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All My Artistic Endeavors by Dave O'Leary




In high school I learned

a few chords

on the guitar and after a little

bit of practicing

I played them in a certain

order for a friend

one day, but he didn’t

recognize what song it was,

didn’t bang his head,

said instead,

“What the hell is that?”

So I put the guitar down,

curled up in a ball,

died.


But I did it again

the next day

and the next

and the next.

And one day

when the chords were lively

and floating about the corners

of the room and possibly audible

over at the neighbor’s

my friend asked,

“Is that Quiet Riot’s ‘Metal Health’?”


It wasn’t,

but I said nothing.

I just kept playing

the same chords

over and over

and he banged

his head and pumped

his fists and sang

the right chorus

over the wrong

chords and we stomped

about the room

for five minutes

like we were playing

an encore

at Madison Square Garden.


Afterward, he said,

“That was cool.”

I agreed and said

“Check this out.”

I readied my left fingers

then and steadied the pick

in my right hand

and strummed

a new progression

loud and fast

once

twice

three times through

before pausing

for him to join in

what would be our second encore,

but he said instead,

“What the hell was that?”

So I put the guitar down,

curled up in a ball,

died.



Dave O'Leary is a writer and musician in Seattle. His most recent collection of poetry and short prose, I Hear Your Music Playing Night and Day, was published in May 2021 by Cajun Mutt Press, and he misses the cats immortalized therein. He tweets @dolearyauthor


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