Lyrics, When I Left Loss

Graphic Design Helene Zuckerbrod

Old Rustburg Road

She lived alone beneath the railroad trestle in an old converted barn
candles stuck on the windowsill that flicker when it storms
now the crows in the corn are acting up
she’s not a youngster anymore
down Old Rustburg Road.

She told her Jesus she’d be gone tomorrow
before the light was gone
been kicked around like an old porch swing
for years that were too long
now that something’s broken, something’s born she heard disciples to her call
down Old Rustburg Road.

She’d been growing old with the same old story it’s so hard to keep alive
what sparkled then and drove her
down Old Rustburg Road.

Nothing so cold as the stone in autumn at the bottom of the hill
preachers gathered to reflect the news and rest where she lay still
ah, she pushed away what she could have saved, neighbors say what they will
down Old Rustburg Road.

Who Needs This Heart

Who needs this heart
who will share in the world upon my shoulders
who needs this heart
it’s a wild one

Who sees this heart
in the crumple and changing of September
who sees this heart
and smiles

Who hears this heart
in the storm of a house that she once mentioned who hears this heart
and beats around her

We live our lives upon the margin
giving gifts away and wanting more–

Who holds this heart
in the presence of a darkness she must fathom
who holds this heart
and is afraid

Where Have All the Flowers Gone (written by Pete Seeger)

Eileen

She’s not really forward, but her hair’s in a turban on the bus
and she’s gotten so talkative to strangers, it’s unusual–
That’s a cowlick you have she says, as she paints her lips red
beyond the borders of a missing smile–

In the streets of a safe and sunny morning
she sells packages of gauze
and treats the coming storm to company and tea–
nothing’s quite as funny as it used to be
there’s an emptiness she’s found
like she was never home–

She paints treadmills in her garden and she washes out the stones
she’s not certain she’ll get out of here alive, alone–
windows are a portion of what she sees and what she guesses
and out of everything she’s looking for, the sirens and the watches grow–

In the streets of a safe and sunny morning
she sells packages of gauze
and treats the coming storm to company and tea–
nothing’s quite as funny as it used to be
there’s an emptiness she’s found
like she was never home–

Relevant

Scattered among the relics of a crumbling house
I find a baby’s spoon black and superficial,
a tempered letter the lives of which I know none,
stamps, plastic flowers and the news of some
homecoming in rings around the yard, in tables
upon my foot, in the leaping of advantage.

This Old House

Scattered among the relics of an empty living room
lies a baby’s spoon and faded plastic flowers
the spoon is black, the flowers are attached to a letter
from no one I have heard of, about someone coming home

In this old house lies tucked away
all the memories long forgotten now
all the blues and greens and laughter
all the dreams that I ran after and must have missed

She motioned me to follow her to a corner of the room
where the dust lay still and children never ventured
she’d made her bed in picture books by the firelight of someone dancing
determined to be left alone

In this old house lies tucked away
all the memories long forgotten now
all the blues and greens and laughter
all the dreams that I ran after and must have missed

January 17th

Bruised, forgotten, down on his luck
he’s got nothin’ goin’ for him, not even a job or a buck–
so he hustles young women and follows ’em down,
steals what he can then he shoves ’em around sayin’–

Don’t ya know I would never hurt you?
Don’t ya know I’m not like that?

No I don’t know, your gun is so cold.

He roams through the streets, Times in his hands
opened to the want ads, no longer feels like a man–
keeps his eyes open for the stranger who’ll give
tired of being punished, what gives you the right to live, he says–

Can’t ya see I am livin’ lonely?
Don’t ya know that I’m hurtin’ too?

No I don’t know, your gun is so cold.

What’s your price?
Are you already sold?

Mustard Glove

And turquoise earrings plied at the hip
in graceless effigy and fuss prove tenure of
our coupled ride along rails tugging at the
fist how I know better, how I misuse my
own remorse and grandeur in each July
trestled over the orchard past the singing
house.

My Mother’s Keeper

Sara called St. Louis her home and her divide
studied architecture for plans of some exactness–
windows plunged her every move, separating her from anything
that could contend with all this darkness–

There’s not one raging day
she has yet to find–
I am my mother’s keeper
risked my life in leaving–
I am my mother’s keeper after all.

Tracy lived on the open plains, she had her babies first hand
in the spill of night it was something coming early–
she cupped her face around her mouth, prayed like there was an angel
to deliver what had become her own arrival–

There’s not one raging day
she has yet to find–
I am my mother’s keeper
risked my life in leaving–
I am my mother’s keeper after all.

I cry out now every night for my sisters and my brother
circling down to Tombstone Arizona–
there’s something racing inside of me, chases me like a bullet–
I cannot die before I’ve finished growing–

There’s not one raging day
she has yet to find–
I am my mother’s keeper
risked my life in leaving–
I am my mother’s keeper after all.

(sanctuary)

Under ground bark, colored fish and
many suns I peer through construct eyes
into a sanctuary of miniatures already
cupped and beautiful, hurled by my relief
into the beating heart of sure footing
and mingled accents wild.

Abigail Child

She broke a toast to the wayfarer and edged a way to the door
unamused with playthings and oh so sure
past the whistles and the catcalls out to the high tin road
far away from the mainstream–

There she sings rings and incantations
and silently smiles
says I am what you cannot make me Abigail Child.

She brushed her skirt with a single hand across the shadows on the road
reminiscent of strangers and all her heart has worn
past the nickels and the dimestores and all that’s kept her tied
stretched upon some ribbons–

There she sings rings and incantations
and silently smiles
says I am what you cannot make me Abigail Child.

This is what she’s waited for–
all this time huddled in darkened places–

Now she sings rings and incantations
and silently smiles
says I am what you cannot make me Abigail Child.

Provoked

What better way to kick your sister in the shins than say “You’re ugly, it’s your fault you have no breasts, and who winks at you?” It’s too hot this summer, it’s too lingering a tragedy we live at home, under the auspices of good faith and proper forwardness.. “Who’s the cocky one? Let her go, make fun of her ’til she cowers in silence at the mirror.” What studies her now postpones the malady, and with it she will see the science, the method, the coziness and outrage of the way behind her once she gets out. For to be willing to step out, to break the code of one’s own bricks, what holds one in corners, in glossy, unobtrusive and painstaking pastures–these are the knocks, the whit and width of my troubles and freedom.

When I Left Loss

When I left loss
I took my pictures everywhere
pointed out the monuments,
those out-of-hunger rocks I spent
the wayward one her soft descent
to a sister’s eyes so clear–

When I left loss
you led me into corridors
where stain upon the window sash
and smell of death across the marsh
mingled with those golden cords
you wore upon your sleeve–

When I left loss
I was not hungry anymore
my heart eased out from underneath
the table where my fist had been
pools of ice upon my skin
clouds an angel climbing–
when I left loss–

The Old Quarter

In resilience and lot,
in the smell of daisies and
charcoal and large upon the ocean,
I dwelt there for a time and return
occasionally for the red peppers and beans,
shaken by heft and audition and a longing
to be forgotten dividing my appetite
so slowly and judiciously I was
unaware I ‘d been
invaded.

For What I Know

She stuffed her hand in her little pocket for clover and a place to hide
it was so easy being invisible with nobody around to find her
and she’d run so fast her heart couldn’t catch her
as sun and horizon blended–

My heart is breaking for what I know.

She pressed her face to the little mirror and climbed into the other side
where they danced and flung their scarves around and whispered something nice–
but would they laugh if they saw her, would they turn away
pretend she was not in the room–

My heart is breaking for what I know.
My heart is breaking for what I know.

She braced herself in the corner under the garret, wished that she were blind
they were wearing down the floorboards in their high-heeled shoes
with a clicking that would not stop–til they all tipped over like mannequins
at the flinch of fingers–

You cry when you’re ready, you cry when you’re not–
it’s all the same chasm–

My heart is breaking for what I know.

The Water is Wide (traditional)

Seven Daffodils (written by Fran Moseley & Lee Hays)

Close to Christmas

Little Eddy grew up awfully young
his daddy died when he was nine
patrolling picket lines down on Rector Street
in the crossfire of a cold December morn…

His momma got no compensation
three kids to raise alone
silver stars from his uniform
and a home on Victory Boulevard.

And it’s getting close to Christmas
close to going home
to memories that turn his heart around
it’s close to Christmas now…

Lolly was always the older sister
little Eddy liked to clown around
Dutch and cousin Louie took their saxophones
to parades on Baker’s playground…

Lolly was the one who took him in
when their momma first began to fail
handmade stockings and a pine cone tree
lacy ribbons wrapped around the angels hair…

And it’s getting close to Christmas
close to going home
to memories that turn his heart around
it’s close to Christmas now
close to Christmas now.

Now Eddy never talks too much
he says what’s passed is past and gone
lamplight flickers down on Rector Street
and a home still stands on Victory Boulevard.

Bundled Branches

Taut in wintertime, a cluster
frozen shut and laid alongside a
figured corpse of attention, my
bundle of reeds was broken early,
splintering into the vanity and
cheekbones of my mother and lodging
bare my vigorous fears,insistent
that what beat was but hooves of
little horses and hardly worth the
flattering of gold leaf.

All the Pretty Little Horses (traditional)

c 1999 Laura Siersema

Graphic Design Helene Zuckerbrod

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