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Small Comforts

by The Chairman Dances

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I live alone at Waverly. Have my own house with a big TV. Haven’t watched TV since the kids were young. Lucinda passed three years ago. She was seventy. That sounds old, but it isn’t. Not really. We had just moved here. Becky flew in from Arizona. Jenny drove from Tacoma. Brought the grandkids, brought the husbands. We bounced the babies on our knees, on our shoulders. I still work, occasionally. Keeps me busy. Keeps me happy. And it’s something to do, anyway. Oh, I miss Lucinda, miss teaching. Otherwise, I do just fine. Say, John, could you hold a minute? Someone’s on the other line. Probably, Becky. She calls me every day.
I log on, see everyone in the group video chat. They can’t see me. “You see the camera with the line through it? Click that.” I click that, appear. Seven of us in squares. Six squares in a row. One large square. Kendra explains, “Whoever’s talking moves to the large square.” She is, in fact, in the large square as she tells us this. We begin. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” During intercessions, Jason raises his hand, lets us know he’d like to speak. He exhales deeply. He says since his brother passed—“Gosh, was that a year ago, now?”—he’s felt as if he’s been floating, just above himself, as if one of the two strings that tether the soul to the body has been cut. He’s holding onto his conscious self as a child holds onto a balloon. He’s exhausted from the effort. He says he’s scared, if he lets go, he’ll lose himself, be carried away. We say it’s OK to let go. He’s reluctant, shakes his head, then says, “Aw hell. I’ll give it a shot.” We sit in silence for one, two, three minutes. Jason opens his eyes. He’s surprised he’s still with us, surprised he’s still in the large square. He says he was scared for his family, scared his daughters would grow up like their cousins, fatherless. Jason rubs his eyes with his fingers. Lets out a “Woo.” We tell him we love him. We promise to check in again next week. We finish the prayers, sit in silence, and, one by one, log off.
The below is a free verse poem. To see it and the other album lyrics formatted correctly, you can view or download the following PDF: https://upenn.app.box.com/s/sj6mpdb6zoycws3wb440tgq1y4j580ql -- Tired but restless on your one day off from work, you drive around, windows down. Your suspension is bad— the car veers right, so you lean left, see everything til- ted. Taking the detour into Topton, you idle in front of the old house. The familiar, sharp smell of boxwood surrounds you there. You close your eyes, picture the living room, the high table you used to play like a drum. You sang into the light fixture as if it were a microphone on a stand. A truck driver lays on his horn. Startled, you put the car in drive, pull away. Tired but restless, you drive around, windows down. Your suspension’s bad— car veers right, you lean left, see everything sl- ant. It’s forty-three degrees. The cold air keeps you going, keeps you awake. Without thinking, you take the detour, arrive outside the house. Check the mirrors: rearview, sideview. You close your eyes, rest your head against the steering wheel.
The below is a free verse poem. To see it and the other album lyrics formatted correctly, you can view or download the following PDF: https://upenn.app.box.com/s/sj6mpdb6zoycws3wb440tgq1y4j580ql -- A poor old woman buys a bag of plums. A poor girl, a few feet away, tends to colicky children. She puts her hair back with a hair tie, sits in her jeans on the sidewalk and feeds them until, the smell of ripe plums filling the air, their screams suddenly stop. Silence. The old woman’s lips smack, she slurps. Juice drips down her cheek, down her arm. She grins. Dabs the corners of her mouth with a handkerchief. The children, tears in their eyes, howl with new vigor, motion, kick toward the old woman as she ambles out of sight. Losing then regaining her balance, the girl gets up, her own eyes filled with tears. She disengages the stroller brake and walks home, hungry for plums.
Margaret 04:11
117 on the door. Alex checks his slip of paper. It’s a match. He makes a fist, knocks. The door opens. Low voices inside. Margaret introduces her guests. “This is Tara, this is Esther.” Esther steps forward toward Alex. 
“Don’t I know you?” “I don’t think so.” “What do you do?” “I’m a singer.” Esther snorts. “I mean, ‘What do you do for money?’” Margaret rushes back to her guests, puts Alex’s hand in hers, leads him to the couch. “Pay her no mind. Truly, thank you for coming. He thanks you, too.” She points to the bump in her dress. Esther shambles over, apologizes. Alex sees now she’s drunk. “Betty Crocker cake, dollar store party hats… the most pathetic baby shower there ever was.” Still, Margaret is happy. Esther, Tara and Alex put candles in the cake. They feel they should sing something, so they sing happy birthday. Margaret laughs. She closes her eyes, makes a wish—blows out the candles.
Today—eternity in a span! Canyons cut the deep, part the land, pool the seas. Open wounds there on the hillsides, on the plains, in the old-growth forests. All of time in a span! The human heart, a newborn’s plushy hand. The implication of a seed, of a blood red berry. Your own calloused hands, pliant mind, straining to know all it can. Limits imposed by the limitless, limits imposed by the span of day, heart, hand.
Log Off 01:02
Log off


Small comforts. Nothing out of the ordinary—a phone call, a plum, a chintzy party hat. As unremarkable as these things seem, they are full of meaning, offering solace, joy, pleasure. Their exchange is what makes a friend a friend, a spouse a spouse, a loved one beloved. You worry about your parent, so you call them, and their voice is a relief to you, just as yours is to them. The muted buzz of your phone, a photo of a relative, framed or floating on a screen—comfort manifest.


released January 27, 2023

Words and music by Eric Krewson

Songs arranged and performed by The Chairman Dances

Dan Comly: piano, electric piano, synth, mellotron
Ashley Cubbler: vocals
Anna Dausman: vocals
Eric Krewson: vocals, guitar, harpsichord, electric piano (track 1), mellotron (1), drums and percussion (4), bass (4), synth (4), piano (7), second electric piano (7)
Will Schwarz: electric and upright bass
Mike Szekely: drums

Tracks 1-3, 5-7 recorded by Daniel Smith on March 19-20, 2022, with additional recording by Eric / Track 4 recorded by Eric in 2020 and 2022 / All tracks mixed by Jesse Soifer, mastered by Dave Downham

Artwork by Heather Swenson / Photograph by Rachel Del Sordo

Website: thechairmandances.com
Instagram: instagram.com/thechairmandances
Facebook: facebook.com/thechairmandances
Twitter: twitter.com/chairmandances
Mailing list: eepurl.com/yyw69


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The Chairman Dances Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Band/mystics (indie rock & folk from Philly)

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