Prayers in Glass Houses

by Brendan Bonsack

supported by
/
1.
01:15
2.
3.
00:19
4.
5.
03:32
6.
7.
00:59
8.
03:41
9.
01:26
10.
11.
12.

credits

released December 18, 2016

tags

license

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.

contact / help

Contact Brendan Bonsack

Streaming and
Download help

Track Name: That.
that you knew
I could not speak

my hands at most
comfort in corners

or rested on the spines
of other people’s lovers

in typeset curled
and timed to perfection

that you knew I had
been given to weeping

around the sutures
wove where horizons

burst vermillion
before the deepest black

and that you knew
I had no words for that

nor paint, nor song
but only touch

only touch had rolled
its skin around my edges

the way each precipice
hugs its leaper

that you knew
this and stayed

that.
Track Name: Death and the Vending Machine
I met death by a vending machine
Rifling pockets for a quarter
Fresh from an ashen hospital wing
Meeting the sons and the daughters

Dishevelled and weary, death turned to me
And asked could I spare any change
And I froze with a fear and wondered how far
I could reach without being in range

Oh, Death be not strange

I met death by a vending machine
With a fine silver blade it was trying
To cut every coin from that echoing belly
And lift all the food without buying

Then death turned to me with a glint in its smile
And a gleam in its shiny gold chain
And it said if you help me, I'll spare you from crying
Over your own children's graves

Me and old Death by a vending machine
The pair of us locked eye to eye
Oh, Death, the tie that binds

I met death by a vending machine
And a sign that said Out of Order
And death, body doubled, with boots caked in dust
Asked could I spare any water

And I froze, half confused, half afraid, half delighted
Could it be that death was dying?
All it took from me now was to keep for myself
All the water I carried inside

Oh, death be not mine
Track Name: Respect
Back in the day
We respected our elders

They said jump
We said how high?

They said
See that mushroom
Cloud in the sky?
Track Name: What is a King?
The king has died, the king is dead
They’re minting special coins
They’re firing rifles in the air
Birds are scattering everywhere

The king has died, the king is dead
It’s all over the news
The writers right and the writers left
Are rifling through the things he said

What is a king, what is a king?
But dirt surrounded by a ring
Of men in suits, of men with guns
Some pointed out, some pointed in

Who built the roads, who built the rail
Not the king with the silky hands
Never knew the soil nor splinter
He flew abroad for every winter

Who fired the shots, who dug the holes?
Who drove the trucks and trains?
Who put their wages in the banks
To furnish him with bombs and tanks?

What is a king, what is a king?
But dirt surrounded by a ring
Of men in suits, of men with guns
Some pointed out, some pointed in

The king has died, the king is dead
There’s children waving flags
Look how well the children sing
How well the song fit for a king

Oh boy, oh girl, oh let this be
A footnote to his fugue
They may shoot you down for not digging
But the earth remains unmoved

What is a king, what is a king?
But dirt surrounded by a ring
Of men in suits, of men with guns
Some pointed out, some pointed in
Track Name: The C-word
My father was a communist
I always knew when he'd lost his job
Because he'd pick me up after school
Still in his work boots and overcoat
Clamped against the cold

And dink me home on his bicycle
The Johnson twins laughing and
Making faces as they passed us in the car
Mrs Johnson yelling from the front
Don’t stare, don’t stare!

And I would play boy in the crow’s nest
Perched on the handle bars
Face in the biting wind, calling
Pot-hole ahead! Hard to port!
Steer left!

And I'd stay up late
And while Gran wasn’t looking
He’d give me a dram of wine in a jam jar
And I’d roll off to sleep
With a vision

Of my father, the communist,
Hunched over paper in the lamplight
Wreathed in a trail of slow grey smoke
Like following
The sinking of a stone

My father was a communist
I always knew when there was trouble at the docks
By the light from the bathroom
Sharp and thin beneath the door
And the hall would fill with shadow talk
And the sound of running water

And I would lay still against the loud loud linen
And play the spy
Their words the warp and weft of gauze
And all I ever heard was Why? Why?
And Don’t you think about the boy?

And brushing my teeth for school in the morning
I’d spit my Colgate at the spatters
Of blood remained where the sink plug clung
To its tiny chain

My father was a communist
I always knew, when Gran promised the Melbourne Zoo
But told me I should clean my shoes
That night I would see him

Propped up with pillows and pricked with tubes
Eyes clamped against the oily
Disinfectant glow

And perched on the steel back of a chair
I would play the sparrow
Pondering the leg spring or wing span needed
To reach his bed in a single bound

And be the boy who wondered
If to land would hurt him
Or if I would catch his slow disease
Just for being near him

And Gran would laugh
Buckling me in to the seat of the car
No, who told you that?
You can’t catch Communism

It's not what he has
It's just what he is.
Track Name: At the End of Days
You have found me at the end of days
Where the body craves not lust but empty space
You have found me in a nightly daze
Where the body has learned to trust the old aches and pains

And I do not want to be saved
So take that old look off your face
The view from in here would take
Your breath away, so

You have found me at the end of days
Where gods jostle, with promise in hand for chance at first place
And you have found me one side of too late
Where the body stumbles like lips on a forgotten phrase

And I do not want to be saved
So take that old look off your face
The view from in here would take
Your breath away, so

You have found me where I was misplaced
Where the body craves not lust but touch all the same

But I do not want to be saved
So take that old look off your face
The view from in here would take
Your breath away, so how could I ask you to stay?
Track Name: War Games
Shane was the best of our class
in the lunch and recess wars
ghost gum sticks as guns
and pine cone grenades
run between trees
and aim
“got you, Shane!”

from cricket nets
and monkey bars
Shane would hurl himself
a dead weight to the dirt
sometimes an agonized scream
as a flourish

sometimes smuggle cochineal bottles
to cake his face in blood
one time pissed his pants
in our makeshift trench
between the footy field and France
“it’s what they would have done”
he said

Shane was the best
killed daily and resurrected
ten times, more or less
never dodged a bullet

never won the game
Track Name: Flag Lovers
So said the flag
My best lovers are the ones in grave
Adding spice to the living
Ground up from their decay

Said the flag
All my lovers are
Worming through the dirt
A star is born, a hero sown
For every serenade I heard

Tell me that you love me
Tell me again and again
And, hand on heart, I'll tell you, love
You all end up the same
So said the flag
So said the flag

So said the flag
My best lovers are not the ones who sing my name
In brassy ticker tapered halls
Swilling on champagne

So said the flag
Every lover worth their weight in oil
Went down, went down, and down they stayed
Silent in the soil

Tell me that you love me
Tell me again and again
And, hand on heart, I'll tell you, love
You all end up the same
So said the flag
So said the flag

So said the flag
My best lovers are the ones who feel no pain
Bequeathing it to those above who dust
And flower their graves

Said the flag
All of my lovers turn the earth from pole to pole
Just to raise your passion high
Just high enough to fall

Tell me that you love me
Tell me again and again
And, hand on heart, I'll tell you, love
You all end up the same
So said the flag
So said the flag
Track Name: Sheriff
I wanna be a sheriff

not the six-point badge
ride into this town's
not big enough
for the both of us
shot in the back
from the bordello balcony
kind of sheriff

but the wheel-clamp
change the locks
see you in court
computer says no
kind of sheriff

the long lunch
free parking
I've got a mate
on council who can sort
that out for you
if you do a little
something for me
kind of sheriff

the not my problem
can't change the system
phone this number
if you continue
to raise your voice
I'll call security
kind of sheriff

the kind of sheriff
who retires quite comfortably,
with a mystery pain
in his back
Track Name: A Time Traveler's Tale
Those time travel shows have got it all wrong
They all seem to think you disappear
You just walk into a phone box with a mad Englishman
That's much bigger in there than out here

Or meet with a mad American man
And his nuclear powered car
And vanish quite neatly in a trail of flames
At 88 miles per hour

Time, wo, wo, time
Time is so confusing, whatever you are using
It don’t work that way

I just woke up one morning and there by my side
Was the first of the copies of me
He had slept with my wife and I could tell from her smile
He must have been better than me

And this dark feeling rose, to punch him in the nose
But I could not decide which fist
And it's as well I refrained for I felt it on my face
When she turned and greeted him with a kiss

Time, wo, wo, time
Time will turn to meet ya
With old familiar features

And so, then I thought, I may as well go to work
Perhaps now I'll get doubly paid
Then I saw on the bus there was three more of us
How many of me had been made?

One still had his hair and a beard down to here
Another with a burger and fries in his lap
And the last had a look that said leave me the hell alone
So I was careful to choose where I sat

Time, wo, wo, time
Time is a refuter
A life sentence commuter

When I punched the old clock, Susie looked kinda shocked
She said I thought that you were on leave
I said who told you that, she said the guy who's been sat
In your spot for the last twenty weeks

I said, well this is news, who is this dude?
She said I dunno, you all look the same
So I checked out my station and with some consternation
I saw it was happening again

Time, wo, wo , Time
Time takes a beginner
And spreads him mighty thinner

Only this guy was smarter and neater and seemed
To be in with the boss like a treat
And I took a dislike to his suit and his watch
And those pointy little shoes on his feet

And I began to believe, since the numbers of me
Were somehow growing to a plague
That surely just one would never be missed
But that was my biggest mistake

As I opened a window to let one of us out
The strangest thing did occur
An army of me appeared at the scene
Singing come down the pub with us sir!

Time, wo, wo, time
Time is like a soldier
Nobody told the war is over

They played the piano and shouted me drinks
And spun me old yarns to the dawn
And then when it came to roll home again
We all gathered round to draw straws

Yes, those sci-fi shows have got it all wrong
Time don't let you disappear
You just wake up one morning and think to yourself
Gee, it's good to be back here

Time, wo, wo, time
Time’s a complicator
A consummate frustrator
Oh, time
Time’s so good at waitin’
Time will see you later
Wo, wo, wo , time.
Track Name: The More Things Pass the More They Return
The medicinal takes its effect
I am left
A bone beneath seven strata of mattress
Pick and scratch and dig
And I am not risen


They say it's with a whimper
The way the world ends
I've been banging on for years about this
The way the bees tell the flowers
And the flowers tell the bees
And the fruit is long born
Before the dream of any tree

A queen mattress
Swaggers across the courtyard
Wide hips bounce
And back leans
Into a shock of black hair

All that’s known of its carrier

Rank and file sparrows
Skit among flotsam books
Spines of hardbacks spike
From splayed wet shirts and jeans

All that’s known of the wearer

Excuse me please
I've just moved in
Can you show me
Where the laundry is?

A cardboard cup
Stands a gardener by a rake
Hiviz vest stirs colour
Through the steam
Milk dries in mustache
And pebbled teeth

All that’s known of the language

Coins for the cleaning
A tumble dry sea pitches
In rows of wide eyed windows
The tropical wrinkle
And dangle toes torn
From missing pet posters

All that’s left may return

They say it's with a whimper
The way the world ends
I've been banging on for years about this
The way the bees tell the flowers
And the flowers tell the bees
And the fruit is long born
Before the dream of any tree

The medicinal takes its effect
Today was a green day
We wheeled, pajamaed, into the gardens

British and trimmed to exactitude
Grouped by colour and size

Bees surveilled the lavender in silence
Bobbing on hot noon currents

You whipped the end of a cigarette
With a taut index finger

I brushed a speck of it from my lashes
And licked another from my lip

The building crept across the lawn
Straight as a flat earth edge in a state of eclipse

Did you know that the basement of it
Hoards drums of plutonium?

We could be a mere sliver
Of any day from the apocalypse

And other topics of conversation

They say it's with a whimper
The way the world ends
I've been banging on for years about this
The way the bees tell the flowers
And the flowers tell the bees
And the fruit is long born
Before the dream of any tree
Track Name: Ash into Ashes
I was never one
for kneeling down
They say people in glass houses
shouldn’t pray

You have the eyes
of a fighter who’s survived
all those tiny battles
they don’t name

And there are some goodbyes
that just refuse to rise
and our lungs fill up
with days of smoldering suns

Ash into ashes
Breath into breath
Divide and divide until
we are the only thing left

Ashes to ashes
Palm into palm
You know we can’t fall
if we never know
which way is down

I always save the tears
for outside on the stairs
where angels smoke
along the fire escape

And I think you do the same
wait till the window pane
casts shadows of the storm
across your face

Maybe we both know
we need that kind of love
that comes by stepping on the sea
to test our weight

Ash into ashes
Breath into breath
Divide and divide until
we are the only thing left

Ash into ashes
Hand into hand
You know we’re just water
that learned to walk on the land

I was never one
for talking out of song
but there is no score for dying
that I know

So here is our last stand
your softened fighter’s hands
and me run out of anthems
for the cause

Oh, let this be
our silent eulogy
You speak mine
and I’ll speak yours

Ash into ashes
Breath into breath
Divide and divide until
we are the only thing left

Ash into ashes
Dust into dust
We are just the water
that laid our feet down in trust