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More Postcards from Purgatory

by Harrison Lemke

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    A compact disc in a gatefold sleeve. In the way of all objects that exist in the physical world, it is subject to degradation and decay, but that too is beautiful. Share it with your friends! Listen to it in your car! Dance to it in your kitchen! Step on it by accident! Remember your death! You are an incarnate being who deserves incarnate music!

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Heat Spell 02:50
Heat spell makes water in the road. Heat spell makes water in the road. Heat spell turns all the streets into rivers and our apartments into islands. It's a dry, dry season, and our friends are all gone. It's a dead and empty city, and our friends have all moved on. Heat spell has got ahold of us; we'll wither away before too long.
I was curled up on the carpet hiding from the light, pouring hot sweat in the daytime and cold sweat by night, but I stayed up til three in the morning waiting for things to be alright. (I didn't know how to tell you.) The pool's chlorine-green stamped itself onto my eyes. I watched the ripples cut up the reflected streetlights like knives, but I just fed the awful feeling til it drove me inside. (I didn't know how to tell you.) I felt the breeze tossing and turning on a night hot like hell, city lurching in a fever-fit to vomit me out, but I, I dug in my claws and I held on for dear life. (I didn't know how to tell you.) Now my head is on the table and I'm too scared to call and I wish anyone were here to brush their teeth down the hall but I, I still don't know how to tell you.
The air lies low and heavy with the evening's aching colors. You can see the summer wearing out in the dusty grassless patches, and the day is stuck beneath the weight of every day before it and the time, the time, the time, the time we wasted. The sagebrush steeps in the endless heat and the smell rises from the gutters where the big trees hang their heavy heads over the last inch of milky water. And someday I'll be strong, but not today, and not tomorrow, in the dry the dry the dry the dry places. Now another night is falling and there's nothing for me in it. Claw my way into a memory and try to pitch my tent within it, but there's a wind off of the wilderness come to carry off the firstborn to the dry the dry the dry the dry places.
Fiery Sword 03:09
Oh you willow with your black waving semaphore trying to say something to me, something I'll never know; oh you vines with your white wilting flowers gray as ash in the leaving light - you're coming with me, oh, stick with me; be more constant than I. Oh my friend with the lamplight anointing your head: how I love you, I love you, without you I'm dead in the night with the red weeping taillights sinking down the hill and out of sight - you're coming with me, oh, stick with me; be more constant than I. Oh you mist that in Eden once watered the ground, oh you heat spells and deluges hounding me now, oh you sword all flaming and turning every way to the Tree of Life - must you go with me? must you go with me? you're leaving nothing alive. You go behind me, and before me; you're leaving nothing alive. You're beside me, and inside me; you're leaving nothing alive.
Moving Blues 03:52
I miss coming over without so much as a call, letting our wrong notes ricochet off the bare apartment walls, playing "Boots of Spanish Leather" on your guitar. I miss the smell of oil and honey in the room and bitter black tea hot against the drizzling afternoon; front door gaping, and the cold air pushing through. I miss those mornings I'd stay til two or three, you playing Dragon Warrior, me watching half-asleep, myrtle blooming in the darkness and the heat. I miss the nights we spent staring into space, watching rain obliterate the lot around your place. I miss those nights spent staring into space. --- Now I stay up in the company of ragged hungry cats, and prowl below the balconies, and stare up through the glass. Cut-up figures in the bent blinds flitting past. The hours that once were effortless, they all got stuck somehow. I never knew I needed you, but I'm lost without you now on the porch swing with the floodlights all around.
Saturday 02:20
Find my own way out. Lonely or bad company. One endless Saturday, plagued with possibilities. But you leave. Find me some way out. The headache midnight corners me. Oh Spirit, stir the dirt. Oh angel, come and comfort me. But you leave.
Finally went to bed, and the coffee I'd had too late in the evening chased itself in circles through my chest, chased itself in circles through my chest. And the fear of death came down to me, beat against the ceiling, spread its layered wings under the whining light, under the whining light. And I prayed and prayed for the feeling to go away. Out in the sticky air I try my best to breathe, but it's like breathing ink and the sycamore leaves fly right into me, like ghosts right into me. And the cicadas grip the peeling bark like robot sentries and their alarms are going off, their alarms are going off. Because I'm not welcome here - at least, not anymore. If I could fall asleep - if I could call you - if I could face the music, or find a way through - if I could read my fate in the ceiling shapes - if I could wake up whole and new --
Ten past midnight: I put some coffee on, leave on the kitchen light, and step out for a walk. The lot is nearly empty. I shut down at the edge of the block. Under lights beating with suicidal insects go back inside and turn the lock. It's sugar for sugar and salt for salt; if I go down in the floodlight tonight, it's gonna be my own fault.
I'm on that stretch of 35 where the road work never seems to end; I'm on that stretch of 35 where the road work never seems to end. Just like that stretch of 35, I feel like I'm never gonna mend. The sky's so big at night here and the radio beacons glow for miles. The sky's so big at night here, the radio beacons glow for miles. They make me feel so lonesome; I guess I'll follow them a while. After a long drought-filled summer, the valley is dry as bones; after a long inscrutable summer, the valley is dry as bones. But I know the rain is coming, and I want to be there when it does. Yes, I know the rain is coming, and I'm gonna be there when it does.
I was holding out for a vision but the vision never came. I was holding on to a feeling but the feeling wouldn't stay. I was caught beneath the winding weeds along with every mistake I'd made, and if any answer came my way it was a message I could not convey. I was caught beneath the winding weeds, in love with every mistake I'd made. And if any message ever came it was a message I could not convey.
The Rain 05:26
THE RAIN came to drown us like rats in our holes, like hellfire to burn up the chaff in our souls. The rain came in curtains to close off the scene, to kill off all our old parts and wash our painted faces clean. The rain came and the streets turned to rivers in its wake, and the waves coiled around us to bear us away. You're always starting up when I'm shutting down, shutting down, shutting down. You're always pulling up what I'm pushing down, pushing down, pushing down. You're always staying put when I'm skipping town, skipping town, skipping town. You're always moving on when I'm sticking around, sticking around, sticking around.


or, "A Litany of Threadbare Excuses"


released February 2, 2015

all songs written by HPL summer 2013 - summer 2014.

recorded, mixed & mastered in HPL's apartment, Austin TX, 03/14 - 01/15, except for guitar & lead vocal on track 2 recorded in HPL's parents' living room, Austin TX.

artwork by HPL except cover collage by HPL & Erica Speegle.

shoutouts to - Mom & Dad; my brothers; old Waco friends; the feral cat communities of Waco & north Austin.

all glory to Father & Son & Holy Ghost without whom there is nothing whatsoever.




Harrison Lemke Austin, Texas

tape-hiss symphonies to God

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