Fertile Crescent Blues

by Harrison Lemke

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1.
I knew then that I had lost you, and lost you for good, half-eaten apple loose in your fingers by your thigh under the trees where you stood. And the white myrtle petals fell down like lace onto your shoulder. There was a brand new look in your eyes right then, and the day was getting colder. I knew then that I had lost you, once and for all, and the world was turning inward and the leaves began to fall. And the red myrtle petals sprang up like new blood out of your shoulder. Now we're never gonna get any wiser, but we're gonna get much older.
2.
There is warmth in the fire but not enough to keep us warm and the shriveled ground needs tilling but some days I just get bored and you sit under the date palm and you mend my clothes and there's a longing in your eyes, I think, but what do I know? It's you and I, it's you and I, its you and I, it's you and I: from the morning to the evening to the black, black night, it's "you" and it's "I". The rain comes in fits and starts and the thorns push through the ground; try to make up songs to soothe our howling memories by the sound. And I know I shouldn't blame you but I blame you anyway, and the air between us stretches tight with things we never say. It's you and I, etc. Last night I had the same dream as every night before: we were lying under pomegranates misty-wet and warm when our old friend cried out to us in a language I didn't know; then the vision tore in two and then I violently awoke and saw you breathing softly on the mat of intersecting reeds, long hair across your features all inscrutable with sleep, and the cave mouth sucked the cold air in and it filled our little home, and i hugged myself and trembled and was utterly alone. It's you and I, etc.
3.
The sky drags the sun down and its blood spills on everything in this little world we made where nothing happens. Take a little of the grain we've stored up to make an offering and gather carob husks to use as kindling, but the warmth of the fire only leaves our bodies colder than before. The earth is hard and taciturn and endlessly refuses us so we dig channels in the dirt to the river Tigris. The figs grow pink and fat with the sun inside them and we cut slits in their sides to help them ripen, but the sweetest fruit only leaves our mouths sourer than before. And our songs reverberate with the same curse as everything: the lyre & pipe, the feasts at night, the fire dwindling — but the sweetest notes only leave our throats as empty as before. Yes, the sweetest songs only leave our hearts more empty than before; more empty than before.
4.
02:16
our fathers founded cities and named them for their sons, but now that we're older we wonder how come. The grave only looms bigger now for all we've done. The grave is only colder now for all we've done. It goes to show, it goes to show: you can fill a leaky vessel but it won't stay full.
5.
Turned up another cache of human bones down in the wet dirt, where the sweetest grapes grow, skulls still adorned for their last festivals, so cruel but so beautiful when last they sang with life. when last they sang with life. Found the steps to some high place jutting up into infinity, then dropping off halfway. Remember when they said we'd surely die if we ever were to climb this high? Well, the joke's on them. But it isn't very funny now. Do you recall them marching in the street, bronze gleaming volcanic in the evening heat? And the women dancing up and down the street? And the hands clapping? And the strings bending? Do you remember what it sounded like? Do you remember what it sounded like? Do you remember? Do you remember?
6.
03:02
The valley dead-silent after the events of the evening, you standing there shivering whispering about how you wished you brought a coat or something and no man left to go in to us after the way of all the world. Smoke clinging to the tresses of our hair, scraping our eyes under our eyelids. I could hear your every movement in that terrible silence. Those two awful visitors, their faces on back to front; blood streaking across the sky, the end for us, the end of everyone and no man left to go in to us after the way of all the world.
7.
02:26
Do you love me, love my only? Will you kiss my head and hold me? I can pay you well for your time. You only come to me in darkness; I wish I knew how not to notice. Is it well with you, love of mine? See, the pomegranates are all filled up with blood: shall I bring you one? And in the fading light of some distant night (God willing and all) I will bear you a son. I am a detour to a promise whose fulfillment is upon us. It's like watching myself disappear. Your love is shot through with conditions, and I have tried my best to meet them. I am drowning in here. When the mandrake roots are all fully grown, I will bring you one. Though things can never be the way that we might have them to be, I can bear you a son.
8.
03:16
I confess, I confess: I have mainly done whatever thing pleased me the best. Send my family on up ahead. Find a spot among the thorns and rocks to be my bed. I confess, I confess, and I have never done anything that pleased me any less. See his face in my memory, blood-red. Search the skyline from the cold edge of the riverbed. I'll raise you a pillar, I'll build you a shrine if you just show up on time. I'll raise you a pillar, kill a ram on the height if you do your thing alright, alright. alright alright alright.
9.
03:58
Will you forgive me for the things I said? Will you forgive me for the things I said? Will you forgive me for the things I said when we were young, and dumb, and quite prepared to wreck each other's lives? Will you forgive me for the things I did? Will you forgive me for the things I did? Will you forgive me for the things I did? When the blood pounded in my ears, I shouldn't have listened. Will you forgive me for the things I didn't say? Will you forgive me for the things I didn't say? Will you forgive me for the things I didn't say? There can be no going back now but I can sing you a song.

about

nine songs about the generations of Adam & Eve

credits

released May 27, 2016

All songs ©2016 by Harrison Lemke

Recorded in late 2015 and early 2016 in a duplex in Austin, TX

THANKS BE TO GOD, without whom there would be nothing to sing about;

THANKS AS WELL to Troy, who let me use some of his stuff, and Magdalene, without whom this album would be worse, maybe nonexistent.

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Harrison Lemke Austin, Texas

tape-hiss symphonies to God

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