by Connor Shields

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Alex Williams
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Alex Williams because I can feel the Universe pass through my bones as Connor's bigtiny tunes paint dancing patterns around my windowsill Favorite track: Stranger Melodies.
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The most appealing city to Gerald, lately at least, had been the West Coast hub of pride and rebellion: San Francisco, California. Gerald, not particularly concerned with his revolution at the time, but rather, simply, peace, figured it was just as good a place as any to find a small apartment. As he walked, Gerald came upon a homely coffee shop buried somewhere between reality and dreams. Colors came spewing from the storefront top like waterfall mist refracting it’s rainbow colors in the light, and as he reached for the handle to the rustic glass door, he smiled, his hand holding a giant bronze fish. As he stepped inside, the overpowering aromatic combination of pipe smoke and ground espresso crawled ever so sweetly into his nostrils, and he took an extra big breath just to savor it. Light trickled in the unmatched windows, seemingly from all sides, illuminating a spaced-out band of Bohemians playing broken-down experimental jazz, with a half dozen or more onlookers, just as lost in their own acid dreams as the musicians. In any other such establishment, Gerald would’ve been eyed by the pompous, well-dressed customers who were taking a break from their fancy day jobs and hectic American family lives. But here, none of that. Only peace. Acceptance. What a suitable place to make a home; everybody fit in because nobody did.
In the back hall, Gerald found a tattered phone book with a few pages ripped out, and as he turned toward the listings for vacant apartments, he crossed his callused fingers that they were still there. Luckily, all that had been torn out were specific listings that people had felt they couldn’t memorize, so he perused what was left over, and dialed the cheapest one near the Castro district. A very androgynous, but quite obviously old voice answered on the other end.

“I presume you’d like the empty room, or are you just another Sunday afternoon sugar daddy calling for mama’s kisses?”

“Yes, I’d like the room very much. To whom am I speaking?” Gerald inquired.

“Why, of course! Pardon my hardened wits. You’re in the telephonic presence of the great Madame Helene DuSuave, Queen of the Drags and landlord of the finest mediocre apartments in San Francisco! Now, tell me you sweet young thing, who might you be?”

Feeling a need to respond with as grand an introduction as she, Gerald cleared his throat and gave his best attempt, “I, Madame, am none other than Gerald Cometbreath; searcher, finder, student, and teacher. Searcher for what, I do not know, but I am finding it every day. Teacher of what, I know neither, but I am learning more about it all the time. Now, shall I come to you to settle this rent deal? My feet ache terribly from my travels, and I would very much like a seat or bed as soon as you will allow.”

Obviously impressed, and perhaps a little bit turned on, Madame Helene gave him directions to the apartment complex, and asked him if he would like refreshments, but he kindly declined, wishing instead to give at least a small amount of patronage to the café before he left.

Now, on his was down the sunny urban streets that felt so alive with joy, and some espresso and a danish in hand, Gerald couldn’t help but feel that his on-the-go manifesto might now fail him, with a comfortable settled lifestyle taking it’s place. Such ease here, and since this was such a sprawling and ever-changing community, he might just be able to stay intrigued by it forever.

When Gerald got to the prescribed address, he look up from the piece of phone book paper that he had written the directions on, only to see the most extravagant Victorian-Gothic mash-up mansion, with more than a touch of fabulousness pouring out it’s old walls and windows. Each of the nine steps up to the front door were painted in successive colors of the rainbow, and the carved-wood and stained glass on the front door made the old café entrance look like a mundane opening to an only modestly bedazzled establishment. A push from the button on the twisted wrought iron doorbell mount caused a myriad of bells and whistles to emanate from within the bellows of the house, and as several cats meowed, some of them in heat, a shrill, smoky voice yelled, “Aw Gerald, you made it! I’ll be down shortly. Won’t you let yourself in darling”. Not wanting to disappoint his landlady to be, Gerald opened the large façade, almost a wall itself, and let himself into a dusty, dimly lit foyer that looked as though it had been decorated by an impulsive time traveling fashionista. A few cats darted stealthily around corners, and one took the liberty of rubbing itself against Gerald’s think pant leg. Seated on a tightly upholstered couch that probably wouldn’t be taken by even the Goodwill, Gerald peered back into the kitchen to see a couple of early-twenty-something’s sitting around a linoleum kitchen table smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and eating cornerstore falafel. A rugged young girl spotted the new visitor, and got up, smiling with a devilish seduction as she trotted daintily over to him.


released February 10, 2014

California, Closet, Cosmos, Cometbreath. Always in the way of the old traveler. Always ascending.

Might you feel that you hear whispers of your name beneath the words and rhymes set out here, be affirmed by the knowledge that you've made your way into my thoughts and my writing merely by having been in my life sometime in the past year. This is a collection of songs for those who made it worthwhile to leave certainty and head to the West, with the sun, just as it sets. Enjoy listening.




Connor Shields Sebastopol, California

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