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Your Hometown

from Forever Only Idaho by Harrison Lemke

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    A shiny screen-printed CD in a 6-panel card case with exclusive artwork and a prose poem sort of thing in the way of liner notes. Look at it and think of the cool waters and monolithic pines of scenic North Idaho.

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  • Cassette + Digital Album

    This is a sky-blue, music-grade cassette made of recycled plastic inside of a clear case, with artwork specially redesigned for the odd strictures of the J-card format. An impractical, perishable object which could be nice to have around in your limited time on Earth.

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Another Wednesday morning,
another bout of the same old blues,
the hotel awning
still bathed in the same old hues.
Look over the water
from one of the upper floors:
more condos going up.
The old band playing, all in four.

The rising cost of living,
the rising cost of land:
everything according
to someone else's plan.

You never meant to give it your life.
Dreams of the city in the TV at night.

Houses all in rows,
uniform and brown:
it's your hometown,
your hometown.

Watch the sunset
going to pieces in the lake.
Wonder which one
was the fatal mistake.
You've been on the waitlists
at some of the finest schools.
You had big plans;
you were gonna break all the rules.

But mom got sick
and dad flew off the handle
and you moved home
to a small-town scandal.

You swore you wouldn't ever give up the fight.
Pretty New York City and your name up in lights.

Graves in staggered rows,
Mullan eastbound:
it's your hometown,
your hometown.

Flashes in your mind
of every face that left this place behind.
Higgins Point, watching the Perseids,
warm asphalt on your backs,
dreaming like good American kids.

Come to yourself,
the hour grown late, very late.
House sunk in darkness.
Cold ashes lying in the grate.
The streets are covered
in a mantle of virgin snow.
Someone like you lived here
a long time ago.

Face tangled in the window
with branches and moon,
marked by all the time
nothing can undo.

You never meant to give it your life.
"Don't sit so close to the TV, alright?"

Your worn out eyes
overlaid on the worn out town,
and the choked up sky,
and the snow coming down:
everything desperate
and spent for the day
joins in the darkness,
and you can hear something in you say:

"You want to be a city
and I want to be a star,
but when you get down to it,
that isn't what we are.

"We're children sledding
in Cherry Hill Park,
lights on the mountain
way up in the gathering dark;
we're cars warming up
out in the Sunday street,
bells of St. Thomas
ringing out clear and sweet;

"We're blue and gold,
St. Vincent de Paul,
the world and all its promise
in the dusky fall;
we're trucks without wheels
in the vacant lots
on the near edge of nowhere,
still waiting to be bought.

"I forgive you, you dirty old town.
It's not your fault I stuck around."

Mansions in the heights:
how they shine, like jewels in the crown
of your hometown,
your hometown.


from Forever Only Idaho, released March 19, 2021
Harrison Lemke — electric guitars, acoustic guitar, organ, tambourine, vocals.
Marc Barnes — drums.
Caleb Knorr — piano.
Daniel Merritt — tenor saxophone, bass guitar.


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Harrison Lemke Austin, Texas

tape-hiss symphonies to God

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