William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

The E Train

“The E Train” is part of a very short-lived series of guitar notes. Now, almost eleven years later, I ask myself — which E string? The low, it appears. Or, Lo! It appears!

The E Train

Fascinating. The harmonic at the ninth fret can also be played at the sixteenth, and the harmonic at the twelfth fret can be played at the nineteenth. And I’ve learned that if I pick the E string very lightly while holding the middle finger of my left hand over the fifth, seventh, ninth, twelfth, sixteenth, and nineteenth frets while almost touching the string — by which I mean that part of the time I can’t quite tell if I’m touching it or not, and it seems the connection might be electrical instead of tactile — I can hear three notes at once: the low E of the E string itself, the harmonic, and another E one octave higher.

Thoughts while playing: Do words possess similar musical properties? When they echo and ring in the mind, are they acting according to a musical principle? Can anything exist apart from music? One night, about thirty-five years ago, a high school classmate’s younger brother was killed at a railroad crossing in the country. After it was struck by the train, his car landed in a nearby orange grove. He died soon after in the hospital — the same hospital where my father died, and where twenty-five years before that a friend of his from our old farm neighborhood died of cancer, his screams audible from the street, and where a dear friend of mine died when he was eighteen, and where I had my foolish appendix removed, and where three of our four children were born . . . all along the E string?

Recently Banned Literature, May 22, 2009

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Categories: Everything and Nothing, Recently Banned Literature

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