Inland Territory (2009)

Released: April 7, 2009

1  The Last Snowfall
2  White Light
3  Antebellum
4  Kansas
5  In Another Life
6  Grandmother Song
7  Stray Italian Greyhound
8  Augustine
9  No Gringo
10  Watershed
11  Radio
12  St. Stephen’s Cross


Lyrics

 

The Last Snowfall

 
if this were the last snowfall
no more haloes on evergreens
if this were my last glimpse of winter
how would these eyes see
if this were the last slow curling
of your fingers in my palm
if this were the last I felt you breathing
how would I carry on
this is not the last snowfall
not our last embrace
but if I were that kind of grateful
what would I try to say
 

White Light

 
all of a sudden the conversation turns
and everyone concerned is looking down
guilty party is right here in the room
but no one can assume the high ground
oh it almost caught up with you
caught up with you then
oh you should’ve thought of this my friend

if you knew it was wrong why did you do it
you don’t know, you didn’t mean to, it slipped your mind
and it feels so good to feed a habit
you’re just making the most of your borrowed time
waiting for the white light

heading home you swear that you’ll be good
do everything you should, you know the facts
but in the morning you’re back to petty needs
tragedy recedes to photographs
oh it hasn’t caught up with you
caught up with you yet
no it hasn’t taught you when to quit

if you knew it was wrong why did you do it
you don’t know, you didn’t mean to, it slipped your mind
is it OK because everybody does it
this whole party is rolling on borrowed time
waiting for the white light

shine down
wipe it all out again
show me how
it doesn’t matter in the end

if you knew it was wrong why did you do it
you don’t know, you didn’t mean to, it slipped your mind
is it OK because everybody does it
no laws are broken if we’re all committing the same crime

but I know it’s wrong, why do I do it
I don’t know, I don’t mean for it to slip my mind
it just takes so much to break a habit
even when I’m aware that we are out of time
am I waiting for a white light
 

Antebellum

 
in the fall we circle through the leaves
and talk about the little ones
and we smile but never say too much
the moment always vanishing
one by one the neighbors’ lights come on
our October day is almost gone

I know the border lines we drew between us
keep the weapons down
keep the wounded safe
I know our antebellum innocence
was never meant to see the light of our armistice day

in the spring we climbed the rolling hills
and talked about our budding plans
and we smiled, our faces like a mirror
showing us our secret sides
but then the fights
the sharp words splintering the night
how I couldn’t be what you’d need
but oh how I could make you bleed

I know the border lines we drew between us
keep the weapons down
keep the wounded safe
I know our antebellum innocence
was never meant to see the light of our armistice
but how much would I give to have it back again
how much did we lose to live this way

you’ll go home
I’ll stay here
seasons keep on marching
I’ll stay here
you’ll go home with only strangers watching
 

Kansas

 
sun sets in an ocean of brown farmland haze
power lines draped across roads you could drive on for days
well it’s all too perfect
time to look back at us now

endless and empty like Kansas
our cities of clouds
flat on the table like Kansas

I lay down in sheets suddenly worn threadbare
every wall I lean on transforms to sliding doors and thin air
well I hope yours is kinder
let go of this when you find her

bury this hard
down underneath your white canvas
our houses of cards
flat on the table like Kansas

and it’s not regret
just an unexpected accounting of debts
only now called
no it’s not regret
just remembrance is all
of how close we had come
the war almost won
but I sent up our flag and moved on

you and I
lost to the winter like Kansas
and all my goodbyes
flat on the table like Kansas
 

In Another Life

 
in another life
you and I worked West Virginia coal mines
side by side
collecting the black dust like sin
the day the main shaft caved in
I caught your eye
as the lantern light guttered out
and the afterdamp swallowed us slowly
I gripped your hand
and caught a glance
of the next time ’round

in another life
you and I were Red Guards in training
side by side
we marched on Tiananmen
turned our own parents in
for hoarding rice
in the Great Leap Forward
we crawled on our bellies and died
a blood orange sky
gave a cry
of next time ’round

in another life
I was married at thirteen
you were killed at twenty-one
on a minor battlefield
I was buried beside my second stillborn child
my last thought it seemed
a fever dream

now we sink into a summer afternoon
Central Park in June
marveling at the bounty our days contain
and we feel it like the shiver
of a passing train
that other life
deep underground
you and I
side by side
we are the next time ’round
 

Grandmother Song

 
oh girl you think you got time
you’re gonna get ’round to it way down the line
but one step, two step, you fall behind
so you better have a good plan
oh girl you think you got time
gonna get ’round to it way down the line
but I’m telling you no matter what you have in mind
you’re still gonna need a man

take it from your grandmother I’ve been ’round
no one’s gonna take care of you
in that world you got yourself into
all the good boys, oh baby they’re in grad school

oh girl your story’s all wrong
your dream’ll be a nightmare before too long
turning thirty and still trying to sing your songs
come on who do you think you are
oh girl it’s too heavy a load
your mama and your baba they are worried souls
how you gonna raise a family when you’re on the road
with some tattooed boy with a guitar

take it from your grandmother I’ve been ’round
this music career isn’t real life
it won’t see you through to when you’re sixty-five
when the tide turns you won’t survive
you’ll sit on the banks and cry

oh girl you’ve never known war
when they come in the night and knock on the door
you can go from the high life to dirty poor
and lose everything you knew
but the one thing they can’t take away from you
is your mind and the education you’ve been through
so you find a man who understands that too
make sure he stays true
gives respect where it’s due
make sure he knows what he’s got in you

because a woman isn’t just for cooking meals
scrubbing floors, making babies
a woman’s got ambitions same as he does
maybe more
when the sirens wailed and the bombs fell
we ran from the schoolyard into hell
and what we could’ve been time will never tell
’cause we never had your chances
the advantages that you’ve been handed
girl you’ll never know how hard it was
so you’ve got to do this for all of us

take it from your grandmother I’ve been ’round
 

Stray Italian Greyhound

 
oh no not now
please not now
I’d just settled into the glass half empty
made myself at home
and so why now
please not now
I’d just stopped believing in happy endings
harbors of my own

but you had to come along, didn’t you
tear down the doors, throw open windows
oh if you knew just what a fool you have made me

so what do I do with this

this stray Italian greyhound
these inconvenient fireworks
this ice-cream-covered screaming hyperactive thought
god I just want to lay down
these colors make my eyes hurt
this feeling calls for everything that I am not
I’m not that kind
I’m so good at shooting down any notion
this tired world could change
it’s all been bought
well at least that was my line
no use in spending all that emotion
when there’s someone else to blame
but you had to come along, didn’t you
rev up the crowd, rewrite the rule book
where do I go when every no turns into maybe

so what do I do with this
this sudden burst of sunlight
and me with my umbrella
cross-indexing every weatherman’s report
was ready for the downslide
but not for spring to well up
this feeling calls for everything I can’t afford
to know
is possible now

what do I do
with a love that won’t sit still
won’t do what it’s told
what do I do with a love that won’t sit still
 

Augustine

 
oh my god
what have I done
chasing some mirage in my Mojave sun
don’t say every chance is lost
please don’t say anything at all

in sand and thorns
I’m walking forth
bare and blinking as the day that I was born
bells in spires of china white
ring for an Augustine tonight

oh now I’m breaking down
oh let me be
let me be your Augustine

lead me now
I understand
faith is both the prison and the open hand
bells on low on high
will you ring for Augustine tonight

oh now I’m breaking down
every illusion in between
all the lies that I have seen
oh let me be your Augustine
 

No Gringo

 
father says head down
we don’t want them finding you
mother says practice now
all the words you know

oh Arizona’s burning
they say the fence turned round
now the razor wire keeps us out

mother says with luck
we’ll sleep under a roof tonight
father says in the truck
we’ll be crushed in tight

oh Chicago don’t forget me
as the miles between us grow
keep the maple tree carved with the name of my love
the hills we would sled race down
Lake Michigan stay endless and painted in sky
goodbye

mother says years ago
the whole world was ours to rule
father says let it go
those days are gone for good

all the signs read “no gringo”
but somehow we’ll find our way
maybe waiting at dawn by the factory doors
sunburnt and bent in the fields
please don’t turn us in
we’ll be silent as the grave
as time

no gringo
no gringo aquí
words as levies against the flood
hoy cerrado
there’s too many to feed
room for only our own kind, our own blood
no gringo
no gringo aquí
you have stayed in this land for too long
tan amargo
but there’s no time to grieve
you just pack up your things and move on
 

Watershed

 
while you were building your empires
I was still sleeping

while you were setting your woods afire
I was still dreaming

now I will unsettle the ground beneath you
send my waters ashore
creep into your bed
find you in every corner

while you argue it over
I am not waiting

while you retreat to your comforts
I am not fading

I’ve done this many times before you
old Shanghai
New Orleans
Amsterdam and Mumbai
strange new creatures to scavenge your pores
oh I’ve done this many times before you
ashen sky, lightning storms
deltas to desert plains
wartime on every border

I’ve done this many times before you
watched the pattern take form
children your time is done
if you say it’s done together
 

Radio

 
it came from nowhere
on the 38 Geary
a girl with a backpack of shrapnel and wire
through spiderweb windows
of bloodstained glass
a pagoda’s shadow and a cruel sunny sky
oh the flash then the silence
shouldn’t there be screaming praying crying
oh anything at all
tell me where are the sirens
fire’s getting closer but I’ve got to stay calm

it’s just the radio darling
just the radio and your runaway imagination
just the radio darling
we can turn away to another station

outside they’re handing out
fate to the wounded
little tags in black red yellow and green
it’s now my twenty-fifth hour
with a scalpel in hand
if I stop moving I will sleep on my feet
and the rumors are seething
gunfire at freeway exits, bridges made barricades
I can feel the fog creeping
god where’s the morphine, the sweet lidocaine

it’s just the radio

sing me a love song dear
what good has the news ever done me
come on it’ll never happen here, oh no
we are not some third world country
this is not some third world country

I’m sorry Mama
I held on for as long as I could
I’m sorry Papa
there was nothing more I could do

it’s just the radio
 

St. Stephen’s Cross

 
he was there the night the wall came down
he lost her in the endless crowd
in the shadow of St. Stephen’s cross
sent cries aloft for his fellow man
his fingers slipping from her hand
and the rain clouds prowling overhead

she was there the night the wall came down
she faded into that newborn crowd
like a warning of what could be lost
through the perforated night she ran
her fingers slipping from his hand
and she breathed in freedom before daylight tread

they were there the night the wall was drowned
in the surging of that tidal crowd
an old world made new on the same holy ground
she found him standing looking lost
in the shadow of St. Stephen’s cross
and he closed his eyes and heard no sound
but her breathing warm against his mouth