Year of The Bird (Volume 4)

by Pale Bird

/
1.
Man, this city’s a humid clamshell I heard about it in the movies Just a lot of people talking Had I come here in the 80s The actors wouldn’t be on screen Weirdest people, daring us to think Dream about something we can’t see Back of envelope, blotted black with ink On top of Covert Park The river surrounded me Bus dropped me off back here somehow There was nowhere else I had to be Do you feel like you missed the bus? You got off a stop too late Ever feel like you’re still working it out? Have a feeling you should have stayed? Those towers are crystal daggers Dreams pinned down by glass and steel That used to be downtown Are you missing how that feels? Just now a woman passed Completely focussed on what was in her hands Real cloudy-looking jar of something I didn’t even stop to ask Mean what you say, your words They’re so abstract, so confusing So earnest and so strange Vivid and deranged, full of what you feel It’s possible, it’s the only way Just pour yourself into that jar Like a drummer stuck in a groove Completely obsessed with getting to what’s Real
2.
We learned through conjuration By giving our demons flesh They could at last be vanquished We formed our congregation Each one as a horror dressed Armed with highfalutin language Anna was spiders, eating up the city Danny was fascism, that wasn’t pretty Rita was earthquakes, shaking up the ground Jeff was no meaning to be found Leslie was turning into her mother Dave went as The Other We all looked so good Putting on our fear Terror seemed so passe When it bears the face Of someone you hold dear Disguised with paper mâché Mark came dressed as H R Giger’s Alien Alice came as desertification Kerry was the fear that this fear will never leave again James dressed up as Nyarlathotep I was unoriginal I came as the whole universe J was losing all their hair Katie was falling down the stairs Ahsan was flying through the air Brendon was being savaged by a bear Bob came as no one liking him Alex came as your life not mattering Charlie came as being trapped in a sentient world of pain for all eternity Chris was dressed as being unable to help and protect the ones you love Joseph K came as his dad
3.
I love how this city’s oozing art It’s being squeezed so hard You’re a bubble rising up And they’ll never let you pop I know I’m not the only one Afraid to fall asleep I love the noise coming off the street As you twist your heel around At least we got some decent punk It’s hard not to love that sound I know I’m not the only one Who’s scared they will never wake If they fall asleep in the passenger seat Pull over, this has to be the place
4.
The cascade mountains are a range formed in, and still capable of exerting, terrifying destructive power. In the late 1990s, the area around Mount Rainier experienced a huge tectonic pressure, itself the direct consequence of aftershocks from a seismic shift emanating several centuries before in central and northern England - one that made subsequent events seem benign by comparison, until the incredible geological era of the 20th century. In 1997, gigantic crystal shards erupted from the ground across southwest Canada, trapping people in a glassy maze of soap bubble Chrysanthemum and glittering mandibles. Some of these structures were hundreds of stories tall, and many there found in difficult to stay among this unfamiliar environment. Others still flocked to become part of this newly-discovered phenomenon. Even before the eruption of Mount St Helens in May 1980, geological events were already have their impacts on the people of Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, and the wider Pacific Northwest, as they experienced an influx of refugees from the fault-riddled valleys of Northern California. Luckily, many of these refugees brought with them the valuable skills of engineering, brewing, and the precious resources of sourdough and kombucha cultures, saved from the teetering ruins of the cities they were fleeing. Many years later, in the 2010s, fires began to break out along the unstable San Andreas Fault, centred around three locations: Firstly, performance venues unloved by capital; secondly, in the countryside around homes of people who did not work for tech firms with a multibillion dollar valuation; and thirdly, in a phenomenon science cannot explain, Rupert Murdoch’s house. Geologists believe the Central Valley filled first with sand; then with fire; then with water; and are predicting that next it will fill with stone; then paper; then scissors.
5.
Did I lose a friend, or keep an enemy I’d made at arm’s length? I trust my senses when my gut feeling is strong That doesn’t mean I’m never wrong You don’t lay out bear traps to catch a mouse Or if you do, it’s overkill And all the time you spend Driving dearest friends to the nearest hospital I stepped out wearing only what god gave me In a Minnesota sunrise I wondered if the place would want to hurt me It was 260 Kelvin You don’t have to close the doors Pull the curtains, never love again Train a girl to fuck up men No more kissing frogs But hey - guess what? Frogs are people too In this metaphor Frogs have feelings, some are brightly coloured, delicate Some of them are poisonous Some of them will sing for you If you ask them Make a soothing noise for us
6.
A Sad Bat 03:11
Black spartan lands Salt flats and pans Vast, Atacaman, all asphalt and glass What a man saw was that sand as a maw Past as a path, as a trap, as a flaw A scarab ball, an alarm, a star fall Mark that dark patch that casts a ghast pall Craft a small map - salad days call! Grasp at that canvas, claw as an awl Dark falls past bad days Man sat at a camp Palm wraps an arm and a scarf wraps a hand Was that a jackdaw, a hawk, a sad bat? Warmth crawls as dawn draws an arc, a sharp band
7.
Fire at Sea 04:06
You used to dream Of that marmalade flame settling over the water From the bow of boat, where the tanks overflow And the air up above Was an impassible wood Twisting black yews Dark as the crude How that fills up my memories, I’d never realised How that fills up my dreams, I never knew And that lone wolfish hunger When a young man sees float into view A city at night for the very first time New York or London or Tokyo or Rome A sailor is someone that we all hope to be A sailor is someone without any home If you don’t want to burn, you can turn your head down From the top of the ocean Let it cover your crown And dive deep towards the inevitable But this dream that you had never appeared And you gave away your parrot And you trimmed back your beard And you made your way back from the sea To a place where you can run from the fire, or at least There’s always rescue at hand You made your way back to the land You made your way back home
8.
Maslow 04:20
Run - Put one foot in front of the other and keep pushing forward, toward… that doesn’t matter, this is all you have to remember Cold and wet, it’s dark and I’m hungry - I feel so weary - why the hell do I have to be You don’t have to keep on running You don’t have to keep on going Do you think anyone will notice I don’t think anyone will notice I don’t know if some Higher Power animates my steps But if it’s going to Show Its hand it’s still got Half the story left
9.
I’m so grateful to be standing here before you - my voice is full of genuine surprise - on this, the most auspicious of occasions. I don’t know how I got here and I really don’t know why. (Largely, I suspect, structural privilege, and something that looks like the luck I’ve always lived with. The difference is unclear) I’m so glad I’m here with you Dressed up, on the town You look so good When you’re not wearing a hospital gown You still looked good then Stop playing the music I haven’t finished talking yet I’ve a lot more thanks to give Some platitudes I haven’t said Is love all you need, really? Sitting here in a winter living room Alone, but for the imaginary crowds At a ceremony in my honour of my devising I’d have to say it is
10.
Photographing your food is a hipster millennial grace Showing some thanks to other instagram users That you have some food to shove into your face It’s been a wonderful adventure It’s been a horrendous ordeal I hate that you went through that assault course of misery I’m grateful for every meal Now I know the music is conveying A cheerfulness and resolution Not justified by anything we’ve seen But I think we can agree It was pretty bracing to be alive in 2018 It’s truly that time of the year To cast our hopefulness aside To wrap up in paper and ribbon and bow And put in our cupboard this piece of our lives When I wake up on January 1st I’ll still be full up of hunger and thirst For a me that’s blank-faced, a new slate and some words To the effect that the last me was really the worst My fatalism is a polished shield So even as I turn my back on the coming year That dread medusa I have a way of looking over my shoulder, into the future What a wonder it will be to be alive in the year of our lord 2019 And what do you need my love, what do you need? I will find it for you, you just have to ask It’s been a twister of a year So much we knew is gone The instinct is to wrap this up But the story tumbles on

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released December 23, 2019

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Pale Bird Austwick, UK

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