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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 scream, a howl


There is a scream, as we sidestep the giant puddles in the parking lot. My neck cranes. There is no car speeding off, no body on the ground. The screams come again, now more than one person and I understand it is some teenagers playing in the woods. E's face relaxes. She was worried, the same as me. A delivery truck guns its engine, passing us creating a wave of frothy brown water. It is another monday here, a trip to the hardware store to buy cleaning supplies, an empty chore.

Trees are bending in the wind. I pull a hood tight around my ears.

A dog is barking, howling, whimpering. We see it, turning in circles, yanking against its collar.

Half of the neighborhood is up in arms while the rest of us make our way in silence.

Behind the grocery store that was simply gone one day, its doors a great loose mouth of brick and dust, I find a penny on the ground. Not a ruble, not a kopek but a penny. I show it to E.
"It's probably one of yours." She says, out of the side of her mouth.
I think of the people that pick through the garbage cans, maybe finding one of my pennies and tossing it, useless into the night.









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