On Ronald Rubin

I was saddened today to see from Richard Williams’s always brilliant blog, The Blue Moment, that Ron Rubin, or Ronald as I knew him, died a fortnight ago at the age of 86. I knew him not through music, though I was aware that he was a jazz bassist, but because he was also an excellent haiku poet, particularly of sharp senryu, who from 2006 to 2012 was a regular contributor to Presence when I was the editor for postal submissions. I enjoyed Ron’s haiku and the letters in which they arrived.

Ron’s haiku were usually funny, with a touch reminiscent of another excellent British senryu poet Maurice Tasnier; were often about music in some way or another, but could also be more serious. He was good enough for his haiku to be placed second in 2006, and then first in 2009, in the annual Haiku Presence Award (since renamed as the Martin Lucas Haiku Award), though neither of the haiku which received those placings were, to my mind, anywhere near as good as any of the following, all of which were published in Presence except the first one.

I like the surprise of ‘rattle’ in this one, published in The Haiku Calendar 2008:

summer heat . . .
the rattle of lizards
along the gutters

Ron’s observational ability and wit come across beautifully in this quintet of music-themed haiku:

power cut . . .
in the distance
the sound of a piano

busking guitarist—
the flash
of a gold tooth

musician’s funeral
the organist’s
wrong chords

piano practice:
through the tricky bits

posh gig:
I help the roadie
put on a tie

This trio, all published in Presence 41, are, I think, all tremendous in their own ways:

buttocks up
in the buttercups—
her first spring

outside the theatre
a man directs the traffic
with a whisky bottle

a flicker of moths
as night falls
our eyelids touch

And this one is lovely, isn’t it?

on the bus
we laugh with two men telling jokes
in sign language

Finally, two more of his trademark droll senryu:

hungover I return
the alarm clock’s
two-finger salute

six months dead
and still I cross the road
to avoid him

2 thoughts on “On Ronald Rubin

  1. Hi Matthew,
    Thank you for your kind words about my father Ronald Rubin. He will be sorely missed.

    Great Blog 🙂

    Dominic Rubin

    1. Thanks, Dominic. As I say, I always enjoyed your dad’s letter and haiku. I can see from Richard Williams’ blog and the Ham & High piece that he was a multi-talented man. My condolences to you and the rest of your family. All the very best, Matthew

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