Offering for a Friend
for Dan Harrington
"Doth suffer a sea change
into something rich and strange... "
One for the Buddha
popping a morphine pill
they don't give me any
false hope you know
telling a friend over the phone
I'm comfortable now
I have some cash
I want you to take
he told me
I helped him to his feet
and he showed me
a pile of 100's, 50's, and 20's he had
hidden in his closet
but I didn't take it
I don't know why
I guess I had other things on my mind
at that moment
like all those meals he had bought me
over the years
when I was down and out
but he never made me feel like I was begging
or leaning on him in any way
he had such eccentric grace
always playing the supporting role
as in our music
but I thought about it all night
realizing with a sweet shock
we had never had an argument
or difference of opinion
in all those years
the next morning
when I arrived back at his gate
some old friend of his family
had apparently taken charge
of his situation
and wouldn't let see him
but I peeked in through the door
and saw Dan lying on the floor
a beatific smile
on his face
I said I wanted to gather up
his songs and poems at least
and the reply was
"This isn't a social occasion"
so I hung around outside
hoping to steal a moment
when they carted him off
"I love you" we said together
"and I meant every word of it"
and now I understand
by the time you realize what's going on
it's too late
and that was the last time I saw Dan
but when I went home
I put the little wooden cicada cage
he once had given me
on my altar
and let his spirit escape
along with his gift
the deep undying song
of our friendship
by Jerry Ferraz
Dec. 26, 2012
Back to San Francisco Art and Poetry Events
for Dan Harrington December 1, 2009
The singer could not hear the song he wrote
Singing inside of my head
I listened for birds in the wind out the window
Wandered so slowly repaired by the sound
I heard coming from nowhere at all
Like a shadow in sunlight its leaves.
Like a promise dying in a hesitant cough.
Like the dance that ends in the night.
Like he knew no one was listening,
Like the rain on the porch in the dawn.
He sang for himself, for no one at all,
The trees knew that autun'd gone by.
I could hear ever phrase as he left it out
Rhyming with words he could not hear.
I laughed with him late into the darkness
Before everything sunlight betrayed us.
Everything's mist when you're far out at sea.
It's a dream when you think you're asleep.
It's tomorrow when today is only a pramble.
It's memory when you're not in your life.
I heard him sing and I knew I was alive.
And Yet I was lost in the words once again.
by Peter Sherburn Zimmer
San Francisco native, Dan Harrington was a musician and music was his life. In the early 70's, Dan had studied with Nanos Valoritos* at S.F. State and was a student of literature especially modern French and Spanish literature and film. Dan's lifelong interest in those subjects made him an interesting and eccentric conversationalist, often making obscure references or comments about esoteric literature of all kinds. During those years, Dan could also often be found with his good friends, Jerry Ferraz, Tony Vaughan, and Ted Arvidson. They enjoyed going to poetry readings, writing songs and playing their music at cafes around town.
When Dan retired from thirty years as a dock clerk, he had even more time for his music. He was already an expert guitarist and banjo player but when he would see an instrument that interested him, he would get it and begin to teach himself how to play it. He enjoyed sitting outside the Cafe Trieste and playing one or more of the instruments from his collection. Sometimes he would join in playing with others. On occasion Dan could be coaxed to come out and sing his songs at the Bird and Beckett, which was always much appreciated by his fans, but he flat-out refused to feature or in any way bring any attention to himself.
Dan also loved the outdoors and before the State Parks closed he often went camping by himself. According to Jerry, he was a secret Zen adept, which few of his friends even knew about and sought solitude hence his frequent get a ways to commune with nature.
Dan Harrington was a quiet courteous man in this world but not of it. He died Dec.2012, a month after being diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and left the world as unobtrusively as he had lived in it. His music and his manner are very much missed by his friends. Dan Harrington lived in North Beach San Francisco.
Dan Harrington video (mislabeled)
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