Once Was Water

by Brendan Bonsack

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1.
03:12
2.
03:17
3.
04:23
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6.
04:34
7.
03:34
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10.
03:47

credits

released July 20, 2014

Cover art includes images by Daniel Andres Forero and Whitney Tucker.

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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: Levee
I had learned, as levees do,
To lyre strength and solitude
And the flood pressed like
Quiet hands against my cheek

Hold me like a cannonball
It whispered right up to my wall
Deep and dark and both of us
We know

Hold me like a honey bee
Covets her one and only sting
Both of us
We know

I had learned, as levees do,
To wind my shape into the view
And the flood pooled like family
Gathered in the ward

Hold me like the air they furl
Inside them as they dive for pearls
Deep and sharp and both of us
We know

Hold me like a honey bee
Covets her one and only sting
Both of us
We know

Oh hold me like the winter felled
The hills of pine to keep them held
Like figurines in glass beneath the lake
It said

Can you hold me like a flood, my friend
Like a thousand letters never sent
Both of us
We know
Both of us
We know
Track Name: Thirteen
Shadows at play on her rosethorn dress
Flecks in her brief fingernails
Thirteen hours and a one day left
Of white lines and fencing trails

And coming up the drive
She'll have that feeling of falling
From the old rooves of tin
Into the mattresses there waiting

Mother strides, her cropped straw hair,
Out to a tinder dry post
Thirteen years have made their scratch
She's wiping her hands on her clothes

And standing in the drive
She has that feeling of falling
Before the wild infant limbs
Made a clasp upon her breast

Shadows at play on the tyre-worn stretch
Of drive with its scorched eucalypts
Thirteen feet and a one arm's length

And there in the small of her chest
She has that feeling of falling
From the old rooves of tin
Into the mattresses there waiting
Track Name: Aunt Tacita
Her family were very good
At un-naming things
From the accident
The clocks wound back to zero

Packing tape and folded clothes
Lightened shelves and interlopers
Sat awkwardly under the finger-printed plastic sheets
In all the photo albums

The day her name came back to me
On a downtown bus, Miranda Street,
Sun skipping 'cross the rooftops in the spring:
Aunt Tacita, Aunt Tacita
Aunt Tacita
I repeated after me


Aunt Tacita had an illness
That the grownups never named
Wing shadows of a lamp moth
And the tiny sounds they made

She told me once a story
Where giant lizards stared
At a growing shape in the clouds that would bury them
And leave us with their prayers

The day her name came back to me
On a downtown bus, Miranda Street,
Sun skipping 'cross the rooftops in the spring:
Aunt Tacita, Aunt Tacita
Aunt Tacita
I repeated after me

Aunt Tacita had a bag of change
Didn’t chink like other coins
She used to trick those tall machines
That gave you candy and little toys

She had a small and strange guitar
And a voice like drifting leaves
And sang me once a far-off song
Seguir viviendo, mi pueblo, vivir

The day her name came back to me
On a downtown bus, Miranda Street,
Sun skipping 'cross the rooftops in the spring:
Aunt Tacita, Aunt Tacita
Aunt Tacita
I repeated after me
Track Name: Flannelette Princess
My head
Fuzzy like a peach
Body a narrowed nude

At the window
Tugging at tangled strings
Of the knotted shades

I must look to you
Like a crash test dummy
Unveiling the view
Of our wall
You, a framed Botticelli,
Reclined in flowing flannelette
And the wistful glare of a princess bared
Down to her last cigarette

My face
Swept like a beach
A canvas denuded

And the window
Color devoured by sea's
Voracious wind

I must look to you
Like a crash test dummy
Unveiling the view
Of our wall
You, a framed Morelli,
Reclined in flowing flannelette
And the wistful glare of a princess bared
Down to her last cigarette

My hands
Scaled like a creature
Taller once and revered

At the window
A posy of birds
Offering song

I must look to you
Like a crash test dummy
Unveiling the view
Of our wall
You, a framed Modigliani,
Reclined in flowing flannelette
And the wistful glare of a princess bared
Down to her last cigarette
Track Name: Newtown, Jackson and Main
On the corner of Main and Jackson
There's ninety new spaces for cars
See the soaking wind-up people
With their dangling plastic bags

How they move through the kitchen
With the laughter and the smells
Steam in the afternoon sunlight
Kids running in from the lawn

How they move through the bathroom
Where that simple sheet of glass
Would plot the lines around ours eyes
And plant the grey in rows

I will wait here on the corner
To the scraping of wet rubber blades
By Paradise Paving and Garden Supplies
On the corner of Jackson and Main

On the corner of Main and Jackson
Trolleys herded into lines
See the people fighting for
Some land just nine feet wide

They're fighting in the bedroom
Where electric fans would sweep
Our whetted skins and tangled lips
In our state of the ruffled sheets

They're shouting in the hallway
At the bottom of the stairs
Where we'd hugged with not much left to say
Oh, your shoulders, kitbag and gear

I will wait here on the corner
To the drumming of wiper blades
By Little Saigon Noodles N Grill
On the corner of Jackson and Main

On the corner of Main and Jackson
Our house at number ten
And the sound of the postman still burns in my legs
Still, after all these years

Under fast food giant icons
There, buried deep in the ground
The eggcups and plates that I had to bequeath
To the birth of old Newtown

I will wait here on the corner
To the rhythm of window blades
At the Bella Vista Mall down by
The corner of Jackson and Main
At the Bella Vista Mall down by
The corner of Jackson and Main
Track Name: Declaration
My wife, I have done a terrible thing
The ink had barely dried
And I was standing in a ruined home
By a grieving mother's side

There was a cruel constriction
Like a hill fire in my chest
Like there was not enough oxygen
In the room for all of us

My wife, will you still love me
Now that history has my hand
I declare I had no choice in this
I am just scoured by the wind

My wife, I have done a terrible thing
The paper in my hand
My hill fire spread throughout the House
In the ayes of every man

And for a moment I was naked
My suit a bloodied rag
And children cried for water
But I could not feel my hands

My wife, will you still love me
Now that history has my hand
I declare I had no choice in this
I am just scoured by the wind

My wife, I have done a terrible thing
I shook the hands of men
And women 'ranged in crisp white clothes
Like bowling alley pins

And my pockets filled with water
And though the cameras didn't see
I could not speak for all the ocean
Swallowed down in me

My wife, will you still love me
Now that history has my hand
I declare I had no choice in this
I am just scoured by the wind
Track Name: Call it Home
Veiled by the screen door
Kit bag in hand
Tiny squares of shadow stacked
In the shape of a man

The last leaves of Fall
Have followed him home
Like a conference of whisperers
Hoarse as a stone

The winter vine
Powerlines
Strung so low
They slice n dice the sky into
The cloudy quarter-acres
Call it home
Call it home
Call it home
We came to call it home

Chainsaw growl of baby
Smoke behind the doors
Glass of red and blues play'n loud
And then get up for work

Shards of plate that scattered
Like a burst of startled birds
Her belly, letters crumpled
All a briar of words

The winter vine
Powerlines
Strung so low
They slice n dice the sky into
The cloudy quarter-acres
Call it home
Call it home
Call it home
We came to call it home

Veiled by the screen door
Ombres Chinoise
Curtains part discreetly 'round
The cul de sac in dusk

There's fire in the oven
The walls bear the frames
Like teeth of colored photographs
Bright and unafraid

The winter vine
Powerlines
Strung so low
They slice n dice the sky into
The cloudy quarter-acres
Call it home
Call it home
Call it home
We came to call it home
Track Name: Age of Stone (part ii)
Does everybody come here
To the reservoir
With its sunken cars
And shifting sky upturned

Does everybody fall here
Into the husky reeds
With their secret speak
Known to only them and water

Don't tell me I'm the first
Don't tell me I'm the last
Just kiss me into the Age of Stone
And wait with me here
While all the other ages pass

Does everybody come here
To the railway bridge
All dressed in mist
Like a dancer posed in stone

Does everybody fall here
Into a rhythm wove
Through skin and clothes
Like the carving of a valley

Don't tell me I'm the first
Don't tell me I'm the last
Just kiss me into the Age of Stone
And wait with me here
While all the other ages pass

Does everybody come here
Your American car
With its painted stars
All spangled on the ceiling

Does everybody fall here
For the gravel sound
Of your voice and how
It made them feel forgotten

Don't tell me I'm the first
Don't tell me I'm the last
Just kiss me into the Age of Stone
And wait with me here
While all the other ages pass
Track Name: Something Borrowed, Something Found
We lived oh we lived
Like rubber bands round
Something borrowed
Something found

We slept last night upon the sun
Through miles and miles of ground
A carry case of covenants
In yet another town
Woken by the garbage trucks
And cold between our toes
Oh so cold

We lived oh we lived
Like dandelions spring
Pavements cracking open
To let them in

Below the walls that raise us
Under the places that we walk
The roots of trees all tangled
With the wires that carry talk
Of buried things
And treasured things
Things that tied the knots
Into our bones

We lived oh we lived
Like rubber bands round
The shoes that carried you
Home and stayed

Woken by the garbage trucks
Rumbling in the street
Powder from the ceiling cracks
Like a gentle forest mist
Perhaps it was a quake
Subterra knot to come untied
So untied

We lived oh we lived
Like rubber bands round
Yet another street in
Yet another town

There's talk upon the wire
Of a wild coming storm
Pack your covenants
With a lovin' hand
Or don't pack them at all
But we were never ones for signs
This suitcase
Fastened down
With rubber bands

We lived oh we lived
Like ties of tiny strings
Round our fingers
In place of rings

We lived oh we lived
Like rubber bands round
Something borrowed
Something found
Track Name: No Edges
Gently remove all wash n care tags
And place in the recovery position
Unravel his shirt from the seasoned knots and curves
And his skin will not protest to want it back

Well, he'll sleep till he has no edges
And coming into the room
You'll feel a solemnity of sparrows
Perched on every trinket and sill

His wristwatch as loud as the feet of the gathering crowd
Craning their necks for a glimpse of the transition
Stood like a tide in a perfect arc denied
The chance to claim and smooth each undulation

Well, he'll sleep till he has no edges
And coming into the room
You'll feel a solemnity of sparrows
Poised upon the hangers and shirts

All those fine strands
Of cotton like water in my hands
I want to re-ravel all of them
But my fingers cannot find the ends

Well, he'll sleep till he has no edges
And coming into the room
You'll feel a solemnity of sparrows
Perched on every trinket and sill