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Ken Slone
FOR HARLAN HUBBARD

I was reading Shantyboat last night on board my own boat.
I often need to see water.
I was rocking,
Rising, and falling from the busied holiday weekend lake traffic.

You were off the boat
Being commissioned to paint,
Glad to be thought of as a painter who fished –
Not a fisherman who painted.

The Trimble County preacher who had to seek you out
To contract the painting to be hung on the wall behind his pulpit
Never dreamed your watercolor river
Was pre-drawn from floating the river Brent to the Bedford Bridge.

You would accept money only for the needed supplies,
Reasoning that painting the scene sans pay
Would bring you more pleasure
And the freedom to please no others.

Others were pleased, however.
The members met at a house that could be reached by car,
A farm house you could reach easily enough by walking
Along a winding river-leaving path.

The country dinner was served in your honor.
You were surprised that art
Pleasing to you
Also pleased strangers.

I was enjoying your journals last night
When I realized why your writing has been compared to Thoreau’s.
Creativity in your writing and your art
Came from pleasing yourself.

Professor of English Ken Slone received the Great Teacher Award in 1999 for teaching his students to take pride in their Appalachian heritage and to write from their hearts. His book of poetry, At Home in the Mountains, was published in 2001. His book, Mountain Teacher – An Eastern Kentucky Teacher Tells His Story was published in 2005. After earning his graduate degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ken returned to his home county of Johnson. He is retired from Big Sandy Community & Technical College after a 36-year teaching career. He and his wife Debbie spend winter months on the beach at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

 

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