Of Burning Things Vol. II

by Brendan Bonsack

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about

Volume II of songs influenced by an Australian bushfire disaster and its aftermath.

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released November 15, 2013

Cover photo: Gina Roberts

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all rights reserved

about

Brendan Bonsack

Brendan Bonsack is a poet and songwriter from Melbourne, Australia. These are his own brand of folk and pop songs, described as poems with dance partners.

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Track Name: Unburning Things
One day I will look to see
You standing in my door
As if the frames of doors were made
Especially to embrace
The soft fall of your shoulders
And the breeze across your nape

Each day I gain another day
Clasp it close and squirrel it aside
I'm marking most with all of the replies
That will fall from your lips
Who have been waiting for this
All de-parted, de-spoken and dry

All the things that I burned with my little square bin
The ash stained the sills of each room we were in
That beckoned another scenery in
For the price of inflation
And the cost of my ration
Of un-burning things

One day you will look to see
Me standing in your door -
It was the only thing that I saved
And I carried it all of this way
To wear across my shoulders
And feel the breeze at my nape

Each day you lose another day
Another crease to never forge across your face
And the sea of sheets so perfectly arranged
'Round the final formation of shoulders and hips
I will never change

All the things that I burned with my little square bin
The ash stained the sills of each room we were in
That beckoned another scenery in
For the price of inflation
And the cost of my ration
Of un-burning things
Track Name: Running (My New Skin)
They were running from the rain
That came a day too late
As the last of my muscles shook free
Now, over my shoulder
How life-like it looks
Still strewn in the position I was in

Crossing the border
Marked by the flowers taped to the trees
New tastes on my tongue
New air in my lungs
And a new world for my new skin

In the Black Forest Motel
I watched a mirror study my face
Pizza menu and Gideons
Flat in the incandescence

Crossing the border
Past the pines where no one could hear you scream
New tastes on my tongue
New air in my lungs
And a new world for my new skin

I will call them on the phone
I will call them on the phone
I will call up on the phone
And I will hang up again

On a quilt of faded roses
I tried out my new fingers
Chancing every road
That had been burned into the maps

Crossing the border
Past the welcome sign peppered with holes
New tastes on my tongue
New air in my lungs
And a new world for my new skin
Track Name: Take Me
Hair does not return
In the usual places
In the faces of strangers
Curiousity, fear
They will hold you in their gaze
To the very knife edge of you knowing it

Everyone will look the same
To hold them will feel very strange
As if they had been rearranged
Strand by strand
Grain by grain
And, oh, to be held by them again
Will feel like a needle
At a thin membrane
And you will find a new
Kind of alone

In rare fits of sleep
You will be on a beach
Radiant and smooth
Welcoming the cool caress
Of each piece of the tide
Every one is different
Unexpected and whispers
You are mine
You are mine
You are mine

Fragments will flake
From you on a daily basis
History is a skin
To protect ourselves from danger
The fallen are just clothing
Floating in and out of fashion

So plunge your nail
Into my foil
And slide me to the map of your palm
If I tremble
It's just of the urgency
To be so consumed
So Take me, take me
Only as directed
Track Name: The Mountain
In 1925 she came, February 5th
Hitched a ride on a motorcar
And rattled up into the mist
At the cenotaph on the mountain-top
They popped a cork and drank the lot
The clouds stared up from under them
And whispered "forget me not"

"And hold onto the mountain
Forget your fair friend
These stony crags and twisted limbs
Will be here till the end
We carry a tempest we may never use
But, oh, when we do..."

He carved her name into a stone
And she held him so close
She could feel his bones
Through his skin and through his clothes
Caging his heart and arranged in rows
And the wild birds said "come with me"
With their permanent eyes
And invisible teeth
Treading so sure on what lies underneath
And keeping time by the twists in the trees

"And hold onto the mountain
Forget your fair friend
All the heel tracks you etched
Won't be here in the end
We carry an absence we may never use
But, oh, oh, when we do..."

In 1925 she left, February 6th
His hand around the webs of her fingers
Hers dangling just shy of a fist
They walked to the feet of the mountain
(The rain had kept tourists away)
And he read from a paper full of
Black curly lines
And she was married the very next day
Track Name: The Line
We were queueing for food
And toys if we could
Our daily soot on our arms
You know Shane cut the line
For the fiftieth time
But my mother said just let him in

And Mr McRob, held tight to his dog
With his shaking and grey bandaged hands
There'd be not a boy of his school
Who'd not felt the sting
Of his tongue and his belt

But we're all in the line
We're all in the line
We're all in the line aren't we now?

And Rosie Warner
With the cigarette burns
On her arms and her curved shoulder blades
Flirting with Michael
And the city boy that he's with
Who must have come down for the day

There's Doug who drives the bus
He's a hero to us
He drove ten from the old nursing home
The verandah exploded as the last nanna boarded
And his wheels were on fire as they fled

And we're all in the line
We're all in the line
We're all in the line aren't we now?
Yes we're all in the line
We're all in the line
We're all in the line aren't we now?

Behind me a reporter
With a machine in his hand
The tiny wheels of the tape mezmerise
And he's talking to Mary about
Just how it is
And she's crying and returning his words

Then his button goes click
He says thanks for your time
Pats her collar and murmurs good luck
And he looks both ways
Before crossing what's left
Then ducks into his car and is gone

But we're all in the line
We're all in the line
We're all in the line aren't we now?
Yes we're all in the line
We're all in the line
We're all in the line aren't we now?
Track Name: Fingers
I would light a candle for you
But candles burn
And my fingers have no right
To bear that flame

I would lay a flower for you
With soft green stem
But my fingers have no right
To bear that blade

I would write an elegy for you
But elegies lie
And my fingers have no right
To take that pen

And I would say a prayer for you
But what is prayer?
Just fingers met in vanity for absolution

And I would take myself for you
But who am I
To think the world could be restored
By my own hand?

So I have learned to breathe for you
And stare into the trees for you
And watch them slowly shed
Their charcoal skins

And I have made believe that you
Bequeathed to me some share of you
When you departed all the rooms
That we had been in

But a candle whispers anything
That your body needs to hear
And my fingers have no right
To bear that flame
Track Name: Flotsam
Does the skin need touch
To know that it's there
As the burning needs a flame
As the flame needs the air
As the air needs a whisperer
To calm the wild mares?

Outside the trucks are picking
All the used TVs that sprout amidst
The dew and frost of yawning streets
And sit with their forgetful stares
Craving a nostalgic hand to press
Against the glass and gently trace
The logos seared into the screens

In coming hours
Cheap abandoned condoms will be pecked at by crows
And passed aside as huge defective worms
I suppose
And those humourless birds
Will move on to the creature next door
Rolled into the bitumen
By 100 wheels or more

Do my ears need the noise
To know they can hear
As the radio needs a speaker
As a speaker needs words
And words need their repeaters
To feel like they've been earned?

Inside we're thumbing phrasebooks
Of our native tongues
Guidebooks always lie about
The state of your home town
And we burn our lips so slightly
On roasted beans from far away
Making up for touch-less nights
With morning's fresh and flattened faces
Track Name: Limbs
Did the silent bark of trees
Wonder of your weightless dangling limbs
How it feels to move closer
To the sunsets that you shared?

Every bend in every limb
Was made to reach for something

O' would that you could roll in the horizon
To hold under your arm
Unfurl when miles overwhelm
And meet her in that dusty meridian

You measured out your life with her
The way a shell will slowly band
Around the thing it loves the most
And then be washed up in the sand

Petrichor songs - you never forget them
They're the earth asking you to stay
How far apart must people be
Before they're not sharing the same rain?

All these soft ramblings
That you bore for her to sleep
Will they remain for her companions
When you have finally grown too weak?

You measured out your life with her
The way a shell will slowly band
Around the thing it loves the most
Just to be washed up in the sand
Track Name: The Dead Just Do as They Please
Why must you keep these pictures of me
About the objects of your home?
About the walls I never slept within
About someone else's clothes?

I tread upon ash
I tread upon stone
I tread upon the water
In the fury and the smoke
And you would only look for me
Amongst the cold returning crows
And the black unquestioning trees

The living only deepen the proof of their shoes
While the dead
The dead just do as they please

Why must you keep these letters from me
Behind buckles and rust and the sounds
Of morning feet and the night's
Discreet rituals
The shouting and the whispering down

I crept upon ash
Half-shod and confused
The last defiant chimneys
Said "you never get to choose"
And you will stand ankle-deep amongst
The powdered beds and chair
I will dust off my knees

The living only deepen the proof of their shoes
While the dead
The dead just do as they please
Track Name: Reunion
I could return to the mountain
After twenty five years
See the green in the trees
And the new brick veneers

And stand in the places
Where we once crouched in fear
And eat muffins and sandwiches
And drink the free beer

And I could not recognize
Anyone in the room
And they could say I am x and this is y
And who R U?

And I could feign a familiar smile and say
That in all these long years
Their eyes hadn't changed

But we
Would not
U
Nify
Well
Every road sign that numbers its name
Returns the smells
Of those euphoric cinders
That rode into town
Danced with our women
Smacked the children around
And strung up each man
Who dared to be proud
Then left in their wake
A silent ashen veil

I could wear the name tag
And listen to the speeches
About spirit and rebirth
And see award-winning pictures

And I could pose in a photograph
For the local news
Everybody grimacing
And shifting in their shoes

A survivor is a creature
Who didn't get to choose
The world that fell before them
And screamed what should I do

So thank-you for your letter
I will pass the mountain by
But if you happen to find Rebecca
Tell her I said hi