Drinking Gravy (B​-​Sides)

by Decomposure

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released November 5, 2012



all rights reserved


Decomposure Kitchener, Ontario

i live my life differently. i have it together for fish in the sea. but let's go back to the tv screen.

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Track Name: Happy Birthday
“do you remember when...”
hangs in the humidity of summer eves
and lovers’ living histories
to relive and refresh,
passing ancient secrets down between themselves
to keep the fire from burning out
and survive the coming storms
or lose each other in the dark

in the steady wars for storage
to the victors go the stories
and abortions boarded over and condemned
always summarizing summaries,
pick the keyframes out
and try to animate between the best you can
there’s a lifetime in one life alone,
it’s all that we can do to understand.

“get out of bed.
today may be another day that’s doomed to fade
like every other day before, but...”
that’s how this used to begin,
orphaned from a thinner age of teen cliches,
alone in my woodpanelled cave
who can truly know the source,
the institutions that were forged?

so convinced i’ve been evolving since,
writing about writing about writing
until the sentences collapse
but maybe that’s part of what meta’s for,
or hiding behind metaphors,
to lose that callow core in the abstract
and cut a story i can carry
from the quarry of what is left to be unpacked

the night will say, “snow falls from lamps.”
most will nod and think it wise,
though all the while the dark air’s filled for endless skies
but with dawn comes an end
the sunrise frowns across the unexpected ground
for those who cannot bear to see it

happy birthday
to you
Track Name: Viral Hit
i was alone, my meagre songs dissolved into the great unknown
despondent, i could not face failure and pushed stupidly on
i broke down and wrote a story glorifying fantasy
that pandered to my target audience like big bang theory

(music you could sell beer to, o canada meets blur’s song 2)

suddenly a singularity exploded from the void:
friends told their friends who told their friends until it circled the globe
it was a viral hit, the video made major labels take note
waving millions in a frenzy, they were pounding my door

oh fame is so easy
oh everyone should try it

i took the money and lost weight and embarked on my first world tour
filling stadiums like cereal bowls, fans knew every word
trading bon mots with jon stewart when he leaned in at the end
deleting messages from relatives and fairweather friends

oh fame is so easy
oh everyone should try it

i can’t stand the part of me that still holds on
while the crowd erodes with every passing song
like being fired from a deadend job,
saving everything inside and still not having enough

i have my handprints down in hollywood, my face on rolling stone
my feet are planted in the clouds or on the island i own
lined in shiny records, my voice echoes down my mansion’s halls
they say it’s lonely on top, but i’ve always been alone

oh fame is so easy
oh everyone should try it
Track Name: Water from a Stone
what can the hungry do but digest their stomach?
oh what can the thirsty do but squeeze water from a stone?
did the sower scatter them knowing they would find no soil
and be eaten by birds or roasted in the sun?

i have written this before with different words, shuffled adjectives
night a nearby knife or thumbnail
punching through the tape sealed blue box i’ve sent to myself
in it are streetlights like glazed eyes in the mist,
wet pavement, sorted socks
and new words formed in undead light at the same height
oh nobody slow and deliberate
wavering like schematics of wind through my left
mainlining pea soup, pining to sleepthrough daydreaming
a leech as long as my arm with a thousand red bulletpoint mouths
feeding fall, no, stuffed into next season’s chamber
a few more as if there is a mythic window color
rigged to a onearmed bandit accepting thin crosssections of living tissue
scrap this section and start over.

so i’m sprinting through gravy
slowmotion knees rising and driving down
in search of plant tile, swimming in air
knitting hands like marshmallows on forked sticks fourteen feet away
tapping a pine box lid in darkness
a christmas tree with no needles dropping its ornaments,
painted eggs spitting soft blades of yolk between my fingers
sliced webless. i don’t have it.
i cannot candycoast on cartoon hope
for i have signed my teeth to an identical home
and bottled the ocean in the earpiece of the phone
i have drunk the foam.
my wireless eyes on no bars carrying their bags through the fog
palms alight and absorbed to sweet curlicues
of the color i invented when i was four
a novocaine snarl counting backwards from ten.
the snailwalker always apologizes but does not stop
filling boxes with sand and talks in spot colors, hyped monochrome.
confidence is a self-fulfilling prophesy our slick modern seers sell

cruising the corporate backstreets for tight drivethrus
and meat wrapped in shiny dresses
a space heater to dump down my gullet
like my lungs could steal from my sweatstomach
then drive back in silence as it hisses from my pores
profile of a trade prince, no depth perception or wild
gluing macaroni to construction paper for valentines day

everything small wants to grow,
to eat drive own and no more.
it is not yet known,
some never find it at all.
an axis to pasture the rolling emerald malls
polished and vivid; lost, for there are no new novels:
‘a thousand words’ is unnecessary where a cheerful mascot will do,
thirded and sweeping you over the hook at towering glass skylines
split down the sternum, bellies spilling lukewarm lakes over our lawns
friends and followers to convince us we’re not alone,
that you are biding your time, not aging
that there is a starburst apocalypse locked within,
waiting to be hit by fate’s broomstick
chance is chalk forgotten after each epiphany
blooming new like the yesterday we first awoke
and could not remember sleeping,
the tomorrow where we felt the same
a string of past rooms that breed in dream
childhood friends without faces or names,
and now there is nothing to say to them.
i was ruined from the moment i picked up a ruler,
i spoke left and the words radiated backward before it was wrong
chairs that could face song where young pundits could only laugh
with so many wallets but only a few pennies in each
Track Name: Stay in Touch
at first i tried to stay in touch
but soon enough i just gave up
Track Name: Sound to Heat
absorbed sound turns into heat on a deadend street
where the ground below your feet swallows voice and beat
and compounds just underneath until none survive,
some found out and didn’t speak, were they misguided or right?

now nobody drowns in the deep,
they drown bobbing for crabapples in tupperware
or huffing sauna steam shuffling their feet underwater
for a peek perchance at a passing mermaid
rippling surrogate family drama lemonade bromide
eyes brined, leeched skin like boiled leeks
with spoiled dreams cotton green soylent
spreading like splitscreen and titled free,
tricornered for tea and tv
g to 728 but the fake lake surf-and-turf rabbit treed
handling snakes none dare tread water and white bread
underground as the rogue pet cyclone distributes their sheds
across the homeland’s reflective abdomen
scraped in lines with the asserted straight blade
of their ground bones accounted to shanks,
and as thanks these cooked caverns scavenged ravenously and smoked
so a stock’s pulse races
and oily irises outchase faces’ still oceans to shore
and down to basements to grow hearts coated in pavement and cyan,
the twin multiplying in echoing gold towers
cold flowering sold seeing stars
and stripes raked on backs cut with an invisible knife
and yellow allcaps bite between their teeth
pulling the patriot plow for a sunday drive,
the best advice i ever heard was go back to work, let them cry
and eat cake and apple pie with deep hate and wide pride
and let the guy in the sky sort ‘em out - fire or cloud
a crowned seat to the kid screaming loudest
main drag in town is slowmotion dusted for a ghost showdown
the globe rusted on its hinge so it creaks when it go round
the jail’s busted, the meek cash in and want to throw down
fast even in sleep with only desolation left profound

i wrote this in my mouth as the day shut down
i woke at nine and held the baby while my wife took a shower
headed out to the life insurance broker to smalltalk
about fatherhood and growing older
dousing the claws in my stomach with weak coffee
and signing my warrant.
worth half a milli in death
while just a debter alive
dad and design scribe, regular tithe, a quiet lump beside my wife
pelt valued more than my hide, and hide over mind
more than a lifetime of wack rhymes
and failed tries and nasal i’s and oversize bullseyes and bullet piles
holding an unread misspelled sign
casting shoddily copied seeds to cold floor
coasting over dull chords with a duller sword
a case without special features.
no one relistens to songs anymore, and i don’t tour
since aught four, i have roared against the plated void
in open air to varied levels of ignored
and worn my hair less or more the same as in high school
and felt that trained vestigial dark
coolly whisper around my halo like leaves brushing past
i hate sweating these summers and forgetting where i’m from
and strumming feebly fumbling without understanding the sum
thoughts unanswered done folded up
knowing i’m not funny when i’m serious,
nor gutted enough to be honest,
nor a self so much to be wanted
another reserved preacher’s son afraid of looking dumb
and learning late and being unloved
excreting words before they break
leaving empty crates by the door in my office
dead projects in closets
following technology’s progress until i can no longer watch it
i had no outline as i was wording it
sit at the table i turn against
burning bridges takes effort,
i knelt and breathed the water in

(it’s okay)
Track Name: False Hope
false hope false hope
someone’s watching all those tv shows.
hope you feel warm inside picking between reverse and neutral
go popping awful supplements
like you’ve found special molecules that stop the death from seeping in
didn’t have a whiff of a plan
when it collapses, give yourself an invisible hand
the powerful can’t fix it because power corrupts,
the weak can’t fix it because they don’t have enough

once a woodsman working deep in forest green felled a tree, and splitting it for kindling, he found hidden in its rings the royal sword lost long ago, whose claimant it was said would be decreed king and unite the scattered as the tide gathered in the distance. overjoyed, he left his axe and journeyed north, sword in hand, to the capital with a kingdom to claim, yet in his haste misplaced his steps, and falling on the blade, was cleft neatly in twain (eyes up eyes up). his right half woke in a wooded clearing encircling a shining sea and beheld his likewise living left in rest on a nearby stone, staringacross the still face of the deep. in anguish right cried out, ‘how now how now shall we be king, alive in defeat, so divided and weak?’ left replied as if coming out of a dream, ‘brother, while you slumbered, a vision fell over me: i saw that in the nadir of this sea is an ancient tree whose precious sap wields the power to bind the broken and heal the hopelessly halved. to uncover it, the sea must be transplanted incrementally to the barren valley antipodal to forest green, using only only the cup of your hand, i cannot aid you in this carriage lest the jealous sea suspect and swallow us before the end. only then can we be bound as one being, finally fit to be crowned king.’ though feeling its weight, through right suddenlycoursed the shock of true belief, and activated by the heavy promise he sprang unsteadily to task. with palm alight he hopped under the wooded canopy, and broke through the treeline in an hour to upend his shallow cargo, his left calling encouragement with each halfstep. and so it was, night and day, through drought and downpour downpour, right ceaselessly ferried the shining sips across his solidifying path cut in the skin of the woods, howling with each drop lost. he soon fashioned a partial crude counterpart from wood and belted it to his torso so he could pivot and step as if he were whole. and all the while left ceaselessly regaled right with song, bringing food to sustain him even as he himself was unable to eat, becoming anemic and weak, so weak. so weeks turned to months, months turned into years, years turned into decades, and feeble left could no longer rise from his stone to urge right on as he twisted doggedly through the woods. until finally, on the last day of their hundredth year, right raised the final handful of shining water from the sea, but there was no healing tree. he whirled angrily to face frail left, shouting, ‘i’ve done all you’ve asked, and moved the sea; i’ve given a full century to this vision, all for nought! how will we be brought together and claim the kingdom before the dark tide comes tide comes tide comes?’ left sat silent, then said in a soft shaking voice, ‘it is time for the truth: the vision never was. from the first, before you woke, i saw your half was without a heart, that you were a wraith possessing an arm for action only years could quench, and knew a wraith without fixation would implode from its own darkness. and i, being weak, could not let you fall in realization of your inherent death, for then i would be alone, so i spun your waking dream from the sinew of our surroundings, knowing all along it was not to be: banishing the lie to the horizon believing it could never be reached. we could not ever concede that we will never be whole, not enough, apart we will always be incomplete. we can never be king.’

false hope false hope
drive in the darkness for it
but all that’s left are a few logos looping like an endless chorus
you can stop a war with funny clothes,
make sure your hair’s rebelled up for the chant to let the world know
sure, i have my doubts;
that nagging feeling’s just a sign i need to treat myself
everything is disappointing when it finally comes,
we know the end is near, but never near enough
Track Name: Countdown
i’m past feeling anything
for you
you wore it away
now i’ve gone cold
from talking and listening
to you
like tape on a loop
it turns to snow
and all of those things
that i forgave
stayed shivering down deep
until i lost the fire
we were just kids,
but we’ve both changed
now whoever you are
i don’t know why you’re here

things that you used to do,
you don’t
the little that’s left
the mystery’s dissolved
we’re not what we need, let’s be
i just want a new chance
to feel in love
you took all the best years of my life
now i can’t get them back
what’s left is mine
i feel bad for the kids
but they’ll be all right
my folks did this to me
and i turned out just fine
Track Name: Job's Lament
why is light given to a man who suffers
why is life given to the bitter of soul
who long for death, but there is none
who dig for it more than buried gold
who rejoice greatly and exult
when they finally find the grave

why is light given to a man whose way is hidden
why is life given to those whom God has hedged in
for my groans come at the sight of my food
for my cries pour out like water
and what i fear finds me
and what i dread befalls me

i am not at ease, nor am i quiet
i am not at rest, but turmoil comes
Track Name: Economics
goodbye my little one
it’s normal to cry the first few months
tugging at the helper’s purple scrubs
when will i go home to the ones i love?
longing to be praised,
found in a warm surrounding gaze
wordless sounds sent up like lonely flares
lost in the painted clouds, unanswered prayers

we cannot afford to love you fulltime
sometimes a burden must be externalized
it’s economics, you’ll learn to understand.

i’m better on my own
i’ll clear the abyss with a lighter load
in modern math the answer’s always justified,
the way a rising boat lifts all the tides
we were born this way,
locked in a predetermined cage
god only helps out those who help themselves
with poverty and drought for everyone else

you are not my brother, i can’t spare a dime
your price determines your worth, my hands are tied
it’s economics, the blackboard does the math.
Track Name: Pottersville
i washed ashore
out of the coalblack river
i must have fallen off the bridge
but when i walked home
everything was broken down and unfamiliar
like something awful had crept in while i was gone

wandering around my crumbling town
doors boarded up and shops closed down
dreams turned to nightmares,
look around - this is pottersville

drowning in underwater homes
can’t save a cent, the debt just grows
one guess where all that money goes...
in pottersville

they told us wealth trickles from the rich
but no matter how much we give, they just keep it.
guess what? that’s what rich is.
in pottersville

they ruled that money is free speech
but we all know money isn’t free
can’t get a word in when it screams
in pottersville

businesses are people too -
the kind that don’t die, can’t love, won’t do no time
and measure our lives in dollar signs
in pottersville

we do the work, we fight their wars
we spend our lives in sweat and toil
they suck us dry and whine for more
in pottersville

now it’s our turn to steer this thing
let’s drive, though it seems hopeless,
i’ve got to try so my daughter won’t be left behind
in pottersville