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Dark Blue

by Steven Lambke

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1.
Fireworks 03:37
Watch me firework. Watch me turtle. When you draw a circle you can begin anywhere. The sky goes dark with crows and eagles, an arched cathedral overhead. Tell me a story, beginning and ending. Most of what happens, happens again. This time I’m listening: leaves rustling; feet shuffling towards the door; there’s dust and coughing; “you call that singing?” I’m always beginning again. A flower explodes, dust and pollen. I hear someone calling my name. My squeaky blood started swirling, like an old planet turning on a rusted hinge. The sunlight is shocking. It often comes early. It was there in the morning after the show. I made you a coffee. You opened the curtain. My head was hurting today. I felt like a scarecrow. I hid like a turtle. When you draw a circle you can begin anywhere. Watch me firework. Watch me turtle. When you draw a circle you can begin anywhere. Folded ticket. Lucky numbers. It’s the middle of summer but you can start anywhere.
2.
I was sleeping in the bed of a smoker, lipstick stains on the sheet, a black mess of eyeliner. Daniel, is this the start of a song? I was sleeping with your books piled neat beside the bed and the wind outside was burning. Daniel, is this the start of a song? I woke in the morning. The door slowly opened. Slowly closed. Slowly opened. The window rattled in the pane like an orchestra tuning. The kingdom of paradise is not locked with a key. I was sleeping in the bed of the pharaoh and every night she sings to me. We sing as the nights grow colder. I woke in the morning with a thousand suns behind my eyes. Years passed and my hair grown longer, but my face beneath this mask is younger. I woke in the morning from a dream. The window rattled in the pane when your brother played the drums. Daniel, is this the start of a song for me?
3.
Both Of Me 03:16
I lean against the window on the blackened backside above the tracks. When the train goes by the window rattles my reflection like a mask coming loose. I smile then, unrecognized. A smile close to truth. The moon is in its orbit like the sky has lost a tooth. Departure and reunion, until the difference has collapsed. Another train approaches, another day unmasked. Another whistle for the longing through the liar’s gap. I’m standing on the platform on the day of the eclipse. I’m watching from the window as the train is pulling in.
4.
I will not lie to you and I ask you to remember last night and tomorrow when the sun scrapes the sky and fills the yawning morning I will not lie to you by my tongue or in my bearing a frame that’s bent and twisted a picture of that time I leaned in close to listen I will not lie to you Though I was given lie to speak O Canada fills the yawning morning I will not lie to you and I ask you to remember white mother, white father you fouled all the water you hollowed out the stone I will not lie to you and I ask you to remember we’re learning now to sing across the open pit into the howling morning I will not lie to you Though I was given lie to sing O Canada into the yawning morning I will not lie to you I will not sing O Canada into the howling morning
5.
Major Rager 03:59
…and that year we all turned prophet our songs described ruin and despair. But you asked me amused “Who’s the muse?” with grace and wisdom beyond compare. I, unamused, “what’s the use? I read the news.” I am diminished by a European sickness. I conduct business from the bed, coughing blood upon the page. Wine of rage Wine of rage Seven mountains lift the ocean on their shoulders. I left my notebook on the table in the corner. It’s always raining. I’m always feigning surprise. How fast the days go by. Confused and holy poetry Racing through my mind. Wine of rage Wine of rage Shining under water like a broken bottle I stand by the window naked and glowing. Shadows growing. The lights turned low. I see my reflection like a mirror. I hear the applause, growing louder and clearer. I pull you near. I’d pull the stones from our eyes. The end getting closer and the sky clouded over. It’s all the rage all the rage Sharper under water than a broken bottle The sky is clouded over and the end getting closer getting closer getting closer
6.
Cut Flowers 03:12
My friends, I’d like to thank you for these things that you have brought me, a cut of lilac from the neighbour, and a painting for the wall. And all these pills and coffee, and a switch of birch to lash me, the tea you said brought visions, and the lavender you grew from seed. In the silence I heard the engine turning like the universe undressing. The tattoo on the shoulder says some things no one should see. I put my ticket between the pages of a borrowed book of poems and I stab my pen through paper: “’tis the song I wrote for thee”. Don’t bring cut flowers to my grave whatever place will mark me will be wild Don’t bring cut flowers to my grave whatever place will mark me will be wild Sometimes I’ve been reminded of the stature in the garden, in the shadows, half forgotten, and the stubborn growth of weeds. There’s a black cat on the fence post and a rat down in the cellar, but the wind will light a fire from the last still burning ember. Don’t bring cut flowers to my grave whatever place will mark me will be wild Don’t bring cut flowers to my grave whatever place will mark me will be wild
7.
Ripe cherries in the tree, waste cherries on the ground, red and wild cherries in between. The branch and the blood, the evening sky above, my love is impure but enduring. She lived to be a hundred, with coffee at every hunger until her bones hollowed and her heart beat like a bird. Everything’s in motion, every atom burning, with a love that’s impure but enduring. Unfurl the banners. Uncurl the ferns. Love is impure but enduring. A small crowd gathers outside the café, with coloured banners hanging down, and, on the sidewalk, lilac blooming out of season. The sky fills with bats. The sky fills with doves. There below the crowd is singing. First there’s darkness, then light. Love is impure but enduring.
8.
White Horses 03:12
Remember how we met with winter coming on in the costume of the monkey and the soldier? Ribbons at your shoulder. A uniform in tatters. Bright leaves like ribbons falling down. Six white horses coming down Six white horses coming down Turn the lights on. Keep them low. We’ll shed these ancient bloody skins. Sew them up with spit and twine. Howl into their bellies. Make them wild. To run across the naked plane as the sparrows fly in circles all around. The sky is narrow between the towers. The cranes are swinging overhead. An ambulance arrives with siren flashing. The golden gladiator descends and the sparrows fly in circles all around. Six white horses coming down Six white horses coming down 1000 storms are coming. The whale is dead upon the mountain. and the light shines through. The earth’s voice returning. It’s low. Lay your head against the stone. Six white horses coming down Six white horses coming down
9.
I swallow the sparrow. I spit out the feathers. I sing in the voice of another. It’s the middle of summer, my hand over my eyes to shade from this thunder and heat. Have you ever been one like me, troubled by the light? I drank only coffee. I bathed in saltwater. My clothes were ragged and bleached. Mother forgive me for never calling. My brother, look over your shoulder. Have you ever been one like me, troubled by the night? I run across the traffic, a flash of white feathers, your moment reflected in me. There’s a scream of the tires, the smell of black rubber, a crack in the silence surrounds me. Have you ever been one like me, troubled by the night? I swallow the sparrow. I spit out the feathers. I sing in the voice of another. I stand by the window, naked and glowing, with a mask that covers my face. Have you ever been one like me, to trouble at the night, naked and glowing?
10.
Back To Back 02:45
Blackbirds on the whirlwind, the blood of the world circling. Eternal hunger. Hunter. Scavenger at chance. Lay down with me in the guts of it. Back to back, belly to belly Loose this planet from its spin Lay me down and love me Back to back, belly to belly My faith had grown thin. Ribs showed through my skin like the handprints of the sculptor. Unfinished thing. Restless wandering. It’s a beautiful world until you drop down dead at the sight of it. Back to back, belly to belly I remember everything Lay me down and love me Back to back, belly to belly There’s a clatter from the tombs, the sound of trumpets and drums. Your perfect marble memory – missing limbs, broken nose – it’s like a poison in the wells of Rome. Back to back, belly to belly I remember everything Lay me down and love me Back to back, belly to belly Back to back, belly to belly Loose this planet from its spin Lay me down and love me Back to back, belly to belly
11.
Dark Blue 02:51
I’m as slow to change as a north slope in the spring. But even mud and snow will turn to weather and ruin when wild rushing thoughts unbind me. Dark blue in the evening blue They say that life surrounds you, like a silver cloud swimming in a salmon sky, a black stone where the rivers meet and the common wisdom flows. Dark blue in the morning blue A low and sleepless night, and not a shadow cast between us. Something in the corner rattled like a tambourine. Dark blue in the evening blue Dark blue in the evening blue
12.
Remember, in the beginning the door slowly opens. The stage is dark. The singer is softly singing to himself – no one else is listening. He taps his foot in a kind of drifting rhythm. The waves are wondrous strange so far from shore. The sky is pale blue. There’s light upon the water. Far away. What I want to know is why he sings so softly? Like he’s got a whispered message for the king. A coat of feathers and a crown of heavy stone. The birds are singing like a scratched and skipping record. The birds are singing. My days are light and gold. The birds are singing and all my friends have gone. Far away. Of your wild eyes and your wild rushing mind, I must be loving. Of my wide ears and long face, you must be loving. I’m like a winged horse. I’m running wild and free. And on the morning when the earth kindly opens to reward all of my singing with the pit, I promise I will step lightly over and fly away.

credits

released March 29, 2019

Performed by:
Steven Lambke – vocals, guitars, percussion, organ
Daniel Romano – drums, percussion, guitars, vocals, organ
Dave Nardi – bass, organ, guitars
With:
Mark Lalama – piano, accordion
Ian Romano – drums on White Horses and second drums on At The Start Of The Song

Recorded by Daniel Romano
Additional recording by Steven Lambke
Piano and accordion recorded by Mark Lalama
Mixed by Graham Walsh
Mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal

Cover Art by Shary Boyle. Swallow, 2015. Porcelain, glazes.
Photo by Sean Weaver
Layout and Design by Daniel Romano

Thank you: Kenny Meehan, Roddy Richmond, Kay Berkel, Sebastian Buzzalino, Colin Medley, Shotgun Jimmie, Mathias Kom, Arial Sharratt, Darren Brown, Amanda Jernigan, Jon Mckiel, Jay Crocker, Colleen Collins, David Trenaman, Paul Henderson, Matt Charlton, Vish Khanna, Bucky Buckler, Robin Walker, Mark Goldstein, Andrea Stratis, Kevin Howes.
Thank you Shary, in art and life.

Steven Lambke gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

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Steven Lambke Toronto, Ontario

Folded ticket. Lucky Numbers.

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