Crimes of the Better Half

People go off the rails even in the finest communities.  You probably can’t afford to live in any of the towns that this week’s haiku came from – with perhaps one exception.

But their citizens are as human as you and I: as fallible, as vain, and as fragile.  So from the flower-strewn lanes of Carmel to the mean streets of Burlingame, here is another batch of police blotter haiku.

uneasy hairdreser woman

Feeling uneasy
about a phone call from a
long-lost hairdresser.

A coffee mug, hurled.
At the back of her man’s head
with exquisite aim.

He steals cars for fun.reckless brother
When fun’s done he dumps them in
his brother’s driveway.

After eight hold-ups
he should have guessed that the cops
could ID his car.

On the ground weepingteen crying
for the fate of a cell phone
dropped down the storm drain.

A teen, a senior.
A fight – and the assailant,
84, is jailed.

Their toddler escaped.child with butcher knife
The cops found him outside
with a butcher knife.

Someone stole his car,
got in an accident, and
returned it – he says.

Three house plants are gone!cop taking notes
Stolen, she claims, by – someone.
The cops write it down.



Police Log Comics

I’m not the only one who finds inspiration in the police blotter column.  Cartoonist Owen Cook mines the weekly Police Log column of the Carmel Pine Cone for Police Log Comics: comic strips which illustrate the verbatim text of a police log item. Here’s a sample:


I take a police blotter item and strip it down into a haiku; you fill in the details with your imagination.  In contrast Owen’s comics retain the terse, impersonal verbiage of the original story; but his illustrations interpret the text for you, and in unexpected ways.  Yet he leaves plenty of room for your thoughtful speculation.

I think he and I get to the same place, by different roads. I heartily recommend a visit to Police Log Comics.

In the meantime, more haiku are coming soon; keep the faith, and thanks.


Just When You Thought You’d Heard Everything…

As I write this I’m sitting at the dining table late on a Saturday night. Music from Radio Swiss Jazz streams through my laptop.  Specifically, a middle-aged Swiss gentleman named Erich Nussbaum performs a cool swing version of the theme song from the sixties-era “Flintstones” cartoon sitcom. (“Flintstones! Meet the Flintstones! They’re a modern stone-age family…”)

That’ll bend your brain, especially if you’re as sleep-deprived as I am.  Next I am expecting William Shatner to poke his head up through a hatch in the floor and invite me into an exciting new world of discount hotel rooms via the Internet.

Or not.  In any case, that the world is surprising is no surprise to me.  I have read so many news stories of crimes large and small, that surprise itself seems unsurprising. Except when it comes in the form of eccentric Swiss jazz musicians.

And yet: while there may be only so many ways to sin, some gifted individuals manage to bring a special nuance all their own to theft, assault and – my special field of interest – disorderly conduct.  Police blotter stories are all about disorder. And so are the haiku that I derive from them. What’s more human than disorder?

And so please accept another batch of haiku: from the backwoods counties of Georgia to the elite ‘burbs of the PNW and points in between.  And as always, enjoy.


He phones to threaten.
Behind his bluster, softly:
(click) a gun is cocked.


Wanted for fraud, him.running-after-bus2
Last seen catching the next bus
for anywhere else.


A dog who hates him,
awaits him, whenever he
strolls down Lower Drive.


Her Nike gym bag,
left behind on the sidewalk,
didn’t wait for her.


Cops’ Tips for Couples:
Relationships issues are
best solved when sober.


Somehow it made sense
to enter the neighbor’s house
and steal her laundry.


Busted by the storm.
Cops seeking shelter barge in
on his cocaine deal.


He wants a record
of his girlfriend’s father’s threat
to “whip his ass good.”


Ex-wife incursion.
She smashed all the windows, and
his new girlfriend.


Someone’s having sex!
They leave used condoms in his shed.
He could lock the door.


The teens have no cluebadboys
as to how those cans of beer
appeared in their car.




Illustrated Police Blotter Haiku

This blog is new, but police blotter haiku are not.  I’ve written them for years.  And I’ll publish the best of them in book form later this year.

I’m designing the book now.  And I can’t imagine anything more boring than page after page of three-line poems.  So there will be drawings.

Well, photos really – but processed through an image editor to look like drawings.  It works pretty well. And I don’t draw. But I shoot pretty well.

I’m prototyping the conversion process now – mainly with photos swiped from the Internet, but also with photos provided by friends (which I will use in the book). But in the meantime, for your amusement, in prototype: illustrated haiku.  Enjoy:



fork attack_text



chasing peacocktext



Bad Behavior

Bad behavior is a police blotter’s stock in trade.  But the people responsible: do they think they’re behaving badly?  Or simply that an obtuse world doesn’t understand their needs?

Opinions vary; I have mine.  But as for you, enjoy.

“Admiring the lake”
he, was, with his nose pressed to
the neighbor’s window.

He tried to break in
by squeezing through the cat door.
Only works for cats.

As they’d broken up,
he saw no reason not to
max out her charge cards.

His nude manliness,
Displayed for the girls next door,
Incited no lust.

“Suspended license.”
Doesn’t mean you can’t drive, just…
That you’d better not.

“Intruders!” he cried.
“No, we’re TPing your house!”
He could live with that.

The Price of Minimalism and Other Stories

For your pleasure (or something), please accept another batch of police blotter haiku: stories of misbehavior taken from the police blotter columns of the nation’s newspaper and condensed down to 17 syllables on three lines. I enjoy writing them, enjoy the process of fitting the gist of a story into such a small space.  Yes, I’m odd: have often been told this.

This minimalism comes at a price: all the juicy details that end up on the cutting-room floor.  Take this item from the Athens (GA) Banner-Herald:

HOUSING DISPUTE: On April 5, a deputy was dispatched to East Broad Street, where a woman called to report that she was being followed by her landlord, who was driving a Smart Car. The deputy saw the vehicles going in a circle in a parking lot, so he made the cars stop and ordered the landlord out of the car.

The man said he was chasing the woman, who had been renting a room in his basement, because she was moving out and had removed the door handles on every door. The man explained he confronted the woman and she fled in her car, so he pursued her.

The woman explained the landlord had changed the code on the front door keypad, so she removed on the door handles so she would have access to her living quarters. The deputy took the door knobs and returned them to the landlord.


Those three paragraphs hold enough material for a half-hour sitcom: an eccentric tenant, eviction, doorknob theft, and a circular parking-lot pursuit by a Smart Car: the closest thing to an actual clown car that you can buy on the open market.

And yet, this is all that I could say in 17 syllables.

He changed all the locks.
So his evicted tenant
stole all the doorknobs.

And that’s indeed the gist of the story.  But dammit, I do wish there’d been room for the details.  Especially the Smart Car chase.

As promised, here are more haiku, from Orange County to Nevada County to counties you may never have heard of out across the Great American Whatever.  Fill in the details yourself.  And as always, enjoy.

His chainsaw, stolen.
Because, outside, his dogs barked,
but he ignored them.


While he slept,
someone bribed his pit bull and
stole his ATV.


“I’m God,” he told her.
Their sex was consensual.
At least, so spake God.


“Self defense! One shove!”
And yet the other guy’s face
was beaten bloody.


The store video
showed her missing credit card
in her cousin’s hand.


A strange ire owns him.
He walks past that store daily
and spits up coffee..


Drugged at a party,
He wakes with a rabbit’s foot
tattooed in his crotch.


He dropped his backpack
Out spilled a great deal of mail
not addressed to him.


A rampaging wife.
She poured beer in his lap!
He seeks protection.


He’s not paid enough
to worry when his workers
smoke by the gas pumps.

Bi-Coastal Police Blotter Haiku

You know the drill: I scan the police blotter columns on newspaper websites and summarize some of the incidents as haiku. An impressionistic snapshot of conflict, tragedy, or low humor in 17 syllables.  Sometimes, 18.

Three of today’s batch of seven come from newspapers on the California coast.  The other seven come from south Florida. It may amuse you to guess which are which.  Exercise your stereotypes.

Somehow I think I’ve posed this challenge before.  On another planet, perhaps. At any rate, enjoy.

…so he pulls over
to ask the cop for help with
this live hand grenade…

Head-on collision.
Neither party foresaw one
on a jogging path.

“Why can’t the neighbors
be more accepting of my
screaming therapy?”

Retail, at 80.
And your co-worker beans you
with a pricing gun.

Their fight was just words.
His much-scratched arms were the work
of her surly cat.

Almost a knife-fight.
But for their teenage son, who
took away their blades.

He, for gambling debts,
sold her jewels but Mom loves him
and won’t press charges.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

When all’s said and done, a good half of all crimes stem from poor impulse control, poor judgment, or – the most popular option – both.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  It wasn’t.

And if you don’t think so, troll America’s crime news as I do. Here’s the latest batch of haiku, taken from the police blotters of cities large and small.  But mainly small. Enjoy.


They forced the back door,
but her large pit bull advised
that they not enter.


I won’t talk to you,
he told his ex, so she had
harsh words with his car.


An exiled husband
loiters near his home until
his wife’s anger cools.


He heard girls – screaming!
But what the cops found was a
loud cub scout meeting.


They soon found out why
burglars seldom try to steal
a water heater.


They played “quick-draw” games
with an unloaded gun that
wasn’t unloaded.


A reckless driver –
a nude blonde in a red ‘Stang –
or just plain reckless?


“You know you want this!”
he told the women, pointing.
They knew no such thing.

Grim Haiku from Northern Climes

I’ll never move to central Alaska. Even if global warming makes it the new Palm Springs.

Years ago a writer traveled to Anchorage and visited the home of an oil company executive. The exec owned every board game and card game known to man, and the writer asked why.  For the long winter nights, the exec explained, “because you can only drink so much.”

In central Alaska, they respectfully disagree.

The police blotter column of the Fairbanks (AL) Daily News-Miner bulges with drunk-driving arrests, alcohol-fueled domestic violence and little else.  Much of the “little else” involves booze, too.

I hold a certain affection for the towns that provide material for my police blotter haiku.  But I struggle to find the love for central Alaska. Enjoy – or something.


Never give your keys
to a drunk and tell him to
go warm up your Jeep


She just fell, he said.
But her body showed the marks
of his fists and feet.


“Just two beers, I swear.”
the driver said, yet his breath
strongly disagreed.


The charge: drunk driving.
With his five kids in the back.
While beating his wife.


Footprints in the snow.
They led from the wrecked car
to the drunk who’d wrecked it.


A drunk, a pistol.
Scattered shell casings told him
what he couldn’t recall.




Cheeky Haiku

The word “cheek” may be defined as abundant shamelessness. There is such a thing as world-class cheekiness; and if you achieve it, this blog will honor you with haiku.  As below.

“You make it sound like
I’m some criminal, whined the
hit-and-run driver.

“I can’t go to jail!
“I study,” the doper wailed,

His vow to kill his
mother was “taken out of
context,” he complained.