Year of the Bird (Volume 1)

by Pale Bird

/
1.
It wasn’t the end of the world - but I wouldn’t be lying if I said “It started with an earthquake” The status bar was at 0.85% January 4th at 2.39am, 1.6 miles from my bed, as the crow flies A man came, gently held my shoulders, shook me firmly a few times into wakefulness, and was gone You’re on record as saying, or at least implying (Heavily implying) That 2017 was the Worst. Year. Ever. (Worst. Year. Ever.) You kept talking about dying (You kept talking about dying) And you’re not a goth, so why would you do that? Well thanks for asking! I spent my 2017 avoiding talking about anything real Because everything real was organic and disgusting I was living in a city gradually being inundated by a shallow puddle of muddy water As uninviting as as it was drab, as annoying as it was terrifying As huge as it was un-awe-inspiring As stupid as it was painful No. No, it was poison. And poison was leaching the colour from all the buildings One by one, each of the buildings was turning the colour of rusty horse bones Now I’m not stupid, I know horse bones don’t rust - but there it was: Rusty Horse Bones (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) I’m tired of thinking about “Rusty Horse Bones”, and writing the words “Rusty Horse Bones” (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) In my Daily Schedule of Things To See I’m tired of saying the words “Rusty Horse Bones” (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) I wanted to tell people about the delicate cloud I saw, or the life passing by my window (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) And it still existed - so did waves, and sunsets, and domestic parakeets gone wild in the urban parks of the world (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) So did people, human beings, they existed too - but it didn’t feel right when there were Rusty Horse Bones (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) Everywhere right in my face So I didn’t say much in 2017 (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) Which was very out of character and didn’t come naturally “Rusty Horse Bones” lost its meaning through repetition Like calling someone a fascist (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) Eventually its syllables faded, mulched and gave fertile soil To “Rusty Horse Bones” - the names of a wrestler The name of a Country and Western Singer A hipster nose to tail diner We were fighting a war - some of us thought - The war on the war on saying the same sentence twice and it having the same approximate meaning The war on the war on saying the same thing twice and its meaning being roughly the same the second time you said it And the enemy took “Rusty Horse Bones” (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) And it became a mascot, a meme So when they came, they came dressed as Rusty Horse Bones And it was a Rusty Horse Bones Novelty mask That protected a dude’s face (Rusty Horse Bones, Rusty Horse Bones) From a downpour of rage
2.
Footnote 02:58
In a footnote to the article, it noted - I don’t know how they got this information - my final act on earth was to create a lurid illustration (of somebody’s pride and joy emanating a bright and glorious rainbow right across the nation, carrying a dear friend wishes for his birthday), sketchbook on my knees, beside a shallow bay where the sweaty ocean hugs the shore, where the fire rained down like dirty water from a leaking gutter on a clapboard house caught within the final glow of sunset on a sea. It might not seem a noble way to go, but to go in love and laughter, that’s wonderful to me.
3.
Lighthouse 04:54
I don’t ask for what I want I don’t want to be denied So I take what I can gather When it’s washed up by/on/with the tide But the water’s pulling back And those rocks that you can see They were there below the surface And that mess is due to me Slick with mermaid’s purses And strings of seaweed pearls And some minor possessions From all those shipwrecked girls I could have to tried to help them I could hear their shallow sobs I am the lighthouse keeper It’s literally my job And I hate that they’re exposed Not because of all the gore But when were those rocks were just submerged I could pretend I didn’t know that they were there at all They trusted me to guide them A North Star, bold and bright So how were they to know That I’d snuffed out my light I am the lighthouse keeper I’ll never be denied I help myself to anything Washed up on the tide
4.
And on the night she died My shadow came to me They somehow seemed surprised By my hostility I’d just come back from space It is the thrill that fuels me I’m Dan Dare in a universe Painted red with garish cruelty They watched my every step A stab of fear between each breath Darkness spilling down the hillside Clouds above the colour of bone An arm slowly reaching forward Life withering right in front me Facing this faded forever They came at night into my home They wrapped their wings around me They spoke so kindly, tenderly Showed me hundreds of branching paths I’d set on and not come back “You see a wrong and you obliterate, annihilate Swing your silver sword of justice Break a mountain down, absorb it Take off, nuke the site from orbit Throw the ring into the fire Drive a tank right through the stables You and I, we have our problems I don’t think this is going to solve them”
5.
I will pop up Make a leap Wake up Pele Own a peak I’m a lion In a loop Pinkie on a plank Holla, whoop Name a weapon Pale Olimpian Wipe, pull, pummel Pile on, pinion Knee on nape In a poke Low, unwoken Pie hole open Weep in willow Peep in oak Nap in pine, now Wipe all hope Moan in pillow A.M. Peal I’m in Hell now I will heal I awaken Pen a woe In a poem Oulipo
6.
Hey, Veronica Didn’t you hear? He just told you he’s lying to you It was an innocent idea Get out of your skin and Scare them out of theirs too Do you have a thing for rebellious bad boys? Do you just wish you were brighter and bolder? I had a crush on - I wanted to be - you Those don’t look different as you get older Now, every year, The town offers 17 tributes in silence They saw how far you’d go To break somebody’s monopoly on violence You were so perfect when you were a square Of second-hand fabric the size of my hand Camera zooms out, and now it’s a patchwork Of uneven Westerbergs covering the land Salted and soiled We just want to escape the ones who don’t want to Your story’s in the oil That keeps it all going, but that isn’t on you Don’t trust the nice boys, they’re not much better Women have noticed they’re just nicer-seeming They get upset when the don’t get what they want And the pattern repeats ‘till it loses all meaning The pattern repeats ‘till it loses all meaning If I say it once more it loses its meaning If I say it once, or until it has meaning I’ll try again until it has meaning
7.
Twelve years ago I was sat on my sofa High on the fumes of unemployment Even spent a week doing a sudoku You looked at me like I was having a breakdown Even though I know that change is hard All the things that have happened to me since then Remind me it’s not impossible Only a terrible ballache Failure is an option too That might not be right for you? Hate the players, game and rules Even-handed to the last Dozen years is not so long On the scale of an aeon Geological time moves on Ever more reasons to celebrate! (Find a friend, call him “Al” Thick and thin, so loyal He’s a very really pal Easily your favourite person To deal with existential pangs He’s a friend with several fangs Endless fun and infinite play You and he can run away)
8.
Snow Day 03:42
Now I’m running down like a mechanical toy That story was tired even when I was a boy Maybe they’ll bring them back with their clockwork and springs People love their nostalgia - we need comforting things I’m taking a snow day But those aren’t snowflakes, they’re sunbeams instead Two metres high on the pavements and streets Coming in through my window, piling up at the end of my bed Popeye stepped on the island and declared Swee’ Pea Prince He declared himself president, and has been ever since Now I can be reticent on the important things But I don’t believe in the divine right of kings And if that’s dispensed with, what is there left? A beaut with a bullhorn in a tiara and dress “Hey that’s my tiara!” We said, at the same time You know we’re not wrong, and that’s the right that’s divine I’m taking a snow day Leaving the world to take care of its dead Two metres high on the pavements and streets Coming in through my windows piling up at the end of my bed I am a diver desperate for air And each stroke is weaker, I doubt I’ll get there I can almost feel the sun on my hands My body might wash up on Swee’ Pea’s island
9.
Tiny Lungs 04:49
Again, I’m scared to open my mouth - afraid of what will come out Every song is bad poetry With tunes to distract you from the fact it’s a transparent act To get all the girls, to get all boys, to get all the others to like you You say “every action is an opportunity for creativity” And I know that you believe that I’ve missed that lazy idealist And now that they’ve come back, I hope I make the grade I really hope I do that Because every song is sad, the tap is stuck on cold To distract you from the fact we’re stealing other people’s pain The ones who swallow death Hoping it will numb the feelings Giving love to another person should be as natural as breathing Maybe someone told you “your lungs are not enough” And they mocked your tiny lungs, called them “little walnuts” Maybe someone told you “your lungs are far too much” Can you cut that breathing out, and that breathing in, and such Sometimes I worry if I didn’t see you every day I’d evaporate, I’m mostly water anyway, not such a big change I’d rise up and float past the window-sill Lifted by the heat of a roadside grill Of a thousand scooter tailpipes Past the tops of trees, expensive balconies Rooftop swimming-pools, into the clouds Down I’d come as rain, water once again In a river, same-old, same-old And maybe one day you’d see me again Coming out a tap that’s stuck on cold
10.
Theme Song 03:53
Someone needs a theme song - someone who is someone When I walk into the room, I want to see people’s heads turn “Why’s that music playing? Where’s it coming from?” There’s a jukebox in the corner An assistant has configured Everywhere I go, they go ahead with my jukebox (They go ahead with his jukebox) Set it up, wait for me to arrive I won’t go anywhere without my jukebox (Anywhere without his jukebox) It is so debilitating I can’t lie, my star is waning I used to have two or three jukebox roadies An overlapping team travelling ahead of me Just when I need a theme (To play him in) To gee me up (To egg him on) To pour some petrol on the flames (Of his damp ego) I have one lonely jukebox roadie, only And he’s part-time (He doesn’t leave the house, it’s sad) But I have to remind them (The others who) The others who don’t have a theme That I still have my own theme song It seems like every goddamn person Has some kind of bluetooth speaker And they can play a Justin Bieber song, (Why’s that music playing?) Or something they’ve whistled tunelessly into their phone, Wherever they go (It’s so debilitating) And it’s all competing Why can’t they just tell that this sounds wrong?

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released April 8, 2019

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Pale Bird Austwick, UK

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