afternoon
I count the taxis.

You must cover stops
to start the music,  take your
piccolo and blow.

He hesitated,
needing to sharpen his edge.
Time was almost gone.

The intensity
of the setting sun casts long
shadows ‘neath the pier.

(Photo courtesy of Kristina Rebelo)

tanka haiku: A third floor walk-up
in a poor neighborhood, with
a backyard garden.

There, for him, it all began
and, for her, it all ended.

Oh Sunday morning …
When did you arrive?  I can’t
find my shirt and pants.

Our hearts are widest
when we put aside our thoughts
and let ourselves feel.

tanka haiku:

My neighbor’s daughter
has a lemonade stand which
offers free cookies.

    A lousy biz’ness model?
Sure … but then, so is Facebook.

Sometimes in my dreams,
I meet you in Times Square and
we are “us” again.

As the dusk draws nigh
chickens roost and dogs bark at
approaching shadows.

Come Winter, the trees
are merely shelves for snowflakes,
biding time till Spring.

tanka haiku: On a corner lot,
a two-story brick building
is all that remains.

Glories of another time,
too soon reduced to rubble.

He’s considered dull;
just muddling through Life … yet
his heart slays dragons.

Now is not the time?!
Now is ALWAYS the time!!  It’s
the tense we’re stuck in.

We seldom notice
the slow erosion of Life.
we prefer dreaming.

Laughter’s a rainstorm,
that washes away the gloom,
and cleans Life’s sidewalks.

The writer just smiled;
he’d heard thoughts were fleeting, but
wet ink would soon dry.

It feels like Winter.
All I do is stare at the
flowered wallpaper.

His tortured soul found
small measures of contentment
just beyond its reach.

When she walked away,
I brought my hands to my face,
to hold in my dreams.

I walked through a field
to get to the main road, and
lost all track of time.

Don’t feel discouraged
when your back’s against the wall …
you’ve found some support.

Fitful nights will end.
Sleep will overtake sadness.
Mornings begin fresh.

Though Life continues,
and struggles will never end,
the peach tree still blooms.

A new moon will shine
on an old village square, and
make it young again.

Glowings in the sky;
Aurora Borealis …
looks quite magical.

Here is a lesson
to be learned and not forgot;
While music plays, dance.

Your world’s no larger
than the size of your heart and
the depth of your dreams.

If you want the world
to be your oyster, it helps
to know how to shuck.

NOT part of the series, At Rest …
(But maybe it should be …)

His exhausted wife
had quite enough, and filed for
a separation.

A tiny sparrow
is chased by a feisty pup
pulling a young girl.

Happiness is not
a station you arrive at,
it’s the train you’re on.

A tangle of trees
may clutter the morning sky
but happily so.

If you only stand
facing West, than nothing will
ever dawn on you.

The green glow of night,
a downtown drenched in fog, we
escape by subway.

The sun was stymied,
but blue skies infused the clouds,
a dark hope prevailed.

Though fragile hearts need
whispered blessings, they also
need our steady hands.

Compassion for those
that never got sick … Old age
will be quite a shock.

Despite majestic
morns and lazy afternoons …
All days end in fire.

To illuminate
is better than to merely shine.
Teach thinking, not thoughts.

Her face obscured by
scarves, a woman rushes by
clutching her Starbucks.

At the sky’s edges,
mountaintops still pierce the clouds,
to peek at heaven.

Through my telescope,
the moon appears so bright and
nearly within reach.


Bonus Material:   While searching through my old diskettes for the Fred Allen play I told DD about last week,  I came across this little piece that I wrote some time around 1988 or 1989.  At the time, I was a member of a playwright’s group.  Since we were all interested in play structure, we called ourselves the Playwrights’ Construction Company.  We produced a bill of one-acts Off-Off Broadway called War and Pieces, but after a couple of years we disbanded and went our separate ways.    I think this sketch was written as part of a challenge to write a play in twenty minutes.  This is what I came up with,   It seems a bit quaint now, but remember, this was written in a time before the popularity of the internet and social media, etc.



                      A Negative Reaction   –  by Michael Tracy Smith   (c) 1989

At Rise: The office of Thomas Manion, campaign manager for Jason Phillips’s Senatorial election bid.   Thomas (Tom) Manion is seated at his desk, talking on the phone.

How am I feeling? Jesus Christ, it’s the fifty-third crisis we’ve had since noon. Of course, my ulcer is acting up! It’s eight minutes until this god-damn press conference starts and we can’t find our candidate. I don’t know, the mobile phones are all out. Some kind of dirty trick, I imagine. I’m telling you, this is a travesty of a campaign. Please, Bill, ya gotta give me a hand, we’re drownin’ here. Those bastard Republicans are slinging crap at us from all directions. What? No,I can’t, that’s the problem. I’m afraid our candidate doesn’t want to go negative. Well, I know you’ve never had a problem with that. Yeah, so,…look, all I’m asking is for two appearances. A fund-raiser, and a standup with our guy at the parade. Any interviews you can do on the side are gravy. How should I know what happened? All of a sudden, our sure thing shoe-in, has become a mud-magnet.
   (The intercom buzzes)  Hold on. Yeah? Thank God. Send him in.

(Jason Phillips enters)

Well, Jason Phillips, speak of the devil. Where have you been? You’re Late. Y’know, We’ve dropped five points in the polls coming out tomorrow. Just a second. Stay right there. (He gets back on the phone.) Jason just got here. I’m fucking elated. Look, Bill, I’ll put all my cards on the table. I need you. You’ve got to help us shove a cork up this thing. For the good of the party.  O.k., then how about as a personal favor to me? Good. Thanks. Have your staff call me to arrange the limo. (He hangs up)

Tom, I think you’re making a big mistake.

You want to be the new Senator from this state or not?

Of course, but a two-term hack congressman like Bill Freelander, with his nasty rhetoric and scathing sound bites shouldn’t be the way I get there.

We’ve got to retaliate. And speaking of getting here, where have you been?


I was stuck at that Senior Citizen Center in Plainfield. They had a power outage.

Why didn’t you use the car phones.

We had to turn them off. Something about them being on the same frequency as all the pacemakers.

You fell for that old trick?

You mean it’s not true?

Hell no. The Republicans just wanted to make you look ridiculous. Now do you see why you’re going to have to retaliate?

No. It’s not right, I won’t do it.

Oh, excuse me, Mr. Michael Dukakis. Come on, pal, don’t be a schmuck. This campaign is hemorrhaging. Just let me do my job. I’ll send a couple of high hard ones back at your opponent, Griffin Mannix. And they won’t even know you had anything to do with it.


Look, Jason, this morning a commercial began playing every twenty minutes on every TV channel, in the tri-state area, that says that in 1973 you transfered $100,000. in stock certificates into your wife’s name.

I think I did…

And then later while serving in the legislature, they say you voted for a bill which greatly enhanced the value of that stock.

Which bill are they talking about?


Well sure, I voted for that bill. It was in the best interest of my constituents.


Besides, I had already sold the stock they’re talking about.


Two years beforehand.

That’s great. Then we’re out of the woods.

Absolutely. In fact, if we really need it, I think my brother could probably find the bill of sale…

Your wife didn’t sell it to your brother, did she?…

Sure she did. Nothing wrong with that. It was absolutely legal. And it still is. How can they make such a big thing out of it?

Kid, this is politics, they can do and say anything they want.

But I didn’t do anything wrong!

It doesn’t matter. They have created the appearance of wrong-doing. Facts don’t play a part in Politics.

Would anyone really believe them?

If you say anything about anybody, somebody is going to believe it.

Well, I’ll just deny it. Very strongly.

You need to do more than that. You’ve got to come back with a zinger of your own.

Look Tom, I know you’re the seasoned veteran here, trying to help out this naive young neophite, but please, don’t ask me to do this.

Why? What else do you have to hide?


Another scandal? Dames? Drugs? Booze? Tax Problems? Homo-sexuality?

None of the above.

Then come on, you’re hiding something, what is it?

I’ve done nothing wrong!

Are you sure?

Of course I’m sure. Whose side are you on?

Yours. I’m just trying to understand why you won’t go negative and attack Griffin Mannix after he has viciously attacked you.

Let’s just say that it’s a matter of principle.

Keep your fucking principles in a box until after you’re elected.

What is your problem with me winning this election fairly and ethically?

My heart can’t take it. You started out leading by 23 points in the polls. You’re now down to leading by two. There’s only five days until the election, and you’re ignoring this god-damned little republican bastard, who’s standing here hitting you over the head with a metaphorical crowbar.

A metaphorical crowbar? Tom, I think you’re exaggerating, and possibly hallucinating.

I’m not exaggerating. Things are serious, Jason. Now, I’ve had the staff working day and night for weeks to come up with a devastating response, and they think they’ve found something. Just untie my hands, and let me do my job, that’s all I’m asking.

Tom, can I ask you something?


Honestly now, do you really think I’m going to lose?

Yes.   That plain enough for you? You’re going to be buried alive if you don’t stop this negative avalanche. Now if you’ll agree to do it, and I strongly urge you to, I’ve scheduled a Press Conference in five minutes for you to announce the allegations that we’ve come up with.

Don’t put me in a bind, Tom. I don’t like this. It’s just not right. But, I’ll be reasonable. If it’ll calm your panic, I’ll at least listen to what the staff has come up with. Fair?

Let me get Marty in here.  (Into intercom)   Marty, I need you, NOW.

I’m not saying I’ll use it…I’m just curious about what your people have come up with.

Our people. I understand.

                         Marty (Enters)
Yes, Mr. Manion?

Read what we’ve got on that little Republican asshole.

                         Marty (Reading from list)
Mr. Mannix has never gotten a license for his dog.

Is that it?

No sir. (Continues reading) He owes thirty-two dollars in overdue library fines.


And in 1968, he received a loan from a friend totaling several thousand dollars, which he failed to report on his financial disclosure forms.

Bingo!!    Do you know the exact figure?

Yeah, I think so. (He looks it up) Two thousand eighty nine dollars.

And sixteen cents?

Oh, yeah, sixteen cents. How did you know that?

Yeah, how did you know that?

Just a guess. Have you got anything else on him?

Nothing as good as this.

What is he, Jesus Christ, for God’s sake? I can’t believe you couldn’t find anything else. Are you sure? What about College? Everybody screws up in College.

He had a 4.0 grade point average and was President of his Fraternity.

Shit.   Well, I guess we’ll have to go with the loan allegation.

What allegation?

That he got the loan illegally, failed to disclose it on his taxes, and that it was somebody’s attempt to bribe him, and by accepting it, he broke the law.

That’s a pretty strong allegation, isn’t it?

Fire with fire. Mud with mud.

Except we can’t use it.

The reporters are already beginning to gather for the Press Conference. Why can’t we use it? It’s true, right, Marty?

Oh, it’s true alright.


I lent Griffin the money.


We were in the same fraternity at College. He was in a bad way, after his father died, so I lent him the money.

You lent him the money.    This is astounding…

I also can’t talk about it.   It’s has to do with a sacred oath we took while we were in the fraternity.

You’re a schmuck, do you know that?


I mean it!   Jason, grow up! You’ve got to forget all that college shit!
You’re adult now! None of that shit applies anymore.

I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

Don’t get holier than thou on me. I’m just saying that as an adult you don’t have to hold to secret oaths you made with every kid at camp you pricked your finger and became blood brothers with.

I swore before God I’d never take advantage of a fraternity brother.

Oh really.   Well, what about him?   Didn’t your dear frat brother take the same oath? Don’t you see, Griffin’s using your own reluctance to violate the oath to bash you over the head. He knows he can say anything and you aren’t going to respond.

I can only worry about my own integrity.

Jason. Once a pact is broken, anything goes.

So how did you find out about the loan? I thought it was just between him and me.

Marty overheard him talking to one of his advisors.

I was sitting in the Men’s room at the Bi-Partisan Charity Dinner last night. Griffin Mannix comes in with his media guy. The media guy had had a few drinks and he said he was getting worried about having to explain the loan. Right away, I thought to myself, “Hmm, this might be useful.”  But then Mannix says not to worry, you’ll never reveal anything about the loan. Anyway, they talked for awhile, and from what they said I was able to go back and do a little detective work. It’s all there in his bank records. The only thing I couldn’t figure out was who lent him the money and why you’d never reveal the loan.

I guess when it comes to donors, I wouldn’t be the most obvious suspect.

Well, that would explain why they think that we know about the loan story and have been holding back on it. They figure we’ll break it the weekend before the election, thereby leaving them no time to respond.

Marty, I hate to admit it, but you were sandbagged.

Sandbagged? How do you know that?

Griffin Mannix wants us to bite on the loan allegation story. He fed it to Marty, so it sounded legit, he’s hoping, of course, that either Jason has forgotten about the loan or we move on it without running it by him first. Then when we bring it up, he produces xeroxes of your original check showing it was you that lent him the money in the first place and once again, we look like idiots…

But he’s a cheater, he didn’t disclose it on his tax returns.

That’s o.k., I’m such a boy scout, I won’t bring it up…

Exactly. And if you do he’s ready. Are you beginning to get an idea of what’s going on?

I think so.

He makes you look like the premeditated scoundrel, not him.

Do you want me to go cancel the Press Conference?

No. Just stall them. We got them here, that’s the hard part, now we just need to think of something to tell them.

(Marty exits)

I could haul out the old stump speech.

No. They’re sick of it, and frankly, so am I. Wait. I’ve got it. Turnabout is fair play. Right? Well, if the scoundrel wants to make the boy scout look like a scoundrel, let’s confuse everybody by making the scoundrel look like a boy scout.

I don’t get it.

We ‘ve got to get the press to switch perceptions about Mannix, so we play statesmen. We tell everyone what a nice guy Mannix is, personally. And stress the word, “Nice”. We repeat it everywhere we go, and eventually even Mannix himself will think he’s the Sugar Plum Fairy.   Obviously, if we use enough innuendo, the press will think we’re hiding something.  They’ll dig, find nothing, except his unlicensed dog and his overdue library books, and then because they need a story, every columnist in town will be writing articles about whether Griffin Mannix is too “Nice” to be Senator.

What will that accomplish?

We supply a constant stream of nice ineffectual politicians and paint Griffin as being more of the same. We do a quickie TV Spot contrasting you as strong, decisive and tough with a bold vision for America versus the nice, sweet, well-intentioned, Mr. Mannix, who just wants everyone to like him.

But can we make it stick? Mannix isn’t really like that.

Never underestimate the element of surprise, and the power of suggestion. Now what do you say, Jason, are you willing to try it?

Well, I guess, technically it’s not a negative ad.

Not at all. How can calling someone “Nice” be negative?

Then I wouldn’t be violating my oath, would I?

Not in the least.

Okay.  Then let’s begin to spread the Gospel of St. Mannix.

Atta boy, Jason!!   Now, let’s go give those reporters a great big heaping helping of your kinder, gentler opponent.    It’ll ruin him!!

And to think, you wanted me to go negative!

(They exit.)



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