Blogged down

The Zipcats circa 1976, Photo by Harry Graham

(I’ve just been sent the  soundtrack for this post.  Love it at  Actually, listen and then read on…or listen and then listen again and again.  My words are inadequate.)

     Once again I feel as if I am a writer ‘of old’ who has sharpened his quill, mixed his ink, and stares at the blank page waiting for his mind to slow down to the speed of his hand(s).

     It’s not as if there haven’t been a slew of ‘happenings’…No, perhaps too many ‘happenings’ have taken place in 2011 and I have found myself stymied, overwhelmed and confused by them all, or combinations thereof…

(Weren’t we supposed to be wise and comprehending when we ‘grew up’?)

….all pale in juxtaposition with the death of a very dear soul and friend back in May…

     …A friend whose music inspired me for years in the late nights gathered around a kitchen table or a sparsely furnished and spartanic living room, or a slowly sputtering fireplace, whose fuel could not outlast the embers of song that kindled our hearts and voices.

     When we were in our twenties we would sometimes, around a ‘dinner’ of hand-ground peanut butter and local honey, (topped with home-grown alfalfa sprouts) sandwiches, bemoan the fact that we weren’t famous…that no one had ‘discovered’ us….

     But then the music would begin again, and those thoughts would slip into the smoke through life’s chimney, carried unceremoniously away by a melody..

to be dropped as insignificant ash to the ground…

     …The remnants of something that we had entertained, for a moment, as having substance, but was merely the chaff that could no longer contain

and was cast away

 by the explosive, fertile growing of the creative seed.

     …A friend whose life inspired me in its last year as he confounded doctors, family, friends and strangers alike….only to find, eventually, that it was time to move from this plane to another.

     An end, for those of us left behind, but definitely a beginning, a continuation, for one who was at peace with himself, his world, and his God.

     I will always remember not only his music and brotherhood, but also the way in which he lived in his dying.

     There was always someone who ‘had it worse’ or someone who needed his help and this was the personal inspiration which allowed him to ‘take up his bed and walk’ when he was told that the likelihood of this happening was not a scenario that the doctors envisioned for his future.

     An occasion such as this always causes the mind to cast into the deeper pools of the past and pull up ‘lunkers’ that have remained hidden in the cool deep recesses of memory, growing, while sequestered, but thriving still.

     I remember distinctly, though only recently, an occurrence when Dave and I ‘ran away’ to Arkansas many years ago. I don’t recall the reason for our ‘flight’, but at some point during those two weeks or so, while visiting a friend of a cousin, someone pulled an old guitar out of a closet and handed it to me.

(I mean, we were from Nashville and all…)

     I fairly quickly put it down as I discovered that it had only five very rusted strings that were so high off the fret board that it would cause elbow cramps just trying to make a chord.

I was thinking, “I’ll make a fool of myself if I try to play something on this!”

..and made all manner of lame  excuses as to why I couldn’t play “Free Bird” or whatever the current request du jour might have been…

     Dave picked up that guitar and started playing and singing with the natural ability with which the Muses had favored him and  I noticed that very quickly the owner of that guitar looked at the instrument with a new-found respect.

     The listeners didn’t realize what had happened…but I did!

     We had witnessed the most natural, purest out-pouring of grace that quite possibly anyone in the room had ever observed… akin to watching a gliding hawk on the wing, playing with air on the substantive understanding of something which has no substance…

(I didn’t have the heart to tell the guitar owner that ” NO, that is NOT a good guitar…you just heard it transformed by someone who breathed life into it…You just saw a silk purse made from a sow’s ear…!!!)

     In the mid ‘70’s, Dave, Pete, Rob, and I…The Zipcats… a band (pictured above) …lived together in a century old farm house in Southern Kentucky.

     There was a large, cold creek about 100 yards down the hill in front of the house. In the bend of the creek, the eons had worn a ‘swimming hole’ about 8 feet deep and full of the coldest, clearest water that can be imagined. Not any ocean, lake or river that I have encountered has compared to the almost otherworldly aura of the intensely pure water that flowed there. 

     We would sometimes jump in,

     shocked into a quick, though deep, inhalation of pure rural air on a scorching day

     or at other times just cool our feet as our skin breathed the light and warmth of the Sun and we talked…

     Or didn’t talk…

      Dave would say,

“Pleeb, (that was my nickname at the time) This is what it’s all about!”

     Years later, as he struggled to lift himself from his bed, not knowing whether he would ever walk again of his own accord,

(actually, that’s not true…he and I both knew he would walk again)

he would talk about rolling down the halls of the rehab center in a wheelchair and of sticking his head in the door of a fellow patient’s room and visiting with them.

     It hurt him that so many people were suffering alone, and he felt that it was his calling, his duty…no, more importantly, his pleasure to at least talk to them… to commiserate.

      Again he said, in a long-running but unforgotten echo,

“Pleeb, this is what it’s all about!”

     As I look forward through this mirror of memories, I find many times, (some missed upon first exposure), that I was faced with

“..This is what it’s all about…”

So often I have missed “..This is what it’s all about…”

     …by allowing the trivialities of living to elbow their way through my crowded psyche and set up a soapbox from which to spew their dramatic nothings.


Our plans will not play out the way that we had hoped and envisioned…

I will cherish the visions we shared, nonetheless…

We will carry on and when I think of you

I will smile.

We will continue the distinct ‘male-ness’ of communication through,

in spite of,  


where a paucity of verbiage does not indicate a lack of communion..

I will ask clemency for my indulgence in grief and pay tribute by tempering my dolor with the peace of your phrases…

“This is what it’s all about!”

And, my favorite…

“Here we go!”

Blessed are the pure in heart…

Thank you, my friend, for showing me purity of heart!

~ by rkpowers on June 10, 2011.

5 Responses to “Blogged down”

  1. O this is deeply sublimely beautiful. thanks for voicing this genuine living reflection of the inner experiences of what truly occured.


  2. YOu my dear brother are a treasure and a great friend to all who you have befriended. I thank you for you friendship to me and sharing your friendships with me. love you deeply,


  3. Wow! Pure poetry. Thanks to all of my father’s friends showing love I have learned a new respect for him. I always loved him as my dad in a unique and irreplaceable way – but now I have an even greater understanding of who he was to the world. Randy, when you said to me that it wasn’t the cause of death that was important but rather his personal gift of his last year, I kind of fought that… going against my own philosophy of life, “Perspective is key, wisdom above all”. Losing someone so close has a way of shaking and even breaking belief systems… But it remains true, perspective IS key. I am so greatful to carry the same gift of music in my own spirit. I only hope to be able to cultivate it and continue to share the enlightment – and the legacy…


  4. Your written art just took me back to a time and place where life was good and all was right with the world. What a nice reprieve. Otherwise….I’m speachless. Boop


  5. I have so many brothers… you, Pete, Randy, Rahb, Newton, Allen, Turtle, Costo, Lee, Dale, Mark, Harry, Wade, Scott, Brian, too many for tears of joyful sadness to allow me to recall just now – most special, my brother, my best friend, Amazon Ted. Every word written was devoured by my heart. Your truth is a wondrous part of his legacy. Thanks Pleeb, for allowing my spirit to soar if only for a moment. Mostly, the lyrics Dave penned embrace me: Dave, I know – “I’ve been loved by you.”


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