A Song Singing, Word Slinging, Story Swapping, Ballad Mongering, Folksinger, Teacher, & Poet


“Beneath the friendly charisma is the heart of a purist gently leading us from the songs of our lives to the timeless traditional songs he knows so well.” 

~Globe Magazine


“The Nobel Laureate of New England Pub Music”

~Scott Alarik

Adventures in the Modern Folk Underground

I’ve always made my way down to the rivers. Even now as I sit on my back porch, I hear the rush of the Assabet a half mile to the north, already filled with an early and surprising winter melt. Any leaf of me could fall and be carried back to the fork of the Sudbury and Concord rivers. My whole life has been a continual returning to these three rivers and my common ground—the water, fields, woods and village of Concord and now, just to the west, the small mill town of Maynard.

More and more I remember less and less, but there are still granite walls that will not change for another thousand years and still a few hills to defy development; still a few farmstands with the same trucks and tractors parked by weathered sheds, and still a few cantankerous old souls hiding their smiles behind seventy or eighty New England winters. I wonder if they remember the kid who worked for them so long ago? I wonder what they remember? I wonder what they wish they’d kept?

This collection is my way of keeping what I remember. Musketaquid is the native name for the Concord River. Someone once told me that it meant “slow moving river.” It seemed like a fine and apt name to me, so much so that it didn’t bother me to discover the actual translation is “grass grown river.” The fields are now all wooded over—a bramble of Hawthorne and Swamp Maple hiding almost every view; but it still a slow moving river—and always will be. Even the Nipmucks would have to agree with that.

These songs, poems and ramblings are what I have to add to the rivers. They are the small streams of my experience becoming a smaller part of the Musketaquid, which, hopefully, flows into some greater sea of understanding and insight. They are the good, the bad, and the ugly drafts of my life scattered in here with the randomness of the winds and tides that have driven me and carried me to so many shores—and have always brought me home.

These are the poems, stories, rambles, and reflections that have been written over a long run of time, usually close to home, but often in far off places, and sometimes simply as conversations with my students, friends, or family, but always within dreamshot of the beautiful, beautiful rivers that ramble through my home.

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy some part of what is here.

No Dad To Come Home To

Rain’s falling outside of Boston—
Thank God I’m not working tonight.
I’ve got six of my own,
And a stepdaughter at home,
And a momma keeping things right.
I wonder if they’re at the table
With their puzzles, their papers and pens?
When I get off the highway
And pull in that driveway,
Will they run to the window again?

Listen...

Ghetto of Your Eye

I wrote this song back in the winter of 1989, in the dining car of a steam driven train, somewhere along the Trans-Siberian railway, after meeting a group of Russian soldiers fresh from battle in Afghanistan—that poor country that has been a battleground for way too long.

We stare together hours the snow whipped Russian plain—
rolling in the ghetto of your eye.
We share a quart of vodka
and some cold meat on the train—
you know too much to even wonder why;
I see it in the ghetto of your eye.

Listen...

Ghetto of Your Eye

A Veteran’s Day Remembrance I wrote this song back in the winter of 1989 in the dining car of a steam driven train, somewhere along the Trans-Siberian railway, after meeting a group of Russian soldiers fresh from battle in Afghanistan—that poor country that has...
Listen...

Calvary

It seems like it ain’t been a long time,
But I’m damn pleased your coming by again.
It’s been a while since we sat down and rambled
About this and that and why and who and then
You said that you had to get a move on,
Move on and leave a space behind.
So I spent a while hitting all those old roads:
Old friends and kicking down the wine.

Listen...

The Queer Folk

True to my words of earlier this week, I finished this song last night, and at the time, I liked it–but in the clear light of day, too much of it seems forced, especially the rhymes. But that is part of the process. I think I am almost there. Let me get my saw...
Listen...

Essex Bay

This house makes funny noises
When the wind begins to blow.
I should have held on and never let you go.
The wind blew loose the drainpipe.
You can hear the melting snow.
I’ll fix it in the morning when I go.
I’ll fix it in the morning when I go.

Listen...

Life Ain’t Hard; Its Just a Waterfall

You say, hey,
who are you to say that you’re the one
to go telling me just where I’m coming from.
You can have your cake
but don’t frost me ‘til I’m done.
I can’t be fixed and I can’t afford to stall;
because life ain’t hard it’s just a waterfall.

Listen...

Shane

It’s been too long feeling sorry for myself.
It’s been too long with my life up on the shelf.
Sometimes wish that I was Shane—
shoot Jack Palance, and disappear again;
don’t have no one
don’t want no one
don’t miss no one:
living lonely with a saddle and a gun.

Listen...

Trawler

Leave the fog stillness
of a cold harbor town;
cup our hands
in the warm diesel sound—
leave while the children
are calmed in their dreams
by light buoys calling:
“Don’t play around me.”

Listen...

Joshua Sawyer

I doubt I’d ever have taken this road
had I known how fallen it really was
to disrepair: driving comically,
skirting ruts and high boulders, grimacing
at every bang on the oil pan.
I tell you it’s the old road to Wendell —
that they don’t make them like this anymore.

Listen...

Winter in Caribou

I know your name. It’s written there.
I wonder if you care.
A six-pack of Narragansett beer,
Some Camels and the brownie over there.
Every day I stop by like I
Got some place I’ve got to go;
I’m buying things I don’t really need:
I don’t read the Boston Globe.

But I, I think that I
Caught the corner of your eye.
But why, why can’t I try
To say the things I’ve got inside
To you ….

Listen...

Many Miles To Go

I see it in your eyes
and in the ways you try to smile;
in the ways you whisper—I don’t know—
and put it all off for a while;
then you keep on keeping on
in the only way you know:
you’re scared of where you’re going
and who’ll catch you down below.

Listen...

Garden Woman

I woke today and had my tea
and at the window spent the morning:
the same scene I’ve seen so many times
is each day freshly born;
from the ground I turn each spring and fall
come the flowers sweetly blooming;
you disappear among the weeds—
you are the garden woman.

Listen...

Weekend Custody

Jesse calls up this morning—
“You can come downstairs now;
You see the grapefruit bowl?
Well, I fixed it all;
I fixed everything for you.”

Everything’s for you…

“Let me help you make the coffee,
Momma says you drink it too.
I can’t reach the stove,
But I can pour it, though—
What’s it like living alone?”

Listen...

Don’t Let Go of Your Soul

Sometimes yeah.
Sometimes no.
Sometimes it’s somehow somewhere in between.
Sometimes it’s somewhere that no one has been–
no, nobody, nowhere, no nothing can end.
So don’t you let go and hope you’ll find it again.
Don’t you ever let go–

Listen...

No Dad To Come Home To

Rain’s falling outside of Boston—
Thank God I’m not working tonight.
I’ve got six of my own,
And a stepdaughter at home,
And a momma keeping things right.
I wonder if they’re at the table
With their puzzles, their papers and pens?
When I get off the highway
And pull in that driveway,
Will they run to the window again?

Listen...

Somewhere North of Bangor

Somewhere north of Bangor
on the run from Tennessee.
Lost in back scrub paper land
in section TR-3.
It’s hit him he’s an outlaw
a Georgia cracker’s son,
who killed a man in Nashville
with his daddies favorite gun.
It’s hit him with the loneliness
of wondering where you are
on a long ago railway
stretched between two stars.

Listen...

Superman

There’s a little blonde boy in a superman cape
Racing around the back yard;
Sayin’, “Daddy don’t you know I can fly to the moon;
I’m gonna bring you back some stars.
And after that I’m gonna save the world”
Cause I’m superman today.”
I scoop that boy right into my arms,
And this is what I say:

You don’t need a cape to be a hero
You’ve got all the special powers that you need
Your smile’s enough to save the world from evil
And you’ll always be superman to me

Listen...

Zenmo Yang Ni

I lost the time I hardly knew you,
half-assed calling:
“How you doing?
Laughing at my hanging hay field;
I never knew the time
that tomorrow’d bring,
until it brung to me.

Yuan lai jui shuo: “Zenmoyang ni?”
Xianzai chang shu: “Dou hai keyi”;
Xiexie nimen, dou hen shang ni.
Xiwang wo men dou hen leyi
Dou hen leyi

Listen...

Last of the Boys

Come on over here
and I’ll buy the next round:
cold beer and some shooters
for the boys on the town;
Darby ain’t drinkin’
so let’s live it up
‘cause he’ll drive us all home
in his company truck

Jesus Christ, Jimmy,
man you say that you’re well;
I say we drive into Boston
and stir up some hell;
put a cap on the weekend,
a stitch in the night,
watch the Pats play on Sunday
and the welterweight fight.

That’s all she wrote boys,
there ain’t any more;
that’s why we’re standing here;
that’s what it’s for.
That’s why we all go on working all day
busting our ass for short pay:
~Hey…

Listen...

Metamorphoses

It’s something I‘ve hardly ever thought of:
this simple and rattling old diesel
has always gotten me there and then some;
and so at first I think this sputtering
is just some clog, and easily explained:
some bad fuel maybe, from the new Exxon,
or just shortsightedness on maintenance.
I’ve always driven in the red before,
and these have all been straight highway miles —

Listen...

Searching for an Alibi

Here I am out on the road again
and it feels longer than it was back then;
when I was younger, man, it saw me through—
now it don’t do
what I want it to—

Too ra loo ra loo ra lady I—
I’m just out searching for an alibi
Too ra loo ra loo ra lady I
I’m just out searching for an alibi.

Listen...

Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives…

~Henry David Thoreau

Presenting…

“Anything worth succeeding in, is worth failing in.”~by Edison?       A contractor friend showed up at my house a few weeks ago just after I finished making the hearth and installing my new wood/coal stove. He complimented me on how “awesome”...
Read more...

The Small Potato

Maybe there is a God. I just came home and sat down in the kitchen to grade some papers and input some grades, but the internet is buggy and slow, and I thought, “maybe this is the message” that I am trading my soul for work. I even remember myself...
Read more...

The Right Side of the Inevitable

  Like birds of a feather, we gather together, ‘Cuz they’re feeling exactly like you… ~John Prine   I am not afraid of being a white minority. I had lunch today with a Jamaican drummer, a Ugandan farmer, and a Senagalese potter. I don’t say...
Read more...

A Hard Sell

     As a teacher, I am tired of the word blog, probably because the word “blogging” is incredibly limiting and myopic, especially for someone whose teaching is centered around an online curriculum with blogs front and center on my academic table. I sat through a...
Read more...

Supermoon

Last night the August supermoon reminded me of the fickleness of time and how substance becomes shadow and memories begin to etch themselves immutably into the hardness of what is already lost. Like this:Like...
Read more...

Let It Snow, Let It Snow…

You can’t kill time without wounding eternity. ~Henry David Thoreau       Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…but don’t let it totally define your day. Most of us see a snow day as an unexpected vacation day, though really what it is could be...
Read more...

Moby Dick: Chapters 42-51

A literary reflection to my students… The lowering for whales, the appearance of Fedallah’s crew, the vivid descriptions of the first chase in a sudden and unrelenting gale, the fatalistic joy of resigning oneself to fate, the awesome poetic intensity of...
Read more...

Dealing with Ether

Trying to only see what is in front of me my eyes are continually drawn away from this page and the work left to be done— my labored words etched and scratched away like fleeting mosaics in dry sand. I need a windowless cell to work the alchemy that shapes the...
Read more...

How To Be Human

Mark Twain once wrote that it is good to be a good person, but it is better to tell people how to be good–“and a damn sight easier!” So much of my life is lived in response to the moment and not in a practiced and cultivated wisdom. I sat here this...
Read more...

Denise

There is something about coming hometo this empty house, yesterday’sheavy downpours scouringclean the alreadyweathered deckwhere I sitwishing for,wanting,you. Like this:Like...
Read more...

Mum…

Very jealous today of all the folks I see spending time with their respective moms–and sad for those who can’t and for those whose wives were taken from their families too early in life… This is my remmebrance of my “mum” who died several...
Read more...

Waiting for a Poem

  It’s not like a poem to come curl by my feet on this morning too beautiful to describe, though I am looking and listening and waiting: A rooster crows above the low hum of morning traffic; the trash truck spills air from brakes and rattles empties into bins; my...
Read more...

The Silver Apples of the Moon.

Stories are a communal currency of humanity. ― Tahir Shah, In Arabian Nights The most powerful and enduring connection we share as a human race is our desire and need to share stories. We engage in the art of storytelling more than most of us ever realize; whether we...
Read more...

Paris: 11/13/15

It is a sad day for humanity. Another sad day on top of many others happening every day–many in places we hear about only obliquley and sometimes not at all. Paris is that much closer to home for most of us here and in Europe, but freedom and tolerance has to...
Read more...

Thanksgiving

I am surprised sometimes by the suddenness of November: beauty abruptly shed to a common nakedness— grasses deadened by hoarfrost, persistent memories of people I’ve lost. It is left to those of us dressed in the hard barky skin of experience to insist on a decorum...
Read more...

The Value of a Classic

“Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.” ~Mark Twain A note to my 8th grade class:      All of you are supposedly reading a classic book, but what Twain says is true: few of us go thirsty to the well and willingly read the greatest...
Read more...

Dallas: 7/7/2016

I woke up this morning almost too fearful to read the news. I stayed up late into the night just watching for the breaking stories and updates. Now, I am simplyconfused about how to act. I feel incredibly small and pointless, unsure of where I stand and how to move...
Read more...

Weeds

  Somewhere locked in this choke of weeds spread like a mangy carpet is the hardened vine of Pipo’s Concord Grape he planted in an eager spring three years ago. Gasping for air and sun and water perhaps it has found some way to hide from my flailing hoe and the...
Read more...

Rainmaker

I loved the rain last night. Last week, in a bow to reality, I reclaimed my gardens and made them into yard. Four of my kids got poison ivy in the process and I (and more “they”) got an extra ten feet of width to add to the soccer field–for really...
Read more...

Thinking of My Sister

When Cool Was Really Cool  Life is not counted by the amount of breaths we take,  but of the moments that leave us breathless. ~Unknown             We were coming home from church one morning and Jimmy Glennon pulled up beside us as we approached the Sudbury road...
Read more...

Busy…

The start of the school year, and I have literally spent every free moment working on what is ostensibly pretty cool stuff, methinks…but it is work in every sense of the word, so I do miss those long summer mornings when  could literally write to my heart and...
Read more...

Welcome

http://69.195.124.175/~johnfitz/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Ride-On.mp3 I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives; some such account as he would send...
Read more...

The Mystery in the Cradle

This picture is from Christmas eleven years ago when Tommy was only two weeks old, and now all of them—and Gio and Pipo–are playing charades or some such game in the dining room, shouting and laughing at each other’s miscues and fortifying another enduring...
Read more...

What a Picture Tells

“Zou Ma Guan Hua” You can’t ride a horse and smell the flowers ~Chinese Proverb Sometimes I love just browsing through old folders of pictures of my kids when they were just kids in every sense of the word. Just seeing the pictures is a visceral...
Read more...

Practicing What I Preach

It is not where you go. It is how you go. ~Fitz Is there any value in coming to the page this late at night after three hours of singing in a pub, just because I said I would? I expect you to go to the empty page and pry tired and stubborn thoughts and lay them on the...
Read more...

The Mystery Within

EJ wanted a banana tree for Christmas so that early morning brought a plastic bag, a few meager roots and no directions. I bought some potting soil and a square cedar box EJ placed deliberately by a westward window. He gently splayed the roots, pressed the soil, and...
Read more...

Close Your Eyes and See

      A lot of things in life fall short of the mark, but thoughtfulness has never let me down. For some forty years I have faithfully kept journals of the wanderings of my mind—most of which is lost in some way or another, but the effect hangs on like a sailor...
Read more...

Ready. Set. Go.

Who forgets to rinse his hair? Me, I guess, for that was the start of my day. I smelled something like coconut oil on my way to school, and then I realized, dang, my hair is still pretty wet. Wet with hair conditioner. And then I get sot school all coconutty smelling...
Read more...

Once Burned. Twice Shy.

Just because no one understands you,  it doesn’t mean you are an artist ~Bumper Sticker        I sometimes wonder why when you give a group of teenagers a video camera, the first impulse is to shoot something stupid. It’s as if there is some jackass switch...
Read more...

A Monday Ramble

There is always a hard shift for me at the end of the summer, and today is that day for me. I miss the freedom of last week: I’d wake in the morning, come out to the deck to write poetry or work on my novel–but now today, I feel like I should be preparing...
Read more...

The Queer Folk

True to my words of earlier this week, I finished this song last night, and at the time, I liked it–but in the clear light of day, too much of it seems forced, especially the rhymes. But that is part of the process. I think I am almost there. Let me get my saw...
Read more...

The Nagging Thing

Not many more nights like this, warm enough to sit outside on the back porch. The kids and Denise long asleep. Usually, during the school year, this is my “time” to catch up on schoolwork–grading, posting the assignments for the week and playing the...
Read more...

Canobie lake

Going to Canobie Lake is always the turning point of the year for me. It is like some primal signal that It is time to turn away from the school year and towards the future.  Obviously, it is my hope that you learned some useful skills this year, but, more...
Read more...

Nurture Passion

How about we all take the bull by the horns and make this blog thing work! Your job this week is to do something with your blog that is powered by the passion that is in you. Passion is the one thing you have some control over. There are plenty of smarter, more...
Read more...

Marriage & Magnanimity

If we want to have the freedom to marry whom we want to marry, why is it so important that the state (government) recognise that marriage? Is it simply the expediency of dispensing the entitlements of a marriage certificate: tax benefits, employment benefits, or the...
Read more...

Redefining Literacy

 My life is the poem I could have writ, But I could not both live and utter it ~Henry David Thoreau    The common man goes to an orchard to taste the fruit. The rich man man learns how to plant his own orchard. The poet, however,  grows an even better fruit and gives...
Read more...

Redemption

Finally, the tall green pines standing sentinel around this cold and black New Hampshire pond are framed in a sky of blue. After a month of steady rains, foggy nights, and misty days, I am reborn into a newly created world—a world that finally answered my prayers: no...
Read more...

The Late and Lazy Teacher

I guess this is a good thing. I showed up five minutes late for class, and my classroom was empty. I walked the hallways of the school and could not find any of them. I sheepishly asked the assistant headmaster if he “happened to see a class of wandering...
Read more...

You Are All a Bunch of Punks

Poetry without form is like tennis without a net. ~Robert Frost       Free verse poetry is not, as many assume, poetry without rules. It is a measured and thoughtful crafting of an idea into lines, spaces, and breaks intentionally and willfully crafted to heighten and...
Read more...

Finally…

Just closed the lid, so to speak, on what seems to be weeks of school-related paperwork. I am excited to go to my classes tomorrow with only those classes on my mind–not the letters home to parents, the secondary school recs, the grades and comments to homeroom...
Read more...

The Philanthropy of Maynard

 I woke up today with chores on my mind. My buddy Josh LoPresti lent me his woodsplitter, and I had dreams of a mindless day splitting wood and heaving it into a pile for my kids to stack along the fence. But the dryer was broken, and it needed to be fixed....
Read more...

Quit Your Whining

Anything worth succeeding in is worth failing in~Ben Franklin      “Quit your whining and complaining” is probably a clause that can easily be translated into every language in every culture on earth, for, from what I know and have seen in the world,...
Read more...

The Night Music

The house is quiet earlier than usual. I can hear Margaret playing her guitar and singing in her bedroom—door closed as she would have it, but still beautiful to hear. It reminds me of Kaleigh when she was younger singing her heart out, as if the world didn’t...
Read more...

The Blathering of Teachers

To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities  as you do at conclusions. ~Benjamin Franklin             Maybe we are born more to ignore than to listen. I understand too well how easy it is to ignore the blatherings of teachers. I was a master of it once myself, so why...
Read more...

Wisdom

Wisdom starts in non-action… The doing and non-doing are the equal balance. Without the luxury of contemplation there would not be a prioritizing of need versus want. Wisdom balances physical reality… Wisdom does not shuffle tasks out of view but finds a way to...
Read more...

The Enigma

Black Pond is not as deepas it is dark, dammedsome century agobetween ledges of granite and an outcropping of leaning fir, huckleberry, and white pine. For years I have paddled and trolled;swam, fished, sailed and sometimessimply tread water in the night trying to...
Read more...

A Priori

How do I know what I know? The sharp angles of this simple cottage perfected  in every board sawn, shingle split and beam hewn into place goes together placed, splined, slid together, bound more by intuition than knowing. Like this:Like...
Read more...

A New Beginning

 I guess if there is any constant in my life, it is new beginnings.  This blog–and this website–is another new beginning starting here late on a cold night on my back porch. I’ve been keeping a blog (in fact several blogs) since the first blogs made...
Read more...

The Next Time Around

        I wonder what the years have really taught me about writing and music. I have gotten so used to preaching and teaching that I am a bit looped by the thought of writing—as in how I wrote before (or how I will claim I wrote) before settling into this somewhat...
Read more...

The Teacher’s Couch

It’s not just a couch; it’s a sofa, too ~Fitz           I remember my first year teaching at Fenn—and it was really my first stint as a true worker with responsibilities outside of what I already had in my wheelhouse—and on this day, some twenty something years ago, I...
Read more...

The Litter in Concord

I have been following a Facebook thread about the movement in my beloved hometown of Concord to ban plastic water bottles, plastic bags and styrofoam cups. I am trying to discern whether or not my initial responses are pure and true and not simply reactionary and...
Read more...

Another Wednesday

        It is a good night for meatballs. The same meal we have cooked every Wednesday night for thirteen years and counting. Tonight is a beautiful and warm night of vacation week, so more than likely we will have a big crowd joining us—but we never know who. The...
Read more...

Hallows Lake

Foreward Thanks for taking a look at this “work in progress. It originally started out as an experimental one-man play. Maybe it still will be. Later I thought of making it into a novel, but it’s hard to see it happening as there is (intentionally) no real...
Read more...

Why Trump Is Not Flipping Me Out

I wonder why Trump is not flipping me out? I wonder if there is some bigoted, ignorant and right-wing element that lurks inside this folk-singing, poem writing, neo-socialist shell of mine. Maybe it is not that hard for me to make the empathetic reach to feel at least...
Read more...

The Inn

        I realized that in all my years of writing and journal keeping, I seldom, if ever, write about “The Inn,” which is and has been, the biggest and most enduring constant in my life for the past thirty plus years. Every Thursday night I load up my...
Read more...

Practice Doing

Someday, someone might fire you for not doing what you should have done.    There are some days when a teacher might wonder whether it is worth giving the extra effort if the students are not giving the extra effort. I am lucky–and cursed–that I get...
Read more...

The Inn

Every Thursday, for some thirty years, I have been spending this same time each week wrapping up the loose ends of the day before heading down to the inn to play to whomever and whatever shows up. Tonight looks like a fun night: Maroghini will be with me for his last...
Read more...

A Redemptive Moment

I see the clock ticking towards 7:00. The kids are deep in their weekday world of homework, juggling soccer balls around the house, watching TV, but I am in my “got to rally” and get to the inn mode that happens very Thursday. Tonight I am tired. I’ll admit it, but...
Read more...

Eighteen Years

At midnight I hear the cuckoo clock chiming from it’s perch in a cluttered kitchen locked in cadence with the tower bell gonging this old mill town at midnight to a deeper sleep, like a call to prayer reminding me that this new day, starting in the dark of a hallowed...
Read more...

China Journal: Part One

I           The dull staccato throb in light rain on a dark night. Unseen barges make their way up the QianTian River—concrete shores marked by the arch of the bridge, the spans of beam stretched on beam, the impeccable symmetry of the street-lights broken by a stream...
Read more...

All You Need is Love

    The day grew warm today, as did my mood. I did a couple of shows at my school’s diversity day. It was good to see girls there and the obvious racial differences. It was comforting to see a sea of color with a smattering of white instead of the other way around. My...
Read more...

Evolution

The coyotes and fisher cats seem intent on striking some new deal with each other to toy with our fears in this gentleman’s wilderness— patches of dense woods dotted with overgrown fields, riven and intersected by highways, powerlines and quiet, suburban...
Read more...

The Most Unoriginal Teacher

Yes, that’s me. I am a fraudster, thief, and plagiarizer of the worst magnitude. I copy the very styles of classic poets; I steal from Noble Laureate novelists, and I copy words from every and any source I can. And even worse, I steal from myself. If you even...
Read more...

China Journal: Part Three

III My teachers could have ridden with Jesse James For all the time they stole from me… ~Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America      Today it was a temple built into the mountainside west of West Lake. Mr. Toe drove us out there. In most ways I just follow...
Read more...

Creating a Digital Workflow in the Classroom

One Teacher’s Solution To Everything  Years of teaching woodshop at my school has reinforced in me the utility of developing a workflow that works best for the project at hand using the tools and equipment already in the shop. The same can be said of my other life as...
Read more...

The Fallacy of Philanthropy

There are thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one striking at the root. ~Henry David Thoreau     I just spent a long day deconstructing our backyard. EJ sold his alpacas, and so our fenced in pasture and barn can now return to its suburban origins as a shed...
Read more...

A New Hearth

It has been a long time since I wrote a simple old “this is what I am going to do today” post. So this is what I am going to do today: [and trust me, it will have nothing–absolutely nothing–to do with school work:)] Before the true winter...
Read more...

China Journal: Part Two

II The grass grows. The rain falls Nothing is done. Nothing is left undone ~Buddha   A day can be perfect. I have to believe this. Today was. Is. Is was a day in china. The sun breaking through today after yesterday’s typhoon. Lazy walk to the coffee shop....
Read more...

A New Paradigm

     Sometimes, like right now, I long for a pile of papers on my lap that I could speed through, grade with a series of checks and circles, a few scribbled lines of praise or condemnation, and drop into a shoebox on my desk and say, “Here are your...
Read more...

Another Day…

I’ve been somewhat lax about posting in here of late, but I have been giving myself a bit of a break from writing. In fact, I spent the last month or so just living–and that has been just fine with me. I set a simple goal for myself this summer to get in...
Read more...

Going Google?

When you find yourself in the majority, it’s time to join the minority ~Mark Twain I have to admit, Google is pretty impressive. The whole set of features that are offered to the public and to educators for free is pretty astounding: email, document creation and...
Read more...

Chores

The day sometimes slip away from me, a huge pine half-bucked in the backyard, the kids old tree fort cut into slabs, a ton of coal waiting to be moved in a train of buckets to the bin. Sipping cold water on the back deck, sharpening the dulled teeth of a worn...
Read more...

A Late Night Metacognition

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after ~Henry David Thoreau           When you need something done, find a busy person to help you get it done. My mother loved repeating that to me all the way to her dying day,...
Read more...

What’s in a Song

Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet. ~Plato         Writing a song is not just an exercise in seeking some kind of future fame. It is...
Read more...

A Perfect Mirror

Do not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself~Buddha Last night you were so lucky. You didn’t have to worry about your grumpy, tired teacher going through hours of journals ands doling out poor grades for what I am sure qualifies for good...
Read more...

What Christmas Is

  I am not sure what Christmas really is anymore. I am almost afraid to think of what Christians are going through in the lands of the original Christian faith. By dint of place and time, I grew up in the Catholic faith, and try as I might, I can’t ever escape the...
Read more...

Make Something out of Something

It’s hard to make chicken salad out of chicken manure      Dirty hands are a good sign, so hopefully, you got some mental mud on your hands and created some content to work with today.  To a starving man, any food is good food–unless it is pure manure. It...
Read more...

The Shapes of Stories

While I have always been a storyteller of sorts, I am not much of a writer of stories–but I have always been intrigued by the relative simplicity at the core design level of most books and movies. A lot of it is tied to my love for Joseph Campbell’s work...
Read more...

Doing What Needs To Be Done

The rain falls;The grass grows:Nothing is done.Nothing is left undone~Buddha           Sometimes you just do what you got to do, and that never changes from the first time you take out the trash as a kid until the time in life where you are taking care of little...
Read more...

On Writing with Rubrics

The only way out is through… Damn! Another long post… For better and worse–and through thick and thin–I keep piling on rubric after rubric to help guide the content, flow, and direction of my students’ writing pieces.  The greater irony...
Read more...

The End Is the Beginning

For the past twenty years this night has always been a bittersweet moment. I have never been hobbled by boredom or a lack of “things I love to do,” so whatever supposed free time I have is rewarding in whatever I choose to do. The flip side is that I am...
Read more...

Ghetto of Your Eye

A Veteran’s Day Remembrance I wrote this song back in the winter of 1989 in the dining car of a steam driven train, somewhere along the Trans-Siberian railway, after meeting a group of Russian soldiers fresh from battle in Afghanistan—that poor country that has...
Read more...

The Tide

They are building a world and the plastic is fading: Margaret and Eddie’s buckets are split, pouring out the warm Atlantic as they race along the tidal flat, filling pools connected by frantically dug canals. Tommy squats naked and screams in guttural joy at the...
Read more...

Denise

There is something about coming hometo this empty house, yesterday’sheavy downpours scouringclean the alreadyweathered deckwhere I sitwishing for,wanting,you. Like this:Like...
Read more...

Eighteen Years

At midnight I hear the cuckoo clock chiming from it’s perch in a cluttered kitchen locked in cadence with the tower bell gonging this old mill town at midnight to a deeper sleep, like a call to prayer reminding me that this new day, starting in the dark of a hallowed...
Read more...

The Snow

has dropped a seamlessness before the plows and children can patch it back to a jagged and arbitrary quilting putting borders to design and impulse. I imagine myself falling everywhere softly, whispering, I am here, and I am here. Like this:Like...
Read more...

Welcome

http://69.195.124.175/~johnfitz/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Ride-On.mp3 I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives; some such account as he would send...
Read more...

A Priori

How do I know what I know? The sharp angles of this simple cottage perfected  in every board sawn, shingle split and beam hewn into place goes together placed, splined, slid together, bound more by intuition than knowing. Like this:Like...
Read more...

Waiting for a Poem

  It’s not like a poem to come curl by my feet on this morning too beautiful to describe, though I am looking and listening and waiting: A rooster crows above the low hum of morning traffic; the trash truck spills air from brakes and rattles empties into bins; my...
Read more...

Thanksgiving

I am surprised sometimes by the suddenness of November: beauty abruptly shed to a common nakedness— grasses deadened by hoarfrost, persistent memories of people I’ve lost. It is left to those of us dressed in the hard barky skin of experience to insist on a decorum...
Read more...

Goathouse

Goat house In reaching for the scythe I’m reminded of the whetstone and the few quick strokes by which it was tested– the hardness of hot August; the burning of ticks off dog backs. It’s winter now in this garage made barn, and the animals seem only curious that...
Read more...

Goathouse

In reaching for the scythe I’m reminded of the whetstone and the few quick strokes by which it was tested— the hardness of hot August; the burning of ticks off dog backs. It’s winter now in this garage made barn, and the animals seem only curious that I’d be here so...
Read more...

Raccoon

I’ve stopped the chinks with newspaper and rags wedged tightly against the wind blowing cold three days now. I feed the fire and curse its hissing and steaming mixing green oak with sticks of dried pine calling myself Raccoon grown fat in the suburbs sleeping in...
Read more...

Thanksgiving

I am surprised sometimesby the suddenness of November:beauty abruptly shedto a common nakedness–grasses deadenedby hoarfrost,persistent memoriesof people I’ve lost.It is left to those of us dressed in the hard barky skin of experienceto insist on a decorumthat...
Read more...

Raccoon Welcome

Welcome Like this:Like...
Read more...

The Enigma

Black Pond is not as deepas it is dark, dammedsome century agobetween ledges of granite and an outcropping of leaning fir, huckleberry, and white pine. For years I have paddled and trolled;swam, fished, sailed and sometimessimply tread water in the night trying to...
Read more...

Weeds

  Somewhere locked in this choke of weeds spread like a mangy carpet is the hardened vine of Pipo’s Concord Grape he planted in an eager spring three years ago. Gasping for air and sun and water perhaps it has found some way to hide from my flailing hoe and the...
Read more...

Concord

The people, the music filledness of rush hour traffic skirting puddles work crews packing in laughswearingmudyellowed slickers lighting candle bombs. My sadness the euphoric detachment. I love this town. It breathes me. Like this:Like...
Read more...

Evolution

The coyotes and fisher cats seem intent on striking some new deal with each other to toy with our fears in this gentleman’s wilderness— patches of dense woods dotted with overgrown fields, riven and intersected by highways, powerlines and quiet, suburban...
Read more...

In Reply To Einstein

*God casts the die, not the dice. ~Alfred Einstein I am cold down the neck, turtling my head to showers of ice that fall dancing and skidding on skins of crusted snow. I hold my breath when I step, inflating hopes of a weightlessness, and so be undetected
to the play...
Read more...

The Mystery Within

EJ wanted a banana tree for Christmas so that early morning brought a plastic bag, a few meager roots and no directions. I bought some potting soil and a square cedar box EJ placed deliberately by a westward window. He gently splayed the roots, pressed the soil, and...
Read more...

Pruning

These trees have driven so many friends batty, wedged in unstable crotches, embracing hollow, heart-rotted limbs, reaching tentatively, maddened with indecision. From a distance your gestures are very lobsterlike— waving a last embattled claw, as if dueling some...
Read more...

Dealing with Ether

Trying to only see what is in front of me my eyes are continually drawn away from this page and the work left to be done— my labored words etched and scratched away like fleeting mosaics in dry sand. I need a windowless cell to work the alchemy that shapes the...
Read more...

Joshua Sawyer

I doubt I’d ever have taken this road
had I known how fallen it really was
to disrepair: driving comically,
skirting ruts and high boulders, grimacing
at every bang on the oil pan.
I tell you it’s the old road to Wendell —
that they don’t make them like this anymore.

Read more...

Chores

The day sometimes slip away from me, a huge pine half-bucked in the backyard, the kids old tree fort cut into slabs, a ton of coal waiting to be moved in a train of buckets to the bin. Sipping cold water on the back deck, sharpening the dulled teeth of a worn...
Read more...

The Fisher

To cast far is to cast well. I’ve always believed that the biggest fish are just beyond my range and lie in dark water I could never swim to. But experience is the wisdom that has me now casting closer to shore, nearest the reeds and overgrowth — a subtleness geared...
Read more...

Dad

Moaning like a lost whale the thin ice bellowed behind us then cracked and rang as if spit from a whip. The sharp steel of my over-sized skates etched unspeakable joy into the slate-grey, reptilian skin of Walden Pond. Our mismatched hands gripped together in the...
Read more...

The Threshing

I trace her charging through the cornfield shaking the timbers of the ready crop startling up the blackbirds, and surprisingly, a jay. It’s the jay who startles me—
who with two quick pulls wrests itself from the transient green, screaming back from its familiar scrub...
Read more...

Supermoon

Last night the August supermoon reminded me of the fickleness of time and how substance becomes shadow and memories begin to etch themselves immutably into the hardness of what is already lost. Like this:Like...
Read more...

Kampuchea

I stutter for normality across the river from black men fishing for kibbers and horned pout. Barefoot children rounded bellies curled navels stalk the turtle sunning on a log. lonely in the field grass lonely on the curbstones I stutter for normality. Not a mother...
Read more...

Molting

I am always molting; leaving my hollowed skin in awkward places, scaring people and making them jump. They touch me and think I’m real; then laugh and say things like “What a riot.” I’m tired of this changing of skins. I’d rather stumble on myself and be fooled; and...
Read more...

The English Soldier

There is a soldier dressed in ancient English wool guarding the entrance to the inn. He is lucky for this cool night awaiting the pomp of the out of town wedding party. He is paid to be unmoved by the bride’s stunning beauty or her train of lesser escorts. He...
Read more...


Calendar

When the eyes rest on the soul…that’s Fitzy

Lenny Magliola

WEEI Radio


“A masterful weaver of modern day folktales, 
and a wonderful singer whose deep resonant voice 
rivals the best of his genre.”

Spirit of Change Magazine


Shane

by Fitz singing a Jimmy O'Brien Classic


Upcoming Shows

Every Thursday at The Colonial Inn, in Concord, MA

 

Join me–and usually “Friends” (both of them:)–for a night of classic pub music, country, old blues, traditional folk and celtic, originals, tall tales and more… It is always a fun night!

Tip Jar Only!  7:30-10:30, in the way cool back tavern.

 

First Saturdays at the Inn

Saturday, April 4th: Every First Saturday of the month at The Colonial Inn is a chance for me and me bandmates “The Salty Dawgs” to get together for an always amazingly fun and musically diverse (to put it mildly) marathon of music and fun. Come early to get a seat and experience me and the mega-talented Seth Connelly, Hatrack Gallagher and Keith Jaques for a night of pure musical joy.

The Inn

 

     I realized that in all my years of writing and journal keeping, I seldom, if ever, write about “The Inn,” which is and has been, the biggest and most enduring constant in my life for the past thirty plus years. Every Thursday night I load up my car, truck, bus or whatever I happen to be driving at the time with my guitar, amps and broken-down paraphernalia of a small-potato folksinger, and I head to The Colonial Inn in Concord MA and take up my stool in the corner of the Village Forge Pub, and I start to sing–sometimes non-stop for several hours and sometimes with long and friendly breaks thrown in to meet up with old friends or let someone else on stage–almost always some musician with better chops than mine. I can honestly say that  have never had a bad night. I’ve had tough nights with indifferent crowds, no crowds or loud crowds, but something always happens to “redeem the night,” and I never drive home feeling eternity has in any sense been wounded by the night.

It is that redemption that gives me the energy, no matter what my energy really is. Music does not soothe the soul–it energizes life and gives a deeper substance that is as real as any seed planted in a welcome soil.

That soil is you, whoever “you” are.

You might be an old high school buddy who laughs and wonders when the hell I ever started playing guitar. You might be some snowbound or life-bound traveler spending a night at the inn. You might be a business- man or woman pouring over spreadsheets in the corner. You might be a friend or group of friends celebrating life or mourning a death or just reconnecting. You might be a lonely drunk or a bitter drunk or just a drunk searching for a better elixir to get you through the life you have or have created. You might be a family out for a burger and chicken fingers and a round of sodas. You might be my wife Denise who sees and senses and knows everything that is me. You might be one of my kids getting on stage to give the old man a break, or one of my students finally getting the courage to sing to a crowd. You might be the bartender: Joe, Subhas, Leslie, Garret, Nick or Patti and my only crowd.

In every case “you” make “me” possible. And, for the most part, I have stopped arguing with myself, and maybe that is why people keep coming by.

Some years ago a reporter from The Boston Globe asked me what I like to sing, and in a moment of profundity, I responded, “Anything that I know that someone wants to hear.” I have butchered many a song on stage, not because I do not know the song, but because I want to know the song; I want to give it a try, and I learned long ago that if I only sing what I know well, I would have a very short set-list. I’ve learned in the magical process of learning, butchering and relearning that my sets are a constantly evolving paradigm–a flow that emerges in a new way in each moment. Each night is a new night and a new way of seeing the world in front of me. I am blessed by the solipsism of a small bar in my hometown of Concord. It is, for those few hours, my universe, and I am pulled by the gravity of tradition to just keep singing.

Everything simply falls in place.

When I started back in the winter of 1983, I had dreams that this was only a beginning–a way to lay a foundation beneath a singer/songwriter destined for some broader fame. Now I am happy to settle for a larger fame, one that my youth could never dream. Tonight my stage will be as large as it ever was or needs to be. Seth and Hatrack might show–two of my oldest and best friends–and we will settle in with me in a crowded corner. Tom Sheppard might come by with his big bass. Keith might lug in his drum kit. You might even be there.

We will meet new people. We’ll sing and laugh and play and experiment and never imagine defaming the night with a list of songs. The true and palpable magic just happens.

It is a damn fine universe, and all I really need.


The Crafted Word

 

Writing Help When You Need It…

 

Visit TheCraftedWord.org

Tutor

Active Reading Skills … SAT Prep … Vocabulary … Grammar & Mechanics

Mentor

Essay Writing … Common App … Blogging … Portfolio Development

Music

Guitar & Banjo … Songwriting & Recording … Performance 

Workshops

Writing with Rubrics … Blogging Communities … Video Essays & Podcasts 


I'd love to hear from you...

11 + 10 =

The Crafted Word 

Teaching Traditional & Modern Skills for Reading, Writing,

Creating & Publishing in a Digital World

  IMG_4531   The common man goes to an orchard to taste the fruit. The rich man learns how to plant his own orchard. The writer, however, grows an even better fruit–and gives it all away, for in its perfection no person could afford to buy these apples that never bruise or fall or wilt in the heat. It is an apple that gives more than sustenance; it is an apple that gives life itself. For the true writer, his or her life is the vessel of humanity, and within that life is carried the collective dreams, haunts, wonderings, visions, and perceptions that lifts any who read or hear out of the muck of a stagnant existence and into a more transcendent experience—an uncommon experience of common life.

My simple goal in starting The Crafted Word was–and is–to help anyone who wants to become a better writer become a better writer–a writer who is  engaged in learning the tips, tricks, and tools of the writer’s trade and a writer who attends to the craft of writing with the same deliberate and attentive focus of any true artist intent on creating, collating, and curating a more expansive portfolio of  work. 

The same is true with music, and especially songwriting and recording. Don’t just point at a dream; move in the direction of that dream; take some lessons, write a song, record songs. Leave your voice and life in an enduring and palpable way.

There are many ways to climb these mountains. The Crafted Word is a mentor to teach, guide and coach you every step of the way.

 


%d bloggers like this: