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Days Of Heaven

by Steven Lambke

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1.
Low blazing sun of winter, like an oncoming headlight; interrogative lamp of God: asks nothing. Says nothing, but the prophecy is clear: another day passing of the year under the gaze of heaven. A woman with a family, she calls me sweet potato. I enter as a guest into her home. She lights a candle on the table, drops the match into the coffee. She says she’s seen the future and read its mind: “Don’t be alarmed, darling. It looks like any other time under the gaze of heaven. But it takes a strong mind not to turn away from the gaze of heaven, under the gaze of heaven.”
2.
Hummingbird 02:56
We are creatures of quick need, stunned by beauty to the quickening beat of a hummingbird. We are seeds blooming in the scrabble, blooming to be seen by the hummingbird. I’m kneeling in the rut of flowers and the hummingbird is gone. I’ve forgotten how to speak. The colours bloom silently. Dull earth, the rut of flowers, until the hummingbird returns.
3.
There’s more in common nature than the human mind can bend to reason; bend low with a sunflower mind full of sky and earthly seed. All things will over-reach, then bow with the weight of the season. My mind is too much full of sky and earthly need. I bend close to you in the evening, listening. My love, be brave. Speak with tenderness. Speak plain. Raise your voice uncommon.
4.
I was scared. I was scared that time had wounded me with age, and that loss, once suffered, would repeat in my memory forever. But the echo comes according to the surface that it meets, and I met you, echoed in your body, and your mind, and my body echoed too: strong enough to love, strong enough to be loved, to listen close to love, and hear love.
5.
Silence/Love 02:13
My love, I do not want to talk of love. Love has made me silent, and silence breaks the room. Silence, Love. My love, why do we weep so quietly? So silently in love? Is it love that makes us weep? Silence, Love. It’s silence makes us weep our silent love. What is love to say of beauty, so unspoken, so unspeaking as a silent love? My love, I heard the water breaking and the moon, beloved, above, silently watching.
6.
Dead Stones 02:51
I’m like every man before me: standing high above the ocean I need to try my distance from the shore. Throwing stones into the void, throwing short and landing dry, I’ve heard hymns and horrors in the wind and felt alone without measure. But O, befuddled judges! A man is slight of strength and short of days, but in love his life has measure and peaceful hours. And the stones will turn to swallows. And bloom like flowers in the water. And then I say I love you like no other.
7.
A man knows no peace in his body until it’s broken. Like the world’s common curses, it’s better broken on a common deed. We drank together in the evening: broken glass and screaming swallows. I cut my finger on the pieces and saw my blood was filled with blooming flowers. And it’s a good light and tired feeling with the sunset bleeding at the wound. Peace rising in an empty body like a stony, starry moon. You called me to companion your surrender to your fate. You said, “If I have strength and health to mother let me mother, or let me be mother to my own making.” We were tired in the morning, with the curtain swaying at the window slowly rising on a good light.
8.
You know me well, my love. You know my many natures. The mule headed wonder lording in your bed, sometimes brave, and sometimes lazy, and handsome in my way. You know me well. My step is long like someone running. It’s one measure of a man, I guess. A little lost at every footstep. My mind is full of water. It’s easily rippled, naked swimmer. Split the surface, slide me under into the breach. You know me well. You know me well, as I am, and as I wish to be.
9.
Lately I’ve been living day to day, by the wisdom of the ages: take my pleasure in hand, leave my troubles where they lay, make hay when the sun shines, make moonshine in the moonshine. Brother, no sun or moon opposed us. With winter cold, life retreats to the root but it does not whither. So bless the woman in the garden. Bless the chickens where they lay. Make hay when the sun shines. Make moonshine in the moonshine. Brother, no sun or moon opposed us. There’s love in our work together, and love in the return. Let another warm day embrace us. No sun or moon opposed.
10.
Alone beneath the dumb light of the full moon, with the dim stars, far apart, growing dimmer, and further away. It’s a hard space cast by one light. If not this full moon unreckoned, than blazing sun will still the tongue: there is no speaking in it. Still, there’s a clatter in the shadows, a black raven in a burnt black sea. The lilac blooms at the bloody root of the dumb moon, and the static holds a song.
11.
How will I ever know how close I came to loving you the way you would be loved: in the morning, with the coffee, and in the evening with the swallows falling through the tilt and sway, home to nest? How will I ever know how close I came to what I tried to be: a man who learned to speak of beauty? With the swallows falling through the tilt and sway, and the evening falling low, alive, and sweetly swaying, unknowing.

about

Dear Steve,

Having very little idea of the sort of thing you're expecting or desiring, but acting on the gut sense that I was better to move ahead in that obscurity than to seek clarification that might shut down possible directions, I have written three small pieces for you to choose amongst or chuck out entirely. (See attached.) I don't know what you'll make of them. The first is a bit of prose -- fairly abstract, but referring directly to your work on this album. The second is a bit of poetry. Here the reference to your album is still fairly direct but the mode has shifted. The final piece, which is my favourite -- but also the most unconventional, qua album text -- is a poem called "Endymion" (I don't think you need to print the title). It is inspired both by your songs and by Shary's art, though it also comes out of my own thinking about mythology. I like it best: but it is far away from anything like a conventional album "bio."

If none of this serves your turn, I am happy to go back to the drawing board -- but wanted to send these along, as my first tries.

With love, and in gratitude for Days of Heaven.

Amanda

P.S. Two brief footnotes:

"What one can't speak, that one must pass over in silence ('schweigen')" is a famously untranslatable bit of Wittgenstein. You probably know this better than I do, but just in case. I don't think anyone needs to know that it's Wittgenstein, though: the songs provide their own gloss on this (or, rather, are the texts to which this is gloss).

And:

Endymion: "In Greek mythology, a beautiful youth, sometimes said to be a king and sometimes a shepherd, who, as he slept on Mount Latmus, so moved the cold heart of Selene, the Moon goddess, that she came down and kissed him and lay at his side. He woke to find her gone, but the dreams which she gave him were such that he begged Zeus to give him immortality and allow him to sleep perpetually on Mount Latmus. Other accounts say that Selene herself bound him by enchantment so that she might come and kiss him whenever she liked." (Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, rev. ed., 1963)



Three possible texts for Steven Lambke’s Days of Heaven, by Amanda Jernigan, August 2015.

*

Memory is the daughter of heaven and earth, and the muse is a daughter of memory and everything. It is traditional for an artist to call on the muse at the beginning of an endeavour. This suggests that the great works of art begin, not in the presence of the muse, but in her absence.

Sometimes an artist decides that the true impression of the universe on the cosmographic negative of the human soul is silence; sometimes he decides that the true impression of the universe on the cosmographic negative of the human soul is the human body: the human body with its strings and stops and chord structures.

My husband, who is a photographer, tells me that the light of the moon is strong enough to expose a photographic negative; given time, so is the light of the stars.

*

What one can’t speak, that one must
schweigen, which beggars translation.
Sometimes listening to the silence
one catches oneself humming
along. Sometimes listening
to the humming, one catches
oneself speaking: what one
can’t speak, that one must.

*

Endymion slept on Latmus like
the dead: the silver moon awoke
to find him gone. And in that state
she gave to him such visions that
he woke to find her gone. Awaking
he prayed to immortal god to make
him immortal so he could sleep forever
on Latmus like the dead — but he
awoke to find himself, waking
on Latmus, and the moon, waning,
in the first light of the dawn.

credits

released October 30, 2015

Songs by Steven Lambke
© 2015 (SOCAN)

Recorded and Mixed by Jeff McMurrich at 6 Nassau St, Toronto
Additional recording by Steven Lambke, Ian Kehoe, and Tamara Lindeman
Mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal

Cover Art: Shary Boyle. La Lune, 2012. Porcelain, glazes
Photograph © Rafael Goldchain, 2012

Layout and Design by Paul Henderson

Album Notes by Amanda Jernigan

Thank you: Doug Macgregor, Loel Campbell, Shotgun Jimmie, Vish Khanna, Christine Fellows, John K Samson, Matt Charlton, Colin Medley, Nick Ferrio, Daniel Romano, Spencer Burton, Olenka Krakus, Andrew Stratis, Will Kidman, Adrian Teacher, Bucky Buckler, Robin Walker, David Trenaman, Colleen Collins, Paul Henderson, Ian Romano, Kay Berkel. Thanks to Danny and Elise for the Hummingbird. Thank you Ross, Darcy, Richard, Mika, and Jeff for bringing your talents to the songs. Thank you Ian and Tamara for production, conceptual, and musical assistance. Thank you Shary for the art and the song and La Lune.

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Steven Lambke Toronto, Ontario

Folded ticket. Lucky Numbers.

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