TripAdvisor recently picked America’s best pizza restaurants and cities. Chicago was named the number one city for pizza, although I’m not a fan of the deep dish version of those delicious pies. By far the best pizza that I’ve ever had was in New Haven, Connecticut, during my three years at Yale Divinity School. So I was happy to see that TripAdvisor listed New Haven as the number three city for pizza and New Haven’s Frank Pepe Pizzaria Napoletana, which opened in 1925, as the ninth best pizza restaurant in the nation. Here’s some old footage of Frank Pepe at work:
Pizza is a great theme for haiku, so let’s write about that. All you need is one verse with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. Here’s my tip of the hat to the “pizza wars” of New Haven:
Pepe’s was best. But
Sally’s Apizza, divine
too. Boola, Boola.
Last Sunday morning, I had the rare treat — as an Episcopal priest — of sitting together with my family in the same pew in church. We were on vacation and visiting the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Dallas, Texas, where my brother-in-law is the new Rector.
One of the things that caught my eye there was an unusual, contemporary sanctuary lamp that also incorporates into its design a place near the bottom to hold a “host box,” which is a round silver container that’s topped by a small cross. Inside that container is the reserved sacrament, which is the consecrated bread of Holy Communion. That consecrated bread — The Body of Christ — is always available to be taken to those who can’t be physically present in worship at the church, those who are sick, and those who are dying. The light of this lamp is a reminder that Jesus Christ is present in that church, which is both a place and a people. That divine presence was powerfully evident in the lives of Christians who came to the altar rail beneath this sacred art on Sunday.
When my family and I moved from the North Star State to the Lone Star State, not surprisingly, we traded our snow boots for cowboy boots. What did surprise me, however, was the fact that they’re so comfortable. Here in Texas, of course, it’s even acceptable for an Episcopal priest like me to wear them in church. This is a photo of the boots — small, medium, and large — worn by the three boys in the Willard household. And don’t worry, the lovely Mrs. Willard has a pair of them too.
Let’s write haiku this week about boots — cowboy boots, snow boots, rain boots, army boots, etc. Tell us about them in one verse with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. Here’s mine:
The communion rail is where folks see most clearly the boots of the priest.
While on a short trip to Galveston Island last summer, my family and I spotted this amazing “Varmit Busters” truck. What you cannot see very well in this photo is the fact that it was pulling an airboat because they are also “Gator Getters.”
Sometimes in this life you just need a little help in dealing with varmits and related critters. Whether it’s a mousetrap or a barn cat or an exterminator or dear old dad, you reach out to them — or scream for them perhaps — to send into exile certain long-leggedy beasties and furry friends. This week let’s write haiku about those experiences. Describe the horror of it all in one verse with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line, like this:
The small spider scared
our boys. But my wife killed it
with her bare hand. Whoa.
This morning NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, nearly 3.6 billion miles from Earth, flew by the dwarf planet Pluto in the “third zone” of our solar system, known as the Kuiper Belt, at more than 30,000 miles per hour. According to CNN, aboard the New Horizons spacecraft are some of the ashes of the late American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. He grew up on a farm in Kansas. At the age of 24, while working at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona in 1930, Tombaugh discovered Pluto. Here’s what his daughter, Annette Tombaugh, had to say about the New Horizons mission:
My dad would be thrilled with New Horizons. To actually see the planet that he had discovered, and find out more about it — to get to see the moons of Pluto — he would have been astounded. I’m sure it would have meant so much to him if he were still alive today.
I love this video from NPR’s Skunk Bear that includes views from the International Space Station orbiting Earth and then stitches together hundreds of images from the New Horizons spacecraft as it encounters Jupiter and arrives at Pluto. While those images appear, the voice of the late science fiction writer Ray Bradbury can be heard reading his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been,” which was recorded in 1971.
Here are the words to the version of the poem that Bradbury reads:
The fence we walked between the years
Did balance us serene;
It was a place half in the sky where
In the green of leaf and promising of peach
We’d reach our hand to touch, and almost touch the sky.
If we could reach and touch, we said,
‘Twould teach us not to, never to, be dead.
We ached and almost touched that stuff;
Our reach was never quite enough.
If only we had taller been,
And touched God’s cuff, His hem,
We would not have to go with them
Who’ve gone before,
Who, short as us, stood tall as they could stand
And hoped by stretching tall that they might keep their land,
Their home, their hearth, their flesh and soul.
But they, like us, were standing in a hole.
O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall
Across the Void, across the Universe and all?
And, measured out with rocket fire,
At last put Adam’s finger forth
As on the Sistine Ceiling,
And God’s hand come down the other way
To measure man and find him Good
And Gift him with Forever’s Day?
I work for that.
Short man, Large dream. I send my rockets forth between my ears,
Hoping an inch of Good is worth a pound of years,
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal Mall:
We’ve reached Alpha Centauri!
We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!
This is Anana, a polar bear at the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro, which is the first state zoo and the largest natural habitat zoo in the world. Anana was having a great time playing in the water when my family and I saw her there recently.
We also saw this warning sign on the upper level of the polar bear exhibit. Both humorous and serious, it certainly caught our attention.
Have you ever noticed a warning sign about something, perhaps funny, perhaps not funny at all. Or maybe there was a time when you very much wished that you had noticed a warning sign. Or maybe you’ve read a tragic news story like the recent one from Texas in which a man mocked a warning sign about alligators and didn’t live to tell the tale. Or maybe you fantasize about posting a warning sign at home, at work, at school, at the airport, on a billboard overlooking a busy highway, etc.
Let’s write haiku about any of those things, whether real or imaginary. It only takes one verse with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. Here’s mine:
Don’t jump in the lake —
gators. But a Texas man
dove right in. Short swim.
If you plant it, they will come. This Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is destined to become a monarch butterfly, is munching on the milkweed plants in the back yard of the Rectory. Welcome to Texas, little one.
When I saw this, the first thing that came to mind was, not surprisingly, this passage from the popular children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle:
On Saturday [the Very Hungry Caterpillar] ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.
One of the things that I really liked about living in Minnesota for seven years was the opportunity to see lots of small town parades. At the church that I served in Edina, the local parade on the 4th of July always came right by the side of the church buildings. The church sign extended an invitation to all: “Exercise your freedom to worship here on Sunday.” There were fire trucks, marching bands, veterans in old military vehicles, and, of course, politicians waving, smiling, and shaking hands. It was awesome. As the saying goes, everyone loves a parade. And it was just long enough for our family to enjoy before heading off to a cookout. This photo is actually of a Memorial Day parade in Excelsior and was taken only a week before we began our road trip from the North Star State to the Lone Star State:
Independence Day, as we all know, will bring with it parades of all sizes “from sea to shining sea.” There’s also the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Parades of every kind are this week’s haiku theme. Whether you prefer the small town versions, like I do, or somewhat more elaborate productions, tell us about your memories — good, bad, indifferent, whatever — in one verse with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. Here’s what came to mind for me:
Lots of waving flags, marching bands. Small town parades are simply the best.