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Awake and Empty

by Troubled Coast

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Brother 03:26
i’ve been thinking of you since july and now i’m feeling less and less. i heard your name, i found your letter from december last year and though it was really more a poem and you didn’t ask, here’s my reply. i’ve been calling you and now i’m wondering if it’s you who’s calling me and i’m to blame but all negligence aside it’s been a waiting game, a slow withdraw from grace and i hope your sleeping better, i’m finding ease in the cold, in the still out in the woods just slightly east of here, just west of there you told me there’s a place you go where you feel most alone why are you here again when i let you go? young and frail. woke up fucked again. june in the trees, you on my mind, courage to feel it all. i’m still writing you, i’m still thinking of the airport just south of here i let you walk to in the rain to run from the world and hide from the past in the fog and the grey, quiet still, moving slow. was i a thousand feet below? were you a thousand miles gone? so many pieces left behind not one simple reply. we move to stay whole.
Winter 03:14
see dead whales on tree branches not just the snow those winters where everything can be a metaphor for you and her, you and him, but not everything is young fucking love. while we were upstate forming, breathing out this country you were inside writing it out, but your words embody the arrested bullshit of youth. so where were you when we were throwing bricks, and where were you when we were breaking lines, and breaking bones and mending cuts? between your suburban blues and not so clever words you’re drowning in the undertow and overdone. there are still reasons worth fighting and worth dying for but i don’t think your cause is one. you’re writing lies, we watched the flag burn in our bed. if everybody has a reason for everything and walls rise when you’re truly scared, do they fall when you’ve been held down, when you’ve had enough, are you untying knots or yelling at the moon? for all the times that we believed the cause, for all the years that we were bent and never broke, for all the songs that we wish we never wrote, we’re getting old, not sitting out. look what you’ve made. you’re giving it up, lay down now and die. look what they’ve done, they’re selling us out, we’re buying in. we watched the flag burn in our bed, we dragged our bones on the ocean floor.
Confidence 02:50
we stood steady in the dark, we moved quiet through the woods with ankles off the bridge, let it fall onto your skirt and stain your skin. don’t look back until it’s gone, you know that grace was never what i took untested hands and prideful looks. the weight of the world was in your eyes. the weight of your words unfolded. the weight of the world was in your arms, if it’s nothing to you then it’s nothing to me… just breath, you’re wasting time with love. don’t think you’re shaking off the dust and pulling out the pins, come falling to the floor. bite down with blood in your mouth, drive on with sun in your eyes and no where to go. you’re in the dirt between the oak with tested lies and shaking hands. your life’s in the car, on the run. all i ever wanted was the quietness of solitude and confidence of you. just let me speak, i’m honestly afraid that if you walk away i’ll lose the way it was. i’ve been better, i’ve been here before. and just the other day i felt the strangest sense of urgency to flush my demons out. and one day, driving slow, maybe the slightest sense of irony will steer you off the road, will make you understand…
1967 02:43
you’re the plague on the western bank, i’m a nine to five compliant war machine. your motherland’s in bed with israel, from five to nine let’s dissemble it. you’ll be alone. we are the blind united noose. you’ll be unknown. we’ll set you free with words and stone. are you a clock or just a cog in lingering guilt? sweet magdalene, crying low beneath the tree where did you go? why did they take your lovers life? get to the car let’s make this right. the jim crow south, apartheid past in present tense. this strip of land, you speak of it like it’s your right, sweet magdalene’s alone tonight… but that doesn’t mean i don’t feel a thing that doesn’t mean it’s enough to choose a side on the pacific sun or feel awed by the greatness of the sea or shudder at what we’ve become… that doesn’t mean i’m a cog, i’ll never be. i don’t feel a thing. without a cause i’d fade away. it’s not to enough to choose a side when you’re the cause.
Northwest 02:37
the midwest turned our hands half blue as we turned in. the northwest went roaming, feeling on winds for the sound. the northeastern roads, like old bed frames, bent in to bring us home. lose all again, how can we lose what we never had? i never said i had enough, i never said i’d give it up. i broke the bones, unstitched the cuts, end-noted pain, asterisked the love and still it never came and still it came for me. your everything, you’re everywhere. if i could rearrange i’d trade the better parts of you for the worst of me so everyone could be everything, so you could know how the southwest filled our lungs with smoke as we breathed in. the west winds went running, tearing apart at you.
black bird, move slow. lost one, don’t forget what you know. “walk the path your father made, you don’t need all the answers.” you’re water on the stones. i’m shade in the shallow. i won’t get so attached if you don’t come ’round. black bird, move slow. lost one, don’t forget what you know, “to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”
Twenty 03:06
chances are, it’s on the west coast. chances are, it gets you home. so let’s find a reason you’re a wreck when you’re alone… it’s those warm pacific nights in your favorite summer dress. swimming without words through grace and gestures of regret, like the fox under the hunters gun. you were the death i couldn’t look away from for twenty something years. what did you do? well, words can’t describe the way your fingers wrapped around his sad, little throat. what did you say? only you’d come back soon, just another of your lies that made me want you more. don’t fuck this up. so let’s find a reason you’re a wreck when you’re alone. forgot, too young, white lined, black lungs, living for nothing. first make me understand, i think i’m starting to believe. first make me understand, i think i’m feeling gravity but calling it your voice, mistook identity and chance and called it grace. so make me understand, i think i’m losing hope tonight. so maybe without words it seeped into your bedroom walls, went through your lying teeth with whiskey down your throat. and you know how you are, always the grace of god when you know that i don’t and that i gave that up.
Sister 02:08
heard you left town. heard you never left. lady lazarus in a different skin. maybe if you stayed or i was half awake listening to the things you said, piecing all the things you never did. do you feel safe with the world unraveling? are you safer when the words aren’t questioned? please sister don’t. her: “heard i let you down. i can’t say i’m surprised, i won’t give you my love.” him: “heard you’re someone else when you’re on your knees. please sister don’t.” summer’s in your lungs. god’s under your skin. cities never cared, so why should i?
Signals 03:28
when winter came i woke to you painted in grey, a common phrase but you had changed, all water color cut with age. and when i spoke i saw contention form, infest your thoughts, shape from your hopes, hapless and trite, and drug through sober blue. you had me here two years ago. you lost me there somewhere off college avenue wandering the streets of august 1998. just set me free, it’s present you or past tense me who needs an answer, is finding patterns, hearing voices not the beat. signals drifting signaled endings, lost in meanings of circles breaking, circuits ending. when summer came i barely wrote and couldn’t sleep, it sounds worn out but something about the hazy, cold settles me down. i felt it there two days ago, i watched it fall, loose threads and arrowed hands, hospital beds with alter boys all waiting for the calmness of their empty rooms and jarred up leaves. the oakland trees are reaching out like her hands in your hair, on your throat. and maybe it doesn’t mean a thing, maybe we’re better off as luck and no one watches over us or hears our prayers and lonely thoughts… signals drifting signaled endings, lost in meanings of circles breaking, circuits ending. i tried to find the meaning but no had a reason, it’s the worst of what i am. just let me know if you’ve had enough before we fall apart and come undone. Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/troubled-coast/signals-lyrics/#Ue8QsBcAScBqS0R0.99
if i believed in god i’d wonder why the west and i’d question all. and i wouldn’t think or act the way that you do. this constant defeat has settled me down. when all’s said and done what holds you? what keeps you whole? what keeps you up? all i believe is we’re empty/awake like everything/everyone. believe, do you? the great americas are all alone. the earth formed in solitude. blankets and pins there in. they’re in our crowded van and on this stage, they’re with us in our words but i know words are weak. i’m not afraid anymore. i am alone. you are alone. if this is the end then i’m no longer afraid. where do you go when you’e alone? do you begin right where i end?


released October 9, 2012


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