loosestrife​/​tightgrief

by Shane Murphy

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credits

released June 1, 2010

piano on "deep water" by emily murphy

cover art by kira larose

tags

license

all rights reserved
Track Name: fortress-strong
With black coffee on my tongue,
with a lineage sewn long,
I try to right the nightmare, but it's fortress-strong.
Sweet Sleep, you've mastered me.

With the wild dogs roaming, roaming,
I sing the wrong flag
and the wrong song: America,
how far to the city?
And how deep is your light sleep?

I sort the relics of what might have been,
with a handful of rocks and an eyesore of diamonds.

With black coffee on my tongue,
with melodies unsung--though I hate to graze
in nightmares, the grass is so long.
Oh Sweet Sleep, don't murder me.

I sort the relics of what might have been,
with a handful of rocks and an eyesore of diamonds.
I sort my pocket-change for lint and sin.

Looks like our memory is sawdust.

With a spider bite on my eyelid,
I fall asleep face-down; the pillow comforts me.
Sweet Sleep, come rescue me.
Track Name: glass floor
Like vertigo, you left me unsteady.
Love's a glass floor over rushing water.
I'm left with the lees of a wine
deep red and heady.
Love's a brass bell rung with cannon fodder.

Summer rains come warm and clean.
I can't see through this rehearsed fog;
and the nights are long.

If love's a water-wheel,
may these words propel her
Track Name: procession
We gather to eat ourselves
sick after the funeral
sick of the pastor whose mouth
billowed like his white cassock
Wasn't it awfully breezy
in the graveyard we lowered
our heads and began signing

our hearts over to loved ones
No matter how we huddled
the ice-breeze snaked between us
I held one hand up to shield
the sun who at his zenith
had it in him to brighten
one hundred withering nights

but in the order of things
it seems he too needed sleep
and the candles were barely
prayer enough not fire enough
for constant vigil within
the family the home the den
the coldest month they were snuffed
Track Name: sunset over kingston
Sunset over Kingston, I am riding the fireglow
down over Ontario. Lately, I've been thinking,
while here, flurried in a Christmas town:
my lovely, my love is bare feet on frozen ground.

I am undecided again.
I am country-snowed-in.

Milk-white under streetlights, I stumble
to the sidewalk's end, sending skyward
songs where the river bends.
Lately, I've been thinking, while here,
flurried in a Christmas town:
my lovely, my love is bare-bones and country-bound.
Track Name: systematic
I only hear God on Sunday radio, evangelized
in stereo, from an open window on Main St.

I am not waiting for your blessing.
I've no resolve to love you true.
We are leaning toward buying
what's wholesale and systematic,
and I have no sense of business,
no grand gestures, no evidence
of anything but my doubt that you're listening.

I am content with your redressing
our wounds--please hide what's all too true.
Track Name: grandmother
Knit one, purl two, on your knee.
Cover me gently, if I fall asleep,
with miles of yarn,
and the hours so sweet that click by, with needles,
through skeins of memory.
And I am unaware of another home
where I might sleep so soundly.
Knit one, purl two, sing to me--
pull the afghan tight, let your arms cradle me.
Sing me all the Depression stories you keep
in a safe in your mind, which the present can't reach.
I am unaware of another home
where I might sleep so soundly.
Grandmother, if where you are you hear
I'm alone: it's true. But I keep my mind aflutter,
and if there's love, may it be
in these small words to you.
Track Name: waiting for frost
I like the colder climes, a warmth that seasons,
and mountains burdened with snow.
I like the branches breaking--cold, or tephromanced toward chimney-smoke.
I like a brittle lung, a bitter will and all wounds frozen.

Let my dreams keep you warm like a wool coat.
Kindle the moment; torch regret.

Give me a brittle lung, a love for once--
love won, uncozened.

As much as the rain, the snow softens the landscape.
So winters softens ours. The hours only move me,
a lonely treaty with my mind, hell-bent
and rent by fickle musings:
those green, green fields through which I wandered,
waiting for frost.

Let my dreams keep you warm like a wool coat.
Kindle the moment; torch regret.
Keep me apprised of all small changes.
Safeguard those dreams lest I should forget.
Track Name: god letter
If I'm not back in time for your arrival,
I'll stay up all night to hear the news.
If you come bearing warmth for my survival,
I'll rest sky-well--soft white despite the blues.

Ivy, don't tangle all the holly.
An IV plunged, anchored in my bloodstream.

If you can alchemize my song into substance,
I'll stay up all night to hear it breathe.
Your fanatic crowd, alas, is my reluctance--
who would suffocate the song before it teethes.
Track Name: deep water
All day in the river, the current shackles me.
Oh Ophelia, I too am resting.

Soft light and warm colors.
Warm wind and hard water.

All day in the river, my heart skips beats.
I wonder, dear Ophelia, might I dream beside you?

Soft light and warm colors.
Warm wind and hard water.
I dream of a tributary where against
the current, by will, I carry
my own weight. A trestle erected
with wide planks there; a Rapunzel girl
lets down her hair to lift me up.

Ever after in the river, I sing my own abandon.
Hear my voice when you're in silt or sand.

Soft light and warm colors.
Strong winds and deep water.
Track Name: pack of wolves
If birth is selling a womb,
clutch your belly.
Do your talons pierce the skin?
Does your bouquet of arrows?
And your heart of flint:
it's trying to fire its way out.
If I could solder these wounds;
if I knew about ore; if I had any mettle;
if I could equate my country with love;

I might believe in anything,
I might sing your praise,
I might hunt with your pack of wolves.

The dogs now howl at night.
Let me sharpen my canines on your talent.
From within we multiply errors--
all-seeing eye, U.S. Mint.
Eagle ripped the olive branch right down.
If I could solder these wounds;
if I wanted your war; if I felt quite settled;
if I could equate my country with love;

I might believe in anything.
I might sing your praise.
I might hunt with your pack of wolves.
I might believe in anything.
I might sing your praise.
I might swallow a hundred pills
if you tell me they'll help me to sleep for days.
But aren't we half-asleep always?
Track Name: home unsound
I remember most the scarlet evenings
through beveled glass--an evensong
of heartbeats fixed like metronomes.
Dear home unsound, I've lost my ground.

I recall quite well the mind's dry heaving
through carnival glass. So even-keeled,
your heartbeat mends like a metronome.
Dear home unsound, I've lost my ground.

If you lead the way, I'll light it well.
Fissured deep and moonblind for the forest,
dear black night, I'm your trundle bed
with broken casters.
Track Name: blank canvas
I'll trade a blank canvas for your broken mirror.
If your sense of the world's in those shards
I will piece them together. In the dark I stumbled
to your bedside. With your face in the pillow you were
distanced from me until sunrise.

Find, then, a joy that I cannot provide.
My eyes moved so strongly toward yours,
yet how weak was our binding.

I'll trade a song of loss for your smile in a heartbeat,
make believe my spirit's well-rooted and strong
as the oak tree. Could you say that in the night you saw
me through to sunrise? Oh, dear heart, so I saw you.