Songs For Samuel

by Norah Vincent & Vern Woodhead

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1.
No Demands 04:42
NO DEMANDS Out there, you are too far away, Too gone, for me to touch you. But here, lost again in the dark, With these tears, I can feel you. Aloud, you never say a word To relieve a broken mind. But alone, holding you this way, holding still, I can hear you. I'LL GRANT YOU, MAKE YOU NO DEMANDS AND YOU WILL DO THE SAME, FOR IN THIS, OUR PARADISE OF SILENCE WHERE THE DISTANCE TENDERS NO HAND AND OUR EARS AND TONGUES DESERT US OR IS IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND? WE RECITE NO CREED OF ANSWERS THERE ARE NO QUESTIONS TO WITHSTAND SO WE TUG EACH OTHER DEAFLY AND REACHING, MUTELY UNDERSTAND Somewhere—way beyond—in some “there,” Unmapped, and so unnamed, That’s a blank to all our instruments, We’ve a place to coexist. As presence, as absence—to me, You’re as real as you ever were, Precious ghost of no dimension, Dearest friend I never knew. I'LL GRANT YOU, MAKE YOU NO DEMANDS AND YOU WILL DO THE SAME, FOR IN THIS, OUR PARADISE OF SILENCE WHERE THE DISTANCE TENDERS NO HAND AND OUR EARS AND TONGUES DESERT US OR IS IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND? WE RECITE NO CREED OF ANSWERS THERE ARE NO QUESTIONS TO WITHSTAND SO WE TUG EACH OTHER DEAFLY AND REACHING, MUTELY UNDERSTAND
2.
TOO SLOW FOR NOW We are standing on an orb, Which means The past is not behind us, But beneath, And the future’s not before us, But above. Cleaving rocks and riding fire, We dig for history And fly for time. As onion skins, Our eras and unknowns accumulate. YEARS ARE ONLY DISTANCES LIGHTENING AT SPEED A PYROTECHNICS WE WOULD JOIN IF ONLY WE COULD CATCH IT IN FEVERED TRAVEL WE ESCAPE UNDERMINE AND OVERLOOK THE PRESENT TENSE AND THINKING FASTER BURNING BRIGHTER BLAZE BY EVERY MOMENT WE SHOULD MARK Fretted stars Sparkle through the ages Their nows, our would be-s, Our current, their past. Yet we shine as they do. Our waves of thought, Though weak, Twitter all the same. In Godot’s Relative perspective, All, not nothing, Happens twice, But still, we miss it —twice.
3.
THE SHAPE OF ALL FOREVERS We boast inventions, That are really no such thing. All those leaps of human genius, That once dazzled as unique, End as imitation. Discovery turns out instead To be reused, Derived again from models That obtain throughout, In atoms, galaxies, and us. OUR GREEDY EGOS EVER SPIN (ON THE AXES OF OURSELVES) AND JUST AS SURELY AS WE TWIRL (LIKE ALL PLANETARY FORMS) WE ORBIT TOO SPIRALING THROUGH SEASONS (THE PASSIONS OF OUR LIVES) ALWAYS COMING BACK TO THE FAMILIAR (WHICH SOMEHOW YET AGAIN) SEEMS STRANGE The widest realms we conceive, Infinity, eternity, Space and time without end, Even they are closed, For there is nothing, Nothing outside them. The shape of all forevers Must be curved, Double back, repeat. Cycles of return preside, The only mode and means Of everlasting. OUR GREEDY EGOS EVER SPIN (ON THE AXES OF OURSELVES) AND JUST AS SURELY AS WE TWIRL (LIKE ALL PLANETARY FORMS) WE ORBIT TOO SPIRALING THROUGH SEASONS (THE PASSIONS OF OUR LIVES) ALWAYS COMING BACK TO THE FAMILIAR (WHICH SOMEHOW YET AGAIN) SEEMS STRANGE The dead feed the living As surely as they fed The cancers and the vermin That consumed them. We die, and then we rot, Turn back into the minerals We’re made of. Nutrifying plants Engorge the guts Of masticating animals, Emerge again To fertilize in turn More generations. OUR GREEDY EGOS EVER SPIN (ON THE AXES OF OURSELVES) AND JUST AS SURELY AS WE TWIRL (LIKE ALL PLANETARY FORMS) WE ORBIT TOO SPIRALING THROUGH SEASONS (THE PASSIONS OF OUR LIVES) ALWAYS COMING BACK TO THE FAMILIAR (WHICH SOMEHOW YET AGAIN) SEEMS STRANGE
4.
IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING God is only God In a manner of speaking; An exclamation, Nothing more. As newborns wail Protesting that first breath of fire, We howl because we can’t help it. To hold the vacant place, Of all we can’t articulate When there are no words. FORCES UNDETECTABLE PENETRATE NONETHELESS AND WE BEAR THEM MUDDLED WITNESS IN AWE THERE IS NO GOD BUT THERE IS GOD A CURRENT UNDENIABLE AND FATHOMLESS AS LOVE We moan this name God! during sex, At vistas and mass graves; When something’s too good, Or bad to accept Like Fabulous! Fantastic! Both of which mean “lie,” God rouses opposites, Belief from disbelief. Words are only sounds Assigned a meaning. God might as well’ve been “Wow!” Or “Man!”— As we mutter in disgust. FORCES UNDETECTABLE PENETRATE NONETHELESS AND WE BEAR THEM MUDDLED WITNESS IN AWE THERE IS NO GOD BUT THERE IS GOD A CURRENT UNDENIABLE AND FATHOMLESS AS LOVE
5.
Shadowbox 04:45
SHADOWBOX These mementos of you are mine, Glassed sightly in a box. Photographs, those famous lines That load but never lock. In all these senses of the word, You are boxed inside my brain, And spar with me in shadows stirred, The comfort I find in pain. Your weeping heart was always there, Hiding in plain sight. Did you dress like a teddy bear To ward off the woes of night? You couldn’t hide the kindness In those piercing, ice-blue eyes, Or bury in your winking jests, The sorrow in your smiles. YOUR THEATER, ABSURD, SO CALLED WAS ANYTHING BUT THAT IF NOTHINGNESS WAS REALLY ALL THEN WHAT WERE YOU SHOUTING AT? By your dying father’s cries You fought until the end Against the cold, despairing lies Of lives we can’t defend. Those still and silent signs of life That slipped through your fingertips Showed us by enduring strife, Waiting is also worship. YOUR THEATER, ABSURD, SO CALLED WAS ANYTHING BUT THAT IF NOTHINGNESS WAS REALLY ALL THEN WHAT WERE YOU SHOUTING AT?
6.
COLLIDE-A-SCOPE Irish Intro Lyrics: (Carrie Erving - vocal) Is é an bhrí ann mar aon ní amháin, I ngach fuaim , radharc , agus mothú, Ach fiú nuair thuiscint dúinn é ar feadh nóiméad, éadóchas orainn arís a fháil, Ní féidir é a shábháil chugainn ó féin. English translation:  The meaning is there as one In every sound, sight and feeling, But even when we grasp it for a moment, We despair again to find, It cannot save us from itself COLLIDE-A -SCOPE All your senses came alive,  in the spectrum of a song,  the blues rang  orange, yellow, red,  the letters of each word arrayed themselves the same Shining past their black and white The colors of the rainbow  Never change,  no matter how you view them;  whether slashed across the floor through a rent in the door;  Or humming  in the lights  along your spine,  And glowing in the grasses of the field,  the green that smells of home.  IT'S SIMULTANEOUSLY THERE AS ONE IN EACH SOUND AND SIGHT AND PATTERN THE MEANING THAT WE CRAVE AND SEEK BUT OFTEN LOSE YET EVEN WHEN WE GRASP IT FOR A MOMENT DIMLY KNOWN WE FIND IT CANNOT SAVE US FROM ITSELF We gave our God hands and a face, The invention of our need,  A being who would love us back, When no one human could. We shaped him in our image, From an inscrutable sky,  To bear the awful truth of our creation This juggernaut of being,  Does not notice, feel, or care,  Its bright miracle goes on  (without us) Senseless to our pain IT'S SIMULTANEOUSLY THERE AS ONE IN EACH SOUND AND SIGHT AND PATTERN THE MEANING THAT WE CRAVE AND SEEK BUT OFTEN LOSE YET EVEN WHEN WE GRASP IT FOR A MOMENT DIMLY KNOWN WE FIND IT CANNOT SAVE US FROM ITSELF
7.
Bardo State 03:18
BARDO STATE You steered those crossing echoes, The vestiges and inklings Of causes and effects that clutter up The threshold of these lives. You gave us cinema’s complete description: Of what exists— Recorded frame by frame— As well as how it goes— The action picture’s pictures moving. MATTER AND MOMENTUM ARE CONSERVED AS SOULS EXPRESS THE ENERGY THE HEAT, THE LIGHT OF FRICTION WE EXPEND LIKE THE TRICK OF MAGIC THINKING OR EVERY BROADCAST EVER MADE OUR RESIDUE REMAINS RICHOCHETING THROUGH MIRAGES, HOLOGRAPHS THE OLD TRANSMISSIONS THAT IT MEETS. The engine of it all, you claimed, Is that censored stuff we’re full of. Every twisting turn The whole canal, From mouth to mouth. The waste we make each day, Converting nourishment to charge, To power body functions we ignore. The beating heart, the breathing, This avalanching avalanche of thought. MATTER AND MOMENTUM ARE CONSERVED AS SOULS EXPRESS THE ENERGY THE HEAT, THE LIGHT OF FRICTION WE EXPEND LIKE THE TRICK OF MAGIC THINKING OR EVERY BROADCAST EVER MADE OUR RESIDUE REMAINS RICHOCHETING THROUGH MIRAGES, HOLOGRAPHS THE OLD TRANSMISSIONS THAT IT MEETS.
8.
ALL THE DIFFERENCE The moon and tides Don’t think the thoughts Of gravity or breaking. They are those thoughts. They are those thoughts. These mindless things We count on, But refuse to count, Exist complete To their surroundings, Inextricable. We are just Oblivious machines, Rolling over, Racing through The scenery. THIS VEXING SEPARATION OF ESSENCES FROM ACTS PLAGUES AND TORTURES MAKES US ALL TOO HUMAN TRAPPED INSIDE OUR PRISONS OF PERCEPTION CONSCIOUSNESS FOR US IS ALWAYS—ONLY— CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF We are actors Inconsiderate of acts, Micromanaging the role Of the persona, Not the person, We’re pretending. The cure is in Relinquishment, In throwing off These habits of disguise. Becoming more akin To the inanimate Makes all the difference. We are just Oblivious machines, Rolling over, Racing through The scenery. THIS VEXING SEPARATION OF ESSENCES FROM ACTS PLAGUES AND TORTURES MAKES US ALL TOO HUMAN TRAPPED INSIDE OUR PRISONS OF PERCEPTION CONSCIOUSNESS FOR US IS ALWAYS—ONLY— CONSCIOUSNESS OF SELF
9.
Woman-Kind? 04:17
WOMAN-KIND? Evolution doesn’t play dice Or leave a task As dire as propagation To chance. Feminine mystiques beguile, But the weaker sex gives birth In pained and bloody sport. Girls are nature’s Genotype of choice. And the Y in boys, they say, is a defective X. Seed, unlike a fetus, Is dispensable As men themselves, Custom’s casualties of war. PRETTY— SMOOTHED AND DECORATED FACES NOTWITHSTANDING, FEMALE FITNESS IS ASSURED, BY TRIALED AND TESTED UGLINESS HARD WON. THE FATAL HALF, AND FIERCER OF OUR KIND BY FAR, WOMEN BEAR THEIR LABEL “BITCHES” WITH GOOD REASON, SLURRING NO ONE BUT THE DOG. She lingers on the Back sides of your tongue, Like the slicking of your sleep Before you had a name. Woken rudely in a wash To the chokehold of a groin, And you—a bag of Jam-smeared bones Squeezing through a fistula, Out—into the cold The blinding Whiteness of this place. Savored adoration In your mouth Is in your memory The aftertaste of birth. PRETTY— SMOOTHED AND DECORATED FACES NOTWITHSTANDING, FEMALE FITNESS IS ASSURED, BY TRIALED AND TESTED UGLINESS HARD WON. THE FATAL HALF, AND FIERCER OF OUR KIND BY FAR, WOMEN BEAR THEIR LABEL “BITCHES” WITH GOOD REASON, SLURRING NO ONE BUT THE DOG.
10.
A VERY SWEET KIND OF DYING Scriptures, myths of all descriptions, Say much the same Of this condition that we’re in. The doer will be done to. Call it karma or comeuppance, What goes will also come. Ouroboros, Like Eden's worm Defiles, But ringed And ever turning on his tail, Also defiles himself. IF OXYGEN IS LIFE AND AGE IS OXIDATION IF EVERY BREATH OF MY SURVIVAL IS KILLING ME THEN THIS INVOLUTED CONTRADICTION WE CALL BEING IS A VERY SWEET KIND OF DYING We can make no sense of the music We hear spinning in these spheres. Their poles that seem apart Are tied together. Modern science verifies What mystics always knew: We merely filter an illusion. And the Bard’s pronouncement “All the world’s a stage” Was not a metaphor. IF OXYGEN IS LIFE AND AGE IS OXIDATION IF EVERY BREATH OF MY SURVIVAL IS KILLING ME THEN THIS INVOLUTED CONTRADICTION WE CALL BEING IS A VERY SWEET KIND OF DYING
11.
The Sam I Am 05:20
THE SAM I AM Your name in Sanskrit Means “joined,” As in the carts of old Tibet That yoked two yaks together— as they should be— And as this team of two, Became A driving force of one. And so Each mindful step along The noble path Of meditation Begins on meeted terms, With samyak or samyag— Correct, perfected, right. EXISTENCE IS AND MANIFESTS ENTIRE IN PARTS OF SPEECH THE YOGI'S RITE HAS UNITY BUILT INTO IT ARISTOTLE'S HAPPINESS ROOTS IN GOODNESS OF THE SOUL AND "YES" IS AN OLD ENGLISH VERSION OF "TO BE" PHILOSOPHIES CONTAIN, DISPLAY THEIR TERMS AND THEIR DEFINITIONS HOLD THE SIGNIFICANCE WE'RE SEEKING Samu El in Hebrew Means “Name of God,” Your Bible’s namesake, And the prophet That you also were, Served his calling God Saying: “Here I am.” The very words That Moses heard on Sinai When this God And guiding voice Of the Commandments At last pronounced His name. “I am that I am,” The answer came “I am.” EXISTENCE IS AND MANIFESTS ENTIRE IN PARTS OF SPEECH THE YOGI'S RITE HAS UNITY BUILT INTO IT ARISTOTLE'S HAPPINESS ROOTS IN GOODNESS OF THE SOUL AND "YES" IS AN OLD ENGLISH VERSION OF "TO BE" PHILOSOPHIES CONTAIN, DISPLAY THEIR TERMS AND THEIR DEFINITIONS HOLD THE SIGNIFICANCE WE'RE SEEKING
12.
Octavate 05:04
OCTAVATE The Eastern integers Of one through eight, Migration spread in faiths Bound up in languages. In Occitan, The tongue of troubadours, Both “nine” and “new” are nòu. In German nein is “no,” In French, Neuf also means “new.” Dante counted Beatrice As the Trinity times three, And his Vita Nuova Enlivened her nine anew. NINE AND ZERO THE FINISH TO START THE JOURNEY MADE AGAIN FROM ONE TO EIGHT PROCREATION INTEGRATES IN DEATH THE CIRCLE’S TWAINS ARE TIED IN SHAPES OF SPERM AND EGG MALE AND FEMALE FOLD TOGETHER VANISH INTO LIFE MOTHER, FATHER, CHILD THIS BRAIDING CHAIN OF BEING PASSES GENES IN EVERY BIRTH TO GHOSTS IN NEW MACHINES Zero Greek god of the west wind, Is the Arab cipher’s Sounding air Whistling through O-mega. The Taoist chi’s Resonating o(h)ms Spin the dharma wheel Whose empty center breathes. The spirit wind of Jahweh That once inspired Unmoving molds of clay Is standing still in spires Whose topping stilts of Skyward breath Uplift the stones of church. NINE AND ZERO THE FINISH TO START THE JOURNEY MADE AGAIN FROM ONE TO EIGHT PROCREATION INTEGRATES IN DEATH THE CIRCLE’S TWAINS ARE TIED IN SHAPES OF SPERM AND EGG MALE AND FEMALE FOLD TOGETHER VANISH INTO LIFE MOTHER, FATHER, CHILD THIS BRAIDING CHAIN OF BEING PASSES GENES IN EVERY BIRTH TO GHOSTS IN NEW MACHINES
13.
Passerbye 06:55
PASSERBYE Lying there, Looking through The lens of your end To meet it square With a straight face. Your eyes had strayed To the ceiling And bounced across it now, Between the corners of the room, As if taking final measure Of this place that you were leaving. This sky, this ground, These stultifying walls Of consciousness, From whose confines You’d earned your release. GO ON—BUT INCLUDE ME IF YOU CAN AND SAY GOODBYE WITHOUT A WORD BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE THAT CAN SAY ALL THAT WE THINK WE MEAN STILL WORDS ARE WHAT WE HAVE INSTEAD OF INTUITION AND THEY ARE HOW WE GO ON SAYING ALL, AND KNOWING NOTHING Your eyes had the look Of understanding, Which we’d all known As children in school. The filament glows In the pupil’s eye When the concept Registers at last. At last, you’d understood— Purely, truly understood. Revelation had arrived. But it came, as it must, At the end And it came too late. GO ON—BUT INCLUDE ME IF YOU CAN AND SAY GOODBYE WITHOUT A WORD BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE THAT CAN SAY ALL THAT WE THINK WE MEAN STILL WORDS ARE WHAT WE HAVE INSTEAD OF INTUITION AND THEY ARE HOW WE GO ON SAYING ALL, AND KNOWING NOTHING You’d waited Your whole life long for this. It was all you’d been able to do. To wait, For purpose, For meaning, For God For God Who is no thing, no being, Not a noun at all. But this spark of recognition That comes after So much expectation. Enlightening, extinguishing at once The time, the waiting, And the one who waits. GO ON—BUT INCLUDE ME IF YOU CAN AND SAY GOODBYE WITHOUT A WORD BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE THAT CAN SAY ALL THAT WE THINK WE MEAN STILL WORDS ARE WHAT WE HAVE INSTEAD OF INTUITION AND THEY ARE HOW WE GO ON SAYING ALL, AND KNOWING NOTHING

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released September 20, 2019

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Norah Vincent & Vern Woodhead New York, New York

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