Saturday, May 5, 2012


This is a difficult album to transcribe. I don't have a first-generation recording of this one and available versions on the internet seem to be tapes copied from other tapes. Italicized words are those I'm not entirely sure of: corrections and additions are welcomed! Spacing and punctuation are largely arbitrary and do not necessarily reflect the flow of the track.


1. After Charles
2. Seasonal Zombies
3. Little Dead Body Poem
4. A Proverbial Explanation For Why No Action Is Taken
5. After Rilke
6. No War Bride

7. Tractor Pull
8. Sub Rosa
9. Horizon
10. Amusing Oneself

11. Seven Song
12. Please Respect Our Decadence
13. Alphabet Song

Transcription for Big Skin is complete -- if you have corrections or suggestions for any of the uncertain areas marked in italics, please let me know!


After Charles

I have stolen from you the floor.
Every evening, I remember [unclear] the rain fall on the city
And wondering if the weight of the water is heavier than any dirt in the air.
Then, I remember: hats -- my aversion to them, since my head has gone red
How I'm forced to look the heavens while pinning them on.

Seasonal Zombies

Would winter in China be so innate?
With flashlight and desk globe, I pretend I'm the sun.
The earth is turning an impolite child and I can't take care of it all.
I yawn at the man who's delighted by snow
Collects it in jars that are stored in the freezer, labeled by year, and fearing a blackout.

It's time to go nowhere.
In the overstuffed chair
Wearing the dunce cap and waiting for wisdom to hit.
This winter chews up my light (life?), paralyzes my father, makes things so idle.
Not even the stars pulsate.
Like nervous eyelids.
This winter has numbed us like a fly in an ice cube.
No bobbing, no hearing chatter
This season reminds me of some tedious death
Where you listen and listen and there's nothing to dance to
Nothing to signal an impending good time
Even danger is dormant, [unclear]ing its core.
I join it, waiting for spring and its millions of noises.

Little Dead Body Poem (Little Dead Bodies)

How right you were, dear Paul,
That we hear of famous people's deaths while on vacation.
Perhaps it's so their funerals are not too crowded, with their loyal fans being out of town and all.
Those celebrities are pretty clever.

I've heard that someone's born every eight seconds,
So I presume that someone dies every eight seconds just to keep things even.
It makes me feel shortchanged when I read the obituary page: someone's holding back information.
It also prompts me to flip through the telephone directory on sleepless nights,
Saying over, and over, and over again: "Yup! You're all going! Every last one of you."
Wow. Heaven must be a big place.

I don't know too many dead people, but folks tell me I'm young.
When my grandfather died, he was laid out in the Bub funeral home,
And I was secretly glad Mr. Bub didn't change his name to something more romantic
When he went into business. I just wish it was less memorable.
My high school locker partner, Ned, worked part-time for a mortician.
Imagine dressing dead people, straightening their ties and fluffing up their hair
So you can afford to take a girl out to the movies on Saturday night.
Well, that's love! That's adolescent desperation!
I would've been honored to have Ned take me to the movies and let him buy me popcorn.
Instead, I went out with a boy who died.
The hardest part was knowing that his body didn't just disappear on the bed the moment he left.

I think that's what keeps me off of suicide:
The idea that there's something left for someone else to clean up. How rude and inconsiderate!
It's a pain to take out the weekly trash, let alone figure out what to do
With over a hundred pounds of flesh that's about to go bad.
It'd be even worse in India, where there's a religious cult which believes you shouldn't desecrate
Any of the elements with the dead. They can't be buried or burned. They can't be cast out to sea.
So they're taken to the top of the Tower of Silence, where they become the vultures' problem.
How's that for passing the buck?

No, when I go, I want to go clean, convenient, leaving no mess.
As if I vaporized while taking a shower,
As if I moved to Antarctica, leaving no forwarding address.

A Proverbial Explanation For Why No Action Is Taken

Because nothing ventured, nothing gained, but better safe than sorry.
And when in doubt, don't.
Because we look before we leap, knowing a stitch in time saves nine.
And we try to make hay while the sun shines, because he who hesitates is lost,
But slow and steady always wins the race.
Because too many cooks spoil the broth, but God helps those who helps themselves.
And if you want something done, do it yourself, but two heads are better than one.
Because where there's smoke, there's fire, although all that glitters is not gold,
And you can't judge a book by its cover, but clothes make the man.
Because idle hands are the devil's playlot, but we fear burning our candles at both ends.
'Cause the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary,
So we keep our nose to the grindstone, knowing all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

After Rilke

Leaving your farmland, the skyline lapses over slap of obvious health
Like a pea-shooter in Hei Ling about to sing: "Oh mein Papa..."
Worse if you abandon that sheet of gospel which separates your hands.
At midnight, the [unclear] takes a cloud, idea denied by the [unclear]
Whose livelihood relies on the number of newborns awake (away?) from silent death
Among the pure and shiny [unclear]
But howsabout feigning misery as usual as autumn glides in its fabulous rags
Into the gloom and evasiveness of the century when you wilted
An obliviant runs away from it
Removed by your being stumped, condensing you

No War Bride

[First lines unclear]
A billboard asking me to sleep.
Downstairs, my neighbor is bathing. I hear him humming a polka. I hear him thinking about me:
"What does she do when I can't hear her marching?"
I'll never tell him I dream of the army.
I could've enlisted, been a sergeant by now.
Downing brown whiskey and cursing civilians.
If I were a soldier, I'd be sleeping by now, my hum at full rumble, and letters from Mother.
Instead, I am wakeful,
Remembering you in your white, loose, all-over sunburn (summer?) and constantly giggling.

Tractor Pull

This evening, upon waking, I saw [?] saying, "I'm going to a tractor pull."
And I didn't understand. Outside, it was dusk enough to make things invisible,
And I heard a car swerve as it skinned the elbow of an ugly child.
It didn't make the news, though I did wonder how hard it would be for a tractor to skin anything,
No matter how impulsive it was on the open fields.

It was an hour before I fell asleep again and dreamed I was on a soggy bed,
While Mom ironed linen curtains in the other room, saying:
"Isn't it awful here with all the heat and the fever blisters and no trees to block the tumbleweeds
From coming in the windows?"
I looked up at the open prairie skies and all its stillness and I forgot that the TV was silent,
Letting us remember all the loud colors of the world.

Sub Rosa

All the stars clustered like rashes
[?] on a cheap woman's neck.
Reminding me of nothing as subtle as a tongue slipped into an ear.

Condensed laughter streams in from the wings.
I've called for it to distract you.
I hear you sing a song of temptation and wonder if you wrote it for me.

You'll never tell. You only give me big, big dumb juicy eyes.

I become obsessed with all sorts of omens: birthmarks or plagues or glints in the eye.
From closer, I see your hands are sweating, flooding their wrinkles.
I see your hands are nervous now, begging to be clutched.


A restless heat has risen above the soft hiss on the radio,
And suddenly, you become the sinister tease, the moist, orange heartache that never goes away.

Now, I hold you out at arm's length, the way a mime holds out a phantom bib.
Now, I am dreaming of April, of yellow.
Dreaming of deserts upon which you walk into the pale horizon.
And the distance makes you ugly.

Amusing Oneself

A fever crawls into you. A colorful one. Scarlet? Yellow? Too soon to tell.
Restless and itchy, you grab any rumor that's lounging around.
Blame it on boredom or the position of stars. Perhaps the good weather has made your brain crazy.

You write "Warsaw was raw" in lipstick on your old lover's letter,
Hold it up to a mirror, and delight in yourself.
It's easy, like sending a card to yourself on your birthday
And crying when you get it, 'cause "someone remembered!"
Like when you empty a bag of groceries onto the kitchen floor:
When the last apple stops rolling, you call it still life.

Seven Song

Last night, the tide was high.
Seven women dressed in white swayed seven different ways (waves?)
While a boy at the piano played a pack of hearts. We were tired of being mild.
We wanted tornado, our lips painted red.
Was it the night that was barking? Only the Buddhists were sleeping, dreaming
Of the Orient [??] itself.
Seven naked boys carry seven yellow candles into the darkened fields
While I stole a box of father's hair and set it to the wind.
We arrived at the party dressed as water, eyes slick-red from thinking,
Waiting for a nervous twitch, a steady hum inside our bones.
We were tired of being mild. We wanted tidal wave, hurricane [line unclear] 
Seven nets were cast into the water, pulling seven older women up (out?)
Bruised faces in the moonlight. Was your (her?) sister among them? 
The one with the slender hands; the one that wanted nothing but music all day long.
Bowls of water set out for the deadpan-faced gangsters in the funeral home.
The casket flipped over, the corpse on the floor. We were tired of being mild.
The ominous blur nestled in the motor [?] at sea and obscured.
Seven cannons were shot cross town to honor seven modern lovers,
While a sailor sung a hymn to [??] our shoes.
A burst of pigeons pierced the heavy summer air, a burst of gunfire.
Dressed in bullets, we were tired of being mild! We wanted disaster, the taste of [?]
Pumping [?] into our throats.
Seven oily children spoke in seven different tongues.
And they slipped out of church, backdoor, with handkerchiefs in pockets
Just enough to gather one before the eyes 
[Multiple unclear lines]
Where through the window she is there. Faces tame as milk, we were, we were cooking,
Our blood thick inside our veins.
Seven falling stars pierced seven empty arms and the saddle caught on fire.
[Unclear line]
A harnessed giggle, an eerie caress longed to be exiled,
To be the thought of the pearl gleaming.

Please Respect Our Decadence

Everybody's dying, so we send them flowers.
After their funerals, we go out to dinner, and then we try to forget about it.
We're all committing suicide, and everybody points it out to us:
Is that a coffee you're drinking? Is that a cigarette you're smoking? Is that meat you're eating?
Is that air you're breathing? Have you no self-respect?
No, but we're having fun, quick, before we drop dead. We don't mind your great concern.
But please send flowers instead.

Alphabet Song

A is for adventure.
B is for bauble.
C is for can and the questions it poses:
Can truth be found? Can we go to the bathroom? Can we set your hair on fire?
Yes you can, but you may not.
D is for dunce cap.
E is for egghead.
F is for that word that you can't say on Sunday.
G is for goosestep.
H is for husking bee.
I is for ego, and
J is for jujube.
K is for kumquat or kneecap or kiss, defined as a salute of the lips.
L is for Latin, like red-hot and sweating in a bright yellow sports car
[unclear lines]
Or cavern-like dwellings, or buzzing in the heads of brilliant young surgeons.
M is for monocles, worn by stern-looking women.
N is for novice, a bachelorette nun.
O is for oyster, and
P is for pleasant, used to describe women who don't carry guns.
Q is for quickie (quirky?)
R is for roses, which people drop every day.
S is for saint, and
T is for tiger lily, a handsome young flower.
U is for urban.
W for windbag, a bag to hold wind.
X is for Xerox.
Y is for yaya, and
Z is for zest! A spicy flavor, a pleasant relish, a keen enjoyment, as in:
"The audience applauded the band with zest."

1 comment:

  1. Hey! No War Bride corrections:
    From somewhere back
    A light keeps flashing
    A billboard asking me to sleep.
    Downstairs, my neighbor is bathing. I hear him humming a polka. I hear him thinking about me:
    "What does she do when I can't hear her marching?"
    I'll never tell him I dream of the army.
    I could've enlisted, been a sergeant by now.
    Downing brown whiskey and cursing civilians.
    If I were a soldier, I'd be sleeping by now, my helmet full of rumble, and letters from Mother.
    Instead, I am wakeful,
    And remembering you in your white, loose, all-over summer and constantly giggling.