Alison O'Donnell

singer, musician and writer of songs & soundscapes

 

The Devil's Trumpet is a Witch's Weed

Night breaks over blackened lungs/Insects come to call/You want to smell the devil’s trumpet/But you dare not breathe at all/The chair rolls forward wheeling faster/Each flash is but a year/Heading for the young ones’ ledge/There is no time left for fear/Regret is wrapped in futile defiance/For the luscious days you devoured/A little less when your face was smooth/And we would not be laying down our flowers

Cruel Mist Roll Away

Fog is fluffing up behind your eyes/Thunder roars a word in your ears/What is that lovely stone upon your breast?/It is the colour of a cloudless sky/Why should I think the sun is up?/You say all plaintive and with some snap/Suddenly the cruel mist rolls away/And the messenger says to drain your cup/Big bad wave is crashing down upon my beach/Try to scream but you’ve lost the power of common speech/Lie you down on a bed of hay/Or is it just your garden lawn?/You see a field of stallions blur and race/In fact the farm is fifty miles away/The mist comes in and covers you in eider down

(Near Dark) Apartment 6

Who lives up those marble stairs?/Behind the Georgian door/He folds his cape around his frame/He has the blackest hair/Open all the windows floors one to five/Tie back the drapes with satin bows/Look at number six blind firmly down/Shadow of a man up to his tricks/ Who bathes at three in ghostly light?/Behind the damask walls/Did he use a cutthroat blade?/Will he teach his dog to bite?/ Hanging from the rooftop upside down/I’m itching from a liquid sweat/Can he hear my false heart pound?/Does he parade in his dressing gown?/ Who has never been found out/Throwing caution to the wind?/Can’t quite creep close enough/To prove him bloody /beyond doubt/Unhallowed music floats down to me/Near dark I hear a screech and a scrape/Does he kill in apartment six?/He’s playing the fiddle fiendishly

Glendalough Carved in an Age of Ice

Is the ancient track under high mountains a sacred as it once was?/Two lakes lap, lapping violet from a long mile away/One is dark and peaty with a white sandy edge/One is dark and peaty with a white sandy edge/The other has a marshy fringe and ruinous fen/The other has a marshy fringe and ruinous fen/A dipper flies over white lilies and bottle sedge/And driftwood like antlers/Driftwood like antlers/Church after church with lead, zinc and silver/Carvings on the chancel arch/Is there a giver?

Account For That Day

Oh break the door/Oh break the door/Break the door down/Break the door down/Take it outside/Take it outside/Your hue and cry/Your do or die/You’ve silenced the kid/Silenced the kid/The power is out/The power is out/Their faces are green/Their faces are green/When they take them away/To account for that day/Words will not be made to drip from those jaws/Tongues will never make a slip on a point of law

Brew the Sequence

Footfall softly on a bed of clay/Nouns rain behind me on this firework day/Take them back tomorrow creep, creep and crawl away/      Radiating sorrow that moves in for to stay/Fall on your sword why don’t you, why don’t you go down on bended knee?/Sheath up your arrows please please please before I reach that hunting tree/Count out your words in a mealy-mouthed measure/And you be transfigured for everyone to see/

Here Come The Rambling Men

Fire out of the den/Their mam she’s lying dead/Here come the rambling men/To send her off in scarlet threads/Beeswax in her nose/ And two gold ear hoops/Above her finest clothes/Strike up the fiddling troupe/Stags charge through the glen/Shiny eyes are wide with fright/ Here come the rambling men/With painted plates to the burial site/The old trees are rattled too/With mighty lament/Beast and infant know it’s true/Caravan is for cremation/Here come the rambling men/Here come the rambling men

Glendalough Carved

Forest fox raises a complex voice/Under the steeply pitched roof of St. Kevin’s Kitchen/Thin layer of mist swelling and moist/Dampens flowers that faded when the swallows left again/When the swallows left back then/Over hermits processing with holy ghost men/The abbot is cold within his lakeside bed/His intentions honourable, his visions pure/Starving himself of daily bread/He cannot have drowned a lustful woman/For her condition that is an ungodly cure/Those words are in a song but not a brochure

Pull Up our Hoods

For all you, for all you, for all you, for all you, we did it/Learned the lines, put in time, obeyed the sign, I knew it/Not for praise, not for praise, not for praise, we worked it/And so the sea a perfect blue on the day that’s in it/Cold eyes loom, cold eyes loom, cold eyes loom, there we’ve said it/Pull up our hoods for the greater good, warmed again within it/Someone else will make your bed and want you, want you so much in it/Walk on by, walk on by, walk on by, walk on by, walk it/Just for you, just for you, just for you, just for you, you do it/Ringing bell, we wake well, now you take your spell and shove it/Fingers close round something hard, I’m on my guard and I speak into it/We drop that stone far down the stream and are not tumbling on with it

The Reign of the White Plague

Spit into the littered river/Beg you do not do it right next to me/Cannot climb your crowded stairs/To your sickening bed/Many pale and little sisters/Consumed all in their tender years/Sitting still on their shaking chairs/Indiscriminate white plague has spread/You will dress in a fine lace collared gown/Then you can be gently washed and laid down/Dublin City and in old London Town/Statisticians are reeling round/Something wild is racing along the wind/Chilling to the bone and on sweating skin

 Across The Blackened Fields
Blackberry bush plucked quite bare/But not one nettle patch to sting our legs/Herring and mackerel sport in the bay/There are no fishing nets to spare/Lie you down on a bed of straw/Or beneath the soil in a narrow ditch/Forget about the blackened fields/The sea-grass and tubers raw/No one sings and no one dances
And no one plays the pipes/Rose spots bloom on many chests/And wrinkles on the hand/Green upon our dying lips/No priest to lay us to rest/No one sings and no one dances/And no one plays the pipes/Goose and gull fly away/The barque and brig sail away

Golden Carpet
Hurry yourself alongside icy water raging out from the glen/Thickened up with chestnut leaves discouraging the race/This golden carpet you can not ride for it will ditch you when you least know when/When the reddest setter plunges in resist the urge to leap/He will fix you with his pleading eyes while he swirls downstream/But that dashing hound he can clamber out while you go drowning in the deep/Let the golden carpet go on rushing by and save bravado for your dreams/Woollen threads and rushes green/Tangled in a weaving machine

Blood On His Horns
The killer and his entourage sacrifice the bull/Lances in his powerful neck are pointing at the sky/His death in the afternoon is a bloody ancient art/Mules drag him around the ring while he is yet to die/An ear is sliced triumphantly/And the blood on his horns/The blood on his horns/Flows copiously/The fire bull wears an iron crown adorned with flaming balls/He runs amok through narrow streets and shakes his blazing head/Deafened by the crackers and the baying of the crowd/He longs for his heart to stop and all that he has bled/The living firework detonates/And the blood on his horns/The blood on his horns/Coagulates/
When our brothers were little lads/They coveted the black montera/The suit of lights and a sword for play and threat/When our sisters were little lasses/They clicked their castanets/Swished flamenco skirts and stamped their heels/They prayed their pets would never suffer/Nor the bull in the field/The living firework detonates/And the blood on his horns/The blood on his horns/Coagulates/  

Strawberry Wine
A sultry evening years ago/I closed my eyes in a bed of fern/Tiny sprites in the mighty oak/Viewed the woodland scene below/The river master’s daughter sylph/With emerald hair and waxen skin/Flickered on this sleeping form/My life force wearing down and thin/A face with far too perfect features/Contours of sublime design/Were they supernatural creatures/Offering me strawberry wine?/I rose up into their slipstream/Flesh and blood lay on the ground/Flying towards the glorious horizonAnointed queen for one night crowned/I could see the wraiths of water/In amongst papyrus sedge/Ghostly fingers waving at me
Pointing to the forest edge/Distant from my earthly companions/The sylph became a willow tree/I drank in all beneath her boughs/And saw each thing I wanted to see/Ride my friends on winged dogs/Tip your brow in greeting to me/For once we speak in tongues togetherIn a radiant harmony/When I awoke there lay the forest pool/Rippling under phosphorescent light/Drawing to a close this midsummer night

Come All Ye Malcontents
Come all you malcontents walk among the weeds on the garden path/Down from your crumbling towers you are going to be led astray/On the high streets you learned with your mothers spit out years of wrath/This is one misshapen day/Cover your heads with angry masks and roar like wounded bears/Burn down your own weekend history and turn your backs on every prayer/The fruit of the phone has spread the word /everywhere/Falling far from grace/Hang your wretched face/Breed them and weep/Lead them like sheep/Bleed them and sweep/Up


The Day The Winged Fury Came
Ear to the ground on a bed of broken brick/Incapable of sound the air is thick/The drum it split and blood lies spent and slick/The roof next door is on the avenue trees/Tiles on the floor in a terracotta sea/Washing on the line is flying free/Mother waves from yonder marsh/Her mouth an open scream/The wind that whips is cold and harsh/A cataclysmic scene/The bus will come another day/To people standing at the stop/And a jar of bulls-eyes in demand again/At the local corner shop/The churchyard will be crowded soon/With cousins in their graves/The wail of sirens loom/To fetch away the brave

Hart Fell
Many fair days/I walk by the larch/Soft green needles/Don’t hurt me/Beautiful boat-building tree/
Chill in the air/Fall on the march/Yellow needles/Thick on the ground/Felling me the slow way down/
The golden trumpets of spring are mute/The sweet pea climbs no more/Winter comes for me/Freezing my sanity/Tossing the ball/Giving my all/The dog in the field/Delighted me/Skittering free/He plays away/A greater game/I wait in vain/He’s found a fitter friend/I’m too broken for him to mend/Winter comes for me/Freezing my sanity/Find a fitter friend/I’m too broken for you to mend

White Lilies
When Juno laid the milky road/The strongest son was at her breast/When several droplets fell to earth/The lily grew as white as snow/A tender girl roamed the wilds/Safe inside her spun cocoon/Lilies circling far and wide/Kept her innocent as a child/But she was drawn to blocks of steel/With ornamental trees inside/The ground beneath her booted feet/Covered with a thousand wheels/The grain she knew from country fields/And the sweet white grape upon the vine/Passed her lips both day and night/Until she lost her temperance shield/Tried to pick a bunch of lilies/The helm of darkness came her way/Wound them round into a wreath/Took her to the kingdom of the dead that day/Wandering with the souls of the damned/She prayed to every god on high/Took her penance for salvation/Stepped to the slaughter like a lamb/
When the corn of the old crop lies on the field/The mare-headed mother cried the words/Ascend to me from your dank bastille/Come hear the song of morning birds/And there among the lilies white/There roams a tender girl at play/Her demons stagger over the ridge/Back to their dirt pit far away/A garland of lilies upon my brow/And one for my dear when I give him my vow

Under The Churchtower
Five little maids in their seersucker dresses/One will hoist a barrel and another will count/One for the veil and two giving lessons/The other with a baby in the baptismal fount/Three hearty ladies carry the flowers/We all fall down/Pray for two dears under the church tower/All fall down/Five young blades exploring a cavern/One will trap the hare and another will plough/A physician and a clerk and two in the tavern/The youngest in uniform on the ship’s bow/Four whiskered gentlemen carry the casket/We all fall down/The naval wife casts a rose from her basket/We all fall down

Night Spell
Feel like shapeshifting/The beam is on the path/Drifting in its yellow light/Cleansed in celestial bath/
Just the moon and me/Just the moon and me/Bathe in a lunar sea/In a lunar sea/Just the moon and me/In a lunar sea/Oceans move in their mysterious ways/Commanded by the moon night and day/I long to scale the crustal highlands/And stare into the pitted craters/Dive into the impact basins/Selenic island, selenic island/
Just the moon and me/Just the moon and me/Bathe in a lunar sea/In a lunar sea

Living On The Concrete Path
Big sister has a blue rinsed head/A goose down duvet on her bed/Powerful mower in the shed/Solid oak with books she’s read/Diaries with all she ever said/Little brother can’t lay his head/On the streets he is easily led/At fifty years he’s underfed/The blight upon his chest has spread/He begs the cold sleep of the dead/ )
 

Fleeing Limbus

Fast across sharp rocks/They want to slice my knees/Cut them, gash and graze/Feed them to the seas/Flying like the gulls above/Who shriek like demons crazed/At me and the rats in their dark little caves/Sheltering from one hundred degrees/Fleeing the heat of Limbus/Lonely Limbo's dark and sticky strand/Flapping, floundering, fleet no longer/The cloven hoof is stirring up the sand/Clouds over his unholy nimbus/Maybe this is demerara sugar/Slurried guilt in my worst dream/I have done nothing too wicked/To warrant a fate so extreme/Fleeing the heat of Limbus/Lonely Limbo's dark and sticky strand/Flapping, floundering, fleet no longer/The cloven hoof is stirring up the sand/Clouds over his unholy nimbus (PRS for Music)

Act Of Contrition

I am heartily sorry for having offended you/I detest all my little sins since birth/I dread the loss of our tiny bit of heaven on earth/And fear the pains of hell when we argue/And all that I lack/Should be considered in this act/Of contrition in my mission to appease you/There is seductive drama in being aggrieved/But all that hullabaloo was ill conceived

Hedge End Day

A weakling sun struggles to break through/At the close of this grim Hedge End day/Quite soon the trains carry more than a few/And the motorway crammed with hard workers/Whose lowly pleasures are too far away/The crackling radio keeps those whims at bay/But now I am scenting a bonny bunch of roses/And when hedges blur it gets me rambling back/Knees pointing up a steep hill mercifully short/They have forgotten me on the cross-country track/Sound drowning my ears over my ragged breath/Through farm and woodland, bridge and open road/I run on the flattening grass and feel twigs crack/Falling behind the others in my subterranean thoughts/ 

Harbour Boy

Tow headed harbour boy who could not hear/You faced the dangerous dive and did not fear/We quaked in our flip-flops/Thrilled by your long drop/You fashioned a set of magic steps/From the grassy verge to impress/You passed the test, every test/Who cared that you were deaf/I was drawn to your garbled speech/Your dazzling displays beyond my reach/No child poked fun/We could not do what you had done/
You fashioned a set of magic steps/From the grassy verge to impress/You passed the test, every test/Who cared that you were deaf/Some thought you slow, but I know/You swam under the boats below/A place only the boldest go

No Meek Chrism

I sailed away on a slender thought/Mushroom into a brimming dream/Tiny threads were finely wrought/Into a crystal cut scene/Magnify the lord the mothers said/Shrouded in their sacred gowns/Speech that skimmed my Cecilia head/Smashing Virgin Mary's crown/I confess I have departed/For the glory and the shine/Of the magic spinning disc/That could one day be mine/And all that I will suffer/Will torment me to my rest/I recall the robed sisters' words/And the way that they were blessed/I arrived on the wings of hope/Dressed in patch and print and pleat/Ready for the subway smoke/But not the burn of defeat/The weight and wisdom of all my time/Is lifting up my leaden feet/Universe spare me a dime/To fan my flaming heat/Habits darkest and of the modest/Deserving flowers of the rarest/Their gift of space/Their friendly face/Their state of grace/I recall the robed sisters' words/And the way I have been blessed

The Plant and The Page

After the rigours of state to state/The drag of coast to coast/The golden hill could no longer wait/Snowdonian healing host/A stride in the woods with the blue merle/By the side of the rocky plant/Hats off and ideas begin to unfurl/Castanets and candlelit chant/Electrical help is not at hand/And water does not gush free/Isolation is a maid yours to command/And become what you want her to be/The man who put his words to the page/Was the seed planted by his father/Watered by mother's tears in the age/When the occult had harvest to gather/The hangman appears on a tarot card/And he looms by the gallows pole/Waiting in vain to hand out a pardon/In return for silver and Welsh gold/Sounds heard down in the kitchen sink/Spoons and fingers snap/Things that give off the right sounding clink/Deserve a round of handclaps/

Come Unto Me

Mother could not face the task/Despite the holy words bestowed/Brother ripped from sister's clasp/And set upon a narrow road/Down the deep dark winding stair/The beating demon lay/Foul of mind with hands in prayer/All decency in disarray/Will I ever lie in springy heather/Or walk a dog beneath the moon?/Oh no, I fear that it is never/Will I run the egg and spoon/Do you lad take this old John Thomas/To be thy bedded lover?/For you will not fulfil your promise/Nor marry with any other/Will I ever lie in springy heather/Or walk a dog beneath the moon?/Oh no, I fear that it is never/Will I run the egg and spoon/His life flickered to its dismal close/The plagueful day descended/Into blessed night his spirit rose/To be one day remembered/Will I ever lie in springy heather/Or walk a dog beneath the moon?/Oh no, I fear that it is never/Will I run the egg and spoon/For my soul flits like a white feather/On my dark journey far too soon

Fires Down Under

A million bushes crackle and burn/Beneath the roaring of a red rage/Carpeting bracken and feathery fern/Are ashy clouds on a Victorian stage/House is all a smoulder/No home to living creature/Flame snakes in its crazy, crazy, crazy dance/Black flakes/Beast and human charge and flee/Failing hearts ablaze with fear/Greasy grey as far as the eye sees/The spark starter sheds no tears/House is all a smoulder/No home to living creature/Flame snakes in its crazy, crazy, crazy dance/No firebreaks

Song of the Gael

Arís arís he hungers for the brisk Atlantic shore/The sounding bell tower and mother tongue/The peaty flame and old wives' lore/He calls forth the fields he ripened among/The tune filled biting nights of his beggared boyhood/Upturned faces so pinched, raw-boned and pale/Cold feet are scattered to gather wood/For evening's thrall to the lilting of songs of the Gael/They sing songs of the Gael/They tell of all the old tales/For him to stow them away/Ciúnas ciúnas they cry out when he steps away/Our boy takes leave this day so youthful and slight/The elders wave while rowdy children play/He is gone forever more into an uncertain night/Dimmed is the king's shilling and long gone/And his true faith discarded far in the past/Lying in the liquid grip of a requiem song/Those songs of the Gael are now within his grasp/They sing songs of the Gael
They tell of all the old tales/For him to stow them away

The Gay Balladeer

I'm so very pleased to meet you said the gay balladeer/I am charmed by your acquaintance and delightful company/But you have found me wanting as we walked the road together/You found me someone else, thought me rather queer/Half-breed dog or rough tomcat, does it matter in the end?/I'm good enough to know or I'm not/Sing you a fine lament or sing a patriot's song/Can't you read my body language says I am not right nor are you wrong?/On corners left and right crossing landscapes of this earth/Will you wave me from your window at my partner or my wife?/In the time of twenty twenty-eight will you greet me at your gate/Or will you turn me and my kind away?/In trucks and trainloads, refugees from our life/Living with our neighbours through death and throughout birth/My aims are universal said the gay balladeer/I bring yesterday to tomorrow with each passing new year/But your greeting is not quite on your lips/I can walk with you part of the way/Or on every step of your straight path/We will speak a language that you like/I'm a good companion to swim with deep/Beneath the swirling seas you fear/I only wish to glance into your culture/We can go along with Eos and Hespera/Or set sail on passing ships/Go along with Eos and Hespera/Or set sail on passing ships

March of the Strawberry Blondes

Oh sister once burned at the stake/For your bloody hair glinting in the sun/The proverb says that such a one
Could never a Russian saint make/The rusty fox behind redbrick wall/Saw red and grey squirrels brawl/
Oh sister with your burnished mane/It will fade in time but not disappear/Forevermore we know the fiery name/Of the titian queen, warring pioneer/So do not mock the ginger heads/Their ancient wondrous shades of red

Pointed Thinking Cap

All my faces to the world/Each one hiding something/Don't want you to see the girl/Crying over nothing/
Got a hat for every problem/So I pull on my purple pointed thinking cap/To brew a bout of witchy feminism/Green fool's cap for the leaky jealousy tap/And rainbow tam for an air of mysticism/If you see the one that I am/You won't be offering apple pie/Your loaded weapon going bang/When you catch me out in a lie/I'm no good to you dead/The black skullcap of Machiavellian mischief/Suits me well when I am being shrewish/An Englishman's white-knotted handkerchief/For hot humiliation when I am being foolish/I draw the line at the dunce's cap/I'm brighter than the average sap/Ring them jester cap bells/Give me heaven, give me hell

The Flight of the Valiant Earls

(The ancient Brehon law unjustly swept away/Scholar and bard with only English words to say/Battle and skirmish scorching northern land/And Crown planters granted the upper hand/Powers of lord and chieftain diminish in a day/Spanish sailors fail to join forces in the fray/Gathering their goods the Earls and retinue/Fled the lough forever to an exile's lonely view/Their gold cross shone beneath the salty sails/Glinting off the waves in its precious cargo's trail/To France and Flanders and along the Swiss pass/Whose wintry claws seized their fortune in icy grasp/Would counties unite as the men at Vinegar Hill
(Bitter the memory of those chronicles still)/Allied against the doings of Ironside and King Bill?/Would the Hunger and the Rising not have hit home/(Many were lain beneath rock and stone)/If the valiant Earls had not met their death in Rome?

Sparking the Flame

Barely an acorn of innocence remains from childhood/The slit-eyed cynic's stance does not make me feel so good/Sweet nothings are far too old-fashioned to utter/The scarlet organ on my sleeve trampled in the gutter/O my heart, oh thou art so cold/The kaleidoscopic things I can't tell that were done and said/The years of writing them up are too immoderate to be read/The well of my depths is too deep for your reception/Don't let go of our euphorically fragile connection/O my head, two in the bed no more/Knotted together through a few dark and silent hours/A parallel existence germinates its roots and its flowers/But soon this new world bids a fond farewell/And we are summoned back by the clanging of the bell/O my hand, its love line's span cut down/And when two worlds collide and separate/We will turn away and we will contemplate/It was not for long/It is not for long/It shall not be for long

The Wooden Coat

You are trapped in a fading being/Nothing works quite like before/Help the aged whose eyes aren't seeing
Close to going but no cigar (I'm at the door)/Lay me down in troubled slumber/To not awaken encumbered/Cut me adrift you beg everyone/I want to don the wooden coat/I have made no pact with the Evil One/Immortality sticks in my throat/I am ready to walk the wire/Feel the shining of my desire/Follow me down to the old oak (follow, follow)/Will you follow me down there (follow, follow)?/That is where you'll find the old folk/In answer to your fervent prayer (follow, follow)/And you will see what I mean/When you kneel at the gnarled tree

Dated but Still Lovely

Charity shops and the need to be thrifty/Flea markets beckon again now I'm fifty/Belles with bottoms spreading their flares/Festival stalls calling out their wares/What goes around comes around once more
Then goes away again like fine folklore/That tall tree is a thousand books tomorrow/Bought and sold, loaned and borrowed/Deli meals and road rage/Kitsch and kin/Come and go come and go like everything/Dying young and hippy/Living in sin/It all goes round and round again/It all goes round and round again/Dated so dated but still lovely/Told her mother she was misunderstood/The music I like you don't think any good/Now she's in a house and garage full of soul/She's a retro girl with a head full of goals/Jack The Ripper holds in his murderous hand/Quartered clockwork oranges for the damned/But wise Madiba tries to lead us to a better way/Be it thistles and thorns or rosebuds in May/Peace and love and wicked wars/Makes us want to settle scores/Turn your cheek from the burning flame/To the still of a lake or a kitten's soft paw

To the Brow of the Hill (and Back)

I do not remember the clock's location too well/When we lay beneath newspapers to sleep for the night/And though enviously young it was still a living hell/As the cold crept over all my bones until the morning light/So I left the three day working week far, far behind me/And we made a big dog kennel for our little patchy cat/My mother's image shrank away as the ship it sailed free/I'd seen statues with their faces pale and /stony like that/Stone it cannot move/Not like I was moved/And I was truly one of them/Like granite when on the deck I sat/Just two weeks on the ocean on the cheapest fare assisted/The clamouring seagulls they did dine on the rarest roast of beef/The sparkling night sky views could not ever be resisted/And a woman crushing sugar lumps we watched in disbelief/To the land of the Dutch and Dingaan from Dublin and from London/Caused lively consternation in the circle where I was known/And as new ground obscured my roots I felt I was undone/But when the springbok leaped up something new had also grown/The little bok he springs/My heart rose up with him/And I was truly one of them/No longer was I alone/In time to come the culture shock had all but disappeared/But it stabbed me sharply in the breast when injustice shook me awake/Eleven years experience passed both wonderful and weird/And Joburg claimed a slice of my soul and a bond not to break/In the townships and the towns the writing marched along the wall/In an angry overdue parade whose progress could not be ignored/So I stepped away from troubled times to answer Europe's call/But to this day I fiercely guard memories safely stored/Then I was drawn/To the place where I am from/And I am truly one of us/Back to where I was born

Hangover from Hell

Someone posts a fish in the mailbox/Along comes a recruit with work ethic intact/He held his nose and fished it out/Cursed his colleagues for all they lacked/It seems like every young one has a baby
For there's not a lot else to aspire to/Got to get away from hearth and home/'Cause there's not much there to live up to/Poor girl waiting four years for somewhere to live/Clutching straws and infant's limbs/She's closed her books and shut the doors/No chance of exchanging wedding rings/Hand on the bible and hand on heart/We can cross ourselves and hope to die/Even though our sin can be heinous/We swear we didn't do it and swear we didn't lie/Get me to the chapel get me to the temple get me to the shrine/Anywhere away from disappointment down the line/Give me holy water to douse this hangover from hell/I drank too much of everything in my quest to live life well/I see them all around me see it everywhere/Girls in first bud and boys in full bloom/Got so much going but they're going too far/They went too quickly they came too soon/Death-defying substances doled out at the door/Where the preacher used to reign supreme/Some city spots have gone to the dogs/But others are still every tourist's dream/Get me to the chapel get me to the temple get me to the shrine/Get on the good roads and even if we must/Sometimes live too fast in the slow lane/And though big issues call to us/Perfect intentions are tough to maintain/Get me to the chapel get me to the temple get me to the shrine /

Mother of Pearl (and Invention)

Oh where are you now my beautiful mother mine?/In our bleached desert we await a cool green oasis/In our parched garden the rose will wither and die/Is that your perfect silhouette in the doorway?/Will you brush your powdered cheek against mine?/Oh where are you now my beautiful mother mine?/I recall the swish of heavy velvet and thick satins/You came for a while bringing chocolate and puzzles/The plants that you knew in English and also in Latin/Can you answer my letter to your box number/Or close the shutters when the night wind is rattling?/Oh where are you now my beautiful mother mine?/Won't you come along soon mother of pearl and invention/To take us to the fair in the playground of our dream?/I cannot soothe your brow my lost and lonely children/I am bound by brutal circumstance and cruel extreme/I relinquish my little ones les pauvres choux de mon coeur/I could not prevent the twists and turns of my fate/I hold their hands in my reverie but the rest is a blur/Their faces are faint through the glaze of my pane/They'll forget me when many times clocks whiz and whirr/Oh where are you now my beautiful mother mine?/Won't you come along soon mother of pearl and invention/To take us to the fair in the playground of our dream?/I cannot soothe your brow my lost and lonely children/I am bound by brutal circumstance and cruel extreme/Won't you come along soon mother of pearl and invention/To paper over all your absence before it takes its toll?/I cannot fold you in my arms today or tomorrow/But I will bear you in my heart forever fused in my soul

In the Web

When first I stood against you/I had to stand my ground/If I'd shown a tender weakness/You would have struck me down/A line was carved upon the floor/Beyond which I could not tread/And if I dared to look askance/You'd file me with the dead/Never raise me from the dead/Stormy days and dreamy nights/Brought you boiling to the brink/Your glistening web of slow deceit/Forged strong and fallow links/I do not want to play your game/The stakes are steep and high/Come one day I will write you off/You all know the reason why/Know the reason why/There's no more fury there is only scorn/Count myself lucky I could walk away
Won't help this world that you were born/Won't let you cripple me today/What does your conscience have to say?/I am choking in this stuffy room/I need some fresher air/fog descends with every day/This treatment's most unfair/You drowned me in a river/Tied a wreath around my neck/You hoped that I would float away
But you're the washed-up wreck/Washed up like a wreck/There's no more fury there is only scorn/Count myself lucky I could walk away/Won't help this world that you were born/Won't let you cripple me today/What does your conscience have to say?/And now I'm far removed from you/The web it weaves no more/I am out of this equation/You have shown yourself the door

Brave Face

If the postman comes knocking at my door/Put on a quick lick of paint/Can't open up without putting on a face/But he seems pleased I've gone to the trouble/Flushed with rouge but I feel pale and faint/Smear of lipstick but no colour at the core/And I do that for everyone/Brave face for everyone/And I do that for everyone/I've a brave face for everyone/I was like a hedgehog at that point in time/But I've been a /Christmas tree angel/Prickly as pins and pine tree needles/I've an avalanche of news too bleak to report
So I'll probably lie low and not tell/All the bad stuff and just say I feel fine/I should talk to someone/But I can't really tell anyone/I should talk to someone/Somebody somebody anyone/I want to sink without trace for a while/Off the road full of dizzying bends/Become a recluse for a few precious weeks/Bury my head in cooling sand/I long to have reached the bitter end/Of many tomorrows that pass without a smile/I feel like I've turned into no one/Nobody nobody no one/I feel like I've turned into no one/Nobody nobody no one/But my life will be so different in ten years' time/My heart could be soft as a fruit inside/But still hard to the touch/I thank my good friends for expecting so much/And these dark days have come to pass/And I can save face for everyone/Open the door up for everyone/Put on a brave face as bold as brass/

Seals in the Sound

My soul rises up with the morning/It rests in the depths of the night/And in between it embraces the pleasures/Sometimes twisted with woe beyond measure/And it swirls through Deilginis in the trail of a kite/I walked with my togs along Vico/I stood on the stones at White Rock/And I waded in cold murky shallows/Felt seaweed fronds flutter in the eddies and flows/And homewards I bounded without shoes or socks/Dip doo da doo dip doo da doo di dee di da da dum/Dip doo da doo dip doo da doo di dee di da da dum/I learned doggy paddle in the harbour/By the bright coloured boats tethered there/I rowed round the /island with the redheaded Mac/Nursing my blisters all the way back/And I pocketed apples and daffodils just for a dare/But it's farewell to my familiars/I must now sail across the Irish Sea/And it's many long years I'll not be there/For trying to make some fortune/And when I return to that place so rare/I will see from many thousand feet/That speck of Dalkey Island/And its monuments from the air/I hid in the gorse in Sorrento Park/I was too late home for my tea/I climbed to the mosaic of Dowland/I skated my way round the bandstand/And I thought that this was the best life for me/I went up and down the Cat's Ladder/I knew every woman and man/I cycled the streets like a gale force wind/Battled the boys for some venial sins/And I kissed one or two of them on Mrs Lavery's land/But it's farewell to my familiars/I must now sail across the Irish Sea/And it's many long years I'll not much care/For trying to find some fortune/But when I return to that place so rare/I might see from many thousand feet/That speck of Dalkey Island/And seals in The Sound playing there

Armistice Day

Look up at the old man on the screen/His one good eye still twinkling/Rousing his voice for a verse or two
He becomes again what he has been/A brave little song full of fighting talk/Once rang across the trenches
On a cold day in hell at the Flanders fields/Eighty years ago/It's a miracle that he's not dead/He's a hundred and two/On this Armistice Day/A story to be told for when he's gone/There'll be no one left to tell/How the poppies got so red/High time he had an audience keen to hear/All of his recall/I stare at the shapes coming from his mouth/Bold images of fear/A defiant smile and a jaunty nod/Survived the futile conflict/Friend and enemy sank in the mud/The bones of the fallen turn in the sod/Eighty years on/It's a miracle that he's not dead /I recline on a bed of red rose petals/Safe from his tale of slaughter/Weapons scattered to the sky
Shards of gun grey metal/I dine off fine china plates/He's scalded by a tin can mug/Split seconds then transmitted now/Tell how he deals with his fate/On the Flanders fields/It's a miracle that he's not dead 

The Talk of the Arcade

They shouldn't have lived together but they couldn't live apart/Divided by the head and ruled by too much heart/They often used to dance on the edge of borderline/Smooching in the silence still juggling all the time
All the time, all the time/Both could strike with passion in the kitchen or the hall/Dodging the delivery and bouncing back with the ball/Well it was pretty public when the door was kicked in/And we heard those bitter words that said they'd given in/Given in, they'd given in/She ran a classy shop from a downtown arcade/He biked in from time to time to pass the time and light of day/Sometimes they were loving and sometimes they /were cruel/But often they would raise the roof with a mighty loss of cool/Almighty loss of cool/By the end of it all she was coiled up like a spring/Bird of bright plumage had to mend its broken wing/At first he stayed at home and turned the volume down/Then he put on his helmet went out spinning on the town/On the town, on the town/They didn't care if they were the talk of the arcade/Going on and going off like old albums overplayed/The more they tried to shout it out or keep an icy cool/The more they knew they'd fallen in a shark-infested pool/A shark-infested pool/Do they reminisce about those days sometimes?/It's safer not to scratch beneath the surface of one's life/There's possibly an earthquake and a raging tidal storm/Waiting to devour us when we think we've been reformed/It's all very well with hindsight to saunter with the smug/But i knew that disaster and in particular that drug/It's always such a pity and a belated crying shame/When the door is locked and barred with such permanent blame/They didn't care if they were the talk /of the arcade/Going on and going off like old albums overplayed/The more they tried to shout it out or keep an icy cool/The more they knew they'd fallen in a shark-infested pool/A shark-infested pool

The Blackcap 

I passed over browning lands/To the sound of flapping wings/I saw ten miles ahead of me/A storm upon the sands/And I saw three horsemen travelling on/All dressed in bright clothing/The dust thrown up beneath their heels/Was seaward blowing/When I few over the darkened shore/I heard the gulls lamenting/And I knew that they would not follow me/As northwards on I soar/And I glimpsed an island far below/It was standing vast and empty/I thought to stand upon those rocks/That they might harbour me/Before I see my colony/The clouds should all have parted/And presently the sky is clear/The waters calm for me/And many will join me where/The days are long and quiet/And I know that we may meet again/Before the sun has set (3rd Ear Music)

Blackberry Bush

The winter season harsh and cold upon the sycamore tree/That stands against the silent hills quietly /growing old/Where men crossed swords in sympathy with those who might be free/At night I'll go to the monument to see who can be there/Sometimes a soldier is waiting for some greeting to be sent/Another girl to touch the stone and twist a lock of hair/She stood three hours so afraid till the sky grew dark ahead/She thought she heard the battle sound, the tune the piper played/The wind sighed on and the rain blew down, tears for those who led/But no one spoke and no one came enquiring of a love/Just the image of a drummer boy reminding us again/And the rain still beating from the sky among the shivering flowers/Every evening endlessly by the blackberry bush/Even when the moon is small by the blackberry bush/Until the earth is almost gone by the blackberry bush (3rd Ear Music 1978)

Episodes

Woman dusted powder/From jars of vanity/Turned to face her mountain/Loved its sanity/Talked with people on the road/The smoke of every flame/Caught a country morning/Loved the straightfoot plain/Woman downed a glass of port/Cheer of berries bright/Knew she lived a million years/Loved the sea at night/Bending in her boldness/To scoop the blackleaf tree/Her gesture and he listened wisely/Loved his majesty (3rd Ear Music 1978)

Heaven Heath

Bring snowy lady with the laughing/Spread your sailing angels over me/Tell a tale of old sinfuls/Look for you to change their face/Do not cry for all your leaden tears/Graced a lorded man whose gift was all too free/He came to fall upon a faithless smile/Leaning eyes towards the clay/And on my stone there where the flowers lie/Sleep the growing years of my dusty day/Gone the time of a heathen child/To the godly grounds to play/Weep the women on a watery leaf/Caught in browning robe all on my silent breath/I come to rise upon the Heaven Heath/With a timeless child to pray/Forget the garden of my graceless youth/Glimpse the wilting rose in my faded eye/Slip the shade from my shoulders/For a cobwebbed lake to catch/Bleed your soul for my silvered fate/Take the ageing cross to bury days gone by/Receive my own into your Heaven Heath/Towards my waiting bed to lie (Warner Chappell Music)

Sheep Season

Winding up a hillside where the shepherds roam/Counting their flocks in the gloaming/Shining the sea
Winking its light to the froth and the foam/Chilling the air with his shady tread/On came the wolf with surprise
Filling his eyes/With soft silent creatures soon to be dead/Hurry the shepherd man wizened and olden/Go and wave your staff at him/He has come to bury you for claiming his fold/Stillness came into the misty meadows/Down from the banks to the woodland/Clouds gather in skies/Giving their rains into mountains to flow (Warner Chappell Music)

Messenger Birds

She sat thinking under a black sky/With a white child, a white child on her knee/Leaning to the dim, grim, grey sea/Into a silent sleep/He lay wondering under the same coal sky/What the white child and she had gone to see/It was the clouded and cold night, bright sea/A woman kneel where her child used to be/Along the wind will bring them secret tears/Wash away their smiles in a rain across the sand/Seagulls take to a land where they'll not hear of his cries/Nor see the fallen tears of the white child's eyes (Warner Chappell Music)

 

All songs PRS for Music except where otherwise mentioned

 

 

United Bible Studies

United Bible Studies

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