Nearly twenty years ago, in the formative years of River Poets (in Bloomsburg, PA), Jim Murray from Shamokin, then a student at Bloomsburg University) and I both were part of the group that gathered at Phillips Emporium for monthly poetry readings. We became friends who kept in touch as he traveled to South Dakota and South Korea -- and I almost got to hear him read in Bloomsburg last month.
In recent weeks I have been enjoying journeying with Jim across the years and miles, seeing his reflections and insights (and sense of humor) as revealed through his poetry collections, Almost Normal (hardcoalstudios.com, 2012) and Normal: The Last Ride of a Poet (hardcoalstudios.com, 2015). Moreover, a visit to Murray's Hard Coal Studios website reveals other facets of his creative activity -- his comics, his ghost stories, his novella, and more. Here is a sample (a short poem from Almost Normal) set in the old Capitol Theatre (now a restaurant) located along Main Street in Bloomsburg back in the 90s when single theaters were losing viewers to multiplexes.
Buffalo '66 by James Murray
The roof is leaking in the $2 theater
dripping near my popcorn as the screen flickers.
I'm as excited as a 12 year old seeing Star Wars.
I'm nearly alone in my cinematic enlightenment.
It's useless to say not another university student in sight.
Romantic notions of what college was to be faded to black,
and I am content to watch my first independent film.
Thanks, Jim, for your friendship and for your poem!