Cajun Mutt Press Featured Writer 04/24/20

A Decade of Music in a Moment

At twenty-two, he had a band
and they traveled around the Midwest
playing the small clubs while sleeping
in the van or on the occasional couch
of a bargoer motivated by their music.
They made barely enough money
to fill the tank but did not care because
it was living the dream.

They sold a few CDs and a lesser number of cassettes
and had a number of magical nights where the music
flowed from instruments out to the crowd
and back again and with the drinks and the jumping
and the clapping and the outright
cheers and the standing ovations
and the shouts for more they thought they might
be on to something, thought they might
make it.

At thirty-two, he’s still doing weekend tours
of the small clubs in the same parts of the Midwest
because making it remained the elusive part
of the dream. And he’s still playing many
of the same songs but with new and often much
younger musicians before they move on to other
bands to follow their own dreams rather than
the remnants of his.

He is undeterred though, not unhappy,
even a little starry-eyed at times when he
steps on a little corner stage on a Sunday
night in Milwaukee and says something
he said in the same bar over a decade ago,
“This first song is the first track on our CD.”

And the one fan among the thirty or so in attendance,
the one fan from all those years ago, the fan who hasn’t ever
missed a show at that bar—she’s married now and here
with her husband—will let out a cheer and he’ll make eye
contact with her before playing the opening chords
with his eyes closed, assured in the knowledge
as the music rings out through bar and city
that he has, if only in moments like these,
made it.

©2020 Dave O’Leary All rights reserved.


Dave O’Leary is a writer and musician living in Seattle. He’s had two novels published (The Music Book, Booktrope, 2014 and Horse Bite, Infinitum, 2011) and has had prose and poetry featured in, the Portland Book Review, Vamp Cat Magazine, Turnpike Magazine, Line Rider Press, and Cajun Mutt Press. Both of his novels featured poetry mixed in with the prose, and now he is at work on his first full-length collection of poetry.

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