Western Mass​.​/​Garden Grass

by Connor Shields

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More peculiar than Gerald’s fading into existence is his seemingly magical disappearance from it. No one ever saw or heard of Gerald Cometbreath in any state of decay or defeat. Everyone that bore witness to him mysteriously appearing from the shadows of a previous adventure saw him leave in the same fashion in search of a new one. The young girl who looked up to see him having appeared seemingly out of an urban cloud of steam from a manhole turned away just for a second to glance at a horse-drawn carriage carrying some trapped tourists, and looked back to find him gone without a trace. By his physical appearance alone, he stands out from the cloud like a flying yellow fish taxi in the Parisian evening sky, but by virtue of his solitude, his entire self can vanish from even the most slightly unbalanced or precarious situation.

One such tale of Gerald Cometbreath’s seemless exodus involves, oddly enough, a visit by a couple of drunken blue collar gentlemen to an ethically questionable traveling circus. On a gentle and cool morning in the Heartland that could’ve been like any other anywhere else, a slew of hammering noises, lion roars, and commands by the ringmaster which were half in Italian and half in broken English echoed through the supple plains and rolling hills that surrounded a small town full of waking citizens, all of whom were promised a dazzling spectacle of wonder and beauty that evening. As the small microcosm of townsfolk worked through their dreary days, more or less watching the sun move across the sky, and as the migrant entertainers continued to tighten tent ropes and feed beasts of prey, a heavy suitcase dropped to the ground beside a very picturesque park bench, followed shortly thereafter by a gentleman (who you now know briefly) resting his tired frame on that very inviting seat. No one, farmer nor juggler, saw him come, and if they happened to lay eyes on where he was walking, he must’ve passed without being noticed at all. The only one who knew from where Gerald Cometbreath had come was he himself, and only he really cared anyway. But suddenly, like an extra in a romanticized suburban feel-good film, there he was, sitting solemnly on a park bench in the middle of this small town, with the excitement of tonight’s entertainment all around him.

As the sun finally succumbed to sleep, and as the hard working families came home for a quick shave, shine, and shower before the night’s festivities, Gerald began a slow walk towards the fairgrounds. His walk was slow and heavy, as if to hint that traveling, though distance great or small, had lost it’s once-great thrill (although this was certainly not the case). Being the epitome of average, Gerald was not the first to come upon this grand temporary village of entertainment, nor was her the last. He was in no one’s way, and to the same end no one obstructed him. The wait in line was mundane, but gave him time to take in the incredible surroundings that went unnoticed by everyone waiting for what was about to happen instead of looking at what was happening. Besides the scores of relieved families and crowds of drunken bachelors, Gerald saw fifty dreams-worth of whimsy and amazement. By now the air was lit exclusively by heavily yellowed incandescent bulbs hung neatly from wire that strung itself between tents. The labyrinthic arrangement of the performers’ small living quarters around the central performing structure made it feel like this tent city was infinite. Sequins and sparkles dazzled humans and animals alike, and gender or species had nothing to do with the extravagance of the costumes being worn. The grass had been heavily trodden all day, giving it a shiny smooth surface, and the yellow shimmer it gave off lent to the viewer images of gold and silver.

So, eventually, Gerald made his way into the tent and took a seat in the middle of a crowd he knew would not notice him. No one, not even Gerald, was ever certain where his money came from that let him experience things like a circus. Then again, he didn’t need much to begin with; just enough to buy food if it came to that, and maybe for a strong drink every once in a while. But anyway, he had what he needed and wanted for now, so he rested easy, and waited for the organ pipes to belt out their piercing melodies.
It should be noted that Gerald was never one for finishing things he started. It wasn’t that he became bored, just excited for the next thing before the present one was complete. And now, with dim lights, as Gerald watched the evening’s entertainment, with Lion tamers and high-wire acrobats, he became excited for the future, although it was about nothing in particular. Although no one had explicitly noticed Gerald when he was there, a few people now spotted a hole in a once impenetrable crowd. Naturally, they gave it next-to-no thought, and continued with their own amusement. Hardly a great influence on anyone that day, or any influence at all for that matter. However, something much more important came from it, at least in the eyes of Gerald Cometbreath. What it was, he couldn’t define if asked, but in a general sense, it was an experience that counted towards his own collection of great adventures. Another entry in the leather-bound journal would sum it up completely, if to no one else but the writer.


released March 10, 2012

Once again, I owe a huge gratitude to Justin Hubler, who recorded and produced this album (with the exception of "Go" and "If I Die"), as well as contributed various keyboards and vocal harmonies. As much work as I put into writing these songs, Justin put in equal, if not greater effort into developing them into something more complete and presentable than I could do on my own. Thanks Justin. Also, thanks to the overwhelming number of amazing people in my life over the past year that helped shape the songs on this album.




Connor Shields Sebastopol, California

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