Poem to Rick Masten
By John McCleary, June 16, 2008
Rick was of sound mind. I know this because Timothy Leary said so.
Rick lived above the fog. It never touched him even when it influenced him.
Rick could tell a story. He had a line for everything.
Rick wasn’t much of a liar. But you could never tell whether or not he was pulling your leg.
Rick did not die. He’s just somewhere else, amusing someone else.
No Good Byes: To Ric Masten, June 20, 1929 – May 9, 2008
By Nancie M. Brown, Jan. 12, 2009
I loved you the way carrots are crunchy
I loved you the way cat’s purr
Without effort or explanation
I loved you how I know that spring has come
Without seeing a calendar.
And I love you now
The way I carry the sight of August’s
Perseid’s star showers blazing
Even though it is day.
I miss you now the way trees are bare in winter
I miss you now like labor pain coming in the night.
So I’m keeping my promise to you now:
As you lay dying in your dim “cave”
Bedroom’s black curtains drawn closed
Your bed, your bier.
“Keep me here”, you said
Placing your hand over my heart
“No good byes” I said and you
Looking straight at me - Yes.
Yes. Only say, “Until next time.”
No good byes. No good byes!
You are here now
In my heart and
In the hearts of
So many who loved you
No good byes dear friend.
Bio: Bahia Tavakolian Brunelle, author, composer, teacher and public speaker, enjoys integrating art, music and literature in her work. Her writing spans a wide range of categories from novels, short stories and essays to poetry and songs. Her poems, lyrics and melodies receive worldwide airplay, and her books include Word of Mouth, Kingsley Drive to King’s Road and Why the Skydiver Sings.
Meeting with Masten
By Bahia Tavakolian Brunelle
Last night I dreamt I was meeting with Ric Masten
High on a cliff overlooking the Pacific
Strumming a guitar carved out of driftwood
Singing and talking with more voices than one
He joked about putting his audience to sleep
Though all eyes were captive and all ears were engaged
A poet speaking everyone’s language
From the privileged and blessed
To the ones fortune forgot
In this paradox of pleasure and pain on earth
He touched the human heart
Of every man, woman and child
Crisscrossing the continents of age and gender
Armed with his body of stories and songs
Freely offering answers
To questions some would never ask
Laughing at rejection
When he went out on a limb
Bravely baring his soul
Slaying hypocrisy and falsehood
In a good natured way
He made it hard for the crowd
To take itself too seriously
As the waves crashed down below
And stars lit up the stage
He never missed a punch line
He never missed a beat
While painting the universe
With colors that were true
He reminded us that life and death
Are just a breath apart
Some people never leave us
Some dreams will never die
Like the dream I had last night
By April F. Masten, 1985
You say I look like my mother. Does that mean I look less like myself? I used to think it was awful. How could I ever be anyone else but her daughter? So, I moved away to where nobody knows you, Mom. I'm making friends of my own. And I'm finding it lonely when no one sees you in me. I'm not recognized in the grocery store anymore.
So, you tell me, you've heard my father. His performance so moving it brought you to tears. Oh, yes, you could say I'm his protégé, but I like to think that my poetry stands on its own. So, I moved away to where nobody knows you, Dad. I'm getting fans of my own. And I'm finding I like to sing your songs to my new friends. I feel real high when those words of yours make them cry.
All of my life I've been trying to make myself different from you. I would go to extremes in an argument to drive home my own point of view, and that's when someone would always lean over close to kindly say, “Hey, you know, you're just like your folks?” Oh, I know.
So, you tell me, I look like my mother, and my father emanates from my songs. Well, I'd like to say, I'm glad it's that way. Can you imagine not knowing where it came from? I moved away to where nobody knows you two, I'm making a home of my own. And it’s good that I made the move because if I hadn't I might not have known that I'm proud I'm yours. Thank God it shows.
From Joe Malone:
I was first a fan; a casual, then serious, buyer of his products since the late 1970s; then at the end of the century, we finally met and became good friends. I shilled for him both online and in person at some of his readings. I peddled his books at "First Night Monterey" in 2006 while he sat in the limelight, signed autographs and schmoozed the adoring audience. He wrote a piece in honor of my wife's passing and spoke at her memorial in 2005. That poem (Nancy Malone) was published recently in "Going Out Dancing" by "Skinner House Books: in Boston. Ric claimed that I had the only complete collection of his published poems in existence. I was privileged to hold his hand (Photo attached) four days before he died. Unfortunately, I was traveling when the family scheduled his memorial on what would have been his 79th birthday.
All of the above is to say, I loved the man. He was human and flawed but a giant in a small package. We disagreed occasionally but more often than not he successfully moved me slightly to the left of center. He could and did speak to those all across the philosophical spectrum
from those folks he (irreverently) called "The Fundies" to his safe haven in the UU congregations across the nation. BTW - With his last out-of-town trip to Bismarck, ND in 2007, Ric performed in all 48 contiguous state plus Alaska. His crowning glory, however, may have been the strength, generosity and love he shared during his decade-long battle with Advanced Prostate Cancer. No man could have left a larger legacy than that.
PS - (Ever the shill - post mortem) On the day he died, Ric's family took receipt of a shipment of new books titled "Words & One-Liners - Take Three (Not Dead Yet)". Note the irony. Any assistance you can give the family to move those books would be greatly appreciated, I'm sure. Part of his material legacy is tied up in those products.
PPS - I attached 2 pics. I am the beard. The other person is Robert
Weston, a mutual friend and Pacific Grove poet in his own right.
From Jerri Masten Hansen
To all the dear people who have responded back to me over all these months through Dad’s illness and death - It was a great comfort to me to know that Dad touched so many people in such a deep and profound way, as all of you have touched me so deeply.
It was an honor and a great privilege to care for my parents over these last few years and to help Dad with the business and be here so he could pass at home. Mom is doing okay, but she now needs more help with day-to-day things, and I, along with my sisters, will do our best for her.
I am including the latest poem I’ve written, as my grieving has really just begun I miss my father terribly and there now needs to be time for me to write and heal and recover along with watching over Mom. I just wanted again to send my love and gratitude to all of you for being
the reason dad got up every day. He so needed people to love and to be loved by the people, we have Dads ashes in several places this is about one it’s called:
By Jerraldine Hildreth Masten Hansen, July 23, 2008
That's me, Jerri, Ric's oldest daughter
It’s just a quiet Wednesday
The 23rd of July
I hit the speed limit on Friday
A new year for me but without you
First the dog died our Sheelah
And then you Dad
And the fires came
Blackened our landscape
Your funeral pier
It filled my lungs
I was afraid
I kept busy
I piled your paintings in the car
Stacked between my favorite rugs
I carried your ashes
In my purse for weeks
Waiting for today
To put order back
A quiet Wednesday
The smoke is clearing
Today I feel my grief
I empty the car
And hang your paintings
One by one
The last one hung is my beginning
Bixby beach the year I was born
I am here... Today
Like you asked me Dad
To watch your bones
Join in the dance of surf and sand
I think of Joe and Norm
I keep looking up
To the sky
To the bridge
I look ahead
The long path
I see you
Carrying me piggyback
Through this enchanted forest
You my sturdy steed
I your princess
Today our last walk together
I carry you on my back
Your first born
I have not walked here
In all these years
You have been ill
The path is overgrown
I feel the sting
Of so many nettles
So much is changed
But I still know my way
I press forward
With one last push
I am through
Out in the light
The beach is PERFECT
Someone has left
A totem of stacked stones
An island in the middle of the stream
A place to leave you in honor
I sit and write
In your favorite sweater and hat
Your original hippy bell
Sounds my way
And...here you are
In sand castles
And 4th of July
And trout fishing
The smell of sea and bacon
Turpentine and linseed oil
The canvases of my life
The happiest times
I can remember
I am growing old now
And I don't know what to do
All these days ahead
I AM GRIEVING
I rub your ash across my feet
And wade into the river
Atop a large flat rock
Are seven stacked stones
I spread you like mortar
I beat my chest and scream and wail
My tears fill my hands
Then to the ocean’s edge it spills
You seemed so white
Were swallowed up
Into kelp and foam
I've held some of you back
To leave on the road
And the trail home
My fingers are dusted with white powder
I carry you under my nails
And between my toes
The sea seemed so loud when I arrived
Now it whispers
And I am ok
And you are ok
And it’s time to go home..
I love you all be well heal and live Jerri
Billie Barbara, Jerri, April and Ellen,
I hope all is well among the Masten clan down on the coast. I have attached a poem that was written by Mary Lou Taylor, a published poet in Santa Clara county. Mary Lou is a friend who didn't know Ric personally but saw him perform at my wife's memorial service in 2005. Since then she has become familiar with his background and work. She shared this piece with me recently and gave me permission to pass it on to the Masten family. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I will try to get down to Big Sur sometime before the year's end. In the meantime....
White Feathers – For Ric Masten
By Mary Lou Taylor
I met him only once at a memorial.
I missed his — but from what I know
he went out dancing.
His family stood around his bed
candles lit, singing, singing
a song Ric wrote.
It had to do with dancing.
Their note to friends after
Why not the dragonfly
he could change into at five?
When you can do that, he said,
why, you can do everything.
And he could do anything.
Painter, actor, carpenter, runner,
he didn't find his true voice
until he discovered poetry.
He called himself old, broken-down.
He never discovered punctuation.
What he uncovered was joy every day.
When it was his turn to melt into the shadows
that edge the green, that tough, tenacious survivor
left, hanging white feathers on the wind.
Mary Lou Taylor
I met Ric Masten shortly after I moved to San Francisco to become a poet and found my voice in all that I had left back home on the Monterey Peninsula. Ric encouraged me to embrace my alienation, darkness, and transcend it through beauty, and, of course, humor- which nothing can assail. Ric's passing came at a time when entirely too many close to me, both young and old, also passed away. A tribute to him in the Monterey Poetry Review seemed entirely appropriate- I am delighted that we finally are putting out this issue. I'd like to thank Alan Soldofsky for urging me towards this idea.
THE DANCE OF THE URBAN HONEYBEE
I needed to mail a letter
so I go to my corner Walgreen1s
and purchase 4 stamps for $1.99...
Later, when the .48 cent difference occurs to me,
I wonder if I paid extra
for the red cursive emblemed cardboard
and plastic wrapping, or convenience?
Yesterday I saw a man yell at hotel strikers-
workers of less than $10/hour, locked out
for demanding health benefits.
The man said the strikers made too much noise"
"Shut the fuck up!"
"Shut the fuck up!"
They call me teacher, poet, guide;
the honeybee sent out to find a new destination
where the hive can find safety.
Yet, I'm finding no answers;
my students think I1m crazy,
too tough of a grader,
there's a hole in the ceiling of my classroom,
and the heater doesn't work.
On the streets, panhandlers stand on their heads
next to marquis that say,
3All you could ever want to eat2.
While, Bitsey, the heroin addict midget prostitute
crutches across Market Street
her freshly amputated left stump
swinging in rhythm
with the swoosh of shiny traffic.
And what's most sad is that it is all so familiar.
So I dance my hallucinatory jig that's supposed to tell
"this is where we go from here"
to a vacant hive
no answers just
a solitary moan of panicked despair.
Tribute to Ric Masten from Linda Lacey Missouri, March 3, 2008 - Here's my prose-poem I wrote and sent to Ric in his last months.
Linda Missouri has been in private practice since 1975, Individual Personal Growth, Jungian-
focused, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
LETTING MY VOICES SPEAK AND REMEMBER 3-3-08 Linda Lacey Missouri
Edited by John Laue
Every hour somebody gets a diagnosis and their life re-focuses. Every minute someone just up the street or around the world gets the phone-call that changes everything. Their loved one has died. My rational brain says to the news, “That’s life. That’s reality.”
Then the news gets personal. A Northern California writing friend, Nancie Brown, sends me a message. Ric Masten is in the Subject line. His cancer has spread, “to his liver, kidneys, lungs.” He has decided to stop all medications. To say goodbye to his many friends. To face his death HIS way.
My inner child whimpers. Facing a loved one’s death brings up her unmet needs, her unfed hole, her wish to tighten her hold on everyone she’s ever admired. She needs comforting, redemption. She’s restless, fired up. “It hurts. It stinks. It isn’t fair. Pain is the enemy. Stay. Stay. Don’t leave me.” ”Why don’t you fight on, Ric, the good ole American way.” But Ric has chosen his own kind of independence. He doesn’t want to kill any more cancer invaders or stay dependent on pharmaceuticals. He’s decided to face the music head-on.
I like to know that my heroes are still somewhere on this earth, doing what they do, Ric strumming his guitar, making up poems that tell things straight. When it’s one of my mentors readying to die, my rational brain says, “I understand. He’s been battling prostate cancer for a handful of years. He’s written “Prostate Cancer as a Sporting Event” and talked frankly to men’s prostate recovery groups. I respect his decision.” But my emotional brain says, “Don’t do it, Ric. Fight back. Tell the cancer you won’t accept that it’s living in your organs. Tell it, please tell it, you want to live, for me.”
In reverie, I see you and your backbone wrapped in coastal ordinariness. Clothes slightly withered, eclectic and unimportant. You’re wearing sun-worn sandals reminiscent of hippie days, a hand-hewn boa tie for pizzazz. Lots of freckles here, there, even on the top of your head where hair used to grow. Always a beard to suggest your humble outlook. Behind your glasses and accompanied by a slight grin there’s something hidden just waiting to pop out in your next song or whimsy in your next poem.
I remember my school children attentive, sitting in a circle as you introduced them to the magic of words with the rhythm of your strumming guitar, the Unitarian church who let your story-poems be their preacher that day, your creative retreats at the home you built with your own hands on the top of the Santa Cruz mountains.
Do you remember when I had the honor of inviting you to the Orange County Jung Club? You brought your wife Billie Barbara. Together you gave us a mouthful of life lessons about noble and ignoble actions you’ve taken, personal yet universal -- how it is to lose a job, build a house, or pull the weeds out of a relationship. You told us, straight-up, and we were glad.
At the poetry place on my bookshelf. I find two of your many books: Let it Be a Dance, Words and One-liners, a limited edition 447 of 600, and They are all Gone Now—and So Are you that you autographed to me in 1986.
I read your poems aloud to my elderly cat Katherine Gandy. She purrs. We savor my favorite lines. “Time is a spiral and every road the road home.” And “dwarfed, I catch my breath beside the largest window in the world.” I get re-energized by your presence. I won’t let you die, ever, ever. I’ll let your words continue as a beacon, your deliciousness fill some of my yearning hole, your clarity and truth-telling guide me like a compassionate friend.
You’re here, Ric Masten. Here in my heart. For thirty years, up and down the California coast, I’ve known you through your verses, your visions, and your vernacular. You’ve opened your veins and spilled out your truth. I thank God our lives intersected in real time, that you weren’t just someone who got a diagnosis and disappeared. You did your life well. You continue to do so.
May I have this dance with you? When Nancie Brown visits you next week on your Santa Cruz mountain, let her hug be one from me, too. Peace to you and those who surround you now. Bless you, Ric. Bless you!
I only knew him from afar but for the last fifty years I heard his name spoken often because
he had read in schools or churches to children. I saw his poems over the years and loved the
brutal honesty with which he addressed his own failings. He also captured the local settings in
very true ways and used humor to full advantage. There is no question he stood apart and was
a true poet. I met Ric and Billie Barbara a few years ago at a reading and felt I had known them
for years. They were such warm and friendly people. It makes you realize how great the gift of
Tribute to My Friend, Co-Author & "Older Brother"-- Carmel Poet Laureate & Cancer Fighter, Ric Masten Who Died May 9th, 2008, from Dr. Larry Lachman
A Young Man/An Old Man
I first met Ric Masten on Wednesday, May 1, 2002, at a meeting of the Prostate Cancer Self-
Help Group of the Central Coast, which was organized by facilitator Paul Soifer and held at the
Hospice House in Monterey, California. I was invited to be the lead speaker addressing the
emotional and psychological challenges men face when they are diagnosed and treated for
On the podium, Ric and I were seated by one another. And of course, for those of you who
know either Ric or me, that's like putting together two 10th graders who can't stop talking
in the back of the classroom. Throughout the evening we whispered back and forth, gently
elbowed one another, and traded mischievous but well intentioned humorous winks while the
other panelists were speaking. From that night on, Ric and I became friends, journeymen if you
will, fellow explorers on this journey we call cancer.
Ric was diagnosed four years ago at the age of 69 with an aggressive form of prostate cancer
that had already spread. I was diagnosed six years ago at the age of 39 with an early stage
prostate cancer that was still confined to the gland. Ric has had surgery, radiation and now
chemotherapy. I have had only surgery. Ric is a poet/philosopher who sets his sights squarely
on the passionate, subjective, and creative parts of people and life in general. I am a clinical
psychologist who aims squarely at the dispassionate, objective, logical/coping parts of people
and their inner lives. As you can see, Ric and I have found that we complement one another like
glove and hand (a little urologist humor here).
On a person-to-person microcosmic level, we seem to reflect the larger macrocosmic balance of
energy, often referred to as Yin and Yang. It was because of this complementary relationship--
the "old" man/"young" man, cancer that has spread/cancer that is contained, one writing with
heart-focus/one writing with head-focus—that Ric and I began to dialogue (what I call brain-
jam mind/melds) and before you knew it, we were like two revved up locomotives on parallel
tracks—parallel journeys if you will—telling our respective cancer stories in our own ways.
Read Ric’s poem: “End Line”
Read Larry Lachman's tribute poem: “My Older Brother Ric Masten”
imagine a poet
swinging an axe
against a page
the paper speaks out of sync
with the swing and what’s left in your ear
isn’t the words
as they fly
but the sound
of his grunting to himself
when a phrase catches fire
the world around you fills with birds
each brings a sprig
or the rounded heft
of a noun
and leaves it at your feet
but before you can bend
to retrieve them
the poet comes
to strike a match
on his teeth
and put it to the words
it’s the smoke
the smoke you need to smell
tamps it all out
until the embers of pronouns
are all that litters the ground
before you can answer
he’s on to the next reader
leaving you stunned
and wise as the deaf
with their whole bodies
and applaud with their hands
the same way the hearing do
but feel it vibrating
all the way
down to their toes
Illia Thompson is an Instructor of Memoir Writing at Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey,
For Ric "Let It Be Dance"
By Illia Thompson
The bundle of you arrives:
Troubadour from Big Sur.
Heavy jacket, woolen cap,
book-laden leather briefcase
guitar, your companions.
You enter my classroom
plant yourself firmly, ask for.
in turn, numbers from 2-222.
Each requested page showcased,
the platform of your performance.
Words & One-Liners, your syllabus,
interspersed with impromptu story.
Your audience woven into the voice
of your words remains past the bell,
longs to elongate your delight.
Though your planned return visit
cannot now be, when at loss
for lesson plans, I'll follow,
randomly pick a number,
and "Let It Be A Dance."
We welcome any comments or remembrances that this issue may have inspired in our Readers, feel free to leave your thoughts as comments on this post.
Remembrances of Ric Masten, 1946
By Nancie M. Brown, July 28, 2008
Ric Masten lived in my Carmel neighborhood in the 1940’s. He always referred to me as “the girl from around the corner” through his last days. When I accepted a date from him in 9th grade, I could not have anticipated our friendship would grow and deepen through six decades, that he would marry one of my best friends, Billie Barbara Bolton who I had known since 7th grade. Nor could I foresee that the Masten children and mine would grow up to play with each other and become friends, or that despite distance and years, we would continue sharing the passages, joys, and tragedies of our lives, that we would forge an unconditional and deep friendship that continued through the end of his days and so enriched my life, as he did so many others.
Here is the story of how I met Ric Masten and our two unforgettable dates.
It was September, 1946, I was 13 and I had just started my freshman year at Carmel High School, and I attended a party of my ninth grade classmates. One of my friends, Jimmy Hare, brought his older step- brother, Ric Masten to the party. The home of Jim and Ric and their blended family (the Masten’ and the Hare’s) was around the corner from me in Upper Hatton Fields. Ric went to a private boarding school, Montezuma, near Santa Cruz, so I had never met him before. The day after the party, Ric called and asked me to go a movie the following Saturday when he’d home again. Although I had not yet dated any boy out of my grade level, my parents agreed to this date with an “older man” of 16, as after all he was Jimmy’s brother, and my mom knew of Hare family.
The big date night arrived, and I was checking my pale lipstick and freshly pin- curled hair-do, over and over. I was nervous as I had only met Ric once at the party. So I didn’t know him like I did the boys in my class I saw everyday at school. Ric said he would pick me up at 6:45 p.m. to catch the 7:00 p.m. movie at the Carmel Theatre. At 7:00 o’clock, I thought it odd that he was late, as he lived 2 minutes away. But when 7:30 p.m. came his esteem in my eyes had sunk measurably. The clock chimed eight then nine o’clock, and still no Ric, or phone call. I couldn’t stand the frozen expression on my parents’ faces, and I fled to my room and slammed the door shut. Here I was only 13, and I had been “stood up”!
It was around 9:30 p.m., and I was thinking of getting ready for bed, when the phone rang. “Nance, this is Ric. I’m really sorry; I know it’s awfully late, but I couldn’t call you before now…” I almost didn’t hear what he had to say next, I was so steamed up, I actually considered hanging up on him. But Ric continued right on, “…because my mother was having a baby.” I was speechless. This was either the most outrageous excuse I would ever hear in my life, or…could it be true…a woman old enough to have a 16 year old son would be having a baby? Remember, this was an era without cell phones, and pay phones weren’t always handy or in working order. So some leeway had to be granted for his lateness under such special circumstances. Because, yes, Mrs. Hare had indeed delivered a baby boy, named Don Hare, shortly before Ric finally called me. “And…” Ric continued, “I’d like to come over right now and pick you up. We can just make the second show at the movies.” My diffidence vanished once the reality of Ric’s situation sank in, and, “OK, I said. See you soon.’ And he was there in a shot, with that big, freckled grin on his face, and that was our first date.
We did have one more, unforgettable date that fall, a date whose strange circumstances even topped the first date. Both of us were still wearing some braces on our teeth, and when Ric pulled in front of house after this movie date, he kissed me goodnight a few times. After a few smooches, suddenly our hardware connected, and for a few moments we were locked in a kiss that seemed destined for a welding torch to free us. It was probably no longer than 30 or 40 seconds, but it seemed interminable as we grasped with the dilemma facing us, until we managed to disengage. But suddenly I cried out in pain. A wire was now poking straight into my cheek. I think it started to bleed. Ric was alarmed. I was frightened. Ric sized up the situation. Immediately he started the car, made a u-turn and whizzed around the corner, took me by the hand into the Hare household, calling loudly for his step dad as we approached from the yard. Dr. Hare was an optometrist, not a dentist, but he no sooner appraised the situation, than he got out some tools and tamed the wayward wire.
I never told my parents or anyone of this embarrassing outcome of our innocent good night kisses. But fifty years later when I was introducing Ric as a guest artist for a small art gallery I was managing in Pacific Grove, he came out with this story, much to my chagrin. Only in this telling, he had our mouths wired together like we were Siamese twins as he drove the car to his home and we entered, enmeshed, into his parent’s home to get help. Thereafter, Ric embellished the story any chance he could get to tell it. Ric was a born storyteller and, as we know, many of his stories became poems or songs. Nothing and no one was sacred, we were all fodder for his sense of humor and creativity. I have always been grateful that he never wrote a poem about our “metallic attraction” when we were teens.
PS: Editing and reviewing the material I sent you on Ric made me feel close to him again, but it has also reawakened the ache that he is gone to me and to us all who loved him. His cowboy boots can never be filled.
Ric Masten’s own hand-written photos/notes on the back of these photos taken in Europe:
Me and the Universe
Letters from Ric Masten, published in the Carmel Pine Cone,
September 1949 - June, 1950
by Nancie M. Brown
On September 2, 1949, the Carmel Pine Cone (a weekly newspaper published in Carmel, California) published the first in a series of letters written by Ric Masten, then twenty, from Paris, France. His mother, Hildreth Hare, sent her talented son abroad to study painting. Only towards the end of a series of thirty three, weekly published letters (sent to family and a few friends) did Masten learn that his mother had arranged for his letters home to be edited and published. This may account for the fact that his last several letters home (before he arrived in Carmel, June, 1950 in time for his twenty first birthday) were particularly long and descriptive!
Nancie Brown, one of Masten’s friends who received many of the original letters, wanted to read them again, 61 years later. In March, 2008, while in Carmel to visit Ric, weeks before he died, Nancie researched the Carmel Pine Cone archives at the Carmel Harrison History Library and ordered a copy of the letters, preserved on microfiche, sent to her on a CD. Copies were made of the CD articles for Ric’s family. Although the image quality is poor, making many of the pages difficult to read, a reader is well rewarded by the charm, humor, and insight of a very creative, intelligent, youth, on his own in Europe in the late 1940’s. Masten’s letters fore-shadow the man who would become a successful poet, song writer, troubadour, artist, and the first person ever ordained a lay Unitarian-Universalist minister.
Ric Masten died May 9, 2008 at his Big Sur home where he had lived with his wife Billie Barbara, and raised their family, for more than fifty years. Ric’s family and friends, all those who loved Ric and enjoyed his humor, insight, and immense gifts, would relish hearing from Masten as a precocious 20 year old, if they take the time to look up the microfiche Carmel Pine Cone articles, 1949-50, at the Carmel Harrison Library. Copies can be requested on CD or print. In these letters, his words still speak to us now with Ric’s typical frankness, insight, and humor. Even though he wrote the letters as a 20 year old, abroad for the first time, the seeds of his many talents are much in evidence, even although they had just begun to sprout, and would lead him into an absorbing and fascinating life where his boundless spirit and creativity would bloom and be shared by so many.
Written by Nancie M. Brown, July 28, 2008
Attached [is] prose/poetry that I wrote a couple of days after Ric died. Ric and I co-authored the coping with cancer book entitled, Parallel Journeys--A Spirited Approach to Coping and Living With Cancer, Sun Ink Presentations, 2003, Carmel, and were friends and fellow cancer survivors. I made a DVD/VIDEO in his memory which is posted on my web site for viewing at: http://www.drlarrylachman.com/creative-arts/ric-masten-tribute.php and our 90 minute live radio Q & A we did on coping with cancer on KAZU in Pacific Grove is archived for listening as well, at: http://www.drlarrylachman.com/creative-arts/coping-with-catastrophic-illness.php
My Older Brother Ric Masten
Larry Lachman, May 11, 2008, In Memorial
Rare as a once-in-a-millenium planetary eclipse
Sacred as Mother Earth's grateful gift of life's very essence
Was my meeting and befriending of my older brother Ric Masten
Hoping as I did as a young child to gain the favor of the gods to be blessed by a magical older
To share the light ahead,
It wasn't until I was 44 speaking to fellow cancer warriors with infinite "SPIRITUDE" that I finally
met my brother-to-be, my older brother Ric Masten
Like quantum free-floating particles cascading and bouncing joyfully between the planets and
laser bright stars of the cosmos
My sharing; my communing with my once-in-a-lifetime older brother was truly a gift of grace--
a gift that I will always cherish—a gift from my older brother Ric Masten
Old man/Young man; poet-philosopher/psychologist; cancer that had spread/cancer that
had been contained—those were just the miniscule dew drops of yin/yang that ultimately
blossomed like a fully matured flower into the parallel journeys which my brother and I
sculptured like an artist's clay creation—a creation which forever cemented our bond; a
creation which we humbly as good stewards of the way, shared with others in a spirited
A journey of life; the river ride of cancer; the shooting stars of humanity; and all the while with
never ceasing excitement, zen-like Satori, with the best older brother any younger brother
could hope for,
My older brother Ric Masten
"Going Out Dancing," indeed was your way
I am eternally grateful to you, Billie, Jeri, April, Ellen and your entire family of blood and
blessings for allowing me on to the dance floor
For what was truly the highlight dance step of my life; the dance with my older brother, my
older brother Ric Masten
I will miss you older brother!
Sent in by Larry Lachman: “One of my favorite poems of Ric's which we always would close our
book signing presentations with”: END LINE by Ric Masten (Dedicated to Jim Fulks.)
Related Submission: Tribute “A Young Man/An Old Man”
by Ric Masten
(Dedicated to Jim Fulks.)
I've always been
a yin/yang — front /back — clear/blur
up/down — life/death kind of guy
my own peculiar duality being
philosopher slash hypochondriac
win win characteristics
when you've been diagnosed
with advanced prostate cancer
finally the hypochondriac
has more than windmills to tilt with
the philosopher arming himself
with exactly the proper petard
an explosive statement
found in an e-mail message
beneath the signature
of a cancer survivor's name
a perfect end line wily and wise
quote: I ask God:
"How much time do I have before I die?"
"Enough to make a difference."