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Wild River

by Anika Pyle

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Wild River 03:37
Failure I Fear is the corners of yourself where you have brushed the tiny failures or abuses or “cannots” or “should nots” or “never coulds” and let them collect dust until it’s time to clean house or rearrange the furniture or move the fuck out and you find them (the fears) when you’re adjusting the couches and the bookshelves and you cringe a bit as you look at them, your instinct is to cover them up again or leave them in the one house and move to another but fear is karmic and until you pick that shit up and repurpose it or give thanks to it, it will haunt you from place to place preventing you from ever fully realizing your potential for the rest of your one tiny, precious life. Wild River I wanted to be the kind of lady That twirls the room around her finger, fun loving But I like to clean the kitchen at parties I like to stay in on the weekends I thought I'd be something special but Chasing my dreams always made me A little too anxious and I never Flirted with danger in fact I have an arranged marriage With the meticulous routine of Rising each day before 6 o’clock in the morning and I wanted to be wild river But I’m a still country creek
Emerald City 03:24
I-90 West to Seattle Rounding the curve straight into a canyon Where the Earth briefly cracked open Let us in on its infrared secret All sapphire and spilled out Glimmering like the way you look at me When no one else can see, When no one else can see True and blue like the distance of the mountains On the seam of the sky or the ocean from the airplane You know the realness of it But can’t ever grasp the infinite depth Thus rendering that which is right in front of you, Seeing into you and your tiny dreams and intentions Somehow completely otherworldly Pure and above it all the plans and the details The missed opportunities The voodoo of scheduling If only the Earth right here right now Would answer when I ask it “Why can’t I have the things that I’m after?” I think it might say, “Look up you dummy.”
I hope you’re happy I hope you feel loved I hope you find somebody Who makes you feel like you’re enough I know you get lonely When you rest your head at night Feel me hold you closely Even when I’m out of sight It’s always the little things That keep us up at night It’s always the little things That make it right
Failure II 00:38
If I hadn’t failed you I could sleep at night If I hadn’t failed you I wouldn’t eat so much If I hadn’t failed you I could be kind to myself If I hadn’t failed you my heart would be soft If I hadn’t failed you I wouldn’t be here right now If I hadn’t failed you I wouldn’t fail myself If I hadn’t failed you I wouldn’t know myself If I hadn’t failed you I couldn’t be this strong If I hadn’t failed you I wouldn’t see the beauty of failure If I hadn’t failed you how would I know I could survive it
Blame 02:45
Dreading the moment when You inquire how the past few months have been At the mirror practicing How to trade a little fear for confidence I’m doing the best I can with the hand that I dealt I’m doing the best I can with the hand that I dealt myself I’d say I was making do ‘Cause most of the time that feels like truth Tonight I can’t shake the noose Kicked the chair out from under the rest of my life with you I’m doing the best I can with the hand that I dealt I’m situating facts about the way that I felt I’m trying to forgive myself for raising hell I’m doing the best I can but I still blame myself
Everyday I think This bed is a rented bed I do not belong The bed herself is A fertile place for comfort But I am barren Took quite a while to Come to this conclusion Je suis arrivé Je suis très sèche Each night I dream heavily I am full again Morning splashes in I wake gasping for air Tiny and prune-like Another day to Wish there were no more days here Somehow hold on Everything you loved and miss Will never be the same As it was when you loved it All I want to say Is I never meant to hurt You like I have I only ever Destroy the delicate things Well I don’t mean to I do it because My mind is convinced I don’t Deserve a mind It has convinced me I don’t deserve you either So it pulls apart Anything in sight That presents like a stillness Body of water I don’t mean to be So thirsty it is all I have ever known Everything you loved and miss Will never be the same As it was when you loved it
I think the last time I saw my father Was at La Fogata Mexican in the Mile High City He was afraid to drive past Happy Canyon Road Where years before he was in an accident Making it a not-so-happy canyon for him I thought that endearing My mother, less so but still she drove me An hour out of her way to meet him at the restaurant He had just gotten his license After nearly fifteen years of being unable to drive As court ordered by the state of Colorado I am sure it was frightening – regaining such power He wore a blazer – uncharacteristic We squeezed into a circular booth The table next to us was a family Discussing sending their daughter to college The service was terrible But the two of us – Both working in restaurants – Were forgiving and anyway Neither of us were strangers To failure We welcomed the extra time it took For the dishes to arrive Seeing as how little time we’d had together Our whole lives I don’t remember what he ate Or what he said to me when we parted At the curb side check-in Or what we talked about On the ride to the airport I wish I had a transcript Of the entire evening The next ten months of conversations I can hear his voice in my head And I’m grasping at it Frantically searching for some kind of Neural lock box to put it in So I don’t forget it I feel it’s already slipping And it’s only been three days Since he died Forty hours I lived a normal life While his body lay lonely in a coroner’s – Drawer? Bag? Box? I can only recall the sickly morgues of television crime shows And episodes of the Twilight Zone Which must be why I dreamt of a black cloud – Ominously approaching – The clouds not clouds at all But swarms of the dead, mangled bodies of children Forty hours he laid there While the police went knocking on a door that No longer belonged to me And I made rice and scrolled through the internet Like everything was orderly and still I think my dad took me straight to the airport that night Or we stopped for pie and coffee I got key lime and a cappuccino His favorite was key lime I hated it as a child It has near instantaneously become My most cherished flavor I’m not sure if that was the same night But the brain is tricky this way Someone you love dies Suddenly all of time is compressed And every moment looped The time at the train station, the time at the bookstore, the time we got coffee, the time we went shopping, the time we ate ice cream, the time we ate sushi, when was the last time my father saw me cry? Nothing is insignificant any longer The loop exists to keep someone as alive as possible Their voice, the intricacies of their facial twitching Their order at the Mexican restaurant Grief is a grasping for the little things In the end they are the only things Everything.
Dear Daddy – I just want you to know I love you so, I never doubted you’d make it to the other side Dear Daddy – I’m still forming my personal beliefs, For what happens to the people we love when they die But I know you’re somewhere, warm desert air Harley Davidson, midnight ride Long hair again, flowing in the wind Free of suffering, free of strife Like the biker you always wanted to be Like the artist you always wanted to be Like the drummer you always wanted to be Like the person you were that they couldn’t see I know now, people don’t remain the images Of their dead body you can’t free from your troubled mind They become energy, the become light They become orange flowers shining in the bright sunshine They become that sweet smile, an affinity for drinking coffee The significance of letting a grown man cry Dear Daddy – I know you’re right here with me Watching me singing, swelling with pride Dear Daddy – thanks for never leaving me to wonder if you loved me Or if you were proud I know ‘cause you told me everyday of my whole life I just want you to know I was proud of you too
I’m through with writing sad songs About everything that’s gone wrong What about the blue sky? What about the warm nights? What about the Monarch Butterflies? They’re going up in numbers Coming up from Mexico Isn’t that enough? Predict calamity in the news again Our galaxy’s headed for a galaxy It’ll crash, but when? What about the blue sky? What about the warm night? What about the way you feel When you first fall in love? Isn’t that enough? What about the coffee Filling up my coffee cup? What about the stranger Smiling at you on the city bus? Isn’t that enough?
The butterfly don’t know how filthy it be out here All it knows is riding on the wind And how to find a flower where y’all Could never think a flower to be You are a miracle Life is not a bitch She is a mariposa Rambunctious, elegant, free Full of mystery and push through Rich evidence that one could be goo So paralyzed and broken And wriggle out on the other side of time A magnificence
Failure III 00:07
Everybody is a failer Nobody is a failure
Windy City 04:30
Windy City I-90 West to Chicago The sun reaching down Through the cloud coat The sky looks at itself From the wild river On the side of the road Asleep in the front seat I daydream beside Lou The smokestacks are rising Out of sight in the rearview I feel like a fool in everything I do Still trying to push through Just grateful to have you ‘Cause nobody knows me like you do Knows me like you do, knows me like you do Life is a Funny Haha Have I become dull To the wonder of the world? I still marvel at the way The blossom begins a bud Becomes a flower I still shiver at the sound Of a heartbreaking melody I still shake my head in disbelief After eating a titillating piece of pie Is it not funny, life? How even through all of it - The breaking down The mouth full of mud The relentless shame and Utter idiocy of being human We still seek joy and find it Over and over and over again?


Wild River is a quiet collection of song and poetry making sense of the sudden death of my father in October of 2019 and of loss in general. We’ve all lost so much this past year - loved ones, jobs, houses, in many ways life as we knew it. By the time the pandemic hit, I was already deep into a grieving process and learned you can’t stubbornly resist a wild, unpredictable, uncontrollable river, no matter how desperately you battle the current. 

The record includes audio of my father’s mother imparting life lessons to her grandchildren before she died and is a reflection of how the intergenerational inheritance of life perspectives, both helpful and harmful, shapes us. It pays homage to the bond my Dad and I found in practicing positive thinking and radical acceptance for our failures. 

Essentially, Wild River is about learning to let go and move forward from grief steadfastly with love, despite the essentially cruel and random nature of the universe. 


released February 12, 2021

Words & Songs - Anika Pyle
Classical Guitar & Keys - Anika Pyle
Strings on Wild River & Windy City - Kayleigh Goldsworthy
Saxophone on Wild River - Jeff Rosenstock
Co-Produced, Recorded & Mixed by Matt Schimelfenig at The Bunk in Henryville, PA
Mastered by Justin Francis in Nashville, TN


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