Complete lyrics to every song released, ongoing and somewhat incomplete so please check back for more.


2018 ‘Woe’

the river of men flows without end

i got my hands on your shoulders and the cold isn’t cold now and as the rain chucks it all down my fingers cling on and i gather your hair up and i breathe it all in and it’s dark and it’s heavy and we're tangled and soaked and every short breath and every tight grip is a piece of the story is a part of the song oh that you were my true love oh that you were my young wife and that the heavens would open and drown us tonight 

men in corners

i didn’t think before i opened up i didn’t think i’ve not been thinking much now you got questions boys that’s fair enough you wanna pull some teeth gotta get things done the day was dark the night was long the wind was whipping up a wicked song deep december sheets of ice a sliding star the farm alight well i came to buy but i was told to sell so i went to court cause i needed help i went to court and i lost my nerve it’s fair to say we’re not on the best of terms men in corners they start fires men in corners they are hungry liars we set a place what were we thinking of give em knives they’re gonna cut things up show a hand they’ll cut it off i just came to thee for to rest a while i never dreamed that id be pressed to fight i’ve not got much no mouths to feed sometimes you want sometimes you need give an inch they take a mountainside tell em stay they sail oceans wide raise a glass they leave you high and dry steal a glance they pluck out eyes men in corners they start fires men in corners they are hungry liars we set a place what were we thinking of give em knives they’re gonna cut things up show a hand they’ll cut it off they plugged me with wires gold green and copper blue they scrubbed my eyes tears fell like parachutes they bled the best of me wide away they took desperate measures of volume and weight they took teeth they took hair they looked for kindness it wasn’t there they will not stop they’ll never have their fill they started early they work there still men in corners they start fires men in corners they are hungry liars we set a place what were we thinking of give em knives they’re gonna cut things up show a hand they’ll cut it off

make each other anew

so i pulled all the leaves down from the trees i gathered them up and took them with me and the night came on and the day getting gone and you are well on your way so here comes the song we were forever alight and never without it was blow winds blow and scream and shout and i stood up straight thought i could handle it all but you are built for the mountains and i’m built for the fall these days i know we cannot win my head loses face and my compass spins and immediately we become strangers again we got to make each other got to make each other anew and from the london docks to the water well you are the source and the cause of the ocean swell you are weighted at rest and as steam on the move you are fearless on tiptoes clumsy and true well i stumble on my feet but i run on my knees you have a tongue that can cut and fingers that bleed i am childless aimless without and behind you are the peach and the plum and the thorn in my side these days i know we cannot win my head loses face my compass spins and immediately we become strangers again we got to make each other got to make each other anew now there’s not much to lose down here in the mire there’s nothing cowardly about having to hide there ain’t nothing new in the shape of the song and there’s nothing to see here girls move along you wrote you’d be here in time you were hours late you said i’ll see you tonight you were gone for days i should be used to the silence the holding of breath but it hasn’t to be honest got easier yet and hearne the hunter still haunts the old woods he had a home in the oak and we slept there too and you clung on close and you whispered to my skin all the ways you would take it and pull it in by now the fighting has stopped and the birds have returned they settle themselves on the yew and the birch the fields turn soft it’s almost spring we got to wait and see what the warm weather brings

i do you don’t

so if god moves on the water the devil moves on the land and there ain’t no such thing as angels with wings only demons on the ground the stuff that dreams are made of the hopes and the promises made may they all go to hell well we dragged that boat up the coast before the tide came in but the water wants what the water wants and one should not fight with it and as the rain fell fast as the waves came hard my hopes and my promises made yeah they all went to hell but if you give me an inch i will dive in deep and i need not rise for air i believe my breath will not leave me in death but will swell my shell under there but youth seemed to vanish as quick as it came and nine months later i don’t know my face at all cut the ropes i am slipping and if i’m going i cannot hold on don’t stop, it hurts my love i do you don't i do you don't but every minute of every day we get a chance to do what’s right and there’s no confusion it is clear and it is cold it is cut and it is black and it is white and we all hope to fall with the butter side up and we cling to this thing we believe called luck and his father yes every minute of every day the question is what’s right but i seize the bad with both of my hands and i squeeze out all the life and the choke sounds to me like a joke so as it coughs well i just scoff it all away cut the ropes i am slipping and if i’m going well i cannot hold on don’t stop, it hurts my love i do you don't i do you don't oh say what you will i will stay around still please keep me within reach there is something they call the spark of life i only know where the darkness is and the missing is the thing that kills me if you were really gone it could be easier to be without cut the ropes i am slipping and if i’m going i cannot hold on don’t stop, it hurts my love i do you don't i do you don't 

woe

i saw fourteen tall black flags on the western road and there was no one left there was nowhere else to go so we walked back to the horses to turn around and you were fine and light we were leaves upon the ground but there are bullies and bastards and broadswords let’s get gone i know you’re not one to run but the cause was never more lost and red stars like embers low in the ash filled sky they fall on our skin and they burn some oh my life woe, woe, woe, woe, woe woe, woe, woe, woe, woe and the rain came pouring down and the dark clouds seemed to frown and the rain came pouring down on me smoke and steam in the scottish evening the northern line the train above the water a coal black night beautiful railway bridge of the silvery tay gives it up with a groan and it’s gone and suddenly away at pluck the crow point the planks on the pebble beach how simple sometimes to lose such a powerful thing and i never took your love to heart i never believed that one so young and wise could fall for me woe, woe, woe, woe, woe woe, woe, woe, woe, woe and the rain came pouring down and the dark clouds seemed to frown and the rain came pouring down on me tonight the stables roll as the foals within them dream yeah they breathe in deep through hay and straw and sleep and i was on the air i was blown and i’ve come to rest on your waist, your hips, your cheeks your delicate chest and you sigh i move I try to be true i swear the beast from the east can cut and rub me bare but in the shade of your sun my one i'll worry less yeah man up boy be brave and blame thyself woe, woe, woe, woe, woe woe, woe, woe, woe, woe and the rain came pouring down and the dark clouds seemed to frown and the rain came pouring down on me fourteen tall black flags on the western road braids and books and woe woe woe woe woe now a shadow falls slow upon my heart oh my days i never knew it so dark oh that you were my true love 

holy trouble no more

there are boats there are boats there on the mountain side there’s a fire and there’s a fire on the shoreline i never did it i never did it i never lit the match i didn’t start this fight but i’ll bring it back holy holy holy holy trouble no more that lake there at the top i know is miles wide and she threw off her dress and she stood so fine there is a need i got it too we want to jump right in well i did it and it’s true i jumped right in holy holy holy holy trouble no more but there’s a question there’s a question on the lips of my my lover she asks me to run and hide i take a room i make it new somehow start again and there’s a place here for you plans and promises holy holy holy holy trouble no more my north my lord how the snow does fall upon the sea and everything that fell before no vessels can there upon the billows ride nor well placed oars the heavy waves divide holy holy holy holy trouble no more 

the fog has not lifted

the fog has not lifted and the birds do not sing they settle on the branches but they don’t say a thing and this used to be green fields where the stroudwater runs but ten thousand boots have churned it to mud and if my letters reach you if the parcels get through well i hope they bring some sort of comfort for you but i’m too scared to ask too frightened to say do you think that you’ll make it do you see a way cause the fog has not lifted the sea out of sight it’s sits there somewhere in the thickness and white and i walk on wet stones i have salt on my lips and it’s as if you were with me it’s as if you were here yeah it’s as if i had listened it’s as if i had been kind it’s as if i could have known how this would wreck me in time should get to some cover hear a whistle and a cry and there’s a ringing in my ears and there's smoke in my eyes the fog has not lifted it presses on the ground so i wait for an answer a signal a sound but the sky stays soupy and the wind does not blow the air hangs cold with slow falling snow and my way home is unclear my footprints fade and i know not now from whence i came no i know not the hour no i know not the place i have written and waited and wasted the days

i know how this happened

well the guests left early today cause i was silent and sullen and strange i know i wasn’t made to flatter and if we ever get to berlin again remind me to care less those reliable friends i can count them on one hand i know, i know how this happened i know, i know how this happened our shoes are caked with dirt cause we walked to the end of the earth and back again but it really doesn’t feel flat and your dresses are perfumed and wet and i loved to pull you out of them we did lay down like nothing else mattered and i know, i know how this happened i know, i know how this happened and if i ever want a good night’s sleep i got to get you out of my dreams change the train and drop off the baggage cause you are present in every breath as the morning comes creeping in nothing works you are missed and happy and i know, i know how this happened i know, i know how this happened


2017 ‘Understudy’

soldier johny

i’ll throw my self into the river you better believe i would sell my liver if i could just for one night lay with her  and come joyfully back home she said some bright day who knows how long all different people gonna get along i need a little hope to carry on until i make it home well i pray you are right but my heart don’t know how the blood that it pumps it jumps and it flows it seems to have a mother fucking mind of it’s own and cares not to clot back home and they put men in the soil they put men in the ground all the able bodied boys have been thrown out of town you look for them there they can’t be found they're never coming home and oh me oh my i loved her so it broke my heart just to see her go and where she got to god only knows but i pray she makes it a home well my legs don’t leap and my voice is spent i live hand to mouth step by step my throat is dry and my eyes are wet and i can’t see a way back home so i make like a monkey i swallow a wrench i chuck myself into the dirty old thames i’ve had it up to here with this world of men i can’t call this place my home

includes lyrics from ‘Johny Has Gone For A Soldier’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John A and Alan Lomax, 1947.

understudy 

oh it is long after two and we’re left here to do all of the things they couldn’t finish or lose and there’s a fire and boys we just shovel we just shovel it on i used to worry about how my hair would fall out how my bones would complain and rattle about we may be low but we will be lowered into the dirt into the earth and these are desperate days but here lies a way i do declare my understudy i will follow you and if you see and i don’t well then please let me know if you can help or in any way save the show the disaster the mess of a plan drawn up and rolled up with the heaviest of hands and outside the world it doesn't even stutter the mark of a man not measured by another nothing changes it all remains it all stays it all stays it all stays the same these are desperate days but here lies a way i do declare my understudy i will follow you those kids are wide awake but dreaming still out on the town and in for the kill but those nights they did take their toll and i am paying still these are desperate days but here lies a way i do declare my understudy i will follow you

black-eyed susie

up red oak and down salt water every man gonna lose his daughter hey black-eyed susie you been gone so long susie won’t you wait black-eyed susie went huckleberry picking the boys got drunk and susie took a licking hey black-eyed susie trouble gonna find you soon enough won’t you wait some got rude and some got boozy none went home with black-eyed susie hey black-eyed susie you’re a fine one black-eyed susie won’t you wait black-eyed susie about half grown jumps on the boys like a dog on a bone hey black-eyed susie you got to catch them all don’t you susie won’t you wait but black-eyed susie is as cute as a daisy if i don’t pluck her boys i’ll go crazy  hey black-eyed susie i’m not like all the others won’t you wait when i asked her to be my wife she came at me with an oyster knife hey black-eyed susie we can talk about the details later won’t you wait she plugged me through like we was making rain now the dogs come a licking round where i lay hey black-eyed susie you’re gonna leave me here all a-leaky won’t you wait hey black-eyed susie don’t leave me here all a-leaky won’t you wait

Includes lyrics from ‘Black-eyed Susie’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John A and Alan Lomax, 1947

bold boy

what you gonna do when your luck runs out bold boy what you gonna do when your luck runs out bold boy what you gonna do when your luck runs out grab me a bottle and drink it on down be a bold boy what you gonna do when the bottle runs out bold boy what you gonna do when the bottle runs out bold boy what you gonna do when the bottle runs out chase these girls all over town and be a bold boy what are you gonna do when your shoes give out bold boy what are you gonna do when your shoes give out bold boy when my shoes give out i’m gonna get off the street take an old chair and get off my feet be a bold boy what you gonna do when the chair gives out bold boy what you gonna do when the chair gives out bold boy well i got no bottle no chair no shoes i’ll lay on my bed with my head in the blues be a bold boy all the pistol shots go bang bang bang in the morning all the pistol shots go bang bang bang in the evening all the pistol shots go bang bang bang i’ll keep on sleeping give a good god damn i’m a bold boy

includes lyrics from ‘Sweet Thing’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John A and Alan Lomax, 1947.

hope limps away

when i met you on the platform you were out of your mind we were weary and worse for wear and the day had been hard and the march left us scarred and our legs and our heads bruised and bare but here i go trying again though i failed before i tread towards a gentler day but as the blood bleeds out from my foot in your door hope limps away well he fought for the dark and then he fought for the light and he brought home a dozen dead men he dumped all that was good into the deep north sea and then carried the crap back to kent but let’s sing it once more for the wives on the shore sing it once more like they say but as this blood floods out there can be no doubt hope limps away and the great clouds are a-calling and the rain starts a-falling and we’re spineless and thoughtless tonight and we turn the other cheek afraid of what we might see  there is nothing like kindness in sight and so with one apple lost might as well throw the whole lot might as well give up and roll it over today i always walked when i could run but i’ve had me some fun hope limps away there is a red tailed kite there is a kestrel in flight there are hawks hunting on high and i see it with my own eyes this world can be so fine if i keep my chin up to the sky but if i laugh then it hurts and when we drink it’s worse and when i play you only complain if i was born to succeed i am failing indeed hope limps away 

while i was sleeping

bad news has come to town bad news is carried some say my love is dead and some say she’s married as i was pondering this well i took to weeping they stole my love away while i was sleeping i could have been stayed at home i could have remained in england but i got the urge to roam i had the need to leave there and i never said goodbye and i never said i’ll see you and now my love is lost while i was sleeping so little did i think so little did i wonder that the storm was so close the clouds so full of thunder i drank until i slept and i didn’t wake for dreaming and the nightmare came to stay while i was sleeping

includes lyrics from ‘Brave Wolfe’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John A and Alan Lomax, 1947.

shorty george

well shorty george he was no friend of mine shorty george no friend of mine taking all the women and leaving all the men behind some are born to sin and some are born to pray he said you can’t kill me i was born this way  to take all the women and leave all the men behind and he was strung up by his neck but happy to tell how he beat on their heads like a clapper on a bell taking all the women leaving all the men behind well the doctor told me it’s your wife come quick cause i've had shot horses half as sick taking all the women and leaving all the men behind and so i ran through the house like a hen without a head i would have murdered george all over again for taking all the women and for leaving all the men behind how can you blame a poor man like me for crying  when his lady ain’t dead but surely dying taking all the women and leaving all the men behind i followed them all to the burying ground i never knew how much i loved her til they laid her down taking all the women leaving all the men behind so people keep the ones you care about close and don’t go dancing on the graves of ghosts  taking all the women and leaving all the men behind and there are dark days a-coming i won’t see them again  the fields are on fire high winds on the way taking all the women leaving all the men behind 

includes lyrics from ‘Shorty George’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John A and Alan Lomax, 1947.

virginia lake

we were out on the lake we were sunburnt and dazed it was not like we planned it we were as thick as thieves we took more than we needed and we were caught red handed suddenly the heavens did roar and the rain it did fall and we were washed well away above then below and down we did go into the great virginia lake to the south we had fled where it’s safe they said where it’s too hot for fighting and with a dozen promises of the welcome we’d get from the friends we would find there and the horses we rode did us proud with the load they never once complained blacks and bays dapples and greys into the great virginia lake i tell you what went wrong it all went to the dogs for no good reason oh the greed of a man can get out of hand and there can be no pleasing yes we took and we took a cretin and a crook and we were never the same we were stuffed and ashamed and we dumped all the waste into the great virginia lake


2017 ‘Do Not Walk Under Wing’

brighton gallows

we were seven miles clear of the western pier when the wood turned to charcoal overnight and the smoke sat still on the ocean's hills above the bones of the dancehall bare and bright when the land meets the sea well you tell me where should we go you got an idea of anywhere better let’s hear it let’s go and the pine boards litter the water’s edge and we combed that beach for an hour  picking up pieces with a mind for a fire but the dark clouds were cooking up a shower we had been here for a year and the winter was just showing up and the snow on the salt waves the quiet the slow loss of love the pier in the sea a skeleton white in the shallows bleak on the beach a dying thing brighton gallows you limp and you laugh and you hit me so hard but now you're just a bruise on my skin and it’s fading each day i didn’t scrub it away it’s just an echo of a shout and so thin we had the whole thing right there but it’s just water and air what we done and i try to stay bright always turn with a smile wish me luck you say don’t be so sad this is surely as bad as it could get yeah that’s lovely and hopeful but you have not heard what’s next the pier in the sea a skeleton white in the shallows bleak on the beach a dying thing brighton gallows

if there could ever be anything as mean as a man

well i woke up with the scream of steam the rattle the clack the iron machine if there could ever be anything as mean as a man it is rolling down the tracks we measured the weeks with a yard of rope a slip of winter a flake of soap i live a mile from here it might as well be a month i walk these days on my knees and we looked for signs in the old tea leaves the english breakfast the darjeeling i was born to be stubborn that’s what i heard well i don’t believe a word and across the border to who knows where they take me hunting but i don’t care the game is only pain without you i play i cheat i lose if there could ever be anything as mean as a man please hold the door i’m as slow as snow john finn’s cottage is riddled with ghosts and save a little space at the fireplace dad and share a bottle with me coal in the cellar and a house of leaves and i dreamed you sleeping next to me one of these days we’ll wake with a smile and laugh at what we did but the line runs clear to your town dear still singing sharp and clear and a fight can never ever really be won by tooth or claw or tommy gun 

the leaving, or what’s left of it

this is what it is and all that it brings and i try to not get too attached to anything but i simply miss your face in the still of the night and the beacon of that and all that is right i don’t miss not knowing where all the stones will land i don’t miss not holding so many stones in my hand but i do miss the sky and the filling of it with all that we threw and all that we hit i don’t miss the times you lashed out at me and i don’t miss the names you slung at my feet but i do miss the stroke of your hand on my cheek  and i know all the times i deserved everything i don’t miss the waiting or the knock at the door one eye on the window one knee on the floor it’s not what we planned and it is what it is but i could live without the leaving or what's left of it 

if i have to walk all the way to england

if i have to walk all the way to england with the torches burning and her hard words repeating you are not needed anymore i’ve nothing for you here when the snow starts to thaw and we see what’s underneath in the european streets that were built to last forever i never thought we’d be so lost and so together you are not needed anymore i’ve nothing for you here when the snow starts to thaw and we see what’s underneath well i breathed it in and now it’s fixed and won’t come undone sharp and mean and stitched upon my cold lung you are not needed anymore i’ve nothing for you here when the snow starts to thaw and we see what’s underneath in the avenues where the state sits upon it’s history she told me run along fool your days are seeming thin to me you are not needed anymore i’ve nothing for you here when the snow starts to thaw and we see what’s underneath well i was good to you and sometimes it would be fair to say you were useful too but that’s not how it is today you are not needed anymore i’ve nothing for you here when the snow starts to thaw and we see what’s underneath underneath the shirts beneath the coats and old suits in tattooed words over scars and stains and bruises you are not needed anymore there’s nothing for you here when the snow starts to thaw and we see what’s underneath

blackface

we walked down from the northampton streets to the southampton docks and we spent good years in between and now i look for my friends in the ends of the earth in the heart in the liver in the spleen when the letter arrived and all the bells rang out and you followed your father to war like he went after his dad now they're both buried below i don’t know what you followed them for and the coal was carried above as the clouds they fell in the night all the men blackfaced from the dust lay still in the light in this thing they call a working life well we're gonna a new story if this is ever gonna work and we had better both be straight with the lies that handful of pennies you say you found in my coat well no one believes they were mine no one is laughing when the roof falls in and charity did not start at home way down in the pit where the fresh air don’t get everyone digging alone and the coal was carried above as the clouds they fell in the night all the men blackface from the dust they lay still in the light in this thing they call a working life

the space in between us

when i get the chance i will fall hard i'll climb the southern wall and jump off fast cause there seems no way to stay alone i’m getting deafened by the bells that call me home and you told me go and leave this hole i put it in my book and i took it to the road and it’s no great shakes we only changed in the days before the waves came the river side the snow on leaves the rocks are pushing hard against the fallen trees there is no reason to this fight no it is low and grey and loud and full of spite and all the ones i ever missed they are not looking fondly down on all of this so don’t waste your time with looking up no it is down you need to be to stay in touch but i think the space in between us it ain’t nothing it ain’t nothing we can’t lose i said the space in between us it ain’t nothing it ain’t nothing we can’t lose now i’m not myself when i’m alone i am a stranger to the flesh and to the bone there is no sense to the shape it is only what the foreign objects make and every ghost i’ve ever seen says the same sad words right back at me how the life got away it took it's leave and left me here in this state and the space in between us it ain’t nothing it ain’t nothing we can’t lose i said the space in between us it ain’t nothing it ain’t nothing we can’t lose

no one gets home

there was a murmur underneath way down in the deep and the whistle blew long and low and a rumble of earth then a roar of dirt as the soil broke through the snow  and the thought at once was what have we done and where to go we all try our best but it’s less than useless no one gets home and with a belly of stones that rattle and groan and a sickness that will not wait it has it’s teeth at my feet it is chomping at the bit and it is loping galloping straight your face fills my eyes so bright in my mind pale and bold we both try our best but it’s less than useless no one gets home i have your name in my throat but we're painfully slow i do not have the legs for to flee and now the buckling barrow breaks open with a sound and it lights up the sky with screams and it is louder than bombs a hell of a song go on alone i have tried my best but its less than useless no one gets home and on the baltic sea or the coast of italy  i’ve been dreaming of not waking up i slept under your stairs but it didn’t help there no i’m haunted by the noises above the back and the forth the spit and the polish the trouble the to and the fro i have done my best but it’s less than useless no one gets home 

do not walk under wing

don’t leave just yet for the fires they still burn if i’ve learned anything if i’ve listened to just one word take your time it is all that we work for don’t be denied of all that is worthwhile i been wasting away with the sitting and the staring the maybe someday the just past caring don’t entertain idiots don’t sing to the front row if the feeling is not there just go do not walk under wing don’t crawl under covers don’t hide where we’ve been we’ve been living as lovers we have burned all the bridges all gone we have slipped from the moorings too soon we have greased all the ropes all gone we have ignored all the warnings too soon well we wintered in the south but now spring is coming it was fight or flight and we went with the running i watched him fall into the dark thames all gone as i ran for my life too soon i heard him dragged out and laughing all gone it was the last of our young nights too soon and if we believed anything we would weld the doors together we would tie down the hatches and live forever in the cellar take the stones from the floor all gone and plant supplies for a lifetime too soon sleep on straw all gone never need sunlight too soon take our names off the door we left there months back i cannot walk past or look lovingly up at i brought shame to our house all gone i led the cretin right in too soon and he sat at our table all gone and he laughed while we were fighting too soon i toyed dumbly with ruin as if nothing could harm me one eye on the door one eye on the dark deed and i didn’t read your poems all gone and i didn’t hear you sing too soon you were a bird in a cage all gone i was out on the wing too soon 

we swam a little song

well if the water cannot drown me though the weight of the waves surround me if you can hold me will you hold me lead me all the way down and show me we swam downstream to the ocean from the lake where we threw all our clothes in under rainfall with a skin full and with your dark eyes wide you went down slow and we swam a little song and as the winds grow well we don’t know where the sails will take the old boat but we float on though it feels wrong no notion where the land has gone we swam a little song


if you’re looking to get lost in the north that’s what we got

we got the orders move the line seventeen miles north but i cannot see the night lights so once again down to the beach and once again we walk the sands until we lose track of the way home well you got yours and i got mine but we know not where they are and we do not try to find them  a black sheep an only child a thinker and a crook but every story needs a villain and every rope needs a throat we were warned watch where we walk and we were told about the tide there were beacons on the beach but up here the world is flat and it plays tricks on the mind and we were looking to get lost and in the north that’s what we got it’s only loud if it makes you deaf it only hurts when i laugh it only cries when it’s hungry it only sleeps when you’re awake it only rattles when it shakes it’s only perfect when it’s broken cause that when the pieces fit  she said if you want a quiet life go find another wife go looking in the shallows there’s no place like the north to look down upon the south and if you’re wanting to get lost well up here that’s what we got we weren’t prepared for all the heat we were dressed for a storm it never came we just got naked across the dunes with burning feet shoulders thighs and all umbrella brought forgotten wasted we were parched high and dry this dream is not a lie it’s something from the night a story that we’re writing and it’s easy with a smile to find a place to hide and if you’re looking to get lost in the north that’s what we got

housebound

well there is a world outside that i never care to see again cause i went there once and that was one time too many and you can read me stories and how good it is to talk and you can show me photographs of all the places we could walk but it’s never gonna happen and from my chair right there i can see the garden trees the blackbird rustling through the ivy leaves and somedays we find him sitting on the kitchen table and he flies out in a panic and i would follow if i were able but it’s never gonna happen so take my skis when you leave and will you throw them into the sea give my best to fred when you meet him in the street there are trains to be late and kind people i have yet to upset and there’s a wide world of hate just waiting for a crack at my head but it’s never gonna happen

the year the winter left without taking the snow

well i could not pack my bags as fast as you wanted and i did not burn all my books upon your stove but as sure as the night is mine i will return some other time with a rucksack full of tools to make it right it is thirty below tonight and the camp is quiet and all the dogs are silent in their sleep no storm is getting near but the wind and the frost cut clear and i will not last another night outside so with the blade i slice a length of tent fast open and with soft steps i creep like a creep inside and i see well enough to stitch so i sew it so it sticks and i’m filling my bottle up when they rush in they say get out of here and with a leap i throw my clothes on they say get out of here for we know not who you are but i say we been three weeks on the trail and before that a month in jail it seems you cretins are quick to forget when times are hard so good people if you are listening keep your shirts on and do not try to understand what you can not know for someday and it won’t be long we’ll be singing a different song about the year the winter left without taking the snow

turn your back on the crown

i would always lose it all at the track but scrape enough to make my way back i’ve been gambling for food and a bed it’s not funny and the odds are not fair and when the fortune took flight with the crows i climbed trees and followed them home and i’m so lucky to have made it this far i got no idea but i know it can’t last you slept on trains when we fled to the north we left switzerland in a hell of a storm and i don’t know when i’ll ever head south i got a month until the money runs out every bed smaller than the one before until in kreuzberg we slept on the floor and these three weeks we’ve been keeping so close and now this distance and i wake like a ghost and as the rain dropped the river grew mean and the channel took willows on the wing no it cared not for the place of a thing nothing is fixed and it’s all to the wind but there’s a crossing there’s a border ahead we’ll ride boats and i’ll talk you to death and if the clouds keep on chucking it down well the water rises and i’ll shut my mouth did you talk to the goats and to the sheep did we walk out for an hour to the sea and do you find me at times in your room where i dream of your fine thighs in bloom did you catch me humming these notes did you say there is a man i could know well you grabbed me and we rode along and we wrote down the words for this song ride away from the winter cold turn over hard ground run through the summer fields turn your back on the crown

2016 ‘The North EP’


stick to the road

the moment i wake up the shadows they take up the morning light fights but it won’t beat the dark and the winter wind blows and the windows won’t close and this is only november this is just the start of it all so you wrote about me coming and i spoke about runningaway to your boat where it waits in the dry dock and it’s sad to see the hull beneath where there could be waves and fishes and mystery bluey-green water hissing with bubbles the weight of the fathoms pressing down from above us and colder than death and wider than sky no place for us brother we better stay dry stick to the road beware of the moon they’ll find you in pieces if you don’t get home soon but i could live in the harbour watching the cargo dreaming up stories of sailors and stowaways stinking of gin and happy and thin and never again speak about going away just set up my chair my stash on the table my write it all down book my lies and my fables the list of lovers i never met in the daylight under dark covers it was lust at first sight stick to the road beware of the moon they’ll find you in pieces if you don’t get home soon there is a path from the cliff edge goes to the sea it runs straight down it’s quick but it’s steep and you call it a short cut but i call it a leap it will cut it short sure but it’s not for me

learning how to breathe underwater

we are lying on stones our bellies to the sun learning how to breathe underwater do you think i am an authority on this kind of thing or do you not but do you think that i oughta there is so little left of the man that you met he’s like the flick of the match after lighting not given a glance, or half a chance to be struck again and make fire here but what there is in a shout can push the air out and i struggle for breath as if dying it is a stupid man who won’t keep calm when he can and who loses his nerve without trying count twenty in and thirty out count the breaths as they kiss on your mouth sunlight through trees train window at speed i always dream about leaving the south and in the darkest of days when i look at your face and it is wild and wet and streaming tears from your eyes heavy and wide and resting and packing and leaving it is no way to live it should not fit it should never have become a habit please let’s throw it all out with a happy shout disregard and move on and let’s have it

there’s no shame in a song

i dreamed we were out in the meadow we were down by the brook we were deep in the bush we were lost and how these mornings start suddenly out of the dark and from there we just run to keep up and they’ve given us two weeks to get back at them well we’ve the money it’s not really about that there’s so much at stake these desperate days and we’ve stolen more than we could pay back and this is not a new year and that was not a merry christmas and this is not a clean slate, there’s no page to turn over it is a day away and done and gone done and gone and there’s no shame in a song they said the point about moving is getting somewhere but the destination has not made itself known and maybe we’ve nowhere to settle down but i need a chair you need a bed we got a home and you will ask where i come from and i will say i don’t know and you will ask well where was i born and i am thinking about england and ireland and wales and sweetpea and kaypher and them all and this is not a new year and that was not a merry christmas and this is not a clean slate, there’s no page to turn over it is a day away and done and gone done and gone and there’s no shame in a song

five miles down the lane

i believe there is a witch in the house she’s married to your brother and she will turn him out she don’t appear with no black cat she don’t cook up a spell but she cusses and curses us all down to hell we’re all going to hell now i know i’m scared but they are still after me jonathan and simon and the whole company they send letters, they send thick envelopes stuffed to the gills with threats on my throat and they demanded that i come down and fight well id rather give my right arm to run and hide its better the devil i don’t know another land but this here is the one that breaks a much better man at least a better man than me and with the black hills above and the new town below five miles down the lane we spilled our own blood and we swallowed our tongues and we spoke not of women no we only feared witches i fell on my flat feet, the clouds came undone we lost a high mile of good ground to the flood we lost the red barn, the black barn the tree but your father lost a daughter when you married me i slept in the cottage i slung the paintings on the fire we still got the sky i cried we still got the sky yeah i got more than a little out of shape and you can’t make a man from sand and clay anymore and with the black hills above and the new town below five miles down the lane we spilled our own blood and we swallowed our tongues and we spoke not of women no we only feared witches that winter went slow we had nowhere to go the roof fell in with the weight of the snow the end came fast we never stood a chance you look for a way out and then there you are

if you build it they will come

so they paid me off with a crooked piece of gold and now i got me this here lump in my throat yes i am down where the lucky men go i got a skinful i got you let’s hit the road well i found a square of dirt clear of leaves and weeds i got a bone in my leg will you dance with me you got smokes i got the bottle let’s make a team they got the guns but we got the numbers me and thee and when we left st francis we didn’t have to walk no we were carried by three brothers who stood tall and they were solemn they were silent but they knew it all and we were just two wounded birds sad and small and when the cuckoo got his claws into our house all the bailiffs in the world couldn't get him out he’s not to blame it’s just his way and it’s not unfair mean or strange but there was nowhere left for us to go but down and if you build it they will come i keep my good eye on the door we were the boys who had everything i was so quick to lose it all but is that ocean look how they sky is clear ahead i can see it as we’re coming round the bend yeah we'll be safe soon my fair feathered friend take a break here to draw out the end we could all use a quiet place in which to sleep and i’m a simple man no need to be smart with me there will come a time when all of this will cease to be empty beds empty chairs me and thee i think we are close enough to make the boat in time so set your troubles down and lay em next to mine breathe that sea air deep we’re doing fine we could almost believe every lie when i was young i wanted to run into the trees i sat and watched paint dry i wasted weeks now you got the smokes i got the bottle we make a team they got the guns but we got the numbers me and thee

that’s how it goes when you go away

i rode out for supplies the first afternoon that was five weeks ago i’ve still plenty of food i woke in the night having slept through the day that’s how it goes when you go away your friends came by to ask where you went i was under the table until they left most of the time i have less to say / a lot of the time i have little to say that’s how it goes when you go away your clothes on the floor where you last let them fall i lay down there where it’s comfortable i have a regular heartbeat but lately it’s strange that’s how it goes when you go away there are noises in the cottage a light in the loft i turned it on yesterday when i woke up it’s off i start to think i am not alone in this place that’s how it goes when you go away

all the corporals sing a long song

every minute like every hour lose a little more every day i cut the corners off walking home these weeks get a little back get a little back somehow i hear the good boys are back on the town i know that shore leave is hard to earn they try to fit it all into two days and then sleep it off somehow sleep it off somehow i think the men are all out to get me i know they wont leave a stone unturned i always got one eye on the glasshouse keep away somehow keep away somehow and when the day is done all the corporals sing a long song and when their song is sung well the train is late and it will not wait for no man’s son i count the friends that are leaving early i know we all got a bone to pick i never felt so let down and stood up walk it off somehow walk it off somehow i know the women wont work for nothing i heard they all got it in for me i guess i’ve never been what you’d call honest fob it off somehow fob it off somehow and when the day is done all the corporals sing a long song and when their song is sung well the train is late and it will not wait for no man’s son i wake at four i had a shift at three no one even tried to get me up they speak about me like i’m already awol shadow of a man just a shadow of a man i am

what i know about the sea i can say in a song

well you can fight all you like you won’t keep her afloat she will buckle, she will turn, she will sink like a stone and we both watch her go, no recovery here the thing about the night is we all disappear cause you can look for an answer you can measure the rules the how and the why well what else should we do i tooka long hard look at the ocean today and without any emotion i am carried away to where the lake meets the sea and the water turns thick to where we stopped for supplies but there was nothing to drink and you had questions i didn’t answer about the plans we could make and when the rescue would happen that would come and save the day but have we ever been this hungry have we ever been so low so thirsty we’ll pour salt water down throats well i swallow words, breathe the night, someone rings the bell they call the flock in from the fields and send them all down to hell and later i pick up my feet and i drag myself away i’m not a natural born swimmer but i float just the same and what i know about the sea i can say in a song what i tell of the ocean is only so long like if you scoop a cup out then the whole level goes down i saw half a man washed up like a stuffed leather bag i saw a piece of our boat that i could reach on the bed but it’s twenty fathoms down and no way up from there now the morning comes glowing all wet and alive and the sails are showing so distant and fine and the diamond of their canvas cuts holes in the blue and tiny triangles of light push themselves brightly through

2016 ‘Turn Your Back On The Crown’


2015 ‘The Good Men’

matthew and robert

well we did what we could to save matthew but robert we lost and i do what i can but these days i don’t do a lot when i walk out at night the cold the cold hits my throat and you ask where i go to well i don’t know i don’t know i don’t

the good men

we were all born in a barn we left the door to our hearts wide open and some were built to do harm to take and to scrape and leave broken and while the rest of us slept and would wake still tired and uncertain there were voices downstairs that barked out words hard and hurtful it wasn’t always like this and the change when it came was devastating the lungs abandoned air sucked out suffocating here come the dark days put the clocks back and get ready here comes the slate grey the coal black the blues get ready and we try to be good men each day but good men wouldn’t do things this way there is a straight path i think we could take but good men won’t leave here today and some grow to walk tall to lead and be seen and to follow while others will steal and get stuck in and core and leave hollow now there is no way to turn back the lane it is narrow and runs downhill and when were gone we are gone and nowhere and everywhere landfill and we try to be good men each day but good men wouldn’t do things this way there is a straight path i think we could take yeah but good men won’t leave here today i know the game is the same no matter how we play and we lie and we cheat and we lose either way so we keep our chins up and we sing when we pray and good men sure won’t be leaving today now you people pick up pitchforks there’s a chance to shake them coming on get a little unruly and act like you know right from wrong all these songs i have made feel like scratches counting days on the walls of my cell yeah this has gone on long enough and it’s true i have not done well still we try to be good men each day but good men wouldn’t do things this way and there is a straight path i think we could take yeah but good men won’t leave here today but if you ever get lost and you ever want found send word to me and i’ll follow you down there’s no room at the top we are all here below but a home is a home is a home is a home is a home is a home

super good advice

well she told me to come down right away so boys i did run i left the house before any light of day and the town before noon and i only slowed when the wheels fell off and the driver took sick and we lost an hour then but it felt like a week so anyway out from the highlands and down to the swamp where everything’s overflowing and the earth is a bog and the smell of the soil is rich with dark whiskey and it’s young and full of cum and it’s fine and it’s free and she said don’t make promises don’t make any plans don’t buy anything you can’t hold in your hands keep one eye open when you’re holding the gun don’t say no when it’s yes that you want so we pile up the firewood and we wait for the cold we save every penny and then wait to grow old but the big bad wolf still knows exactly where i live and he’s huffing and he’s puffing and he will blow the house in and he tells me don’t make promises don’t make any plans don’t buy anything you can’t hold in your hands and keep one eye open when you’re holding the gun and don’t say no when it’s yes that you want and i was found but now i’m lost this didn’t change anything i sang it all out and then i let it ring but i can’t recapture youth by laying down with her and that’s not something i knew no that i had to learn and it goes don’t make promises don’t make any plans don’t buy anything you can’t hold in your hands and keep one eye open when you’re holding the gun and don’t say no when it’s yes that you want

keep the flames from the horses

we were well away we fell away now don’t look down all the days we said were far ahead well here they come now and at the north coast i miss you most now i’m rolling south wash the scent off my breath gone half the way down all these trips i do no parachute the carelessness when i try to be fine to thee it’s oh such a mess but did you hear the fighting cause all along the line there are torches we got to put the fires out keep the flames from the horses and i have swung beneath high beams of oak trees and spruce in the miles wide countryside so far from you but oh my lady don’t blame me for this sudden storm for i promise thee honestly i do you no wrong but did you hear the fighting all along the line there are torches we got to put the fires out now and keep the flames from the horses and when morning comes in winter sun please take my hand kiss my fingers clean and i’ll vow to be a simpler man

i was in the north before the fall

i didn’t see the plane when it hit the lake i only felt the waves that it made and with the line drawing near it’s high time to get out of here to somewhere dry and somewhere safe i haven’t written home in a month i guess by now you think i’m done but ever since i’ve been away it get’s harder every day to find the words to tell enough now your brother says he’s in need of help and your mother wants it all for herself well your kindness flows on out but there’s only so much to go about and we need a little for ourselves now all the men are deaf and all the women dumb and all the boys are making stories up they say the captain fell in love with a lady like a dove and the girls all know how that one goes and i was in the north before the fall i left before the snow and all and up there the ground is tough and they bury them standing up so the heads are showing when it thaws

amsterdam

on the faraway field where we fell and were healed by the light of the sun as it rose over the hills when the day was new and a chance to lose the dead skin and it was thick on my lips my fingers my hips and at the top of my legs where two rarely meet in the words we often heard whispered or purred before us well i remember a week where i forgot myself in hospital beds and the attics of girls confused in amsterdam laughing and lost who knows where in a dozen dutch towns i fumbled about i rode a tram all morning on the promise of a pout and yet the bells on the tower were counting the hours before us and when i left they forgot me right away but i think of them still some days all this from when i was first here before you and yours my dear she had tattoos of plants and tattoos of poems all down her arms the ink overflowing she gave me a choice it was ride or stay behind i didn’t answer and all the night i was dragged i was drugged i was led she was a giant it’s true and she left me for dead and when i swam in her bath i found fresh bruises scars everywhere and when i left she forgot me right away but i think of her still some days all this from when i was first here before you and yours my dear i needed somewhere to stay and he offered me a place but i waited for an hour outside in the rain he didn’t give any reason except to say that he was always late and i had brought us some food it was the least i could do but he asked me to eat it alone in my room said it would stink out the house and he that always went out to eat so he did and when i left he forgot me right away but i think of him still some days and all this from when i was first here before you and yours my dear i hoped we were finished she said we were through i thought i was safe but there was more to lose was a room was a bed there was the book of the dead i wouldn’t call it home she put the pieces in place then threw a match to the lot i got out through her window and on to rooftops the past got burned and all that i learned was before us and when i left she forgot me right away but i think of her still some days all this from when i was first here before you and yours my dear many wheels turned all away from her i dreamed of hollow tipped bullets the briar the burr the train tracks shone i rode happily along and away you see i’m easily led by the breeze of a leg and i’m less than honest with the lies that i’ve said and maybe this too doesn’t help what’s true before us when i left they forgot me right away but i think of them still some days all this from when i was first here before you and yours my dear

so long song

now all the boys are deep deep down and all the guns are gone to ground when you’re halfway out you’re halfway home but it feels to me you’re half below i hope you make it you wrote to tell me don’t come back i don’t know what to do about that i wish that we could talk as friends maybe save the little left but i hope you make it they locked the gates the powers off spring is coming winter’s done if you could you would i know that much i send you songs and i wish you luck and i hope you make it

nowt

maybe these days are the last of days maybe it’s time to turn in without all the drama the trouble the strife before the black hole does its thing they took one from everyone and two from most they took three when they had time to look they turned this town into nowt did they leave anything something worth holding on to well hold on too we got no time to lose have to eat on the hoof and catch forty winks when we can across the blue fields with fire and steel we are stumbling grumbling men turn your back to the sun and come see what they done there is a low slow fear on the rise and you told me take care but see what’s under there where the wound stays wet and wide but we cant hide inside i don’t know what to say can you make it ok do you want me to slow down and help we had a well full of tears between us dear and more than enough for ourselves so take cover in the bed and i’ll meet you there i can find my way home in the dark and this year has begun with a cough in the lung and a tender troubled old heart well at least it’s a start we’re not cut from fine cloth we are old winter socks and we don’t match or fit or stay up and we sling back cheap wine as we float down the rhine in this stolen struggling tug and the river grows feet and coughs up from the deep a school of mackerel and cod and salt swimming fish flap about on the bridge while the water splashes noisily home yeah let’s go noisily home


exeter

we found a house with mortar walls a good for nothing roof that was soon to fall and all the while we were living there the landlord told tall tales to scare like he said that the bed where i slept the stain thereon is where his wife had bled years ago when his twins were born they came into the world covered over with thorns and how how they snagged and drew and bled a bloody puddle on the bed in my room he said well there were three of us young and soft happy in the west trying to find a job we painted we were making work it hung upon the mortar walls and covered the dirt while he said that the twin boys born were kept upon the ward for a year or more and how how the doctors came and never saw before and never saw again he said well we were drunk and chucked bottles about we shared two women and i don’t know how but by the bath there was bombay gin we drank ourselves silly then we all climbed in while he said i was the best he knew i never let him down and always paid when due and he said that he was somehow proud well i took him for a liar then i robbed his house and i left

whistle

well i was kept out of doors i was locked out for my health you claimed it was for the best said you were only trying to help but i am not so sure that being hungry and poor is what anybody needs and i don’t see the use of scraps of shoes on my feet oh i thought we were friends you and i and it’s sad to see how i’m sleeping in your kitchen like a fool that just won’t leave and there are things that i’ve done that i wish that i could somehow change i make a long long list and i’ll start at the end of the day and the teachers they are running away and the lesson hasn’t ended ok cause we’ve lost more than we’ve been told and the school is a shell and it’s old and the books are stuffed with leaves and the stories are born on their knees and the supplies won’t last til the spring and here’s the last of the good stuff they’ll bring we gotta use it or lose it and try and make something new i got a bucket full of clay and an oven and the books for fuel they say that mother knows best but there’s little that’s left of her son between the streets of berlin and the avenue back in london and the teachers they are running away and the lesson hasn’t ended ok cause we’ve lost more than we’ve been told and the school is a shell and it’s old and the books are stuffed with leaves and the stories are born on their knees and the supplies won’t last til the spring and here’s the last of the good stuff they’ll bring well my needle sticks and it misses and the moment is lost and how we throw it all away in the belief that another will come well sooner than later the pieces just don’t grow back and we leave with less than we like and that is that

when the cold comes

when the cold comes where you gonna wanna run to do you think that we got it any better than you do it’s winter everywhere and we all breathe the same air but come on anyway they said it was bad i didn’t know there was any good left could you help me out or do you know who’s in charge here the rules seem to have changed and the maps don’t show the way and this feels fucking far from home the stars look dim cause there’s smoke in everyone’s eyes what we did gonna take a lot to put it all right and one seems to know how the story goes or how the whole thing ends

she cut your sails to fit her bed

i never thought that this ship would sink but here we are at the bottom of the sea and there’s a way to get home from here but where then is rarely that clear she cut your sails to fit her bed tied me to it and then set me adrift at high tide the things the moon does the planets the heavens above we’re not built for these things this place we’re not built for these things these days and we’re not built for this a mile away i remember her name another step and i’ve forgotten her face and by the time the snow has all gone and you and i and colours and songs i cannot run like a dream that i do i cannot fly or silently move but when i think of swimming to france it’s like a dip like a splash in the bath we’re not built for these things this place we’re not built for these things these days and we’re not built for this how my house still stands i don’t know if it stands still well i just don’t know could you check in on the dogs for me if they’re ok if they need anything well we can’t take it with us when we go and i suppose that’s the waste we all know there is a kind way to say goodbye no one told me i haven’t got it quite right we’re not built for these things this place we’re not built for these things these days and we’re not built for this

the rain is a kind kind of love

as the days and the nights fall away and the sea birds fly south to their graves and my heart it is rushing with the squall and the horses get lost in the storm and as the days and the nights fall away and the snow it settles on the lake and the clouds they smother the sky and the smoke it stays in my eyes as the days and the nights fall away and the worst of the guests still stay and they steal and they spill and they spit and your welcome is wasted on them as the days and the nights fall away and the good fortunes all are waylaid and the silence is never quite done and the rain is a kind kind of love

leipzig

all the stories you told don’t follow me home in the dark there is more to be said but there are things better left in the bar and i stain shirts with blood i cake shoes with mud on the way but you strip it all off and everything drops in the rain do you think we can try to maybe stay dry for the night keep off the tap and wear it like that for a while it would be something new to be true to you but i won’t yes all the things i could do they are nothing next to all i don’t and this presses on me and it presses on you and between the sheets two of us meet tight and blue so the morning came i got to run for the train back home i have your scent on my fingers my skin beneath my tongue and in leipzig’s glorious bahnhof i wander around i look up to its heavens its rafters for answers not found and this presses on me and it presses on you and between the sheets the two of us meet tight and blue but i roll on the same a little changed still lost with the memory of you noisily coming undone yes the stories you told don’t follow me home in the dark and there’s a lot to be said for leaving the dead where they are and this presses on me and it presses on you and between the sheets the two of us meet tight and blue

the dust

all the letters get lost and the words aren’t heard and they say there’s a chance we’ll have rain by the third but the clouds don’t stall and the water hasn’t fallen for months now four months now what choice do we have but to do what we can the colour runs out and the grass turns to sand under our feet under our feet well you gave me so much but it’s barely enough and a man cannot live on kindness and love the blood grows thin and yet the heart needs something to pump around to pump around here and i was never that good at playing that good and the dust it blows in it creeps into our room it creeps into our room while we sleep when you shout from the bed i walk away from the bed and when we drink it seems there’s always trouble ahead but we should have a little fun amongst the grief and the worry that we carry it’s so heavy you are here with me dear i can’t say it enough you got my back and my belly and my head and my love i don’t say it enough

tommy

tommy didn’t seem to care he never once showed that he missed her he just threw her body down the stairs and said the sticks will always land where they fall he said the thing about the breaking up is the thing about the getting together you always know the way it will end everyone winds up alone i didn’t try to be a better man i never ever said i was holy i couldn’t make a master plan just a list of what i couldn’t get done it started when i left ireland and it was over by the time i went back there and in between there was a wife in the south that i never carried into our house she said the thing about the breaking up is the thing about the getting together you always know the way it will end everyone winds up alone and all the time we were on the beach the rain chucked it down on the highlands now the fields are mud under feet and everything ends at the sea everything ends at the credits everything ends at the bell everyone winds up on alone and all is right in the world

calvary coming

well let’s fill up the bottle one more time and then you can help me drink cause good lord your lips they fit me well when we roll and we stick and we sip and you’re unbuttoned when you arrive and out of breath and you turn me right around and you say come on and be a gentleman well i don’t know how anymore so take the feathers from your pillow and stoke up the fire and let’s heat up this house lay your broken hand down upon my tired thighs and we’ll heal as best as we can but if you go i will follow and i’ll leave again cause each of us has a home you couldn’t say we are together right now but we don’t do this alone no we don’t and every which way you have walked home before can you try and forget them all cause i need you totally lost tomorrow and there just where i’ll fall there’s no cavalry coming no help on it’s way and i don’t think there ever was we were foolish and hit the cold ground running and now all our tracks are lost they’re all lost

2014 ‘Kitchen’


polly the widow

one day we were making plans and in the morning he was gone said go bury my best tools beneath the lawn cause i’ve given my weak arms and i’ve given my legs and after it all the fields are still flooded but the fences are left so i make with the sowing and i make with the hay i make with the hoeing sunny bank in the mud through the rain and trouble gonna come when i wanna run this place on my own yeah we all got trouble everyone got a little trouble i’m not alone i couldn’t be honest anymore and i couldn’t be true and when i take a hard look at our history here neither could you don’t know what’s gonna grow don’t know what i’ll make but you put a bad seed into the good earth it’s gonna take take take go tell it on the mountain go tell it in the town polly the widow been out here cooking and putting stuff in the ground there’s red smoke from her chimney and there’s black dirt round her door and i’ve ten to your five no word of a lie we won’t see her no more

a fair mile

fee and i left the rest in their beds and we went now i couldn’t be further away further away from the town and my intentions are good but they’re nothing without some strength i can build a fair fire but the rain always snuffs that thing out but there is no way to cry but the way that we cry and there’s no way to laugh than the way that we laugh there’s no way to walk but the way that we walk but there’s no way to leave cause there’s nowhere to go there’s nowhere to go anymore god they locked all your churches they nailed all these old doors shut could you speak to them please we all need shelter sometimes meanwhile i write to my wife lying about the things that i’ve done but you know i’d confess it to you if i could only get inside i thought i was lost but i was never more found i thought i was high but the fall brought me down i thought i was numb but sensation remains i thought we were done but the pain’s still the same no the pain hasn’t changed at all

dear leise

how the great clouds are growing and the grey skies are snowing and the pieces are thick soft knuckle bones on a ridge near the west gate with a bag full of wet slate and a hole in my belly dear leisa a hole i left a pony with michael and a score with the foreman lost a ton from what the dock hands dropped sold or stole i have my eye on the prize i keep your hips in my mind not this hole in my belly dear leisa this hole and as the seventh wave lands there go our plans there go our sand castles down there are too many in the bed and the runt is half dead and we all roll over and into the ground when we land please let’s stay awhile take my hand and sit quiet there’s no fixing the thing but at least it runs slow i have tried plugging it with beeswax wet clay and tree sap but this hole in my belly dear leisa this hole i cannot get peace and you know i only sleep with the door closed i cannot settle my stomach or soften my dry throat but i imagine a better time healthy and kind with no hole in my belly dear leisa no hole

the line she winds around the black forest pines

it is not in what’s missing and it is not in what’s lost it is more in what’s left and what i’ve now got i was out from the firelight and past the dry dock far away from the town where it all went down to rot i was promised a job i was promised a room i didn’t see anything they gave both to you now i know the way but i don’t see the signs to the line she winds round the black forest pines it goes i can hunt high and low through rain sleet and snow i can measure nautical miles from the lights in the sky i can fathom and tow but i do not know the line she winds around the black forest pines it goes all the things i desire through electrical wire and the pieces of cloth the swallow the cough the song thrush the heave the dream her beak the tramping through coal dust and bellowing from a cold lung the 1 2 3 2 2 3 hardly enough how to get there from here when the where isn’t clear you are here in my throat but it’s only to choke we have lost you see yeah you see you see it goes the line she winds around the black forest pines

when the animals follow the gunshots

when the animals follow the gunshots when the deer all run to the sound when the birds flock close to the fire then it’s time to run to the town and when the leaves pick themselves up from the cold ground and when the springwater doesn’t come clear when we’re done being sentimental then it’s high time to get out of here but could we sit together on the white train and could you share with me the reasons you left he is a friend and much more for you i know and i don’t get the way that it went and in the station point me to the best bar and tell where you can be found pick up your kindling and take a tram home and kiss him and wrap arms around

2013 ‘When The Animals Follow The Gunshots’


deserter

are we really stuck without power three days from the town and are the trails and the paths all lost i cannot find a way out anything of a payout and the good guys are certainly gone we are caught upside down again right side out again how do you people get on cause sometimes the curse is lost in the words and we don’t need a reason to lie to fight deserter deserter i know it hurts stop the willow bends down where the dead do lie with their pockets all full of rocks deserter deserter i know it hurts stop are we so far from grace we do this without faith and the basic idea is all wrong when i fall on my face i don’t lose anything and it helps to know which way is up so set em up joe and dig me a hole for to climb triumphantly from i don’t need a bed and i don’t need a chair i need a table to lay stiff upon i need you at my head and all the rest someplace else just crying and a-carrying on deserter deserter i know it hurts stop the willow bends down where the dead do lie with their pockets all stuffed with rocks deserter deserter i know it hurts stop are we so far from grace we do this without faith and the basic idea is all wrong sometimes i think i’ve arrived but i haven’t left yet i never got out of the dark and i’ve a rope round my waist and a hand on the door i make pigeon steps through the park so slowly does it carefully does it boys i know i’ve been here before it wasn’t any kinder back then it was always a mess and will be for evermore good god deserter deserter i know it hurts stop the willow bends down where the dead do lie with their pockets all stuffed with rocks deserter deserter i know it hurts stop are we so far from grace we do this without faith and the basic idea is all wrong

my boy billy

go slow billy boy i haven’t my legs i’m tired from the swimming and i can’t steer my head your wife will wait for as long as it takes so go slow billy boy go slow if i was a kind man i would have stayed at home i would have kept the door shut i would have hung up my coat but out in the country and out in the town well i love to get lost and i love to get found we can blame it on the weather we can blame it on the snow we can say it was the black ice that made us go slow we can lie til the cows come a-stumbling home but it is my fault alone and alone so i mix sand with water and in go the feet arms tied down and shackled to knees go turn up the radio go turn up the song come and find me when all this is done the hills will be tall whenever we arrive and the grey lake deep and wet and wide so don’t give up the ghost don’t you give up and croak keep it up above and on top i don’t know the truth and i don’t trust my friends and i’m not looking up as all this ends not much to save there is not much to save something to burn and something to bake if you meet mrs james at the general store tell her good day but tell nothing more don’t say that i miss her and wish she were mine don’t tell her it all billy boy

solo

i was outside when the rain stopped and the night brightened up in the blue of the morning and the creep of the sun the apple trees in the garden they were drenched and they shone the wet grass the autumn leaves sodden and soft i’d been tasked with supplies i’d been asked to buy bread i’d been sent to find sugar i got sea salt instead cause i remember the atlantic and the low winter tide i don’t believe that there’s anything that we believe we should hide so low so slow so low here joe so low so slow so low here joe i carry a compass i don’t have a map but with all of the spinning i still know the way back i had a thought before waking i had a dream before this im so sorry for what happened gonna try to fix it so low so slow so low here joe so low so slow so low here joe i’ve been gone for 3 weeks but it feels like a year i’m telling you that i miss you but i wouldn’t wish you were here

the worst of it is

if you do it enough the blood and the spit turn to wine if you do it enough all the things you need you’re gonna find now you work for your bed you work for your time and i know that the way that we wake is the way that the whole world goes i don’t talk so smart and i don’t dance as well as before i don’t collect friends and i always have an eye on the door i stay awake most nights until i know that the house is asleep then i can get some work done and move stuff around in peace i start with the chairs and i stack em and sling em downstairs i put a table in the cellar and start with the saw under there have to count to three hundred for the dust to get some rest then it all comes back up and out comes the paper and pen i scribble about brambles i write about nettle leaves got a belly full of briars and eyes too lazy to read i need me some creepers some ivy some old bind wood something that clings on and digs beneath the bricks and the good it is only a little lake only a shallow pond come on follow me walk away waterside only a little lake only a shallow pond come on and follow me walk away waterside all of the sunken and all of the drowned all of the ones with the lungs water damaged all of the suddenly lost to the ground scratching for someone to drag down so here we are again here we all are now i wrote and i wrote and then i spoke and then i started to shout you got to be cruel to be kind and so fuck it lets open the gates see what the worst of it is and the worst of it is and the worst of it is

tin

i believe that you are just as they say that you are i believe you are all and much more i can honestly think now of nothing else and when it’s good it is like nothing before i couldn’t get straight or sober in time but i want to meet you when i can will you wait for me a little while you take a break for to give me a chance to come back the carousel spins and we’re both hanging on although i’m sick and feel i need to get off but i know that from the moment my feet touch the floor i’ll wish that it never stopped all the coppers the pennies the pieces of tin the papers and the promises made if i lose everything then that’s where i am and it is simple and there’s nothing more to break prayer bells ring and chime sing and swing and i write with the windows locked tight i should be away but still somehow i stay and the night breaks it’s peace with the light but i believe there’s a way without running away and i believe there’s a home we can make i don’t know with what or where we will start but it sounds like i’ve found me some faith

2013 ‘We Love To Get Lost And We Love To Get Found’


2013 ‘January’

so they say

so they say so they say i make my bed where others lay well they lied well they lied i make my bed where others died i couldn’t be i couldn’t be i couldn’t be where people were so i left so i went i took a boat to float to her she never asked she never asked she didn’t make demands on me she opened up she opened up she opened up both arms for me with calico and indigo and quilted sheets on every bed from every room another view across the blue and dewey heather the kisses came and left like breaths the nights too short the days too bright too much for any simple heart too much for hers too much for mine so holy words rained down on us but they ran right off our backs like blood and in the end what is left just the chance to cut and run so it goes so it goes i’ve never known just one good year i only know i only know every road that brought me here and we are cruel we are cold we are without and we are small we pack the kindness in a box and bury it or just burn it all oh come on give a little oh come on give a lot i cannot be complete and careless i cannot be what i have not but if theres a way to walk the ocean if theres a way to climb the sea if theres a tunnel to the clouds that chuck that hail down on me if theres a way to burn water if theres a way to drown a stone there is no way there never was it never lived leave well alone so they say so they say i make my bed where others lay well they lied well they lied i make my bed where others died

the severn and the forth

so i could take all the tiles from the roof of your house and i could tear all the wallpaper down i could swallow the paint drink it straight from the tins and cough it up all over your town and i could steal your sheets from your bed and stitch them into a sail and use the doors to make me a boat it’s not the best of ideas but bare with me here and we’ll see where this thinking goes for if ever there is a way i will find some way yes see me make a fine mess from the plan im not so fun to be around when i have eyes on the work i am a problematic troublesome man i may be forced to drink down turpentine i may be led to be fed hot coals i may be shoved from the severn of fall from the forth but i will never pull you below

barely a page

all these lies that i find they don’t mean much without some truth you see i left without word just a mouth full of dirt from the good ground there is nothing in a man nothing in a plan but the promise the promise of a shot boys only a shot in the dark they all said it was me it was not it was he i can’t prove it we have been through enough and you know im not built for that stuff ask the kids to come down and well tell it all now it really is how their mother decides she needs other things in her life right now when the blood runs quick we’ve only one chance to get it wrong and i hate long goodbyes would rather sneak off in the night every time and when i write it all down it’s barely a page of scribbles barely a page hardly worth it at all

walking back to trouble

you were right no surprise we didn’t need to dress up by the book we were true i didn’t think we could you made good i made songs we passed time in this way but silly boys and their toys have to fuck things up when i wake all i say is that you shouldn’t have let me you know the man that i am you know how things go and now im walking all the way back to trouble will take a month its far enough for me to get back home it’s not a lie all the time that we spent together its not gone its not lost its just changed its shape we don’t stop we move on i’m walking back to trouble but its tough and its hard and such a dear sad shame

when i was away

when i was away they closed down the post the telegram the wire when i was away all the money changed colour i’ve no idea what its worth when i was away my friends delivered letters and asked where i was when i was away when i was with you when i was away i drank irish whiskey i stole from your father when i was away i wandered around not looking for work when i was away the trains only stopped when they ran out of diesel when i was away when i was with you when i was away my friends got over me and married each other when i was away they say they still miss me i only think of them now when i was away i shaved my face so no one would notice when i was away when i was with you when i was away my mother sold the farm and left the green country when i was away my brother had a son and he’s walking by now when i was away the church where he was christened collapsed in the winter when i was away when i was with you when i was away they told us to stay inside but i didn’t hear them when i was away we were warned of the water but i didn’t know when i was away my wife got sick and she’s growing weaker when i was away when i was with you


2012 Good And Gone

bad roads ahead

well heres how the whole thing begins on the grey line joe and i waiting to pass we’ve got all we can carry and all we can find but the guard is making it hard we both keep quiet study our feet ticket stubs crumbs of bread litter the cobbles litter the streets and from here only bad roads ahead bad roads ahead bad roads ahead from here only bad roads ahead sir your map is not true no use no good we would do so much better without id plot a course from the stars if only i could and fix a point where the sun goes down you could measure it in yards or measure it in miles count it out by the hairs on your head put one to the next and make a thin line it would tell only bad roads ahead bad roads ahead bad roads ahead it would tell only bad roads ahead well im trying my love believe me im trying but its hard and i know i am three days late but this land is for horses it was not built for cars and we are both in a hell of a state but if you can wait for me i will try to be deserving of your time i have been far less and worse and yes it was me who chose to drive bad roads ahead bad roads ahead it was me who chose to drive

hold the fort

oh i am not what you came for i am only whats left here i am not what you came for im only what you find here you see as soon as the snow came the good boys all upped and went and they said hold the fort son and i said well i’ll do my best see i was married to a brave one who stood by her stupid one who stood by when she could have been dancing away yeah i was married to a strange one who stood by me though i know not why they said hold the fort son and i said well i can but try so i left her for the winter i left her for the cold i left her for the winter the wind and the snow and the smoke and the coal and the greed the need to be alone but when they said hold the fort son i never thought id make it my home now there are houses deserted thrown and abandoned pieces of people now scattered and random but every place needs a caretaker someone anyone with the key when they said hold the fort son i would never believe they’d leave me so i am not what you came for i am only whats left here i am not what you came for i am only what you find here and we must make what we can from what we’ve got for good or for bad tread lightly through the willows but promise me that i can come back

stones

well you took everything you earned and spent it on dirt you put the dirt in a coat and buried them both and i was once a brighter man i made the best of what i had i took the stones that you threw and i planted them and they grew of course you know that stones will sometimes grow if they’re just left alone and water it will climb if conditions are right the corn it will sing and will tell of golden things stones will grow i said stones will grow once i made a window from a wall i made a leap from a fall i made a painting from a stain i made tobacco from pouring rain i made a little that you could use i made a lot that you wanted to lose i faked nearly everything i mean i invented many things stones will grow so i climbed out of your window and i dropped down into the boat and i fell with a splash but the tough little thing still floats i heard you shouting after me but it was only to say that i if had not have jumped you would have pushed me anyway stones will grow i know that truth ain’t written down but is said and thought aloud and there is no final word there is only wind and dirt and you say you cannot believe that these things are real to me but mirrors wires tricks of the light are the mechanics designs and devices of all life stones will grow

cough it up

well you can lose all you wanted to follow and burn all you wanted to keep and bleach all you wanted to swallow i would still cough it up for thee now the light hits the walls of the chapel the light hits the side of your face yes the light hits the walls of the chapel the light makes a whole other place and she unbuttoned her frock and down it did drop and she combed back her long yellow hair it is as real to me now as that day on the dock and as useless and as pointless as then penicillin shots and ether cloths and doctors that do not give up it is enough to be kind we don’t need to find miracles of medicine and blood did you think things were better without it did you feel good not being ill did you not feel pain guilt or shame well you did and you do and you will i watched you draw a short breath in the cemetery there saw you swap your feet for your knees you struggled with strength but it is not your friend but i am and shall forever be

kitchen song

i left without taking my shoes now i wonder what im gonna do i guess i left england behind and i know i never said goodbye but now i follow you as you ride by the river in the southern sunlight and you are a new mark of whats kind and you’ve raised the bar so high i left without shaking his hand but i’ve only affection for the man and as tough as a story can be it is just that and now history but now i follow you as you ride by the river in the southern sunlight and you are a new mark of whats kind and you’ve raised the bar so high i left without taking my leave

mary and tom

we were sent out here by her mother and we were carried out here by a kept man he knew his way round a train with pride and disdain and he threw us like sacks on the tracks i said tom its no use we’ve not anything to prove and we’ve done nothing untoward you you best watch your back when yo leave us like that theres just no telling what we might do mary she left in the morning and i followed her at first light cause by the time i had the thought shed gone she was seven miles clear of the line and im a walker i am not a runner and im not what you call in good shape but i ran after her god i ran after her and i caught her by virginia lake she said oh worried boy fare thee well oh worried boy fare thee well with your hands and your feet you make good enough things but your head will undo all the work oh worried boy fare thee well i said you need a man with a plan and i am not one of them but i can find my way down from a hill and my feet they face forward the best of the times and my legs they carry me still but i am not deep of pockets or careful with knives and so i cut my hands all the time and toms a miserable leech who steals and who sneaks he wants to slice me up fast and fine she said but i fear we’ve no safety in numbers we just make a bigger target to hit but i’ve a coat full of holes i have sticks i have stones and thats more than anyone should need so what do you say lets go each our own way and meet when the winds have calmed down for there is murder in them yet and my sails aren’t set we should get to safer dry ground she said oh worried boy fare thee well oh worried boy fare thee well with your hands and your feet you make good enough things but your head will undo all the work oh worried boy fare thee well it was thursday when they found us at black nest and it was sunday when they took us both home and they laid us together on the kitchen table and they took off our shoes and our coats and the neighbours came by to see us to see what they had for the hole two on the pine board barefoot and grey silent unwelcome and cold she said oh worried boy fare thee well oh worried boy fare thee well oh my worried boy fare thee well with your hands and your feet you make good enough things but your head will undo all the work oh worried boy fare thee well oh my worried boy fare thee well

rearranging

it was just like you said it would be it was never that bad takes a whole kind of person to lose what i had but it wasn’t the leaving and it wasn’t the fight no it was all that came after and the blame is all mine so i started rearranging things to make a new place id been so long without i needed a change i painted the bedroom walls every day so the paint would never dry so the colour would never fade i dug a hole and put your willow below i planted it upside down and now the roots are like thin pointed legs standing around i took the house number down and i bolted the door and now the postman passes by and no one ever calls and i wear my clothes inside out they fit better that way and i only drink water from the obelisk lake i only send telegrams not letters anymore i scribble in shorthand i scratch and i scrawl and i blocked up the chimney and filled the house with the smoke and now i sleep in the stable with the mare and the foal and mrs james doesn’t come by anymore she just sends her son but he seems happy to see me he’s the only one and now the radio doesn’t work i never hear you are you lost are you alright or have you rearranged things too

leaving

trying to sleep with the curtains closed the morning light cant wake me up i am washing your clothes and watching the door as if any minute you’ll be home they all come they all stay they all leave us with this the evening light your golden hour when the whole place shines its best and an hour later my gloom sets in and i watch the bats circle overhead they all come they all stay they all leave us with this im mindful of who i talk to now i try not to ask for help im not alone i am not alone its just that theres no one else they all come they all stay they all leave us with this

good and gone

so we two took flight we two had no idea of anything but we ran for our lives we ran for the woods the trees and the hills we got lost and we were never found there is a whole other place outside this fence outside this gate where people move on and where things change so much they stay just the same we got lost and we were never found we two no help we two no use at all for anyone we just ran for our lives we ran for the fear the guilt and the fun get gone and stay gone get gone and stay gone for heavens sake good and gone good and gone for evermore we got lost and we were never found


2012 Stitch

white train

i took a white train to the south and an old tram to your house and i’m not a wealthy man but i do live well and glad this way well and glad this way and when i said i really needed it i meant i really needed it but these days nothings sticks and these days nothing even seems to change so i’m leavng you that’s why i’m leaving you and i do miss the fireworks and i do miss the fun with her but a town is not a girl and this town it is not the world and the rain falls just the same the rain falls the same so i take a white train to the south and an old tram to your house and i’m home feels like i’m home


2011 Now Wash Your Hands

lover o lover

well i was walking my lover my lover back home we stopped at the old oak to pick up the bones and she said to me you dear you cannot be true you cannot be trusted and i cannot marry you but i’d sold all my fingers my thumbs and my toes and i got me a pocket of silver and gold and they unrolled my collar from around my neck and i winked with the one good eye i had left i said lover oh lover oh what do you know i’ve been ten thousand miles away from my home and i walk with you now with no ease in my legs no pleasure to be found there no spring in my step and i’d fixed up a coffin and i nailed down the lid while she hitched up her dress and i climbed underneath and i laid down there upon the good book upon the good word the good the good and the good and i was cruel when i could be and kind when i had to be taking as much as good folk would allow me but oh my oh my oh why oh why why does the blood flow so fine when i’m low on a slow train stupid with dumb pain miles from you and won’t leave you again i swear it oh i know it’s not true but what can one do with a lie but tell it

jake

he said run to the hills and i’ll meet you at castlebay jake will be there and he’ll take all your pain away if they catch us together it’s trouble for the both of us there so i ran to the hills he didn’t meet me at castlebay jake wasn’t there he didn’t take all my pain away i didn’t expect the best but i thought at least he’d be fair they have a saying in this town you only stay here for two days one to arrive and then one when you go away well i put them together turned round without saying hello

key

so she gave me the key the key to her house and she said i could stay there a while but i lost the way the way to her house and so i slept here outside there are some things in life we are just not meant to hold there are some things in life we are just not meant to hold and it is more than a moment and less than a minute and it’s so slight it takes no shape no effort to extinguish no form to distinguish no body no measure no weight and there are some things in life we are just not meant to hold there are some things in life we are just not meant to hold so we ran as fast as we could but we took all the wrong turns and now the road meets the sea and jericho jericho how does the wind blow and how does the wind follow thee take a stick from the tree and make something simple and true not a thing to do harm but a thing to move my heart anew but there are some things in life we are just not meant to hold

limmat

when the seventh wave hit i was under prepared suddenly off balance suddenly scared and i dropped my guitar and i lost my breath but the thought of your arms pulling me from there and up up and laughing at the clumsy old man i’d become i was sorry and was thankful and smiling too it’s just water after all’s said and done and my feet on these stones and my hand in your hair your pale skin exposed your fine hips laid bare in the evening right by the riverside the last of the light the day unties comes undone and unwinds night falls low and to sweet home we go you and i it’s not far but just enough of a ride to measure the time going fast so i counted the trams in the rain yesterday and they ran just the same as they do everyday and he said you’re a stubborn one son and you’re too much like me and i worry for you because of these things but there it is as it goes and i could do with remembering more of what he told but the best of what’s left is yours and yours alone and but i’ll help with the load my dear it can’t be all bad it can’t be all wrong it can’t be all sad or we’d never get along and i remember you smiling i remember you well full in the southern sunshine my girl my lady my one you soften the blows and goodness knows they do fly and do hurt and i was never more careful but still the dirt under fingernails does show

song for no one

well i will not wash my hands of you and i will not clean my sheets of you and i will not close the books on you and i will not change the locks of you and i will not forget songs of you and i will not burn the maps to you and i will not wash the clothes of you and i will not lose the scent of you no and i will not cut my hair of you and i will not leave the bars of you and i will not ignore the letters from you and i will not change my address of you and i will not unset the traps for you and i will not sleep through days of you and i will not cease the hunt for you and i will not wake the dream of you no and i will not grow tired of you and i will not become quenched of you and i will not waste nights with you and i will not leave the side of you no

red barn, black barn, tree

so i was under the red barn when the tree hit the black barn when the thick trunk buckled and folded it down and the splinters flew the leaves flew too the branches the bark the roots tore the ground and frightened in there i lost a lungful of air i crossed myself and i did fear the worst and i shut my eyes and i hid there inside and i thought of the ways the ways the ways they were hurt my father was swinging but the tree it was winning he was throwing the axe in vain at the thing silently complaining and rolling and swaying cursing under his breath the day his old man slipped in and my brother he was running i mean really running head down and wide eyed and not looking slow and my mother she was shouting calling after him crying my young man my young man where will you go from here oh but no one makes sense with fleeing in the head with nerves live and wild all angry and thrashing and we do what we do and this much is true the moment it’s gone it’s nothing but happened and i see this sad wreck this mess of a barn and i think of the damage i think of the harm and how does a tree fall i mean how does a tree fall it just falls it just falls give it up old man there you are

put me on the first train home

well he lost his wife and he said to me please put me on the first train home i tell ya cause i ain’t nothing without her here you see i met him inside and he was hurt and bitter set for revenge with anyone he could think of he was a near sighted, easily slighted man and how pride is a killer and by christ he missed her he told me again and again he told me again if he ever told me at all how he lost his wife and he said to me please put me on the first train home i tell ya cause i ain’t nothing without her here so the rain drops dark from the sky in sheets slabs of attack hard hitting the streets and i’m barely one man barely one man out here i see black clouds hanging down on foot wide wires thick bloody chains and they’re hooked to the sky cats and dogs falling down into the town and he lost his wife and he said to me please put me on the first train home i tell ya cause i ain’t nothing without her here

blood

well the door shuts fast throws splintered glass at my head and outside in the street the sirens they find the dead and chemical clouds drop on the house like mud and i cough of course i mean i throw up a horse and then some there’s chaos in the streets night time noise and mess roads of crows fields full of hungry men purple water in thick pools oily on my stairs but did you ever believe i’d ever really leave you there well i took the voice from the woman i made batteries from thumbs and from toes and thats what i think of cause that’s how the bad dream goes and when i climb up the ladder the wood bends and breaks into meat and i fall on my ankles and my ankles snap off from my feet if there was once a safe passage once a clear path it is lost and if i was ever once true it was never to you i’m better gone if there was once a safe passage once a clear path it is lost if i was ever once true it was never to you i’m better gone and now the blood from my arm meets the blood from my nose on the floor but i will worry my heart i will worry my heart no more as i kiss off your gloves and i kiss your pink fingertips and your nose and your neck and your eyes and your lemon lips cause today is the day today is the day when it goes the black and the blue and the weight of clouds that have grown as i ride the train to the south i ride the tram to your house and there you are just too good to be true in white and in bloom and ajar well you can run all you like but the simple life it will find you and there are things you can avoid but this boys is all for you yes you can run all you like but the simple life it will find you and there are things you can avoid but this boys is all for you

all that has started will stop

she pulls a cold stone from the colder dark soil and she holds it tight til it’s warm and she finds the good in all of the bad yeah she’s smarter than me for sure cause we liars we make fires we dig holes in the hills and we will not rest til we drop and we are out here apart and things they are hard but all that has started will stop i walked down to the river where is the river there’s not a drop where the water should be so much for a soak for washing the clothes for cleaning the dirt from me it seems i rode all this way just to sit in your town and i find your house but i’m lost and i still feel the distance like we’ve only just begun and all that has started will stop i shout at the walls and they shout back at me and i shake out every loose tooth i’ve got i’m not much of a man and there’s even less of me now time to take up the slack see what’s what she just wants to swim and i just want to drown she’s a lake i’m a bottle got shot and i fill it up still and it tips and it spills and all that has started will stop and she sighs why and kisses my eyes and i cry all the tears that i have i was born so sorry for all the wrongs that i’ll do for the bothered the buckled the brash i grew up in the west i lay down in the east and i’ll make my bed where it’s soft and i do love a lady but i’ve been terrible lately but all that has started will stop


2010 Winter

i know what i make isn’t fine

well they called me a liar those liars and those men and they told me i am stupid to write yes and this thing that i do is not honest and true well i know what i make isn’t fine but i thought they were holy and that the lord looked upon and that the path that they walked was divine there’s one way it goes down a shallow mallow hole and still i know what i make isn’t fine i found wings of wet clay sodden and strange legs that drag and won’t run a straight line the birds are barely awake and they blink in the day and i know what i make isn’t fine i see a swallow a swift a swan on a cliff feathers dusted in chalk and lime the wind does blow my crimson throat i know what i make isn’t fine so i make a sheet of wet glass left it sharp in the grass i fill the fire with red bailing twine i make a sudden slight bed from the hay in the shed and i know what i make isn’t fine i make a cup of bad milk i make a pig’s ear from silk i tie a horse to a horse make a line and i’ll leave it all there between jesswood and clare and i know what i make isn’t fine and at the cavalry cross and along the dry docks there are people without sound minds and they will listen to you and do all that you do and i know what i make isn’t fine she took a piece of my nose i took a piece of her chin i took her trouble and made it all mine i’m not sure if it’s true i took it blind and blue but i know what i make isn’t fine

joe and robert and me and mike

well i met them at six they were already uptight joe and robert and me and mike and joe said something and robert opened up with the fire there was confusion and mayhem and disarray i took a handful of coppers and i ran away and i got this far but this far is not far enough you see joe will speak first and he’ll spit it all out he’ll get carried away and he’ll moan and he’ll shout and he’ll point that fucking finger of his right at me but for once in my life i’ve been careful with words i’ve been kind with the letters and i know they don’t hurt and i held her hand in mine most gently i did yeah there were fine clear days on the steps by the bridge when the corners of my mouth did curl and lift and in queen’s park the sea stretched up above like the hills but all the will in the world won’t bring peace to the town so take a fork to the belly and a knife to the back and see the good guys fall like the bad guys fall all the time and there seems no rest for the worry in me but i don’t want to take it to bed you see for she has only been kind and good and good and good i just caught a bad train and it took me away but the wheels and the rails well i love them today and sometimes the moving is moving towards you i just caught a bad train and it took me away but the wheels and the rails well i love them today and sometimes the moving is moving my god towards you yes sometimes the moving is moving my god towards you well i met them at six they were already uptight it was joe it was robert it was me it was mike and joe said something and robert opened up with the fire

make a dead one of it

i was asked to pull up an old oak tree by a man i had never even seen but he sent a request to your address with enough money inside to say yes so i walked out one day in the snow with heavy cold mud in my throat and i went to the park where it sits and i began to make a dead one of it see i was once clear of heart and of mind yeah i thought i had fairness inside there was a chance i could turn out alright there was an option to walk in the light but these days i find myself lost aware of where i am shot and cursing the day that i flipped and began to make a dead one of it there is so much that i don’t understand of the ways of woman and of man of the shapes that some lovers make and the ways they wake up each day and i was as mean as anyone could be with your name and your memory yeah i coughed up my past in a ditch and i began to make a dead one of it and so i carried that guilt for a time and in southampton i left it behind but it grew where i buried it deep and it jumped and tore a lump out of me and now it hangs from my neck like an ape and it stinks and it scratches and it shakes and i should have never have done what i did i’d begun to make a dead one of it


2010 If You Can Hold It You Can Throw It

run from my arms

well you run to my house when it rains down and you run to my house when the sun’s out and you run to my house when there’s nothing at all and still you run to my house and you run from my arms when you’re sorry and you run from my arms when you’re bored and you run from my arms when you’re happy and you cannot be held anymore and you said will you go find a blind man and you said will you go find me a dog and will you show that dog to the blind man and pray that they both get along and will you meet me downstream if you can run and will you set up a table and chairs and will you find me a good one a good one a good one and will you ask her to wait for me there find me a good one a good one find me a good one to hold will you find me a good one a good one oh god will you find me a good one fore you go

sailor’s notes

well we walked a ways and then we walked some more so far so lost and not nearly there and on a calm welsh hillside by a tiny poor chapel we laid down happy and tired and you said shall i build us both a warming fire out of wood from the boats down on the beach so i watched you walk across the sand from above and i sat down smoked and felt content well we’d been trying and trying and finally gave up not a whisper a breath not a spark and those clouds grew fierce and the sky turned heavy no chance for a flame we better head inside and under strong roof of ship salvaged timber you slept while i looked for the sailor’s notes folded letters squeezed between oak beams lovely words floated home and in the morning i thought i saw ourselves on the shoreline while we waited there for our boat she was smiling and he looked worried a little couple in the crowd and then you called i turned and we were gone

tom

well said tom my unwelcome one there are still fights to be lost out there and in your name good things go astray though you hold them and cry that you care and your plan of attack is like a balloon gone flat and you know how much use that will be you can do better than this but your judgement is pissed and you’re just a disappointment to me oh you are not made of muscle and you punch like paper but there are fights to be lost out there and i have heard talk of a scuffle on the shores of the grey lake and if you’re quick you can swim there from here and there are four bags of bones with sticks and with stones and black flags that block out the light and their shadows they are long and are cast to do wrong and they do know your name alright oh i am not built for speed and my hands and my knees are more used to walking these days but i lost the path and it wasn’t that hard and i fear i won’t find it again while she sits in that town and she listens to the trams as they rattle and they rumble along in her corner room filled with dust and perfume and my letters and my clothes and my songs oh he is solemn and old and he’s painted with smoke and he sits on my back like a shell and the weight of that thing and all that that brings he is simply not put there to help well said tom my ungrateful one i was born with an eye on the door i was spat out and left cold and too soon did grow old and i’ve no time for soft anymore and the thing that we were and the thing that we are there is a world between the two and the shape of what was and what now that we’ve got an absolute world between the two yeah the thing that we were and the thing that we are there is a world between the two and the shape of what was and what now that we’ve got an absolute world between the two

cretinous man

well i think that i i am a stupid man and a slow man a slow slow man but i know that he he is a cretinous man and a low man a low low man and i see russian men and i see desperate men and they knock on your door and i ask you once more please do not let them in and i see english men and i see clumsy men with their letters and notes and i ask you no please do not open them and there are horses they’re pushing the fences down and there are things in the water i know cause i put them in there to drown and you called my heart you called it an angry thing and a sly thing a sly sly thing and i know that my faith is hardly anything it’s a slight thing a slight slight thing but i see these russian men and i see wounded men but they are stronger than me and i’ve stones under feet and no speed in the flee and i see english men and i see stupid men and i believe they’re unworthy and will shame thee and hurt thee please do let them be and there are horses pushing the fences down and there are things in the water and i know cause i put them in there to drown and your name to your face i left both today and now i run from that place and i will kiss you no more but miss you more each day

blackwater swim

i took off the suits that i stole and i filled up the pockets with coal and i buried them deep in a hole and i left all below there and if you think that i’m coming back now to that god forsaken mistaken town let me never again walk to that house but keep well away and i know that blackwater runs high and i know that blackwater runs wide but i’ll swim where that river runs deep and grow wrinkled and happy i don’t miss the knowing too much and i don’t miss not knowing enough and the spite and the bite and the fights have left me a little guarded but i do miss her gentle warm neck and the stretch of her fine white legs but she says that she misses me yet and that’s all i could wish for and i know that blackwater runs high and i know that blackwater runs wide but i’ll swim where that river runs deep and grow wrinkled and happy and i see that they’re building a house with the bricks from mine they tore out well i’ve not been too careful these days with my character no but i do not declare to be good or in possession of that which is true but we all know what we should do just try to be kinder and i know that blackwater runs high and i know that blackwater runs wide but i’ll swim where that river runs deep and grow wrinkled and happy and i know that blackwater runs high and i know that blackwater runs wide but i’ll swim where that river runs deep and grow wrinkled and happy yes i’ll swim where that river runs deep and grow wrinkled and happy

song for a coalman

two in the town heads low and down i thought that these days had left me now but all of the rubble and all of the stones remain and now i miss you so much that i never want to miss you again well we waited all night for the day and whatever remained we printed it out and chucked it away took sticks from the trees and drew waves from the beach in the soil we put crows into holes and we coughed from our throats to make oil and you left for a year and then you rode out here and my father said son keep clear but i am careless and slow and the less that i know now the better so let go of my arm there’s been nothing but harm since you met her i am lonely without your comfort about the shape of your face in the streets of this town but there is nothing we’ve lost that i cannot still throw away i am happy without but precious and proud of our days like when we slept in fields and in the night i dreamt of a fox in the firelight just sitting there and in the morning the food had gone so it was you or him and i know not which and i know not how or when so we kick down the honest street under feet but tonight you simply lied to me and truly my man truly my friend the end be well and away i never want to miss you again be well and away i never want to miss you again be well and away i never want to miss you again be well and away i never want to miss you again

where to begin

a bell in a boat in the middle of the lake and every black monday it rattles awake and so i run from the guardhouse and into the trees scared out of my skin that this time they’ll catch me for there are things that i’ve done that cannot be disproved and i try to forget and i try to undo and you can keep your gun clean from the rain and from the dirt but if you fire that thing then someone will get hurt and where to begin i couldn’t make this stuff up if i tried lord oh where to begin well she said find me a fireman and build me a fire and throw on what you’ve got and let it grow higher and i’ll stand on the ocean and i’ll spit on the flames and we both know that you will limp back to me again well did she take off for england with miss james and emily in a boat bound for liverpool on a gravel grey sea and did she cling to the side while the waves did lurch and did she come home with a stomach full of nothing but hurt oh where to begin i couldn’t make this stuff up if i tried lord oh where to begin there was a fight and a dog and a rope in the woods i said my home is a hole and was well understood and i bled on the bed and then dragged it to the bridge and there we threw off our clothes and swam underneath and i fell off the roof and i tore a piece from my hand i didn’t look at it for a week i was a well worried man and lawry shouted at his twin and his ghosts in the club and mary and joseph and enough is enough and where to begin i couldn’t make this stuff up if i tried lord oh where to begin there were ravens and magpies and jays and rooks jackdaws and slackjaws and dishonest crooks a murder of men a gang one should fear and they walked thirty miles and set up camp right here and these fellows are crazy and half out of their minds and they do not know reason or an action that’s kind and they are out of touch but too much in charge and you threw them a bone they made off with the farm where to begin i couldn’t make this stuff up if i tried lord oh where to begin and so we climbed up a mountain and the air it grew thin and she was dressed for a funeral and i was dressed for spring and an hour to get up and three to get down and i was never more stupid and never more proud and then i ran to johanne’s from the south to the north i fell into her bed i fell onto the floor and maybe i was robbed and maybe just dumb but careless at best and what’s done now is done now is done now is done now and where to begin i couldn’t make this stuff up if i tried lord oh where to begin

if you can hold it you can throw it

well after the trees fell and after the storm after the trouble the fights and the war you’d think there’d be an simple way to get home but the maps they are mindless and the roads overgrown and i don’t need an answer i haven’t asked a thing and i don’t need guidance or help that could bring the story is sad and it’s familiar and old and it’s hardly original and so often told we took all that we could from all that was left we used it all up and then left it again we cut up the land with forks and blunt swords dug trenches and graves and then buried the law we buried the good book we buried the word the things that had held us safe where we were we buried the horses the geese and the dogs the crooks and the liars all of em gone and if there was something to be lost then away it would go if there was something to be rid of then lose it joe if you can hold it you can throw it and if it moves it can stop if it’s something to carry it is something to drop if you can hold it you can throw it and if it moves it can stop if it’s something to carry it is something to drop

portugal

well the sycamore tree strikes the window and wakes me up and now there are leaves on my head and glass in my bed and blood and so i lay there a while and i try not to move til it’s safe i do wake worried all the time but this is a gloomy day there had been peace for a month and i’d hoped that the trouble had passed there was distance between us and movement and lovers and calm and i got lost at the coast but the portuguese took me in and fed me and kept me and never once asked where i’d been and when the heavens above dropped all their stuff for a week i was happy and dry and i watched that sky with glee and the rain doesn’t care for umbrellas down there it just falls and it’s good to get out in the flood if you can swim well enough while it pours well anyway some time apart and a healthy heart again and i wrote it all down and i sang it all out for my friends and these days that i lost i’m not sure where they’ve gone but you see that if a man gives his best he’s only bad left underneath so this tree in my room and you want me to meet you today well i don’t know how it helps but i’ve a list of what i want to say and it reads like a song but i’ve only this one for you and it is what it is and it’s clumsy and it’s short and it’s true and it is what it is and it’s clumsy and it’s short and it’s true


2010 Cellar

song for fee

well i thought that the winter would do me some good i thought i could work out the black and the blue but it hasn’t been enough and away from the dirt she lights fireworks a month away and i’m well lost without get careless and clumsy and upside down and i shake out a song that sounds like a curse she lights fireworks and when i am sleepless in a cold lonely bed she lays down with me and takes hold of my head and she whispers low slow kind words she lights fireworks i know what i need and i know what i want but the two they are strangers and they don’t get along and if i put them together someone will get hurt she lights fireworks and she showed me the place where the ground opened up and i never again want to see her blood i cannot sleep with the thought of her hurt she lights fireworks i miss her hellos and i miss her goodbyes and when i’m away she is bright in my mind we are happy and torn and equally worse she lights fireworks

boys, i am worried

we’re up at five and out to the woods like we’ve everything to lose a gang of four and we’re needing more than what’s shaking in our boots cause our captain well he’s no more of a man than the sack of sticks that’s me yeah he’s a slim one jim just look at him standing up to speak he says boy’s i’m worried boys i am worried cause that sound above it is meant for us but it’s not supposed to cheer some stormy cloud an aeroplane bringing thunder to the ears cause they build this stuff to spill the blood and it does just what it’s told so go tell it jim to leave me be and fly on home because i’m worried boys i am worried so we five got lost by nine in the woods and we’re thoroughly soaked and i cough up a sea of charcoal waves and cold water thick with salt and i’ve not drowned before so all of this it is new to me now i don’t like how it feels and the cold and the chills i want to wrap up warm and shout i am worried boys i am worried

cargo

well i called to the cargo man can you take us across and he said well i’ve just room for one but i’ll take your wife if she’s quiet and she’s fine and you can meet us downstream if you run and i ran sure enough well what could be done we want what we want and that’s all and my legs were a mess and the head wasn’t there and i followed breathless a fool and she said never not worry for me any more and i’ll never not see you again no never not worry for me any more and i’ll never not see you again and she slept with a hundred cold men to keep warm but she cared not a bit for anyone and how i tried to keep clear but dad she’s still here and she is hard and she’s set to her bones yeah she is silent black hair and she is marble skin and she is lidded and she is angry and she’s proud and i do not miss her flight towards death but i do miss her life near me now she said never not worry for me any more and i’ll never not see you again no never not worry for me any more and i’ll never not see you again and now all of my troubles are buried below all of my troubles below

wires

when she showed me her house i didn’t see the wires and when she showed me her bed i didn’t smell smoke and i saw a window i didn’t see a mirror but now i believe what i fear not what i’m told i had nothing to run from nowhere to run to but the weight of the worry turned into flood and her roof it let in a river of rainfall and with her door shut tight well the whole place filled up well my love ran away and she fell down a dark hole a cellar she found sudden and heartless and i followed her in and she left but i stayed there now i’m done with days but i’m tired of the night and you took my bucket of stones and you threw each one at me now i know what’s below but still there i go but if you call me a sinner that don’t make you a saint and if you show me a map that don’t make you the road if you show me the map that don’t make you the road

some somehow get home

we are fighting on the border and they do want us to stop we are burning up their cornfields and we are killing all their crops and we are leading their sheep to the grey lake and we are forcing them in to drown and we are pulling the leaves from every tree that we find and ploughing them into the ground and some somehow get home we are a gang of no good and we’re greedy and we are pale skinned vicious men and we have nothing to offer beyond the loss of everything dear to you there and we are throwing mud and sticks and stones at every new house in the town and we are soil and we are slate and we are grass and we are clay and all that will shrink and break down and some somehow get home and we are carrying sacks full of weeds and rocks and we fill your fields with these and we have oil for the well that we dug from the ground we have a plan to build fences from trees and we will dig a ditch from one farm to another and we’ll fill it with all we cant use and at the end of the year well share it out fair and no one will win or lose some somehow get home we are filling the barns with trucks and with cars and herding the cattle outdoors and they will stand in the road in the sleet and the snow and with luck we will freeze them all and the roofs will grow holes and grow tired and your attics will let in the ice and then the crows will move in and bring in on the wing feathers and twigs and mice and some somehow get home and we’ll sleep in the valleys and hollows away from high safe hills for there is nothing to take and nothing to be won nothing to give or to steal we are poor crippled and crooked without unwanted and mean but we do have the guns and we do have the numbers and that boys is more than you need some somehow get home and we do have the makings of great men and we do have mothers that are kind and some of us have daughters who don’t know our names but all this we have left behind there have plentiful chances to make right and there have been offers from kinder wise men but we are self righteous dogs who don’t know when to stop and that is our lot in this thing some somehow get home we are holy in heart and intention and we are careless and cruel in deed and if the coast is as far as this road goes then we’ll leave it and jump in the sea for we have come far enough just to start again and many bad miles forgot now we are fighting here on the border and they do want us to stop and some somehow get home

st mary

oh st mary i give up mary what do you know oh st mary i give up mary what do you know well get me to the church on time before my breath it goes and i’ll sleep right where i slip and fall and call that place a home oh st mary i give up mary what do you know well my legs are stumbling sticks and will not be walked upon so where’d you put the pulling sled to lay my sorry on oh i cannot carry heavy bones that cannot build a home oh st mary i give up mary what do you know well i know she ran away from you and she’s better off alone so bring a shovel and fetch a spade and i’ll get some digging done oh watch and learn something here i’ll make myself a home watch and learn something here i’ll make myself a home

the dogs

well i worry for your bones the way you drag them along and i fear for your skin and what is put there upon your neck your breasts your legs and your feet but i cannot help them and they will not help me and you say that you made a slight thing of black hair and clay and who knows who but they took it away and who knows how and who knows to where and it’s a dark sad thing that you’re hiding in there and so i’m gathering sticks from your burnt down house and i’ll build me a fence that will keep the dogs out and i dreamt that the tram you were riding upon it was struck by another and from it you were thrown and twenty three foxhounds picked you up and they cleaned all your wounds and they licked up the blood and i’m gathering sticks from your burnt down house and i’ll build me a fence that will keep the dogs out and i would run to the beach and i would meet you below if i knew you’d be there and if i thought you could float but i will not wait and watch upstream for you without life gone to the sea oh i’m gathering sticks from your burnt down house and i’ll build me a fence that will keep the dogs out

the good doesn’t get any better

well the good guys don’t get any better and you sir were once true to me but if i ask you again please do not pretend that you’ve faith in the life that i lead i couldn’t hope for a brighter place to fail i couldn’t wish for a more beautiful mess and all the lime trees have gone that were once tall and strong they’re scattered and thrown and then left and i’m amazed that a train can get lost but it happened and how i don’t know but gone to the ground is where we’re all bound so stop worrying get up and go it was a good time a fine time we found here and i do thank the day now it’s done and i miss so much but there’s nothing to be done for the sorrow the grief and the blood so see a straight track that’s a fine line to move down a smooth path a wide sky above and if this ain’t the way well what do you say we follow it and see what becomes i said if this ain’t the way well what do you say we follow it and see what becomes

quarrel

it’s the knowing you’re moving in a manner that hurts that’s keeping me up and it’s knowing the hours you choose to work that’s making it tough but i am not what you’d call a jealous man my spirit is light but you do seem to look for some sort of trouble some sort of a fight but i have no quarrel left in me from the frozen canal in the town from the woods to the street you live on i sat at the station without a train to ride home upon and you threw some pieces of chalk at my back as i left you in bed my head was scared but my body prepared to stay with you there but i have no quarrel left in me and i have no more hard words here for thee


2009 The Wife

the royal canal

i went down to the royal canal intending to throw in my towel with a bottle and a bucket of stones i sat there and drank there alone things had got quite bad enough it seemed there was little left to be done i’d left my best with the rest and i gave up my ghost to the dead so i clung to bucket but yet that bottle was a buoyant friend and a river only knows down so that’s the only way i go now but there is nowhere to hide out at sea and that thought is a worry to me and i slept but i do not know how i dreamt of the song of the royal canal and we couldn’t be further apart and i miss you with all of my heart and i miss you with all of my heart and i miss you with all of my heart

der königliche kanal

ich ging runter zum königlichen kanal beabsichtigte mein handtuch hinein zu werfen mit einer flasche und einem eimer voller steine saß ich dort und trank dort alleine dinge waren schon recht schlecht genug geworden es schien als bliebe nur wenig zu tun übrig ich hatte mein bestes beim rest gelassen und ich übergab meinen geist an die toten und so hielt ich mich am eimer fest aber noch war diese flasche ein schwimmender freund und ein fluss kennt nur das nachunten somit ist das die einzige richtung die ich jetzt gehe doch auf dem meer kann man sich nirgends verstecken und dieser gedanke ist mir eine sorge und ich schlief aber ich weiß nicht wie es kam dass ich träumte vom lied vom königlichen kanal und wir könnten nicht weiter voneinander entfernt sein und ich vermisse dich von ganzem herzen und ich vermisse dich von ganzem herzen und ich vermisse dich von ganzem herzen

(german translation by fee rieger)

you are better than this

well i left my life with that woman my wife and i fell like a shell in the road and a fact is a fact and we’ll have none of that but now i cannot go back home and i’ve a stone in my mouth the size of my thumb and a bottle of indian ink and i will write to you daily in gideon’s book however you are better than this however you are better than this so i stumble along and i cough and i choke as i clumsily carry the coal in a sack on my back for the fire i lack and i’ve dust in my hair and my throat and i will follow your shadow until the end of the day and i’ll find the small place where it sleeps and i’ll wait there yet until you wake up again whatever you are better than this whatever you are better than this and our house in the lime tree got claimed by the birds by the pigeons the sparrows and the crows take the flag from it’s roof before it gets seen and hide it beneath your clothes your dancing feet your careful reach your calico sheets to the wind our clutching hands all our wonderful plans forever you are better than this forever you are better than this forever you are better than this forever you are better than this

du bist besser als das

nun ich verließ mein leben mit dieser frau meiner gattin und ich fiel wie eine muschel auf die straße und ein fakt ist ein fakt und wir werden nichts davon haben aber jetzt kann ich nicht mehr nach hause zurück gehen und ich habe einen stein im mund von der größe meines daumens und eine flasche indischer tinte und ich werde dir täglich schreiben in gideons buch wie auch immer du bist besser als das wie auch immer du bist besser als das also stolpere ich vorwärts und ich huste und ich würge während ich ungeschickt die kohle trage in einem sack auf meinem rücken für das feuer das mir fehlt und ich habe staub in meinem haar und meiner kehle und ich werde deinem schatten folgen bis zum ende des tages und ich werde den kleinen platz finden wo er schläft und ich warte dort noch bis du wieder aufwachst wie auch immer du bist besser als das und unser haus im limonenbaum wurde von den vögeln eingefordert von den tauben den spatzen und den krähen nimm die flagge von ihrem dach bevor sie gesehen wird und verstecke sie neben deinen kleidern deine tanzenden füße deine sorgfältige haltung deine kattuntücher gegen den wind unsere greifenden hände all unsere wundervollen pläne für immer du bist besser als das für immer du bist besser als das für immer du bist besser als das für immer du bist besser als das

(german translation by fee rieger)

dig a hole for everyone

i didn’t count the gaps between the breaths she took after the fall cause i thought my mind would stay clear i thought my hands reliable now where will we hide the kids and where will we get the guns cause no matter that she’s gone dig a hole for everyone i caught the blast you took it home and now it’s waiting there for me and i know it sits i know it plans to blow a hole through everything take the flesh off from the bone take the woman from the man pull the wool off all the lambs and dig a hole for everyone now there aint a lot that i can do but i can fix this so it works and it’s not pretty being easy but i can fix it so it works and there is movement in the trees a sudden sound a cough a thud men are stirring in belstone wood and we’ll dig a hole for everyone a scared man’s character is flawed and his actions are not true you got to stick it to him quick before he does the same to you they look for blood and they will find it in every careless son away from home and in the field and we’ll dig a hole for everyone take all the glass out of the windows and fill the frames with all the doors stuff the books into the chimney and pour the whiskey on the floor set a place for every face i’ve looked upon and come undone make some room make some plans dig a hole for everyone the heartless thoughtless cold remorseless mindless spineless gang of crooks well i’ve lost my best friend they couldn’t care less what they wanted they just took they line them up and lay them low in the cold clay soil and mud common thieves and hooded crows and we’ll dig a hole for everyone common thieves and hooded crows and we’ll dig a hole for everyone

grab ein loch für jedermann

ich zählte nicht die pausen zwischen den atemzügen die sie nach dem sturz nahm weil ich dachte mein verstand bliebe klar ich dachte meine hände blieben zuverlässig nun wo verstecken wir die kinder und woher bekommen wir die waffen denn wenn sie auch gegangen ist wir graben ein loch für jedermann ich fing die explosion auf du nahmst sie mit nach hause und nun wartet sie dort auf mich und ich weiß sie sitzt ich weiß sie plant ein loch durch alles hindurch zu sprengen nimm das fleisch vom knochen ab nimm die frau vom mann fort zieh die wolle von all den schafen und grab ein loch für jedermann nun es gibt nicht vieles was ich tun kann aber ich kann es in ordnung bringen sodass es funktioniert und es ist nicht hübsch einfach zu sein aber ich kann es in ordnung bringen sodass es funktioniert und dort ist bewegung in den bäumen ein plötzliches geräusch ein husten ein plumpsen männer regen sich im wald von belstone und wir graben ein loch für jedermann der charakter eines beängstigten mannes ist voller makel und seine taten sind nicht ehrlich du musst dich schnell an ihn halten bevor er dir dasselbe antut sie suchen nach blut und sie werden es finden in jedem leichtsinnigen sohn fort von zu hause draußen auf dem feld und wir werden ein loch für jedermann graben nimm all das glas aus den fenstern heraus und füll die rahmen mit all den türen stopfe die bücher in den kamin und schütte den whiskey auf den boden richte ein platz für jedes gesicht ein auf das ich geschaut habe und falle auseinander mache ein wenig platz mache einige pläne grab ein loch für jedermann die herzlose gedankenlose kalte unerbittliche sinnlose rückgratlose gruppe von krüppeln nun ich verlor meinen besten freund es war ihnen völlig egal was sie wollten nahmen sie sich einfach sie reihen sie auf und legen sie nieder in den kalten kleiboden und schlamm gewöhnliche diebe und nebelkrähen und wir graben ein loch für jedermann gewöhnliche diebe und nebelkrähen und wir graben ein loch für jedermann

(german translation by fee rieger)

you belong to me you do

well i ran to the south but i always knew you want to be kind you just got to be true but she talks of her marriage and the house they both share and i cannot wait to lay with her there but she’s holding my hand and making her plans and all the while telling her man you belong to me you do and we sat up all night when the kitchen caught fire and in the morning there’s problems and doctors and liars and her suitcase spills his stuff on my bed and so i try on his suits and his shirts i don’t care i take off his clothes to get to her underneath and she wears them like labels you belong to me you do but i tried to be honest i went out and i stayed in but it seems like i’m simply no good at anything and i climbed up the walls and i jumped from the roof and she said it was funny the things i would do but there’s no one i want more than marie to be true and say you belong to me you do i said there’s no one i want more than marie to be true and say you belong to me you do

the woods were full of them

joseph came by last night fell out of the dark face flushed with red blood and a rattling heart he coughed out names in panic short of breath said the woods were full of them and a fire in the main street the church ablaze no one inside to speak of a crowd outside amazed they watched the steeple burning they know who’s to blame said the woods were full of them so stumble cough and stutter feet lost to mud drunk and heavy not strong enough joseph wide with wonder at the things he’s seen said the woods were full of them

your heart was a home

my dumb worried hands have led me to this and the crows in the trees throw stones and don’t miss and i carry your clothes your pictures your name your heart was a home your heart was a home well you were there at the start and you’re here at the end and i know it’s my fault i won’t do it again and i haven’t a chance but i try to be true your heart was a home your heart was a home now i miss your sharp eyes your stumbling legs your clear blue mind and your happiness and the good that you gave you just breathed it out your heart was a home your heart was a home your heart was a home your heart was a home

suit of stones

twenty cold days away a tram and a train and in the dark of the morning i couldn’t see you so well and i won’t see you again and the doctor knows what it does and he knows how it goes but he is sure lost for words as to where it came from and he’s tried all he knows and he says if there’s one thing i’ve learned they’re all so quick to go all the ones that got lost they are not coming home and she led me to virginia lake and undressed in the rain and she said i should watch her close while she swam and i’d learn how to be brave but she’d made me a suit of stones and told me to jump in and she put rocks in the pockets and flint tied to the sleeves well i didn’t jump in and she said if there’s one thing i’ve learned they’re all so quick to go al the ones that got lost they are not coming home and after three weeks a letter came and it told how you are but with no return address to run to i keep reading it loud my dear man i am well without i am healthy and i’m glad and i have all that i need and a little that i want try not to be sad if there’s one thing i’ve learned they’re all so quick to go and all the ones that got lost they are not coming home

careless man

well i dreamt of a book with all the wrongs in the world and they were written down in my own hand and i know that it’s tough this waking up to see the same disappointing man but i heard it form michael who saw it with his own eyes he said there’s good to be found everywhere you have to hold on to something well let’s hold tight to nothing and pray that that gets us there and oh careless man it’s a terrible damage you do and there’s nothing like a woman to bring out the worst in you and when samuel told us to take care at blackwater he kept not a thought for himself and he left at sundown and soon to dumb ground he fell and well beyond help so we both gather the sticks and carry them to the cottage and throw them into his old room we’ll build a bed for his head from broken bird’s nests and stuff a pillow with feathers and wool and oh careless man it’s a terrible damage you do and there’s nothing like a woman to bring out the worst in you we walked over the blue hills the high hills the wide hills and we still feel so far away and it takes more than i know to make you a home and keep all your worries at bay and if you’ve lost faith in me then i can hardly blame thee for the doubts that i gave you myself look for a way out find it and stay out and get clear and do not send help oh careless man it’s a terrible damage you do and there’s nothing like a woman to bring out the worst in you i said oh careless man it’s a terrible damage you do and there’s nothing like a woman to bring out the worst in you

the hills are alive

i see searchlights see dogs on chains heads full of trouble looking for someone to blame they say where you gonna run to where you gonna hide this time where you gonna run to where you gonna hide this time well i know a safe house and it’s not too far and there we can lay low til this blows past four stone walls to wait within one thick door to crouch behind and it’s there we can run to and it’s there we can hide this time when i was young beneath the table or up deep in the loft my brother turned me out said you’ve grown too soft you need working on boy before i call thee mine and i don’t care where you run to i don’t care where you hide this time and so i head for the black hills my back feels full of shot an angry mess below my neck all kindness forgot knotted muscles stutter fuck it stretched strained sinew whines where are you gonna run to where you gonna hide this time but half a mile from the paddock i see a horse up in a tree a flayed set of legs a thing i cannot believe but a crow upon a matted mane and a crow upon a pony’s eye they both say where you gonna run to and where you gonna hide this time and the cattle here are starving and they will not feed a child they huddle in the red barn and are frightened of the light you’ll do good to keep your head down son they grumble as i stumble by and think about where you gonna run to think about where you gonna hide this time and my stitches they are mending but they’re not mending fast they buckle in the grey skin they bite and leave a mark and they whisper to one another all along their crooked line they say where’s he gonna run to where’s he gonna hide this time well i got me some answers but i couldn’t be more wrong and every field i look into is burnt and scrubbed corn and every gate is broken and every fence just sticks and twine and i don’t know where i’ll run to i don’t know where i’ll hide this time well i am running from sebastian i am running from his wife i am running from the blacksmith who says he saved my life i am running from the winter the freight train the lover and the liar and i am running from the fireman the coal man and the colt mrs o the vicar standing on tiptoes singing her frail lungs away hallelujah glory be on high i am running from superstition mischief and the law and her heart that couldn’t beat true and the knocking at the door i am running for the running the doing the going and the flight and i am running from the cold cave the blackwater park i am running from whatever creeped in when we left the door ajar i am running from tiny sparrows paper birds and dogs that bite i am running from the palace pier the king’s square and the ford wilbury and the chapel house and the ghost of elin lord the broken bottle the empty chair the wide crow black sky i am running from the sudden storm the cold father gone the englishman down in my blood and the shame and the scorn i am running from the good book the one sure straight line that tells me where i can run to and where i can hide this time it tells me where i’m gonna run to and where i’m gonna hide this time

it’s too late for us my wife

well i was met and on a train i sat and it went and as simple as that away from you and with every quick mile and it’s too late for us my wife and to the house and straight out the door drink in the park until dawn sand in my hair and my eyes and it’s too late for us my wife and in the kitchen some sort of a fight a little blood we’re both sore but alright limping and laughing and tired and it’s too late for us my wife and i was carried and the second we stopped too soon and suddenly dropped and i talked the dark from the night and it’s too late for us my wife and i know that this moving makes waves but you know that i’ll do it again put me out and leave me to dry it’s too late for us my wife the walking the worry the wall the low slow state of it all my faith is not in this life it’s too late for us my wife it’s too late for us my wife


2008 Eat Like A Bird

(incomplete)

days without you

throw caution to the wind you’ll see him again and take off your wedding dress all the days without you are the ones i’d sooner forget and fold your ivory legs over my chair and do lay your gentle head down all the days without you are at the back of the room and loud and now i send you words as a brush as a flirt and you send me a whisper back all the days without you are irritated troubled and flat and well i’ve been here before but not without cause and not without holding my breath and all the days without you are black and blue and in debt now the field needs to dry and the hay needs to turn and i wander the lane with the dogs all the days without you are doing their best to get lost and did we once have a good book did we once a home well i hope we can find it again cause the days without you are never that far away


2008 We Could Have, We Should Have, We Didn’t

(incomplete)

we could have, we should have, we didn’t

through these streets i run like i’m hunted tonight on a fast breath that believes in everything holy ghost like and true and the promise of your want for me we could have we should have we didn’t i was born in a small town i haven’t grown tall like the giants the open plains make they are larger than life and nearly eight feet high and are born to ten thousand days we could have we should have we didn’t and given the choice boys will be boys and will throw things they never should hold and the older we get the more we forget the wonder of that first throw we could have we should have we didn’t well i kept my calm when the chapel collapsed but i left there as fast as i could the roof buckled and broke and now that it’s gone all the rain falls onto the pews we could have we should have we didn’t so take forty flags and fifty three poles and build a fence up with them all a man should have reason to turn back at that but they just plough right on we could have we should have we didn’t so the road it got lost and its all my fault and it’s my job to find it again help was at hand but the best laid plans have dumped us in no mans land we could have we should have we didn’t a field of rape a fence of beech wood a blue wide sky high above the guard house the gate house the barn and the yard any piece of this is enough we could have we should have we didn’t i bought books for the fire and wine for the sea and paper to hang off the trees i would settle for less for peace and a rest but these things are elusive to me we could have we should have we didn’t is there a basic good a common ground a line that’s been drawn in the sand well we’ve crossed it and scuffed it and rubbed the thing out and we do not give a damn we could have we should have we didn’t we could have we should have we didn’t we could have we should have we didn’t

annabel

i came to you to be lonely i came to you to lay low and i’ll stay here as long as you’ll have me and hide the books when i go but if you find the writings i leave here if you stumble upon the words please forget the man you invited and bury the lot in the woods because miles behind in the old town i did love a woman who wrote and she showed me the names of her enemies and soon they were after my throat so i asked her to run away with me but she told me to go on alone in the morning i woke with the starlings and left with the first of the snow oh annabel you need not worry for you are not of this world your eyes are clear and your heart strong dear just cover my tracks well please cover my tracks well

and i don’t know why

i push a spade into cold earth a hole to make in the old dirt michael put me to it i got the whole morning to do it a crow sits on the wire cloaked and heavy and quiet she watches me start to move things blinks and shrugs shellac wings and i don’t know why and an hour down i find it up to my waist in the wet pit stop right there i’m careful not to break anything so i wait for michael to come back i roll a smoke and sit down crow flaps into the hole and flies out as fast as she can go and i don’t know why

und ich weiss nicht warum

ich steche einen spaten in kalte erde ein loch zu graben in den alten lehm michael bat mich darum den ganzen morgen hätte ich dafür zeit eine krähe sitzt auf der oberleitung eingemantelt und schwer und still schaut sie zu wie ich mich zu regen beginne ein blinzeln und ein zucken in ihren schellackflügeln und ich weiss nicht warum und eine stunde tiefer bis zum bauchnabel in der nassen grube fand ich es ich lege die arbeit nieder und gebe acht nichts zu zerbrechen dann warte ich dass michael zurückkommt dreh’ eine zigarette und setze mich die krähe flattert in das loch und fliegt wieder heraus so schnell sie nur fliegen kann und ich weiss nicht warum

(german translation by theresa beyer)

since he’s been gone

november night walking in line down the hill under rain to the church my brother my mother my lover behind and my father on my shoulders it hurts and since he’s been gone i’ve been carrying on like an idiot a thing without means without the fear of the devastated look that i know to his eyes i would bring see i took and i took and when it was gone i looked to see what was next and it was all i could do to stop at you and you were right and are beautiful yes yes you have been something dear and that is strong but is out of my hands and is lost and the ways of these past few years are weird and have suddenly taken their toll since he’s been gone since he’s been gone since he’s been gone i’ve been carrying on there’s a tunnel in the cellar behind the south wall that was bricked up twelve years ago and it was built by my uncle a man short of breath who coughed and cursed from his throat i watched him choke on cigarettes never did once get a kind word not told as a lie he was stubborn and tough sincere and rough and he smoked all the morning he died and the thing that he left is narrow and wet and it runs from the house to the lake a red trapdoor flat on the shore covered with gravel and slate there are signs of a place for launching a boat a plank a rope a post hole some way of escape but from what and who with and after that where to go since he’s been gone since he’s been gone since he’s been gone i’ve been carrying on oh god i count friends on my left hand where the finger there is skinned and twisted and it aches i’ve been careless at work and i’ve wasted the time idled weeks away i was told to make something of nothing but it’s hard with the ringing in the ears when the cough in the chest meets the front of my neck and i cannot swallow it clear so tania was at sea and i sent word from here and she went aground but i know that she’s safe we lived together in spain but she learned to live alone and in newfoundland she stays i was as mean to her as i could be i really raised the standard for that and i told myself that after portsmouth i would not expect a scrap since he’s been gone since he’s been gone since he’s been gone i’ve been carrying on i’ve been clumsy all week and i’m frightened to speak it out loud in case it gets any worse but i am limping and bleeding and i’ve been patched up it’s not serious at all but it hurts and i think of the time when paul and i fought and my finger got broke in the door and the fight stopped right there and i tore at my hair and we laughed but by christ it was sore now i send letters to miss harris and we’re so far away i don’t think that we’ll ever meet she is a writer and a reader but above it all a friend to me indeed she is bright and will listen and so i say this to you now be just as you are you are a source of great comfort stay complete and barefoot and inky and lovely and scarred cause since he’s been gone since he’s been gone since he’s been gone i’ve been carrying on and my sister sent a message that only gave an address but she hadn’t been heard of for months and when i’m finished here i’ll get to her somehow even if i have to run there was a man who promised to give her enough leather to sit and make saddles all day i never met him once it only lasted a month and then she just galloped away so we all shared your clothes and i still have some shirts that did keep me warm in new york your pocket watch i got it fixed right away but now it’s stopped in a box in clare’s loft there are some things dear man i can not stand to have around or to keep clinging to and there’s a limit to the stuff it’s heavy enough and i need to be able to move since he’s been gone since he’s been gone since he’s been gone i’ve been carrying on

seven waves

well we walked a ways and then we walked some more so far so lost and not nearly there on a calm welsh hillside by a tiny poor chapel we laid down happy and tired and you said shall i build us both a warming fire out of wood from the boats down on the beach so i watched you walk across the sand from above and i smoked sat down and i felt content well we’d been trying and trying and finally gave up not a whisper not a breath not a spark the clouds grew fierce and the sky turned heavy no chance for a flame so better head inside and under strong roof of ship salvaged timber i slept while you looked for the sailor’s notes folded letters squeezed between oak beams lovely words wet ink floated home in the morning i thought i saw ourselves on the shoreline while we waited for our boat she was smiling he looked worried a little couple in the crowd and then you called i turned and we were gone

jesswood

well we finally returned to the park on a buckled and broken cart one less than the number that left all over a bit of a mess hello you well what do you know im really finally home you can find anything if you look hard enough well i found it hard there and it shook me up the head went first and the blood followed fast til there was nothing left to warm the heart hello you well what do you know i’m really finally home if you see me looking at the road again and if you catch me thinking of leaving again take hold of my feet and nail them to the floor of your sweet sad room and i will leave you no more hello you well what do you know i’m really finally home


2008 Fire Escape

(incomplete)

blackwater

blackwater christmas eve we pulled samuel out carefully the moonlight showed cold and clear a wet man a sad sight indeed and it just ain’t right to celebrate and it just ain’t right to raise a glass st mary’s bells christmas day blackwater a mare struck by the river’s cold fist we found her miles down in walls parish like a bag she was taken away the river it took her like a bag away and it just aint right to celebrate and it just ain’t right to raise a glass st mary’s bells christmas day blackwater there’s a wide high moon a sudden white light a pale face shining in the wintery light there’s a bright bold star there’s a path well lost and there floats a good man now careless and gone

i will see myself out

there are some things i will not learn the long and the short of her and how to stop the trouble getting hold and not letting go for i’m haunted as i’ve not been before by the swing and the slam of the door by the sound of her steps on the stairwell hurried and running away she said some days are lost long before the sun comes up and we’ve barely begun and already we’re saying it’s done well i will see myself out the view from here isn’t clear the road leading home’s disappeared and there’s a low grey cloud getting closer and a bright patch of sky growing dim and from here something good burns it’s last and i watch it’s final sad spark it tumbles it spins it plummets and i run to see where it lands but a hole in the dirt is no substitute for what’s gone and a piece of a life ain’t no life at all well i will see myself out oh you lie you love and you hurt and i don’t yet know what’s worse but mr taylor told his son to fear you then plotted to steal you away and i can’t for the life of me find a kind way to leave you behind you are there in the cold corners of christmas in the sky and the sea and the salt your red hair is flat to your skin like pencil on stone your china bleached body freckled peppered bones and i will see myself out oh i’m asleep and i don’t want to wake i’m so tired i could stay here for days counting the places you took me guess again guess again one more time in a grey town northern and bleak or at night by the side of the road waiting for your father to find us drive up full beam on us both you were never that sure of your place in this war so you left deserter deserter over the hills you went well i will see myself out well your man he is no friend of mine and i wonder if that makes it alright there’s a broken fire escape there’s a long long way down from here but i’m not scared as you open the door and he’s there looking swollen and sore and you kiss his cheek as he walks in past the window and straight to your room and the light winks out and i’m without outside and alone four floors to the street now breathless feet stagger me home and i will see myself out the winter has broken my will and my throat and my heart hurt still well you came and you stayed now you’re leaving and i don’t know the why and where to now would you cross the road to avoid me and would you lower your eyes if they saw me well stay safe be true i won’t follow i can’t catch you up from here oh were you kindness itself was i giving you hell all the time it has taken an age but this nature is all mine and i will see myself out but i am alarmed by the beauty of you and my legs do not know what to do you are as new to me as the first time you are as strange and as hard as can be i am foolish i mean i am set for a fall and nothing to be done at all i can watch but i can’t learn anything and i’ll leave by the same way i came in you said some days they are lost long before the sun comes up well the light’s disappeared and i’m still here holding on well i will see myself out

pure black coal

well i pray one day they will lay you down in a bed of pure black coal they will lower your bones to where no one goes and then forget they ever set you below i pray they forget they ever set you below i don’t say it lightly but god almighty i do wish our paths hadn’t crossed cause on the narrow lane your twisted ways have got my kindness lost all my kindness has got lost for you do not know and you will not learn cause you have scared everyone who could tell with your table legs and your beachy head you have jumped and are far beyond help you have jumped and are far beyond help you were grand at the start but then things turned dark about the time the rations ran out and when the hunger took by hook or by crook you stole everything you could grab you just stole everything you could grab and now i pray one day they will lay you down in a bed of pure black coal they will lower your bones to where no one goes and then forget they ever set below i pray they forget they ever set you below

fire escape

well i woke with the knocking and it scares me to death it’s getting louder and louder and i fall out of bed grab the torch from the floor as you wake start to move they have come like we feared they would and there’s but one thing to do get away so you push your head through a shirt as i run for the back door and now you’re shivering by my side in the dark as i struggle with the lock and something is thrown and breaks and smoke swallows the air and we’re both out on the fire escape and i’m sorry and scared but we got to get away but we can’t go to paul’s we can’t go to kate’s forget about jane james or claire peter is gone and elin got lost who does that leave out there your careful words your delicate hands well they will not last a week herein this terrible town we got to get away i walked down to the river to search for a boat a safe way across a flake of hope i left you in the cherry orchard you said you needed to rest so where have you got to my love there’s no one else you got away


2007 I Do Wrong

(incomplete)

eversince

eversince good has been able good has been trying to turn bad eversince rain been falling people below kept down now i got stones in my pocket a sorry note back at the house i’m shuffling down to the water i’m gonna sink and i’m not coming back once in a while it’s always once in a while it can be good once in a while it’s forever once in a while we do what we should there is but one way to the ocean there is only one path that’s true the road it is straight but it is so steep and when things go wrong you got to get out and push i thought of the cold before i jumped in i thought of the water in my throat i thought that my eyes would stay open even when my heart was closed st michael your flock it has flown i can’t see a feather upon your tiles i remember a time before the gunshots when all the sky was wild the cathedral spire with falcons nesting the chapel roof where the starlings roost and under the water the fish move like birds i’ll dream of you always peaceful and true eversince good had been able good has been trying to turn bad eversince rain been falling people below kept down

i do wrong

well i am not always good i do what i should not do out in the fields out on the hills away from you and when i said that i couldn’t it’s more like i wouldn’t with you it is as simple as that it’s simple and sad it’s true that i do wrong i do wrong you i do wrong i do wrong you you take hold of my hand but do you know what i am and can be i have a system in place a process a method a plan here it does not always work it often hurts and is painful but it is something to follow it’s something to lay all the blame on i do wrong i do wrong you i do wrong i do wrong you well there’s sand in my clothes it’s between my toes it’s inside my head this is too much you wanted blood but you’ll leave me dead now i’m bucket bound you talk about how to make a bed i’ll show you a hole but you’ll call it a home sweet home instead i do wrong i do wrong you i do wrong i do wrong you so where’s all the sense where’s the regret and the lesson learned we’re back where we were a little more tired bruised and hurt don’t talk about good i burnt the book and i took his name i only did what i could i know what i should but i’m still the same and i do wrong i do wrong you i do wrong i do wrong you

bem nem sempre sou bom faço o que não devo nos campos no alto dos morros longe de você e quando falei que não podia foi mais por não querer com você é simples assim é simples e triste é verdade que eu erro erro muito com você eu erro erro muito com você você segura minha mão mas sabe o que sou e posso ser tenho um sistema funcionando um método um plano um esquema às vezes não funciona muitas vezes machuca e causa dor mas é algo para se seguir é algo para ter uma desculpa eu erro erro muito com você eu erro erro muito com você pois tem areia nas minhas roupas entre meus dedos dos pés bem fundo na minha cabeça você queria machucar mas foi longe demais agora que estou enterrado você fala de como fazer a cama eu vou te mostrar o buraco mas você o chamará de lar doce lar eu erro erro muito com você eu erro erro muito com você então onde está o sentido de tudo o arrependimento a lição aprendida voltamos ao começo mais cansados rasgados e magoados não fale sobre o bem queimei o livro e peguei seu nome eu só fiz o que pude sei o que devia mas sou o que sou eu erro erro muito com você eu erro erro muito com você

(portuguese translation by magdalena vollmer)

the makings of a great night in

i reluctantly locked the guns away have to live now without the noise they make gave up things that made me glad be a careful kinder man i’m not afraid of a little work but no one wants to get hurt and these methods they do alarm i am convinced they’ll do me harm i said ok is that enough and she said not quite not quite my love well we hadn’t seen a soul for weeks lost friends and family how to speak the nights grew long outside the flat the days just smudges of grey on black i’ve tried to stop things going wrong i squeezed kind new words into old cruel songs i held my breath and all that came out again was my dear is that enough and she said not quite not quite not quite my love so she sent me out with an epic list and i never saw the end of it pages and pages in a flowing hand poured onto paper a dream of a plan it began with sand inside a shoe a snail shell a burst balloon all these i found with little trouble but soon one thing led to another i asked have i now done enough and she said not quite not quite my love well i was sent to find a china drum a carousel a tommy gun a map of stars a book of prayers and how to get from here to there i wrote a poem on a yard of blue rope set fire to that and gave her the smoke these things she took unreservedly but the list went on without relief i asked have i now done enough and she said not quite not quite my love so i gathered stones and lumps of flint 144 metres of string a dozen doors a copper bath i never knew and i never asked it went away and i brought more from the quarry the park and the red river shore under top soil cold clay and gravel countless tiresome miles travelled i could only ask is that enough and she said not quite not quite my love my worried one you’ve worn me down and all the things i do leave you without and i need a little for myself just enough to start again i’ve been careful foolish hugged and hurt handheld heart-burnt lungs are shallow breathing hard good lord i’ve fallen far and only to say i’ve had enough and she said so long so long my love


2007 The Weeping Well

(incomplete)

the burning of two

well we caught out we were too slow we didn’t see the trouble coming heading this way straight for us all the terrible things you said were true i’m not sorry i said sorry i’m not sorry but i will say it again we were caught out we were too slow they were angry so this is what they did they brought ladders they brought petrol thirty people marched up the hill to our home they climbed ladders they poured petrol they tore the roof up and set the place alight they nailed the doors shut they blocked the windows they got wood from the fence i built last year d.i.y. done tools packed away they stood around chucking stones at our house and then the neighbours gathered outside we could hear them laughing at the flames at the thick smoke at the black air i pulled you closer and i said we’ll be ok just don’t cough and don’t cry cause then they’ll hear you and they’ll know we’re still alive if we’re quiet if we keep still when it’s done then we can fly away well when we came here there were questions we gave answers the wrong ones every time but when they ask you did you know me you better tell them i know not who you mean i can’t see you are you still there i can’t find my hands to reach for you i can’t hear you can you hear me my love it’s gone but we were not to blame not our fault what happened we were warned but did we listen no we were caught out we were too slow these things fall apart without our help take strong wings and use them well grow good from hopeless dust and dirt my brave one take the pain away take the pain away and throw it to the flames


2007 Woodland Recordings

paper birds

give me a book of paper birds a shovel and a field of dirt i’ll show you where the magic goes nowhere else but down a hole the clouds grow the rain does fall into your house and all we got pots we got bowls below the water down the wall does flow in sheets but i do believe in one sure thing the good will grow and stay and then fade away and sorrow will return again i dug a hole and now belong someplace else i’m running from the ground i marked i painted dirt i burnt grass, and coloured earth gather up all your scraps of clay and chuck them on the wheel again and whatever things they become well that’s what throwing dirt has done today but i do believe in one sure thing the good will grow and stay and then fade away and sorrow will return again cut a ribbon of hair from your head take a needle a length of thread stitch a line from my heart to my hand and i’ll take that as the one true map now set down your folded wings i’ll throw them to the eastern wind see what good those feathers do without the heart to make them move at all but i do believe in one sure thing the good will grow and stay and then fade away and sorrow will return again

not yet gone

well there are some bones that break and you can’t put them straight they are fixed in a painful place and what’s done is done and while he called me his son i was not but i am proud of the name now all the tears in the world they won’t bring him back he was put complete below i could have held him more but no use now i’m fine but i do miss him so it’s just too sad no mister no more it’s just too bad no mister no i am not yet gone i am not yet not yet gone i took the windows from the walls i took the door from the frame i turned the whole house upside down i looked under the stairs but you weren’t sleeping there i don’t know if you want to be found it’s just too sad no mister no more it’s just too bad no mister no i am not yet gone i am not yet not yet gone come on in the water is fine he said come on in the water is fine he said come on in the water is fine he said come on in the water is fine


2005-2007

here

you’ve got a heart singing strong and i can almost hear it from here and i’d lie through my teeth to say something bright and clear and now i’m counting the days and i’m counting the ways to get by and i’m losing my place and i’m losing the reason why are these your arms here i need your arms dear cause i really don’t see us getting to heaven tonight i need your arms here cause when i get up and go i just slip and i fall and i look for the long in the short and you say well what’s wrong with you you should be so happy but we struggle to fit and i know these things happen but i do need your arms here and i do need your arms dear cause i do not see us getting to heaven tonight i need your arms here well it must have been funny cause i’m sure that we laughed all night i just thought of something and that something just ain’t right

(additional lyrics by vicky steer)


all lyrics by stephen burch, except where noted. copyright 2019. all rights reserved.