selected lyrics

 
 

Caroline

 

Caroline, we’re getting older now

your hair is growing out

 

Caroline, my head’s full of cotton string

kind of a funny thing

 

the fair was in town and we rode the Cyclone

your hands on the rails they were knuckle and white

the lights in the distance were blue I remember

as we kept on spinning they’d blink out of sight

 

Caroline, where did you go? 

the fairground’s empty now, you know

 

Caroline...

 

Caroline, come with me now again

I’ll teach you to dance again

 

Caroline, the light’s never been so blue

spinning right back to you

 

it’s winter again and there’s snow in the driveway

I take off my jacket and I call you on the phone

you tell me it’s been too long, we talk about the summer

your voice is made of water and I sink like a stone

 

Caroline, how did you know?

the river’s starting now to flow

 

Caroline…

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North Dakota

 

North Dakota oil boom
overnight I change my state
I’ve never driven so long
but I’ll try to keep awake

your windblown face,
at White Drug in Devils Lake,
after midnight bellyache
the next blue day
I am over, underweight
like the Icarus of snakes

no one’s here who isn’t on their way 

somewhere

you be a prophet, and I’ll be a fleck of dust

in your eye
it will maybe pass the time, the time

coffee in a paper cup,
getting colder in my hand
I wake up in the darkness
and discuss things with the land

your best laid plans

at the neighbors’, candied yams

end up ruining my pants

while holy brands 

painted on the sides of vans

disappear over the ramp

no one’s here who doesn’t think they can 

someday

you’ll be a prophet, and I’d be a fleck of dust

in your eye,
if we only had the time, the time

chasing the sun, its long burning tongue
Passover plans I have none
the radio’s on, it plays song after song
but me, I know only the one

where you’re a prophet, and I’ll be the way the light meets your eye
if it’s only for tonight, tonight

I wanted to tell you I tried

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Heartbeat of the World

 

Father, I will say in my defense

if you leave the barrel long enough, most anything ferments

my fingers covered all in jam and honey, I relent

 

from this room I can see most of the town

have you ever known something that wasn’t written down?

that collar’s tighter now, the sweat is streaking from your brow

 

ginger for toothache, and bone broth for flu

peppermint’s a febrifuge

february midnight fugue

 

someday you’ll throw the sheets from your well-made bed

and the sky will peel away above your head

in the meantime, peppermint again

 

I hear the heartbeat of the world

I hear the heartbeat of the world

 

Father, I could lead you through the caves

I can name in Latin all the things your Lord has made

I hold my hand to you, there is no need to be afraid

 

they all went and left her on her own

it was just I knew what it was like to be alone

sometimes a broom is just a broom for sweeping, a stone a stone

 

ginger for toothache, and bone broth for flu

meadow root’s a febrifuge

february midnight fugue

 

someday you’ll find you’re far from your well-made bed

with the weight of all the earth upon your head

in the meantime, meadow root instead

 

I hear the heartbeat of the world

I hear the heartbeat of the world

 

I will carry you

though you’re much too old

the ocean spray is colder than I’d hoped

look back at your home

the fennel will still grow, though we go

 

ginger for toothache, and bone broth for flu

I’m glad I shared this place with you

little dandelion bloom

someday you’ll grow as high as your father’s head

on some foreign beach, ruddy brown and fed

in the meantime, remember what I’ve said

 

I hear the heartbeat of the world

I hear the heartbeat of the world

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Marie Antoine

after Joseph Cornell

 

my companion in grief

we know that pleasure is brief

the length of an insect life

the spider in the night, a friend I don’t want by my side

 

eight eyes look at me

 

and they don’t know I’m alive

they don’t know what’s inside of me

 

little Marie Antoine lives in a box

tiny and intoxicated

 

everybody is gone

and though the party was long

it felt like it never arrived

all those kinds of pie, did you find out what’s inside? 

 

why look at me? 

 

I don’t know what I like

I don’t know what to try to be

 

little Marie Antoine lives in a box

tiny and inoculated 

 

it’s meant to be handled

it’s meant to be loved

but it’s never enough

I’m friends with a dancer

and she takes off her gloves

in the middle of winter

the joint of her thumb

is dry on the number

 

and little Marie Antoine lives in a box 

tiny still and automated 

 

at the close of the day 

we will have nothing to say

I’ll reach out and shut the light

I haven’t seen you cry, the silence is so nice

 

lie down with me

 

I don’t know what I like

I don’t know what’s inside of me

 

little Marie Antoine, our little talks 

leave me dry and aggravated 

 

we’re meant to be living 

we’re meant to begin 

the bruise on my shin — 

I’m friends with a dancer 

and she eases me in 

at the end of the platform 

the tilt of her chin 

transfixes all comers

 

and little Marie Antoine lives in a box 

tiny and intoxicated 

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The Gambler

go to the track for one last race

the pistol shot breaks the morning air

I'm not, I mean, I wasn't there

but I still know how to talk to make it seem

like I've got money in my pocket

wake up one day in a strange motel

the sheets are white and the TV's on

I'm gone, I mean, I still move on

I still know how to talk to make it seem

like I've got money in my pocket

this horse is the son

of the one that won

in '85, when we were young

and we couldn't lose

the course that I've run

is done, the gun

sounds different than when we were young

and you wore those shoes

I still know how to talk to make it seem

like I've got money in my pocket

I met you when you came up north

I tried my best to play the game

you've changed, I'm still the same

I still know how to talk to make it seem

like I've got money in my pocket

this horse is the son

of the one that won

in '85, when we were young

and we couldn't lose

the course that I've run

is done, the gun

sounds different than when we were young

and you wore those shoes

I still know how to talk, I still know how to talk

I have the future up my sleeve

luck is really just belief

I sleep alone, and I wear jackets in the heat

I still know how to talk to make it seem

like I've got somewhere else to be

I never knew how

to bow on out

I'm stubborn like when we were young

and I used to lose with you

so on your way out

look down the crowd

you'll find me there, I'm standing in

my brand new checkered suit

I still know how to talk, I still know how to talk

I still know how to talk to make it seem

like I'm not thinking about you

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West Berlin

 

lately I’ve been trying to be better on the phone

mostly I’ve been lying in my bed all alone

 

I’m solidly sold on the concept of water

it’s just I never learned how to swim

now that we’re older, are you still a daughter?

tell me, what do they clothe you in? 

 

oh, my beautiful tailspin

 

working at the store now, so many pennies to count

it trickles from the top down, they say, it all works out

 

I’m solidly swayed by the bulk of the theory 

but it’s too late to learn violin

my hand betrays me, it’s trembling and weary

and the wall of this building are thin

 

oh, my lovely West Berlin

 

I know you used to breathe through your mouth

while you were waiting to get out

of the place where you were raised

now I’m in the middle with you

til the coming revolution

takes us to a different place

 

oh, my small unnoticed change

 

lately I’ve been thinking of a way for you to win

 

oh, my beautiful tailspin

oh, my lovely West Berlin

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Fiery Catapult

 

Catch me on the wiki
for the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

trying to solve the mystery,
how the earth can scratch an itch

You see, the only hitch is everything about me, girl
I’d be a nineties bitch but I was barely in the world

A costume competition
the kind I never win
despite all my ambition
I can’t seem to begin

You see, my only sin is everything about me, kid
they told me look within, but I don’t think that I ever did

welcome to the alternate version
of the email I wrote to you
explaining I wanted to devote my life to
peeling glue off my hands

And the fiery catapult
take it away
the fiery catapult
take it away

On two escalators
like ships in the night
we’ll talk about it later
when both of us have died

you see, what’s on my mind, is everything about you, girl
you make me feel like a child, like I am barely in the world

Meanwhile, here I am
with nothing to undo
but the email I wrote to you
saying what I’d do
with the things that I said:

the fiery catapult
take it away
the fiery catapult
take it away

Catch me on the wiki
searching Edwin Rist
trying to solve the mystery
how a man can scratch an itch

You see, the only hitch is everything about me, babe
I was a nineties bitch when I was barely even made

the fiery catapult
take it away
the fiery catapult
take it away

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Young Hound

 

a kid from California, all elbows and knees
skinny as the skeleton that hung in Science B
the model for what every man is made of underneath

the day that they were born there were plants that also grew
the name your mother gave you is a different thing than you

and you’re the only one who sees this brighter shade of blue

young mouth, what do you say?

young eyes, what do you see?

young lungs, how do you breathe?

young hound, what do you eat?

the kid from California has freckles and scars
they have a driver's license but they can't afford a car
this room is full of letters that remind you who you are

nobody should tell you that you have to change the world
surely there is someone who would make a better girl
don't worry, summer's coming, and your hair will start to curl

young mouth, what do you say?

young eyes, what do you see?

young lungs, how do you breathe?

young hound, what do you eat?

who's your favorite X-Man?
I like the one who flies
time goes by, your restless eye
closed to keep your power safe inside

young mouth, what do you say?

young eyes, what do you see?

young lungs, how do you breathe?

young hound, what do you eat?

us and California are together in this house
everybody's frightened by the way the light went out
tomorrow we are packing up our things and heading south

what do you say?

young eyes, what do you see?

young lungs, how do you breathe?

young hound, what do you eat?

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