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the long way around

The living room is a forest of mic stands and cables. A cup of coffee, a large glass of water and a shallow shot of whiskey sit on the tiny white table. I alternate between them, making sure the guitar is in tune, trying to understand if the chair will creak when I lean my head back on the second chorus.  There is a hush in the room. I can hear my own heartbeat. The lyrics are printed out on a fresh piece of paper, large and thick so I can read them easily even though I sing with my eyes closed and will surely forget a handful of words no matter what I do.

The guitar sounds dry, perfect - even honest. I can play a simple D chord with a long strum, or the side of my thumb and it sounds so different. I record a few takes, barefoot in the bright room. I am going too fast in some parts, and my fingers are already sore from the chord changes.

And then all at once, I am thinking of a show I played in an old factory in Brooklyn, way back when I had just started writing songs almost twenty y…

a visitor


I am in the living room, long dark with just the lamp and the light from the screens. The work goes well, and I am firing on most cylinders. I do not realize what time it is, just know there is laughter and tiny shouts from the kitchen, the gentle mayhem of the three women under our roof. I am obsessed over an edit, playing the sequence down staring close, leaning back, nudging one frame in, one frame out, alternating takes, overlapping sound. Maybe it is fine, but I have stared at it too long to really know that.

I ask myself what kind to music needs to come next. Something hesitating. I tap my fingers on the thick glass of the desk, thinking about how slow it should be. My stomach growls. I probably need to start dinner soon.

And then I look up and V is in the doorway to the living room, on her hands and knees. She has crawled all the way from the bedroom. Her chin is up, head titling back, staring at me with giant eyes N is hunched down behind her, holding her steady. V grins wildly, one of her sweet shrieks bouncing around the big room. I am outside myself. Suddenly standing and swooping down to pick her up, and then there is a stretch of time playing on the bed, stacking the rainbow rings on the yellow cone, putting toys on my head for her to retrieve and there is no thought in my mind, not of war, or the crumbling economy, not of racism or cops killing unarmed men, not of fake food or new diseases, not of warm oceans and dying fish. There is nothing but this bed, no looming elections, just the round face looking up at me, crawling, smashing headfirst into pillows and her muffled laughter.





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