Rachel Garlin

Lyrics

Gwendolyn Said
 
Stand up, rock the boat
Get a little water under your float, hey
“Exhaust the little moment, soon it dies” she said
“If it’s gash or gold
It will not come again,” hey
In this identical disguise”*
 
But the brick ticket counter only takes cash
And your only ID is a bus pass
And you get to the front of the line in time
But you’re afraid to ask
The big kids from around the bend
Chase you down to the corner store and then
You pony up, pony up if you want to last
 
Stand up, rock the boat . . .
 
So we put the playground behind us
Pushed the envelope back into our binders
Ran to the stop where only the words of
Gwendolyn Brooks could find us
Someone sent away for a Ninja star
I spent my change on a pull-up bar
There’s nothing you forget
More than reminders
 
Stand up, rock the boat . . .
 
It’s what Gwendolyn said
Over my head, over my head
 
Stand up, rock the boat . . .
Gwendolyn Said
Over my head . . .
 
 
*From Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks
 
 

Accordion Song
 
I’m sorry I was not stronger when I saw you
Instead I only wanted to cry
Hearing about your dad, I admit
Got me thinking about mine
 
You were looking slight and small
Beside the writing on the wall
Our meeting here was supposed to be benign
And I thought I would be stronger when I saw you
Instead I only wanted to cry
 
Singing, ooooh . . .
 
Some days you can’t articulate a story
You take a crack at humor but you miss
I remember clearly when you told me
How to avoid situations like this
 
Where you are talking casually
With a friend you only rarely see
On a day when you could easily start bawling
Now I am trying desperately to follow some propriety
With feelings that I cannot seem to swallow
 
Singing, ooooh . . .
 
Holding it together is a metaphor
For someone trying not to fall apart
Like the bellows of a loosely hung accordion
That move against a tightly pleated heart
 
They say it’s like a one-man band
A piano right inside your hand
That doesn’t need a complement at all
And maybe that is why I’m sad
The years we’ll spend without our dads
Are echoes in an empty concert hall
 
Singing, ooooh . . .
 
Hey Keith Haring
 
Hey Keith Haring we followed you following men back into caves
Back in the day when the Xerox machine and the Polaroid were raging
You made the chalk talk to the black
You gave graffiti love and graffiti loved back
Drew the tension into lines that still vibrate
Cuz there was something on your inside that you could not not articulate
 
Call it blood, call it guts
Call it chalk, call it dust
You drew your fire into lines so clear
You were here
 
Hey Keith Haring we followed you following Basquiat and Warhol
Back in the day when we shared on the pillars and posted on real walls
You kept a Sharpie in your pack
You gave graffiti love and graffiti loved back
When you ran up from tunnels to the street above
There was no victim just some criminal mischief but still they locked you up
 
Call it blood, call it guts
Call it chalk, call it dust
You drew your fire into lines so clear
You were here
 
Hey Keith Haring we followed you following art back into crowds
Back in the day when the galleries stayed far away from lines that loud
You got a pop shop, you got swag
You gave graffiti love and graffiti loved back
In a T-shirt with a drawing of a barking dog
And a baby who was dancing on her way to learning how to crawl
 
Call it blood, call it guts
Call it chalk, call it dust
You drew your fire into lines so clear
You were here
 
 
This Winding Road
 
Reading the pages of a Modern Love
The Sunday paper’s little treasure trove
Mama’s in the kitchen washing up
Baby’s at the window stalking trucks
 
And I look at these hills and I can’t believe
I didn’t used to see their beauty
I used to think this winding road
Was just the high way to get home
 
Have you seen the view from Grizzly Peak
Eucalyptus grove, Strawberry Creek
An empty lot where we used to go
To watch the Fourth of July sky show
 
And I look at these hills and I can’t believe
I didn’t used to see their beauty
I used to think this winding road
Was just the high way to get home
 
            We flew down the canyon in your cousin’s car    
Climbed barbed fences to the reservoir
            In a corner cave we might have carved a heart
            But I can’t remember that
            I can’t remember that
 
It’s a grand disaster and a catch 22
You take for granted what they give to you
When they mow it away, you might appreciate
You can’t rake back the time you waste
 
And I look at these hills and I can’t believe
I didn’t used to see their beauty
I used to think this winding road
Was just the high way to get home
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Sea You See
 
I know where to look at Ailsa Craig
And predict the kind of weather
If the island wears a hat that’s made of fog
And I know where to find a hermit in a cave
Where the roads are lined with heather
And I know where to find Greyfriar’s Bobby dog
 
But though I got your eyes, I cannot see
The blue behind your gaze
When I see you see the sea you see
Beyond the ocean waves
 
I know how to walk a tatty field
To find a berry in the brambles
And I know how to dance a fearsome eight-some reel
I know how make a shepherd’s pie
And hear the sound inside a seashell, yes
I know how to play a Burns lullaby
 
But though I got your eyes, I cannot see
The blue behind your gaze
When I see you see the sea you see
Beyond the ocean waves
 
And I guess you had some wanderlust
And a pack of Marlboro Lights
And though it’s hard to imagine you before us
I guess there was a time
 
When you left the land of lochs
And bought a ticket for the land of the kiwis
Didn’t fear the vastness of this globe
And I know I’m not the only one who’s glad
You didn’t make it all the way to New Zealand
But sometimes I wish you weren’t
So far from your home
 
‘Cause though I got your eyes, I cannot see
The blue behind your gaze
When I see you see the sea you see
Beyond the ocean waves

Colorado Rain                                            
 
The spring that follows a Colorado rain
Is not looking for love, she’s not looking for something
The spring that follows a Colorado rain
Is not looking for luck, she just wants to sing
 
We went chasing up a mountainside
And running in our long johns           
On the best day of my childhood life
Pure bliss, pure crisp mountain air, no expectations
Just in, just us, just this
 
Colorado rain
 
The spring that follows a Colorado rain
Is not looking for say-so, she’s no decoration
The spring that follows a Colorado rain
Takes off the raincoat and a coat of pain
 
Colorado Rain
 
Reaching through an hourglass
I want to punch my hand through
I’m too overwhelmed to ask you how you are
Did you get lost, lose trust, trust fall, or fall to pieces
Just what, just how, just this
 
The spring that follows a Colorado rain
She’d love to see you, she’s doing fine
The spring that follows a Colorado rain
Just went through hell, so you better get in line
 
The spring that follows a Colorado rain is in the country
She’s re-directing spiders to the doorways in the barn
So some pig, terrific pig, gold medal pig
Can get the message: Just kick, just grin, just this
 
Colorado Rain
 
Up on a Ladder in Boots
 
I met a woman who paints like a
Carpenter building a balcony
Stretching her canvas like scaffolding
Up on a ladder in boots
 
She says she’s more like a circus clown
Dangling from a trapeze she found
Dizzy from putting the drop cloth down
Up on a ladder in boots
 
There is no mirror inside her room
Who can be sure when she’s all alone
That it is really the same someone
Up on a ladder in boots?
 
Give it a day and she’s coming down
She was too wired to look around
I looked for eye contact, none I found
Up on a ladder in boots
 
There is no mirror inside her room
Who can be sure when she’s all alone
That it is really the same someone
Up on a ladder in boots?
           
How could the handshake be callused, dry
All from a woman who makes you cry
Like Caravaggio’s secret sky
Up on a ladder in boots
 
 
Flying Together
 
You are flying away tonight
With our youngest, flying together
And though I wish I could be your light
Your compass, I know better
Than to try to control
Anything any more
I will wait here at home
For the phone when you’ll say
I am here, everything is okay
You are flying away tonight
With our youngest, flying together
And although you can’t see it yet
I am sure, he’s curly headed
Like a girl that I knew
In a hat in a store
With a globe full of snow
On the phone who would say
I am here, everything is okay
 
You are flying away
You are flying away
You are flying away together
 
You are flying away tonight
With our youngest, flying together
His older brother can’t sleep tonight
And I wonder if he will ever
When you’re gone, on the road
And he waves to the phone
In his cape, in his room
With his light that can glow
Like the moon in the snow
Not the same, does he know
You are here, everything is okay
 

Spin
 
My constant friend, she said
“You’re a human being not a human doing”
But look at you go twirling
You’re a top on a tabletop
Not about to drop, not about to stop, no
I can see your muddy colors swirling
 
And you spin, over, over
Like leaves falling in the wind
Spin, over, over
Leaves falling, leaves falling in the wind
‘Til you’re spinning around again
 
My head is down
It’s looking at the ground below me
When I go you won’t be
Waiting around lonely
Some cats, they fall
While their backs are turned
When they land they learn
It’s their feet getting dirty
 
And you spin, over, over
Like leaves falling in the wind
Spin, over, over
Leaves falling, leaves falling in the wind
‘Til you’re spinning around again
 
You can trip on hope ‘til you can’t seal an envelope
Or you can lick that little sticky bit goodbye
I’m at the edge of the well, but I can’t even tell
I don’t even know where my wish is hiding
I don’t even know where my wish is hiding
 
Spin, over, over
Leaves falling in the wind
Spin, over, over
Leaves falling, leaves falling in the wind
‘Til you’re spinning around again
Spin
 

 
Stranded
 
I carried home a suitcase of your notebooks every night
Didn't have a clue what I was doing
Happily I gave you all of my beginner's mind
And somehow we all go through it
 
And when I landed in Phoenix
I could not believe the heat
Where we were standing
When we went up on the rooftop
The blacktop beneath our feet
Like we were stranded
 
Knocking on the fencepost
Just to meet your old grandma
She said there were men here but the boy never met ‘em
Then she brought out a photo of a uniformed grandpa
When the Navajo soldiers got a medal
 
And when I landed in Phoenix
I could not believe the heat
We were standing
When we went up on the rooftop
The blacktop beneath our feet
Like we were stranded
 
And when I lived in that dessert, the snapshots were weak
And so I only remember some things
Like they made all the inmates in state prison wear pink
To shame them, to shame them
 
And they were stranded
And we were stranded
Stranded
 
When they built the airport,
They offered our school a lot of money
If we would put our building under ground
So we dug a hole and
From underneath, we were aware of all these engines running
We could not, we could not hear a sound
 
When I landed in Phoenix
I could not believe the heat
 
 
Dear Friend
 
Dear friend, I’m proud of you
Your voice is sounding better
You knew what you needed
Was an answer to your letter
Now that it has come, some things are done
Not saying that it’s settled
But the land is shifting underneath your luck and
It’s sand instead of mud that you are stuck in
 
Dear friend, the soulless sky
Is taking inventory
Just another boring day of
Streaming sunshine in the morning
Now that spring has come, something’s begun
Not saying that it’s warmer
But the calla lilies stretch across the stream
And a battle ends when nothing’s in between
 
You held your ground
And gained some power you should hold
Hold the letter, hold the answer
Hold the right to have some anger
Of your own, then let go
 
Dear friend I’m mad that you
Now live so far away
I will forgive you if you
Promise not to waste away
And make space for new neighbors
I’m not saying that it’s easy
But you made it, now get in it, it’s your bed
And it’s chin up like our mothers always said

 
Wink at July
 
Leaving the Cape and the Center of Space
Apollo touched down at Tranquility Base
On a magical night in the middle of July
The whole world stopped to look at the sky
 
‘Cause a footprint like this had not yet existed
Before it arrived maybe nobody missed it
A little bit early, but really not a bit too
And now it’s a part of the dance that we skip to
 
I look at the sky in her layers of maroon
And the glow in the eye
Of the little grey moon
And I wonder how I got to be in this room
And I wink at July like the astronauts do
 
We are leaving the way of a life we once knew
With our walk-up apartment, our little bijou
There were five flights of stairs and not one of them straight
And a laundromat view from the fire escape
 
And the Billy Boy bakers put rings into pies
And we gathered around with those books and those guys
We moved in tight spaces like bubbles of soap
With light and with color we bent and we broke
 
I look at the sky in her layers of maroon . . .
 
They played music every Sunday
In the alley below
We would dance by the ledge
Of the open window
 
Now our boy’s blowing bubbles and pushing his broom
He’s our Billy Boy baker, our little bijou
The books that he chooses he chooses with care
He’s our laundromat dancer with sun in his hair
 
And he started to notice the bump on your lap
The last time you cuddled him down for his nap
He is getting a brother no not that he knows
But he sees how the love in this family grows
 
I look at the sky in her layers of maroon  . . .