This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: ng_moonmoth, mdlbear
Amount donated = $68
Verses posted = 42 of 57
Amount remaining to fund fully = $26
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $1.50
Warning: This poem contains some touchy topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features cheating, domestic violence, destruction of a musical instrument, a messy breakup, poverty, drama, problem drinking, vomiting, spending Thanksgiving on the road, a return of the cheating ex, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
It's New Year Day when
Rowan and Killian break up,
spectacularly, because Killian
fucked Rowan's cousin and
Rowan kicked him in the balls
and Killian broke her banjo
over her head and stormed
out of the house for good.
So that is the end of the band,
which means the end of the money
coming in from weekend gigs, and
Rowan still has bills to pay.
Her life has way too much drama.
Rowan spends the month
moping, and groping for coins
under the couch cushions.
On Valentine's Day she gets
roaring drunk and into a fight, and
then eats far too much chocolate.
She spends the fifteenth hugging the toilet.
By Saint Patrick's Day, Rowan is
desperate enough to take a job
at the local pawn shop.
She gets stuck with cleaning
an old banjo that someone just
pawned. Underneath all the dust
comes the shine of abalone, and
mother-of-pearl hash marks
march down the neck.
It feels almost ... alive.
The banjo is still sitting there
with the debt unpaid, so
it's forfeit for sale.
Rowan talks her boss into
replacing the worn strings and
a head of real animal skin.
Nobody buys it, though,
because it costs $100 but
it only has four strings. Rowan
used to play five but figures
she could manage on four.
It's more than she can afford --
more drama she doesn't need --
but she buys it anyway.
Rowan practices with
her new banjo every day.
She doesn't know why
it sounds so different from
other instruments, but it does.
When she plays in the park,
people's heads turn.
She keeps playing.
One summer day,
a stranger plops down
right beside Rowan
on the park bench.
"Hi, I'm Hulda," she says,
brushing her long blonde hair
back behind her shoulders.
Rowan's sweaty red braid
already hangs down her back.
"I'm Rowan," she says, then
looks down at Hulda's guitar.
"You play electric in the park?"
"I have an amp, but she doesn't
need much," Hulda says. "My girl
has strength and power within."
She turns over the guitar, and
down the back of the neck runs
a different kind of markings.
"Sorry, I don't know anything
about all the funny writing on
some instruments," Rowan says.
"I just play what I can get."
"Maybe we could play together,"
Hulda suggests, and so they do.
Rowan and Hulda spend weeks
practicing together, and Hulda
names the band Hidden Potential.
Rowan doesn't argue with her.
Soon people start pestering them
to perform for special occasions.
They say no and no and, even
when Rowan's cousin offers them
all the beer that they can hold
to play on the Fourth of July.
It takes time to make a band,
and that's what they're doing here,
even if the thought of it makes
Rowan's mouth run dry.
She doesn't have the best history.
Rowan and Hulda both
feel nervous going out
for their first gig together.
It's just a little coffeehouse
but it pays in tips and has
a nice corner stage.
It shouldn't work --
the skinny spitfire redhead
with the steady voluptuous blonde,
the first on acoustic banjo and
the second on electric guitar,
both of them singing along --
but the instruments are alive in
their hands and the crowd
roars with applause.
It shouldn't work, but it does.
By Labor Day,
Hidden Potential is
booked every weekend.
It feels good to be playing
regular local gigs again.
Hulda just smiles and
writes down all the details
in her schedule book.
Their audiences throw
so much money at them
that Rowan finally manages
to catch up on overdue bills.
It's not a living, yet, but it's getting there.
Before long, Rowan and Hulda
hit the road to tour nearby towns.
It's a lot of work and a lot of fun,
because they don't have roadies,
but someone usually pitches in.
They play Halloween dressed up
as a banshee and a Viking,
and bring the house down.
The new band makes it big;
they have gigs all over the state
that keep them running, but at least
they have roadies to help now.
Sometimes Rowan feels like
something is watching them,
but it's not a bad feeling, so
she doesn't worry about it.
They play in the state capital,
just a modest auditorium, but
it sells out a week in advance.
After that, they head off to play
their first out-of-state performance.
Rowan eats Thanksgiving dinner
out of an aluminum pie plate
on the road and doesn't care.
Rowan and Hulda play
folky old Christmas carols
on instruments that nobody
associates with Christmas,
and everybody loves it.
They play a Chanukkah party
for some Jewish friend of Hulda's,
and Yule for the Pagan friends who
always let Rowan crash on their couch.
Christmas is another big gig, and
this time they've booked a larger hall.
In the green room before the show,
someone calls Hulda wanting to make
reservations for Valentine's Day.
Rowan and Hulda go onstage and
perform until their fingers ache
and their voices turn hoarse.
They're not sure whether
the magic makes the music
or the music makes the magic,
but either way it's amazing and
they love every minute of it.
Both of them wind up with
holographic glitter in their hair
from the fake snowstorm, but
they're laughing about it.
Afterwards, Rowan recognizes
Killian in the small crowd trying
to finagle their way backstage.
He is fatter and balder than
the last time she saw him, and
Rowan can't remember why she
ever found him attractive.
She can't imagine why
he would come chasing
after her now, either. Maybe
she never knew him as well
as she thought she did.
Rowan doesn't voice a protest
as security guards drag him away.
"Do you know that guy?"
Hulda says, watching them.
"No," Rowan says, "I really don't."
* * *
Rowan O'Boyle -- She has pale skin, green eyes, and long wavy ginger hair. She plays banjo. Rowan has a fiery temper and a turbulent past. She was the girlfriend of Killian Lynch until their messy breakup. Later she forms a band with Hulda Dalgaard.
Rowan plays an ogham banjo. See the front, back, and inscription. This is a 4-string banjo. A banjo benefits from regular maintenance. Learn how to play one.
Pricing used banjos depends on a lot of factors. Here's a look at pawn shop numbers.
Killian Lynch -- He has ruddy skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair beginning to receded. He plays acoustic guitar. He was the boyfriend of Rowan O'Boyle until their messy breakup.
Hulda Dalgaard -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long curly hair streaked in shades of lighter and darker blonde. Hulda has a steady temper and a view for the future. She plays electric guitar. Hulda joins a band with Rowan O'Boyle.
Hulda plays a Viking explorer guitar. See the front and the runes on the back. Learn how to play an electric guitar.
* * *
A band may play any kind of music. Folk music goes back a long way, and in contemporary contexts, blends into rock. Explore how to start a folk band.
Coping skills cna be positive or negative. Alcohol is among the more notorious of the negative ones. A straightforward way to build coping skills is to get a list of good ones and try each to see if it works for you.
There are tips for a band to get its first gig and book gigs thereafter.
Roadies are people who help the members of a band to travel and set up.
Chanukkah is a major Jewish holiday.