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This city beats against me
Steady, unwilling to be sedentary
Even in the quiet hours I spend
Walking home from your apartment
The sky never completely dark
and me, following the light
houses dragging my feet
Toward my room
To sleep in fits and starts
As sun begins to bloom.
I never thought a place could make me
At once warm and cold,
too young too old,
I’m not ready.
I need this city like I could never believe
Never could have dreamed
Ever wanting never to leave
I can’t accept the loss I’m scared I’ll have to grieve,
So I don’t.
I want these streets to cling to my face
like the spider’s web that I break
when the walk to work is a race
That purpling train we always take
will forever pace
through my veins
rumbling over my tapping toes to my brain
back and forth
south and then north
carrying us to the sea.
To spend a perfect day
cutting our feet
on the broken shells of the beach
dancing to nonsensical beats
the waves pulling us in
washing to shore with their Halloween grin,
droplets of sky
swim her widening eyes
while he’s softly testing his voice.
Calling out the chord of the notes,
dark little eggs we’ve all been curled up inside
we’re finally willing to hatch
hands reaching to crack
the thin dark lines of the staff,
blindly we grasp,
tying a knot ,
linking together our flags
in a quick eighth note melody.
Catchy and sweet
light on its feet
bar ending in a semicolon
Peeling the skin from my fingers, I breathe,
skeleton hands poking through a hole in the seat,
I think, ‘How can we ever have time?
How can I learn to control, to possess this
infinitely stretching numbered line?’
To comfortably let the seconds tick by
knowingly winking their eyes as they pass
like they know the answer to everything I want to ask
moving too fast
for me to catch them by the hand to whisper,
‘How long will this last?
When will I fade cling to shapes in the fog of their past?’
I would happily pale in the shadow you cast.
London, wrap me in your suffocating clouds,
knot my throat with the quickening breath of the crowds,
‘JUST LET ME STAY’
Let me always remember the day when
the rhythm of my life was broken
and rhymes ceased to sound the same.
When the weight was unlocked from my chest,
freeing my screaming limbs to stiffly stir in their sockets
after decades spent immobile,
unfurling in the sudden lightness,
lifting my chin to the east they cry,
‘STAND UP’, ‘RUN’, ‘FIND WHAT YOU WANT, IT’S HERE’.
And I will run to you, all of you, every red bus, every bridge, every blade of green,
every droplet of gray, every dark-coated woman hunched in the wind,
every corner pub at five o’clock, I will catch your shoulder and squint into your face because I know it’s here if I look.
And when I turn you around, you
you, when I find you,
I will turn you around and think, ‘You look familiar, have we met someplace before? Are you expecting me?’
And I will take your hand and run and every step is counted,
a second on the clock is ticking, muttering to hurry.
And we'll ride city bikes through darkened parks,
your hands reaching up to scrape the stars,
I would trade years of my life
for one more hour
of following your red tail lights,
blurred by gathering mist.
There will never be enough of this.
The sudden burst of rain,
the sunny day that gently washes our faces in its golden light,
the million rings dried upon the bar counter,
silently tallying nights.
And I will feel the clock’s tick tapping upon my temple and I will clutch you tighter.
And when my time is up
the chime is loud enough to knock me to the floor,
and I will scream,
clinging to the furniture,
climbing over the dining room table,
the slouching sofas of the cinema,
the out of tune bar piano,
the dented door knob that turns inward,
and they will drag me, fingertips cracking,
across the cobblestones,
desperately tracing my name through the dust
our feet trailed across
And your image will blur and swim and burn like rain
shimmering in the sun
and my voice will break and strain,
‘I WANT MORE.
I WANT TO ALWAYS FEEL THIS WAY.
IT’S HERE. IT’S ALWAYS BEEN HERE.’
But when I click my heels three times I disappear.
from DREAMBOAT EXPRESS,
released April 4, 2017
Music, lyrics, and vocals by EJ Lee. Additional vocal performance by Jo Mance.