In the Air
Don't Be Scared
Whenever Paul thinks of rain, swallows fall in a wave and tap on his window with their beaks. Whenever Paul thinks of snow, soft winds blow round his head and his phone rings just once late at night-like a bird calling out, "Wake up, Paul. Don't be scared. Don't believe you're all alone." "Wake up, Paul," whisper clouds rolling by and the seeds falling softly from the branches of the trees.
The Sad Milkman
Above the dark highways on a black tar roof stood the sad milkman in love with the moon. She filled up his window with soft milky light till he crawled up the chimney and into the night. But, the moon she rises and the moon she falls and her slow white eye sees nothing at all. Down on the sidewalk a crowd gathered round flinging up bricks and bottles to knock the boy down. He stood up above them with his hands in the air calling up to the moonbeams, "Come let down your hair." He wanted to feel like a bucket of milk or sweet summer wind on rolling, green hills. He wanted to fly up from the roof sailing up through the night wind to the arms of the moon.
In the Air
I am afraid of bridges. Sometimes I have to turn around when I'm driving towards one and my heart begins to pound. Last night at the bridge to Johnsburg I swerved down a dead end street. I sat there shaking in an empty lot full of broken glass and weeds. Then past me in the darkness ran four wild dogs leaping over abandoned tires high into the air. In the air, in the air, someday I will live in the air. Once I loved a girl named Joan whose skin smelled just like falling snow. One day she drove us off the road into a dead field of corn. She laughed and hit the gas as we bounced across the rows, but I held onto the dashboard with my eyes tightly closed. Those wild dogs brought back that smell of falling snow and the girl who lives in Johnsburg across a bridge I can not cross.
A Beautiful Thing
Don't you remember that snowy December when we went to see "Singing in the Rain"? I shouldn't have smuggled in that bottle of gin because after the film, I could barely walk. But, darling don't you know it's only human to want to kill a beautiful thing. When I was seven summer lasted forever. I used to chase fire flies through the woods. Tiny green lights circling warm August nights. I'd catch them inside a washed-out old jar. I dreamed of the stars with the jar by my bed, but each morning my pretty bugs were dead. We should have been dancing like lovers in a movie, but I fell and cut my head in the snow. I wanted to tell you all the ways that I loved you but, instead I got sick on the train.
So Much Wine
I had nothing to say on Christmas day when you threw all your clothes in the snow. When you burnt your hair, knocked over chairs, I just tried to stay out of your way. But when you fell asleep with blood on your teeth, I got in my car and drove away. Listen to me, Butterfly, there's only so much wine you can drink in one life and it will never be enough to save you from the bottom of your glass. Where the state highway starts I stopped my car. I got out and stared up at the stars. As meteors died and shot cross the sky, I thought about your sad, shining eyes. I came back for my clothes when the sun finally rose but you were still passed out on the floor.
Up Falling Rock Hill
Up Falling Rock Hill where the leaves swoop like bats I shot my brother William five times in the back. "Have mercy, have mercy, dear brother," he cried. But, the wind has no mercy and neither did I. I watched as his blood ran through dead grass. I watched as the black ants crawled through his hands. Up Falling Rock Hill the wind softly moaned and down, down came I with blood on my clothes. Cicadas were hissing and the whippoorwill called, but the earth didn't open and the sky didn't fall. Up Falling Rock Hill the wind softly moans and black ants they crawl cross my dear brother's bones. Wild, red roses tangle the grass where William, sweet William, his blood once ran. Through the dead leaves, I walk marked with blood and wherever I step, the night creatures run.
Poor, Poor Lenore
Poor, poor Lenore carried off by crows as she wandered alone where the red oaks grow. Black, black were their beaks twisted in her hair and black were their wings whipping up through the air. Fly, fly into the breeze, Lenore and the crows, to the top of a dead tree where the heartbroken go. Love, she fell in love with the grave digger's son who was thin as the bow of his black violin. Kiss, he kissed so hard her mouth filled with blood then he left her to cry where the red oaks die.
When That Helicopter Comes
It's gonna rain champagne and the hills are gonna dance. There will be power in the blood when that helicopter comes. The sky will swim in lightning fire and the trees will shake and scream. Rocks gonna roll up hill and the sun will dive in the sea. The dead gonna wake and sing and roll their bones in the grass.
Grandmother Waits For You
Grandmother waits for you with a pair of new shoes in a land where the leaves never brown. The hills are scattered with empty wheelchairs and hearing aids thrown to the ground. The long night is over. The shadow has passed and farewells forever are done. No more fear, no more cold. Earth and sky painted gold. In the land where we'll never grow old. The peacock and snake, the wolf and the lamb, all creatures find peace in time. These perfect white shores are littered with jewels falling like rain from the sky. Mother and baby walk into the waves no longer fearing the tides.
Tuesday at dawn Michael's glasses washed ashore with a styrofoam box and two broken oars. He'd been digging for clams in the muddy swamp weeds when he heard the salt water whisper to him, "Lie down, lie down in the dark rolling sea. When you get to the bottom we'll kiss you to sleep." Michael threw his glasses in the cold green water. Hermit crabs ran as he dove down under. One of his shoes bobbed on the waves. Seagulls circled until it finally sank.
My Beautiful Bride
Out in the heather where the sun burns bright she swore to love me the rest of her life. But, my hands they shook as the noon bells chimed so at the last bell I showed her my knife. And I laid to rest my beautiful bride out in the heather where the sun burns bright. Now all alone under the cool night sky where locusts scream and white moths fly, silvery moonbeams fall on her grave, but twisting black vines have covered her name. For I loved too much my beautiful bride and so gave her up to the cool night sky.
Through the Trees
We stopped for coffee in the Redwood forest. Giant dripping leaves. Spoons of powdered cream. I wanted to kiss you, but I wasn't sure how. Like those indians lost in the rainforest, forced to drag burning wood wherever they went. They had all forgotten how to start a fire. This is why people OD on pills and jump from the Golden Gate Bridge. Anything to feel weightless again. Those poor, lost indians, when the white men found them, most died of TB; the rest went insane. In our motel room you're drinking Slice and gin, reading Moby Dick on the other bed. Remember the first time we slept together? You said it felt like when you learned to float.
My Sister's Tiny Hands
We came in this world together. Legs wrapped round each other. My cheek against my sister's, we were born like tangled vine. We lived along the river where the black clouds never lingered. The sunlight spread like honey in my sister's tiny hands. But, while picking sour apples in the wild waving grasses, sister stumbled in a briar and was bitten by a snake. Every creature casts a shadow under the sun's golden finger, but when the sun sinks past the waving grass, some shadows are dragged along. Alone, I took to drinking bottles of cheap whiskey and staggering through the back woods killing snakes with a sharpened stick. But, still I heard her laughing in those wild, waving grasses. Still her tiny hands went splashing at the river's sparkling shore. So, I took my rusty gas can and an old iron shovel. I set the woods to burning and choked the river up with stones.
Falling snow spun above the road winding through the dark woods where my pickup stalled. Falling snow hissing through the air, painting my windows white till the trees disappeared. Even though I started to feel cold and I was far from town, I just sat there in the dark.
Where The Birch Trees Lean
Now that there are green sprouts pushing through dead leaves and fat yellow jackets float on the breeze, the waves kiss the shore and the air is warm, but, birch trees are falling now that you are gone. Once we walked the crumbling cliffs where the birch trees lean, once I kissed your apple lips high above the sea. A year ago it was since the last clover grew, under creaking birch trees I would wait for you. We kissed in the salt air beneath the leaning trees. White slender branches bent to the sea. Once we walked the crumbling cliffs where the birch trees lean, now who will kiss your apple lips under the salty sea?
The Cathedral in Cologne looks like a spaceship, like the hand of God falling from the sky. 1,000 stone-carved saints hang like icicles, but icicles don't take 1,000 years to die. And everyone who ever worked on this cathedral or even spent a moment walking by, everyone of us is swept away like breadcrumbs. What comfort does it bring, soaring towers left behind? There's a fiberglass castle in Wisconsin where kids race go-karts around a moat. Once we went up there in December when every water-slide and fudge shop was closed. Hoping to feel love under the icicles. All we did was drink in an empty bar. But, stumbling drunk we crawled back to our motel room and I fell against you and felt your beating heart. Snow was slowly falling on the ice machine and the moon shone hazy through the pines. But, there were lounge chairs thrown into the empty pool and a dog chained to a tree barking at the sky.
Down In The Ground
I am not afraid when you call me down. Down the basement steps under the house. Down, down in the ground. White cows are limping. The black dog barks. Crickets are screaming. Smoke in the barn. Just like a field snake eating a mouse. Just like a blue gill, hook through its mouth. Cry for the toy trains lost in the snow. Cry for the dead deer surrounded by crows. You call me softly down in the dark. Down where the red worms circle like sharks. Under the black mud in your quiet house you have prepared my place to lie down. A house in the rock where sorrows drown. Old man or baby make no more sound.
The Giant of Illinois
The giant of Illinois died from a blister on his toe after walking all day in the first winter's snow. Throwing bits of stale bread to the last speckled doves, he never even felt his shoe full of blood. Delirious with pain, his bedroom walls began to glow and he felt himself soaring up through falling snow. And the sky was a woman's arms. A boy with a club foot had sat next to him in school. Once upon a summer's day they went wandering through the woods. They spotted a sleeping swan on the banks of a muddy stream and they stormed it with rocks till it collapsed in the reeds. They lay out on the green lawn full of chocolate and lemonade, but under the blue bowl the giant was afraid because the sky was a woman's arms.
Down In The Valley Of Hollow Logs
Down in the valley of hollow logs two lovers lay in the weeds wrapped in the net of their sweaty arms safe from the wind in the trees. "My love," said the boy. "You're the clear blue sky, you're the air I gulp to breathe. I feel you rushing through my veins like the wind rushing through the trees." "My love," said the girl, "You're my secret pearl. You're a string of tiny glass beads. You're a burning star I keep in a jar safe from the wind in the trees." Down in the valley of hollow logs two lovers lay back in the weeds listening to the howl of hunting dogs and the wind howling through the trees. Then insects ran for the underbrush as the wind filled the air with dead leaves and every stone moved closer to dust as the wind tore through the trees. So the young girl pierced her lily-white breast. Her blood poured over dark weeds. A silver dagger through her burning heart, cold as the wind in the trees. So the boy picked up that bloody knife and stove it through his chest. "Farewell, farewell to the wind and the trees. I'll die with the one I love best."
There's a mountain north of Winnepeg buried under ice. And as the black clouds roll above, white pines crack like glass. Walking under those swaying trees, branches bowed with ice, I wanted one to fall on me, to pin me in the snow. That silver forest reminded me of you and how I kissed you and I fell down to the bottom of a well. Down a dirt road west of El Paso, behind a burning barn, I stumbled on a horse's bones bleaching in the sand. But, when I reached down to touch the skull underneath my hand a stream of orange lizards poured out from the bone-white mouth. That empty mouth reminded me of you and how I kissed you and I fell down to the bottom of a well.
The Woman Downstairs
Chicago is where the woman downstairs starved herself to death last summer. Her boyfriend Ted ate hot dogs and wept with the gray rats out on the fire escape. In a thrift store chair I drank cases of beer and dreamed of lying down on the el tracks. The trains roared by under smoke-gray skies. Lake Michigan rose and fell like a bird. And when the wind screamed up Ashland Avenue, the corner bars were full by noon and the old stew-bums sliding down their stools ate boiled eggs and fed beer to the dogs. The woman downstairs lost all her hair and wore a beret in the laundry room. I borrowed her soap and bought her a Coke, but she left it on a dryer. She died in June weighing 82. Her boyfriend went back to New York. The cops wandered through her dusty rooms. One of them stole her TV.
Last Night I Went Out Walking
Last night I went out walking out on the edge of town, not going no place special, only wandering around. I came upon a river. I thought about what you said and couldn't stop it flowing and running through my head. You said that I'd been changing and never seemed to laugh, but I can't recall the last time you smiled and it's tearing me in half. I want to run and tell you the thoughts that are in my head, but I don't think that you'd believe a single word I said. The river's water runs so cool it calms my burning skin. It takes away my aching thoughts and cleanses all my sin. So let it flow on, take me down, to sleep that quiet sleep. And roll my body back to you—my love you may always keep.
Bury Me Here
Down that foggy road slow centipedes crawl, plump blackberries fall, and the ground is dark as blood. Down that foggy road the moon burns red as flame, weeds snap in the rain, dogs are dragged off in the flood. Bury me here in the silvery mist. Bury me here with the spiders and fish. Down that foggy road black bears crawl to sleep, tree sap slowly seeps and the sunrise never comes.
My ghost drives around with a bag of dead fish, falling neutrinos drift through the trees. He staggers and reels, runs up credit card bills and clogs up the toilet with bottles of pills. Here in the bipolar ward if you shower you get a gold star, but I'm not going far till the Haldol kicks in—until then, until then— I'm strapped to this fucking twin bed and I won't get any cookies or tea till I stop quoting Nietzsche and brush my teeth and comb my hair. Days pass slow in slippers and robe, but my ghost still bangs on the roof like John the Baptist in the rain while the nurses play Crazy Eights.
Milk and Scissors
You are crouched before the fire in a state park by the highway and through the heavy pine trees ten-ton trucks go groaning by. Like the screams of your Aunt Barbara who went crazy in the '70's, wrote poems to Jimmy Carter but forgot to feed her kids. But, it's the first time you're together since he got out of the hospital. Raccoons in the darkness drag off your hot dogs buns. But, you're happy just to lie there in a plastic tent from Wal-Mart like sticks and fallen dead leaves to feed the fire of the world. Because which is more important, to comfort an old woman or see visions of the heavens in the stumps of fallen trees? Albert Einstein trembled when he saw that time was water, seeping through the rafters to put out this burning world. Next morning you're at Waffle House. Toast and eggs and hash browns. Truckers chain-smoke Camels over plastic cups of juice. And you remember how he cried when they strapped him to the stretcher, convinced his arms were burning with electricity from heaven. You remember how he told you that black holes were like Jesus. And the crucifix was a battery that filled the air with fire.
There's a fish in my stomach a thousand years old. Can't swim a full circle, the water's too cold. Burnt out cars in my fingers, conveyor belts flow, right angles and steam whistles, nothing can grow. A big-antlered deer stepping into the road, a beautiful woman with her head in the stove. The skyscrapers crumble heavy with rats. The wind's full of beer cans and whiffle ball bats. This fish in my stomach wears a full length mink, but his teeth float in sherry in a jar by the sink. He's the withered remains of Rin Tin Tin taking his new Cadillac out for a spin.
The endless sea of traffic lights never make a sound like Ben Franklin's electric kite crashing to the ground and the Winnebago skeletons beneath this bankrupt town.
Drunk by Noon
There once was a poodle who thought he was a cowboy, but he lived in a cage the size of his thumb. And, though his white horse was a box of toothpicks, he galloped around until hit by a car. Sometimes I flap my arms like a hummingbird just to remind myself I'll never fly. Sometimes I burn my arms with cigarettes just to pretend I won't scream when I die. Sometimes I can't wait to come down with cancer. At least then I'll get to watch tv all day. And on my deathbed I'll get all the answers even if all my questions are taken away.
If my life was as long as the moon's, I'd still be jealous of the sun. If my life lasted only one day, I'd still be drunk by noon.
The House Carpenter Lyric:
Well met, well met said an old true love. Well met, said he. I'm just returning from the salt, salt sea, all for the love of thee. Come in, come in my old true love and have a seat with me. It's been three-fourths of a long, long year since together we have been. Well I can't come in or I can't sit down. For I haven't but a moment's time. They say you're married to a house carpenter and your heart will never be mine. That's odd, could've married a king's daughter dear. I'm sure she'd of married me. But, I've forsaken her crowns of gold all for the love of thee. Will you forsaken your house carpenter and come and go with me? I'll take you where the grass grows green on the banks of the deep blue sea. She picked up her little babe and kisses gave it three. Says stay right here my darling little babe and keep your poppa company. Well they hadn't been on ship for about two weeks, I'm sure it was not three, when his true love sat down and began to weep and mourn most bitterly. Says are you weepin' for my silver or my gold? Says are you weepin' for my store? Or are you weepin' for that house carpenter whose face you'll never see no more? No, I'm not weepin' for your silver or your gold. Or neither for your store. I am weepin' for my darling little babe whose face I'll never see no more. Well they hadn't been on ship for about three weeks, I'm sure it was not four, when they sprung a leak in the bottom of the ship and it sunk for to rise no more.
The Dutch Boy
My heart it goes out to that poor little Dutch boy who stopped a great flood with the tip of his thumb. Through parades and medals he felt no joy and took to his bed with a bottle of rum. The queen she arrived in her motorcade to give the good Dutch boy a commemorative pen, but he watched as the milkmaids all withered and grayed and he knew that the waters must rise again. Because the world is made up of milk and scissors, milk and scissors in a spiraling chain. Milk and scissors like a cheap squirting flower, milk and scissors like worms when it rains.
The King Who Wouldn't Smile
There was a king who wouldn't smile. Sat on the toilet reading "The Trial." His dogs chased their tails 'round and 'round. Midget cars arrived stuffed with clowns who served him quail eggs on toast. There was a king who never laughed. Fell in love with a two-headed calf. Filled his bath with razor blades. Tattooed his arm with the ace of spades, but the grass made fun of his shoes. There was king who cried and cried. Mice crawled in his shoes to die. He cried so much that herds of deer gathered to lick his salty tears so the king crawled under his bed.
Like a fish at the bottom of a pail, like a cricketswallowed by a whale, like a chipmunk who's chewed off his tail, the king who wouldn't smile.
Emily Shore 18191839
She'd been coughing up blood since the dogwoods bloomed. Seventeen that spring and confined to her room. At night her heart pounded holes in her chest. Death, like a bird, was building its nest. She'd laughed at the graveyard on one sip of wine and kept a pet duck till the cat crushed its spine. But, waltzing one night in a red velvet dress, she noticed a whistling down in her chest. Propped up on pillows, she watched the snow fall, trying to picture an end to it all. By spring there'd be picnics and merry-go-rounds, but she'd be nothing but bones in the ground.
And so, on the last day of her short life, Emily called for her father's penknife. She sawed at her head till the floor pooled with hair and braided a watch chain for father (mother) to wear.
3-Legged Dog Lyric: Darrell Sparks
Like a 3-legged dog you've called in sick. Sure there's seconds of pleasure but so many moments of pain. And you can't snap your fingers and you don't talk so straight. You want to be loved, but you probably can't make it anyway. Now the ground is cold and there's no fire around. An absence of fire and you're just cold. And I've seen this dog in my sleep. He chases my father too, when he dreams between the sheets. But, we all think it's time for you to quit. Take a last swig of that cabernet. But, I tell you my friend I won't forget you. And the world's not clean, but they get mad when you're dirty. If you've handled some food, you better wash up. Like a 3-legged dog you got three feet. You can't walk fast or fuck, but you still get in heat. You can't wag your ears or flap your tail, but I still see you wandering down by the wishing well. When the ground was young and caves were cold, you've stayed out all night and you're just too old.
#1 Country Song Lyric: Brett Sparks
I remember the day my little brother brought you 'round. I even recall the color of your dress. Deep blue like the evening sky, I was captured, I confess. I didn't think you'd treat me like you did the rest. I remember the night you told me I was the one. Those loving words and the promises we made. But, before that night was done, I'd find out you were just having fun and from the start you never planned to stay.
Now darlin' I feel I'm going out of my mind. Can't last another day without you. I wish my foolish heart could find somebody new, but I just can't stop loving you.
Amelia Earhart vs. the Dancing Bear
Amelia, Amelia Earhart, after her plane was torn apart and bursting through the trees She remembered picking lemons with William Randolph Hearst and how a spinning plane propeller turned liquid in the sun. And as the cockpit burned, her hair filled with sparks, but when the glass exploded in, everything went dark.
She remembered sipping consommé with William Howard Taft and a boy with perfect skin who smelled like mustard gas. And as the cockpit burned, she couldn't help but smile, recalling a dancing bear she'd seen as a child.
Late New Year's Eve, paper hat on your head, it's hard to believe you'll ever be dead. But that dream where you're falling you've had since you're five is a bird on your shoulder who whispers goodbye. Evil Knievel shot up from dead grass. I loved him better each time he crashed. Liza Minnelli spent a month in her bed certain that Skylab would fall on her head. One night I dreamed that I dug my own grave and climbed down inside to patiently wait. Down in the ground I breathed the warm air and blackbirds flew down to nest in my hair.
What is moving will be still. What's been gathered will disperse. What's been built up will collapse. All your dreams fulfilled
LYRICS TO ODESSA
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