5​.​17

by Joseph Ruddleston

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credits

released June 8, 2017

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Joseph Ruddleston London, UK

London-based Folksinger-songwriter forever making the Atlantic commute for love, music and the pursuit of bliss.

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Track Name: blush (act I & II)
pressed.
fingertip to fingertip.
hands
falling
swiftly to spine.

i know the shape of your laughter now
and
you find so easily
corners
to make me shiver.

ears cupped
you fill them with
stories and fragments

(soft)
i keep them and you
in my mind.

(blush)

You speak as though it's a blossoming flower that blooms upon a welcome gaze, a sweet word, or a secret phrase.

Carried
by
the
wind

on a spring breeze, and laid to rest upon the apples of your cheeks and the tips of your ears.

A gentle touch of blush.

But what if it's a fire, and every breath used to disarm sends

high
flying
embers
the

until floodgates are forced to open to combat the inferno inside? A wildfire, carried by gusts. Burning skin inch by inch.

A merciless match, consumed by red.
Track Name: 205
back on the 2:05
a stupid nostalgia
the city looks the same
but the feeling is different

the doors are slower
and the lights are slower
the train is slower
and the tracks are slower

by the time I arrive
it's not my home and
you're not there,
nothing is growing.
Track Name: refuge
when i press my
hands against
your chest
and tell you
this is home,
you turn away, mumble
incoherent
about how
your bones are
made of glass.

you say that yours
is a frame
incapable of withstanding
the breeze
or too terse a breath,

carefully crafted rubble, you sigh.
decrepit, you call it. a ramshackle.

but it's here,
in the space between
your legs and ears and ribs,
caught in the safety
of your scaffolding
that suffers
catastrophe
without collapse
that i sleep soundly;

the only shelter i know
capable of
withstanding
the storm.
Track Name: mr. birch
Summer saw gentle Mr. Birch
grow strong and supple and tall.
But then the winds grew bitter,
to herald the start of fall.

With the chilling wind came rain,
then frost and sleet did blow.
Poor Mr. Birch, he caught a cold
and really did feel low.

And so it came to pass one day
he expelled a mighty sneeze.
The power of his quivering
dislodged his lovely leaves.

Now Mr. Birch stands shivering,
naked as a babe
and waits for Spring to usher in
the buds of growth again.
Track Name: reverse
You can go home again
despite what Thomas Wolfe said
Some walls may be missing
and the dank ceiling leaks water
through the creaky floorboards
but it’s where you lived
in your youth
in your dreams
and memories
combating time
Track Name: peverell
you carry on as if the tune you hum
before bed is something you invented,
as if it wasn’t woven through your sinews
from the very start.

we could have gone the way
of fairy things, lost to the narrowing
of roads and the fade of the woods;
your blood tells the story, but you refuse
to hear it even when it sings to you
in the small, quiet places you prefer.

(is the creaking of stairs still so loud?)

there is a vault breaking open
under your skin, an inheritance
made ripe in the knowing of it.

don’t let us be whittled
to pinholes; don’t let us dim.
you never understood

(they called you a savior, once)

that we were dying long before
they made it look sweet. don’t
forget you were made with blood
and stardust, like us, with dragon
heartstring and harps in your head.

you were never one of them.
Track Name: what it means when i stay
you remind me of
my promises broken
upon your bed

only then do i remember
you aren't yet fluent
in the ways i bend

timetables, planning,
reason is easy before
the changing tides

but you were an ocean
so strange and new
how could i have waited?

even now i dream of
submerging in your waves
drowning in your taste
Track Name: minimalist
A cell splits

When it comes we

Break
Spring sprinted forward, here we trip

Travel
Spliced. Into this open space. Lost

Searching for a modicum
No
An iota
No
A quark
A quantum
A molecule
No

An essential bit

of meaning

Do you think birds ever have to deal with stuff like this?
I remember feeling her skin sleeping next to the laundry

Far in the into a short span of the nerd's equivalent of summer camp

And then it splits
And I march forward

Do you think cats and dogs ever think like this?
Tying deep introspection to attraction?
Love to a sex life?
Fun to fucking?

Stop

And split

Do you think fish swim like this?

In human behavio(u)r it may be impossible

To be a minimalist—

And I know:

Animals act like this.
Track Name: crowd
drowning in a school
of fish
bubbles slowly rise
the sun begins to
fade as we dive
deeper,
deeper into the
depths of tumbling
anxiousness,
moving into the
unknown darkness.

the pressure grows
and the oxygen
lessens as it is
squeezed from my
lungs.

trying to swim to
the surface, the
sky above, hoping
for the last remaining
light before all is
lost.

encased in my skin
lungs protected from
the water,
(for now) begin to
burn, its final resort
before the end -
arms thrash and
legs kick trying
to escape.
the fire burns out.

curl up in a ball
and sink,
smothered by
water and fish.

the last bubble bursts;
no more to sail
across the sea.
Track Name: superstition
I don't know quite where to begin
It started as a story on the wind

"Please make sure to beware"
"Whatever you do, stay away from there"

Black cats would lie in wait in packs
Broken mirrors would taunt with their cracks

Walkways with gaps you couldn't avoid
"Want to break your mama's back" they toyed

Latters cluttered every which way
Created more anxiety on this unlucky day

As if that wasn't enough, it was Friday the 13th
As this all occurred on the one and only Elm Street

If you're a superstitious person
I'd heed those warnings and steer clear of lurking
Track Name: the addict
He was sure it was there as he’d felt it many times
The beat beat, beat beat, beat beat
He was sure it was there as he’d seen it many times
The pump pump, pump pump, pump pump
He was sure it was there as he’d heard it many times
The whoosh whoosh, whoosh whoosh, whoosh whoosh
But he was wrong
And as he faded into nothing
He realised his impulse had subsumed his pulse
Track Name: decompression
Consumed and
been consumed by
too many pints

and suddenly the floors
feel unsteadier tonight
(if that's even
an actual word)

then you're between
my legs, I can't feel them
when I'm between
your lines, I can't read them

It all seems loud and
downhill
until our clothes go
green from the grass in
drunken moonlight

and everything
flickers,
turns lo-fi

(between you and me
I don't think I'm
ever gonna die)
Track Name: i am the chemical
Matrimony, matrimony
Gather up around me
Bind us like the bird and the worm
Forever tangled
Infinite tears in a blind life

I never saw my love
Take her hand off her heart
Blinking one eye
Before the other
Calm waves in a violent sea

Don't touch her, devil
Not before I leave
I'll block the black gates
So she won't ever see
The hellfire I've been smothering
Well, now it's smothering me

Does the water taste of nothing
Or does nothing taste of all?
Doused in the tepid sweet
Of the nothing I couldn't keep
Picture us in our dancing clothes
Now picture us dead

We're dancing with skulls atop our heads
Just a masquerade where we meet ends
Your name should be carved in my arm
Lest my brain turns to chemical slush
I think I'm too old to fear the harm

Matrimony, matrimony
Make the bed before you leave
Turn the deadbolt and breathe peace
I am not okay, but that's fine by me
I am not okay, there's nothing for me to be
I'll be alright in the end, just you wait and see
Track Name: until next time
These words could have be sweeter
Thoughts better expressed
Perhaps these muddled phrases
Weren't some of my best
But still I stumble through them
Attempt to make you understand
It's true that i'm not perfect
Bu i'm trying the best I can
My inspiration changed
Somewhere along the line
Old poems hold old stories
Each one true and mine
Poems for love for some
Who I now never see
And poems of love for others
Who will always be with me
Poems for the future
Poems for the past
Poems written for the moment
That is brief and doesn't last
But is left only in memory
And the words I leave behind
Maybe they could be better
But these words they are mine
So I'll keep on writing
With everything refrain and rhyme
I'll keep on getting better
Until we meet again next time
Track Name: a tall tree tale
The tree I see in front of me
grows up, and out of sight
It touches stars, the moon, the sun
All through the day and night.

Oh, I wish I was that happy tree
I’d sway so joyfully.
In winds, in rain, and droughts on plains
So happy as can be.

But, here I sit just looking up,
And dreaming high and mighty,
I have no bark, or leaves to share
No vines to hold and tie me.

I shall return to climb this tree
I’ll scramble out of sight
For she is waiting at the top
And ready to take flight.
Track Name: wild
Wise are wondering scintillating minds
Strong are sculptural masterpiece skeletons

But it's
All just
Skin and bones

Barren land
Embracing life beneath the surface
Promise land
Set this wild heart free to find love again
Track Name: smokestacks
Listen
let it die
closing eyes
blink one blink two

Bring fever smoke up
lonely plumes
ashen secrets
carried off

Embracing
poison breath
no signal shows
desire devoured empty

Haunt me as a marble arch
strong shelter overhead
an exposed heart
below the belly
Track Name: alpha draconis
your limbs are split across stars,
a scatter

of blood just the right weight
and just the right color;
does it tire you?

their first and last son
born of flowers and ice

you are more than the ink of your
name, more than the constellation
that came before; don't let the trees
pin you to their roots; you are

exactly as you should be.
Track Name: rouge
Chaque fois que j'attends l'horloge
Pour tick et tock
J'espère avoir deux lignes sur le stick
perdre du temps
Mais je sais que ce ne sera jamais
Une décision facile
Laisser aller la dernière chose
Cela m'a fait sentir
Comme si j'étais important
Et l'amour est venu naturellement
Avec l'instinct.
Mais c'est toujours rouge.
Track Name: eternal fire
I struck a match and held it tight
my flame did light a candle,
The fire is warm, but not your heart
Your flame has lost its handle.

The light from fires seek the dark
To chase all fears away
But it does cost, when feeling’s lost
The love that went astray.

If I could warm your frozen heart
I’d give my life for you.
But, as you run and darkness comes
To thousands, and too few.

My candle rests upon a shelf
The wick is long and lasting
But so we are, oh so far
From eternal fires of passing.
Track Name: socks
This is the last time.
It has to be.
There is more void than object,
and what’s left is the wrong colour.

I look at the stained fabric one last time.
Think of the long walks and blisters,
Joy and pain,
and those sadness tinged moments that come in the quiet times,
when no one expects it.
So they leave you alone.
To be hugged by your clothes.
Held up by your socks.

Your first garish pair,
the first time people complimented your clothing.

They’ve served me well,
but they’re more void than material,
and I should really throw them away.
Track Name: retro/he said, she said
Vinyl cracks, polaroids fade
stereo jacks, turn another page
she said her heart was empty
deserted like a schoolhouse after hours
she said it had been like that for years

memory maps, best plans laid
fill in the gaps, sinking into shade
he said his heart was strong enough
to beat for both of them
he said he'd never leave her sight

volume to max, she said
her eyes jade, her head felt heavy,
skip amongst the tracks
overloaded like a sad mule on a trail
child of another age, she said
it felt like that for years

vinyl cracks, he said, she said
polaroids fade, together they played
stereo jacks, their little games
another page of cat and mouse
memory maps, and hard and house
best laid plans
of love
and loss
and gain.
Track Name: first loss
The reddiest red,
The smoothiest smooth,
The ballooniest balloon.
The bangiest bang.
The feariest fear.
The griefiest grief.
I remember to this day,
The achiest ache,
That forty years can’t take away.
Track Name: say when
Maybe it's the threat,
the thrill of the kitchen knife
but Evelyn I can feel
my heart beating faster
and faster
when you reach over
to pick up the chopping board
and your fingers
touch mine
for a millisecond
this time.

And Evelyn,
I picture you and I
living like this our whole life,
until you can hear
my heart beating louder
and louder
no longer swallowed,
muted by the kitchen timer
and your fingers
touch mine
for a full second
that time.

And Evelyn I wonder
if you can see the future
that I'm planning when you brush
your wet palm
against my back

and I almost forget to worry
if it's your
knife hand, but it's not,
you're done with all the
chopping

and the timers have all
timed us.

And when you say
to-may-to
I say
nothing

and when I say
you say when
you say
nothing.

So Evelyn eventually
it might all just be
a little too
much to contain.
Track Name: as the sun moved, we chased the shadows
i left while the sun was high
but the world didn't give us
forever
just a bit of luck
too sweet to refuse

we tumbled into slanted light
all the politeness shed
with our clothes

your body covers me
tries to cover us
i don't want to tell people
it's just not their business
y'know?

i know
this could be something
or another almost
breaking against the earth's rotation

so we move quickly
and if words come to name us
we hide them
between our lips
Track Name: ephemeral
There are moments
When we are aware
That this life
Is ephemeral.
We feel it,
See it fleeting.
But we forget
And choose to focus
On worries and imaginings,
Slights and memories
And we are always
Caught off guard
When things change
And are suddenly gone
Or over.
Track Name: greco-roman legacy
in words
born from a language pronounced dead
centuries ago
that still wander on
from lips and tongue falls of today

you are still here

in temples and pillars
standing straight and strong still
amphitheatres towering above cities and seas
like Olympian gods

you are still here
and for that i am glad
Track Name: m.g
in the afternoon
you lined yourself in gold,
things flying in the sunlight behind you
each one small and glowing,
twigs snapped for no reason,
your stare always
intact. you rocked
on the hands beneath your thighs,
and watched me move in and out of your shadow,
clicking, rolling,
crouching as the flares rose above your head like
Pentecost and i
could have looked at you forever.
Track Name: exile
Exile
I smile
Alone for a while

I'll find my way back home
When I'm done
Before the rising of the Sun

But for now
In the deep of Night
This Exiled moment
Feels so right
Track Name: Ash & Cider Pt. II
Morning after morning after night
My mouth full of ash
Green apple sour makes my tongue move right
I burned a King James bible
Just to see if it burned bright
But it just burned like everything else
No holy hand to stop its plight
The insignificance of imploring
That we drop and pray at such a sight

I like the taste of ash and cider
Cigarette kisses the color of smoke
No holy laws, only the imbiber
Would suggest such pathetic lows

The tome of human life is fraught with errors
Where we spelled our purpose wrong
If it was love than it was cursed
A book of the damned we've barely rehearsed
I envy the dead, only in the way that they sleep
Never awoken to the shit-heap this world seems to be
I can't resist what isn't pushing back
There's barely any whiskey left in this rotting cask

I loved the taste of ash and cider
But her cigarette's a chalk-candy joke
No god or cause, only what's inside her
Would ever sate a murder of crows
Track Name: #1
To become an island,
to be
surrounded by water
and float back to the city
no longer empty.