Memorial to Donald Murray with Poems: His Time Was Write and Hard Wood Writing

Never a Day Without a Line
When a mentor passes on–A Memorial to Donald Murray

I heard it on the 11 o’clock New Years Day news. Donald Murray died of a heart attack at the age of 82. He had submitted his column ‘Now and Then’ to the Boston Globe the day before he died. He never stopped working, learning or sharing the knowledge he had gained.

My connection to Donald started from a Now and Then column that he had written in late winter which mentioned a spring writing class and one of his favorite bookstores on Water Street in Exeter NH. A heartfelt feeling took me there and I bought the book he suggested and left my information. Fortune smiled and on a Monday nights for six weeks I found myself at Don’s house in Durham with a circle of writers and novices of the craft. Don in his chair teaching by drawing us in and sharing his life and the work he loves. A large man in both stature and heart held court as we listened and learned in a circle where he made us feel equal. No pretense, just the spirit of a man open and true. His words ring true in my head: ‘Find your voice and tune it to the situation’
‘Writing is personal-be as true as possible’
‘The voice must sound like you, if not something is wrong-you may not be close enough to the material’
‘I still sometimes look at the world as a soldier’
‘Write with velocity and lower your standards’
‘Good writers see deep important things about the human condition. They articulate the human condition for those who can not’
‘Surprise is wonderful, I want to surprise myself some more before the road ends’

I met with him three times after the class ended. Twice for breakfast at ‘Young’s’ in Durham where everyone knows his name. The morning after class ended I picked him up at 5:45 AM. He told me he had stayed up all night as enthusiasm about the class, father’s day trip weekend prior, writing, and using his new art supplies would not let him sleep. He insisted on paying for breakfast and said that my turn was next. As I dropped him off at his house and told him to get some rest he answered, ‘after I write a little’. 82 years old, up all night and his motto, ‘nulla dies sine linea’ and work ethic still ruled.
For me he is gone too soon, too fast but he will always be with me. It’s his turn again to buy breakfast and he promised to come for dinner and meet my ‘Maria May.’
He believed in his family, his students, his friends and his colleagues. He gave us a confidence devoid of judgments that we could find our voice and tune it to the situation.
I offer a poem written with Donald in mind and submitted during what would be his last class. He had taken up drawing and painting recently for the sheer joy and surprise of it. The last line was added today.

Hard Wood Writing

Feeling lucid under pressure
Moments of sheer horror and panic do pass
Drawn on ousted emotions to draw-paint words to paper
Form scenes opened felt by me
Acts of art for others to observe-see
A word play called ‘New Hope Spring’
On a clean cool clear and cloudy canvass of Papyrus
Framed pages with words
Book cover borders
Times Temperaments Torments Trusts
Loss and Rebirth
Felt and Palpable on written page
Hopes spring grows and flows
Words in mahogany and oak
A writer’s true rings of hard growth memory
True to a vision of what has come to pass
Hard Wood Writing on soft textured page of one person’s past
Written Word Etched for Eternity by Scribed Survivor
Mahogany Voice Rises from Oaken Experience
From scribbler to Scribe the Survivor Crafts
The soft subtle textured pages of a life’s
Lessons Learned and Shared
Now and Then

His time was write

Found a mentor, ol’ sage, life almost spent

He opened his home, gave a last class

Unconditionally he let us in and shared a successful career

“Write Short, Write Quick,” the mentor said.

The world has changed–attention spans are short sighted

Draw them in, hold them, set them free, with words from the heart

An old man’s spirit shared

His time was write

Now and Then taught me ours is then and now

The road goes on and I will be one of Donald’s Acolytes–Apostles

Nulla dies sine linea–never a day without a line

Share a life til the road ends

To be taken up by a spirit who’s time is write

Copyright by Ken Pothier

Twenty Seven Year Old Dreams–Against The Wind

Going through the door to another time I find myself 27 years old again in summer.

Twenty Seven Year Old Dreams—Against the Wind

The fish were not coming near our boat yesterday. Perhaps the intensity of my dreams was keeping them away. I used an open ended roll of film and could have taken as many pictures as I wished. I did with my minds eye. Such a reality is felt out on the open sea. My dreams were out there, I could feel them pulling me on as I gathered strength for the storm.

I dreamed of hitting the road to island and mountain sanctuaries of spirit. Today I am on the road from Martha’s Vineyard Island to Jackson NH in the White Mountains. Dreams tempered and shaped by uncomfortable reality that I am rapidly moving toward even greater change. A soul searching vacation thinking about loose ends and trying to make amends to old friends. Sorting myself out in feeling thought and in running the roads and realizing that you just can’t have it all. You just don’t need it all. (Credit this line to Bob Seeger)

My traveling companions on the boat from the island were special people, a juggler and a fool. What eyes on the world. Felt good to meet them, share the view together for a short while. Foggy this morning yet we found light spots of life and laughed. Talked of serious things without being serious about it. The fool is a mirror of life reacting to what he sees and feels helping others to laugh at themselves and stop being so dramatic. Fools and jugglers are masters at getting others to lighten up. Take it easy and lighten up on your load. It’s not that bad if you take it slow, do your best and don’t forget to laugh. Move on in the face of change and uncertainty. I move on down the road to gather my backpack and head for the mountains.

What time is it anyway? What you make of it! Jackson NH, afternoon, it is time for getting my head together. My home customized Chevy Van is my room on wheels and feels so fine. The side door open acts as my window. The ride was smooth and timeless, an open day under high open sky. Listening to the music, taking it all in, learning to put it all together.

Knowing only that what has gone before my eyes this vacation has been beautiful. The realm of possibilities is immense and I became lost in the grandeur of an island dream. The road was open so I took it to the mountains to give ocean and island dreams room to expand. I have got to play my hand. Live free or you do begin to die. Shadow Captain and dark star are moving on and shining thru the fog to see beyond immediate reality. Blend of past present and future as the road and life go on. Balance is hard to maintain as situations shift and sway in the wind. I am holding on yet giving enough to maintain the balance. The summer wind today is clean and free flowing. I can see the love that will be.

Mountain day dream given room to expand brings me back to the island fair in West Tisbury. Such a wonderful parade of people and almost everyone makes an appearance. The island women are so natural and strong in their beauty. The island is reflected in them. They are so fine in country dress and bare feet. My dreams soar and time opens and my picture of the world becomes so close to perfect for a short part of the year. The fair is a celebration before the work of the harvest. It is a celebration of warm energy that has been built up thru the summer months. I was surely lost in the warmth. I could not open up to the possibilities the way wished not in the few days of vacation. Getting there gave me a time for reflection, a time open to looking at what has come to pass trying to shed light on what is ahead. It is a time to look at the whole of your existence in hopes of enhancing your reality. The broader the vision the wider the possibilities. Reflect and be glad for the way ahead. Dreams are never left behind. We are always moving toward them. We must do what we can, learn lessons and do some more. The pieces turn up as you go. Shifting and sorting, piecing it all together takes time.

Take it easy, take your time, have patience! The best is ahead but it will only be the best if we work towards making it that way every day. The road goes on, pieces of dreams to be found and mountain daydreams to give them room to expand.

© Ken Pothier

Written yesterday and today

Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry N.H. Review

Bassist

Yardbirds 2011

Yardbirds 2011

Jefferson Starship 2013

Jefferson Starship 2013

The Fixx Lead Guitarist

The Fixx Lead Guitarist

Duke Rubillard and Monster Mike Live

Duke Rubillard and Monster Mike Live

Saw Doctors Live

Saw Doctors Live

Ana Popovic??????????????

Ana PopovicThe Tupelo Music Hall –Review by Ken Pothier

Listen as they play–Play as you listen.
The music menu at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH is varied and delightful. It induces dancing, toe tapping, hand clapping and conversation. It is Americana, a cross–section of the heart of our country in which truth and light exude from the music. You cannot help but be moved by the sound and lyrics. The ‘live’ professional tight yet loose feel which is produced by musicians and artists that are at their best because they are doing what they love in front of an audience that understand and feel that spirit and joy. The Tupelo has fine acoustics in a cozy atmosphere. The musicians can see each face and feel the energy in a give and take that is missing in larger venues.
You want to call your friends and tell them something is going on that should not be missed–bring your enthusiasm, a voice, tapping fingers and feet, clapping hands. Revisit the days of connection, the time before technology took over and changed the way we interact. Rejuvenate your spirit and revel in the community of sharing the country’s past in the present. Return to the kick ass–kick up your heels feeling that helped move this country and gave life and spirit to its heart past. The backbeat of the Tupelo is that of a gathering of community, of friends, family and colleagues on the common ground of heartfelt sound that connects us all in a world wide web of the wonder of that coming together. The common ground of sound!
Come together right now. Dance, sing, move, feel this music from Americas’ Heartland and Heart. A combination of Blues, Folk, Soulful Gospel, Country, Rock, R&B, Southern Rock, Pop and Comic Relief is a taste of what is provided. All shine here in a live light that can touch us all. All are present day visits to our past.
One of the things that kept us moving forward in our national history was in the music of each period moving the generations along. Giving us hope, allowing us to hold to faith, getting us together and inspiring with a combination of words and music that refreshes spirit, boosts us up and pushes us along with the energy felt individually and derived from a synergy of the masses. These days we need this music again to inspire us to roll up our sleeves, go to work, and put the heart back in the heartland of America. So sing out with these consummate and caring professionals. They ‘get it’, and you should join in!
“So get up of your ass and dust off the past
Lift up your chin and turn it into a grin
Pull up your boots and get back to our roots
You live the blues, pay your dues, now go share the news
And kick up your heels in a new pair of shoes”
At THE TUPELO
Ken Pothier

The Diner

 

Mary Ann’s Diner

The Diner

I egress to an overnight frost, perhaps the last of this season. A different road is taken this early morn under cloudy sky. The rise and fall of hills–twists and turns of a never straightforward road. I pass old farms and churches’ spires. They mark time and my passing on the road to Mary Ann’s Diner and Family Restaurant. It is done up 50’s style. Choice of booths, tables for two and four squeeze in six in a pinch. The counter for single lonely souls lost in a paper, a cigarette, a dream. TV is on but no sound and here no one cares for that kind of news. The music here is fifties and sixties oldies played back to back in an endless flow from past memory to present thought, noninvasive in a subtle and seamless meld of years. I sit with the lonely souls at the counter with a local newspaper but it is hard to read with all the life and sound around me. I play name that tune–name that band–feel that memory–emotion with the music. The flow of music matches the life of the place and the quickstep of the waitresses. Full–bodied waitresses in long poodle skirts, bobby socks and soft shoes, friendly,

carrying their loads with big smiles. Coffee and ice water brought to me with never– ending refills. Ol’ style breakfast made to your liking. I order steak tips marinated in raspberry sauce with eggs over medium, home fries and raisin toast-$7.50. Smiles small talk and refills free and this diner’s experience priceless.

A place where you are always welcome a sanctuary of sorts. Local contractors make their plans for the day; count the week’s profit and loss. Workers of all sorts fill their tanks with good food and fuel for the day’s travails, still stiff from yesterdays work. They shake it off here and get it up to do it again in their own endless flow of work, recovery, work that makes this country run.

Couples meet greet hangout, form and break relationships in a life flow of the yin and yang-the profit and loss of love and affection. Families sit together and show the strain and gain of their growth over time.

Conversations of the day: weather, sports, family progress, accomplishment and setback, goals and dreams, gossip and truth all meld with the music of the place. Spring’s arrival and blossoming, another week removed from winter, a new season and a fresh if cool and cloudy day.

No promises made; however, those who stop at Mary Ann’s leave with a full stomach and a spirit filled with smell of coffee and good food, the sound of human contact and connection in varied form.

A man sits at the counter alone; two bikers who have hardly touched their breakfast are leaving in a hurry. I move to the space provided and find out why they are moving on. The man in his 30’s is a local and a regular. He is also manic–depressive, schizophrenic, Bi-Polar or all of the above. He immediately talks to me at breakneck speed in a flow of words that have meaning but make no real sense. In ten minutes he goes from being the reincarnation of Jim Morrison of the Doors to a Naval Academy graduate at the head of his class. He had a busy night at a secret NATO meeting with CIA, FBI and national security

 

types. The meeting ended early when the Russians did not show up. He tells me he is still in the military and I ask in what way? He says that he is in deep too deep undercover and secret. He moves from booth to booth asking for a cigarette as I move over one stool at the counter. I can listen better and finish my breakfast from this vantage point and the waitresses understand that I cannot solve this man or the nation’s problems today. I must finish and join the workers soon as schedule intrudes on the seamless flow of music and conversation. Connections made and lost–hope for the lonely soul at the counter that tomorrow he will find communication, connection, and peace. Hope for the man with the paper that he will turn the page to someone’s smile and a new start. All in sanctuary found at a 50’s style diner, oldies playing as full–bodied women in long skirts serve up a new day.