What Kind of Yes?

by Brendan Bonsack

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  • The Dances (book with music)

    The Dances is a companion book of poetry for "What Kind of Yes?". Full of stories and ruminations on love and death, family and history.

    ISBN 978-1-291-99523-7
    87 Pages
    Paperback

    Includes unlimited streaming of What Kind of Yes? via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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credits

released January 25, 2015

With thanks to Charles Jenkins, Angie Hart, Phil Kakulas, Chrissy Misso and Blake Robinson.

Additional musicians:

Marcus Thomson - Blues harp
Vincent Barker - Banjo
Andre Bonsack - Guitar

Also available on iTunes at itunes.brendanbonsack.com

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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.

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Track Name: Dog Whistles
The news is full of dog whistlers
Have I not heard the news?
Incanting sweet sweet nothings
In waves of royal blue

How soon the ears turn to callus
And the eyes forget to cry
How soon the days all taste alike
Cut round and wafer-dry

The hills are alive with dog whistles
Over gardens turned and tame
Over rooftops brown and sprawled away
Like armadillo scales

How soon the feet forget the dance
How quick the hands the tune
How soon the bread all tastes alike
All sliced from the same stone

I knew a man in a desert place
Beard like the mangrove trees
And my head still rings in the dark
With the things he never said to me

The news is full of dog whistlers
Have I not heard them say?
In my car immune to beating sun
And that icy driven rain

How soon the heart can wither
To a varnished metronome
How quick the signs all look the same
When all roads lead to home
Track Name: This Was the Place
I’m sure this was the place
The house of God
With its flat tin roof
And ample parking space
And its one oak knotted as a psalm

I’m sure this was the place
The brown couch lawn
And old hoist crooked
Ever slightly as a crow
The one garment pending the fall

Hmm, like our fathers before
And their fathers before them too
Hmm, I have stared into space
Till everything looked brand new

I’m sure this was the place
A salt-licked caravan
Wild sprawling figs coursed
With their slow adrenaline
And the idling engine of the sea

Hmm, like our fathers before
And their fathers before them too
Hmm, I have stared into space
Till everything looked brand new
But I’m sure this was the place

I’m sure this was the place
The trickle river’s end
Ferns written deep in the rocks
Like withered open hands
And the one swimmer with a belly full of fall

Hmm, like our fathers before
And their fathers before them too
Hmm, I have stared into space
Till everything looked brand new
But I’m sure this was the place
Track Name: Which Pocket?
There we were
There we were
The feeling gathered 'round
Like ants to fallen candy

I was a man with no sight
A photo in my fingers
Worn and thumbed and creased

Could you have swept up this town
And held it in one palm of your hands
And you, like me, go out wondering
Just which pocket to put it in?

There we were
There we were
The feeling gathered round
Like colored candy paper

I was the man with no sound
Our voices on the ceiling
Trying to coalesce

Could you have wrapped up this town
And felt it in the creases of your hands
And you, like me, go out wondering
Just which pocket to put it in?

You have taken down every door, like me
You have slept on every floor, like me
You've got thinner by the weight of things
A no-sleeper in the wake of things
Just like me

There we were
There we were
In a city gathered 'round
Like moths in paper lanterns

I was a man without touch
You offered me a feeling
Warm, and thin and creased

Could you have crushed up this town
And sieved it through the hole in your hands
And you, like me, go out wondering
Just which pocket to put it in?
Track Name: Be There
Be there, would you
Until the bookshelves stand barren
And the walls reveal secrets
Under damp and faded, peeling
Prints of rose?

Be there, would you
Until the foxes have the fireplace
The brambles seal the doors
And the moths reside
In your old wedding clothes?

Be there, would you
Until the morning does not call
The crusty shades like pennies
In the windows of our house upon the hill

Be there, would you
Until the cars all rest like bulls
The grass entwines the engines
Their rusty eyes still staring
Down the drive?

Be there, would you
Until the floor has turned to flour
And the strays have claimed the oven
And the cupboards hang like
The old man’s broken teeth?

Be there, would you
Until the morning does not call
The crusty shades like pennies
In the windows of our house upon the hill

Be there until
The sky has claimed the staircase,
One bannister is all,
Its softened hardwood named
By your young hand?

Be there, would you
Until the morning does not call
The crusty shades like pennies
In the windows of our house upon the hill
Track Name: What Kind of Yes?
She penciled on a napkin
Left beside the ring
In her finest hand
With a ballpoint pen:
I’d promise you a lifetime
But I've only one to give

What kind of Yes did you want?


She could not fit all of the things
That she was running from
Into a single case
So she simply took a toothbrush
And a comb


Oh, perhaps sometime
You will find you’re missing persons
Shed that boundless sky
And come back home

She would watch her shadow
She liked the way it clung
Like fluid to the ground
A river’s lithe caress over the stone

What kind of Yes did you want?
The Yes of game shows
With the ticker and the cheers
Or the Yes of warm sand
Between your toes?

Oh, perhaps sometime
You will find you’re missing persons
Shed that boundless sky
And come back home
Track Name: The Historian
The Byzantine is falling
Like it always does
And Guernica is always burning
On the pages and postcards and walls

And the phone keeps ringing
And the envelopes steadily grow
And the history man
In the glow of his lamp
Will wait for the moment to go

In 1912, beyond this balcony
There were factories and dirt lanes and cows
Picture the people with their sole pair of shoes on
Dreaming of days such as now

And his daughter keeps calling
And his wife just once a year
And the history man
With pencil in hand
Will wait till it all becomes clear

In Egypt they mastered the art of embalming
And the kings are still asking him why
As he peers at their perfect and leathery faces
Their every last inch itemised

And on birthdays, another new memoir
From the hands of a hesitant child
And the history man
Will retire to his den
And come back when it all becomes past
Track Name: August Afternoon
Did you think that you were Jesus
as you came into the room
Your three-day growth with
oh so much longer aspirations?

Did you think that you could calm him
with a soft and measured voice
Palms raised like white bread
cut just right for grilling?

Did you think you had the Gospel
some mighty gift with words
That you could rein his raging heart in
with a careful metered verse?

On that August afternoon
The house unravelled on our watch
Just what did you think that you would do?
Pa, he had a rifle
So we shoulda called the cops

Did you think that you were Samson
in your plaited pony tail
Your arms endure the failed negotiations?

Did you think that you could hold him
down just long enough
His will dissolve, his fingers
lose their metal?

On that August afternoon
The house unravelled on our watch
On that August afternoon
Pa, he had a rifle
So we shoulda called the cops

I got a record of the accident
and it's skippin' in my mind
It can play out with a 33
or with a 45

Did you think that you were Elvis
that he’d bow before the King?
He don’t go cryin’ in the chapel, Pa
when a gun has hold of him

On that August afternoon
The house unravelled on our watch
On that August afternoon
Pa, he had a rifle
So we shoulda called the cops

On that August afternoon
The house unravelled on our watch
Did you think that you could stand there
Just emanating love?
No, Pa, he had a rifle
So we shoulda called the cops
Track Name: Shells
What do we do with all these shells
Women and men of the wards?
Feet that barely touch the floors
Bedside vigils waning
Sentences remaining
Embedded in abandoned find-a-words?

The sweeping lines
Of disinfectant gray
The sure chirping of machines
That never goes away

What do we do with all these shells
Men and women of the floors?
Tucked in tightly and borne on wheels
Every day is nightly
The flowers are like lightning
Bright before the sound of things to say

The soft shoe shuffle
And clattering of trays
The steady hand of medics
Who haven’t slept for days

What do we do with all these shells
Curled and bearing echoes of themselves?
The gowns and curtains all look the same
The city view is stunning
Someone out there is running
To move their car before
It’s towed away
Track Name: Out of The Pines
I step out of The Pines
The breeze hugs me like an old friend
Those nettled floors
And a hush that's grown so tall
Get behind me
Go behind me

I stumble out from The Pines
The scent of flowers flooding down my spine
Heady and strange and heavy on my tongue
I'm glad you've found me
I'm glad you have found me

Every turn was a right one
In that cathedral of trees
There were whispers left in corners
Buried to their knees
So I'm glad that you've found me
So glad you have found me

I limp out from The Pines
That simple road before me like a curled strong arm
The needle sheets still pinned in my heels
Get behind me
Fall behind me

There were times I saw the sunlight
White like a forbidden rose
Glaring in through a parting
Of straight and bony twigs and their cones
So I'm glad that you've found me
I'm glad you have found me

I step out from The Pines
A peal of sparrowsong arrests my shaking limbs
Your face is fallow but I know you by your clothes
And I'm glad you've found me
So glad you have found me

Every day was the last one
In that cathedral of trees
I held my breath from the first one
And was keeping it aside just for thee
So I’m glad that you found me
So glad you have found me
Track Name: Places for Falling
Of all the places
For falling in love
It had to be in here
The dance has long been over
And they're stacking
All the chairs

And they're emptying the punch bowls
On the weeds out in the drive
Those supple yellow flowers
Of the cracks who learned
To thrive

We don't get a sunset
We don't get a song
We get half an hour
Till the doors are closed
To get it right or wrong

Of all the places
To find you
It had to be in here
The uniform in the corner
Still taking down statements

They're reeling in the tinsel
And they're stuffing it in bags
The shiny floor awash with blue
Light and plastic cups

We don't get a sunset
We don't get a song
We get half an hour
Till the doors are closed
To get it right or wrong

It had to be in here
Of all the times to fall in love
Chains caress the exit bars
And cleaners are sliding off their gloves

We know the fences beckon us
Across the long goodnight
And we hope the clocks up on the brick
Walls are wound too tight

We don't get a sunset
We don't get a song
We get half an hour
Till the doors are closed
To get it right or wrong