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about

Folky, funny and heartfelt songs full of snails, whales, art and wordplay. Topiary is April White, Matthew Hollett, and friends in St. John's, Newfoundland.

credits

released February 28, 2017

Special thanks to Michael Venart who recorded 8 of these songs and added his own musical genius to many of the songs, Jeff Foran who recorded two songs, Stephan Walke and his beautiful acoustic guitar, Virginia Mitford for her gorgeous voice, Jason Wells for the synth action, Marlene Creates for her percussion skills, and Mike Connolly for his lovely electric guitar!

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Topiary St. John'S, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Track Name: North Head Trail
On a day when the waves are unfurling
and the wind curls around the Battery Hotel,
and the shadows of clouds are cartwheeling
down the side of Signal Hill,
oh come with me, my darling,
we’ll walk the North Head Trail.

Oh walk with me, oh walk with me,
through the Battery, past the apple trees,
walking backwards against the wind
to where the houses trail off and the trail begins,

Past the crevice where the pigeons preen
and wish they were lucky as albatrosses,
to the cliff where seagulls wheel and scream,
drape bedrock with bedsheets of shit and salt,
and sometimes sleep, and sometimes dream
of Ron Hynes singing St. John’s Waltz.

We’ll find a song, we’ll find a song
in the whistle of wind as we walk along,
in a plunk in a bucket when a berry drops in,
in the crack and crash of an iceberg collapsing.

The hill catches fire in the autumn
with little red leaves that flicker like candles
and lick at our sandals like fiery tongues.
Wind tumbles them into incandescence
and they glow at the edge of our vision
as the sky burns to embers around us.

Like a dandelion, like a dandelion,
the trail bursts up through rock to find the sun,
and blooms into a bright windswept horizon,
so close your eyes and stick your nose in.
Track Name: Cave Painting
You paint paintings, I write poems,
and if we’re lucky people see ‘em,
and if we’re luckier they might find homes
in books or in museums,
but in a hundred years, what’ll remain
of all our canvases and pages?
What if I told you I might know a way
to make a mark that lasts through the ages?

Oh, all it’ll take
is a little chalk on rock,
and maybe an earthquake
to seal it all off…

Let’s make a cave painting
in your unfinished basement,
a landscape in ochre
and concrete and patience,
and in ten thousand years
when someone finds what we painted,
they’ll brush off the dust
and stare in amazement…

At our stampedes of feral shopping carts
and flocks of supermarket flyers,
our herds of woolly mattresses
and sabre-toothed tires.

Oh, all it’ll take
is a scrawl on a wall,
and maybe a volcano
to bury it all…

Let’s make a cave painting
in your unfinished basement,
behind the broken washing machine
that already looks ancient,
and in ten thousand years
when someone finds what we painted,
they’ll brush off the dust
and write a dissertation…

About our paintings of plastic-bag pyramids
and henges of vending machines,
our burial mounds of coffee cups
and monolithic television screens.

Oh, all it’ll take
is dust and a brush
and maybe a meteor’s
finishing touch…

Let’s make a cave painting
in your unfinished basement,
a pictograph or a petroglyph
lasting longer than civilization,
and in ten thousand years
when someone finds what we painted,
they’ll brush off the dust
and wish they could meet us.
Track Name: Signatures
I carved a long line
in the bark of a spruce
and its sap smelled like medicine
as it dribbled and oozed,

and I remembered a moth
I’d seen fossilized in amber
for a hundred million years,
and I started to wonder,

had I signed my name there,
on the bark, in the resin?
Would my sticky sap fingerprints
forever stay frozen?


I walked a long line
in the slush by the highway
with my thumb aimed at Port-aux-Basques
and the cars splashing by me,

but no one pulled over,
and my thumb ached with anger,
so I stomped back through my footprints
all the way home to Gander.

And I’d signed my name there
on that long dotted line,
I can still see it now,
even though it’s July.


I cast my long line
out into Deadman’s Pond
and I stood there until
I felt it tug on my hand,

and I reeled it in slowly
through the reeds and the mud
til a stubborn trout stared up at me
from his little cloud of blood.

And I would’ve signed my name there
in the sand by the pond,
but it was already there,
it was there all along.
Track Name: Snails
Oh, when morning light unwinds us,
and I look behind us
to see all of yesterday
in the shiny lines of slime we made,
and our intertwining trails,
I’m glad we’re snails.

Oh we’ll never go too fast, wearing full-body casts,
and we’ll never get too far, living out of our cars
with only grass for gas,

And it’s hard to be so gross, with a body like a runny nose
stuck into an armpit, and stuffed in a glove compartment,
But I know I’m not alone,

And if we take it slow take it slow take it slow
we’ll always be home.

Oh, wrap your eyes around me,
I love how they surround me!
When you hug me with your eyes so,
do I look like a Picasso?

Oh you might not be a charmer, in your snotty suit of armour,
and I might be a headcase, wound up like an old cassette tape
but together we’ll be warmer.

Holed up in these old fossils, we’ll always live a snail-shell
away from each other, always short-distance lovers,
and it might feel impossible,

But if we take it slow take it slow take it slow
we’ll always be home.
Track Name: Iceberg Shoes
Icebergs shaped like shoes!
Oh, if only I could choose
to make my feet the skippers
of these transatlantic slippers,
I’d stroll the ocean blues.

Icebergs shaped like shoes,
uncomfortable but hard to refuse…
but instead of frozen rocks
they’ll feel like warm wool socks
if I fuel up with enough booze!

Icebergs shaped like shoes,
guaranteed to never vanish –
cause once I stick my toes in
to my feet they will stay frozen,
til I wander somewhere Spanish!

Oh, ocean-going bowling shoes and supertanker sneakers,
deep-sea diving rubber boots and subaquatic oxfords,
whatever jiggles your jigs and reels,
just watch your step you oughta,
cause iceberg shoes are all high, high heels!
They’re ninety percent underwater.

Oh, icebergs shaped like shoes
might be one size too gigantic,
but if you want to get off-island
you should slip em on and try em!
They’re quicker than Marine Atlantic!

Icebergs shaped like shoes,
oh, they never make the news
unless there is a scandal,
when they flip-flop into sandals,
melting from overuse…

So pirouette round pirate ships or splish around in sploshes,
your iceberg shoes can be shaped like stilettos or galoshes!
Whatever jiggles your jigs and reels,
just watch your step you oughta,
cause iceberg shoes are all high, high heels!
They’re ninety percent underwater.

Oh, icebergs shaped like shoes –
are you one chunk of ice, or two?
Are you joined beneath the waves,
with a glacial shoelace?
Are you anchored by the ankles
like a three-legged race,
the way I’m tied up with you?
Track Name: Berries in Bauline
Oh, I like to call them toadberries when they jump in my bucket,
or sometimes salmonellaberries, but let’s not talk about that,

or can’ttellemapartidgeberries when I get them mixed up,
or sometimes starberries, when I find more as my eyes adjust,

or submarineberries, diving deep in the brush,
or blushberries when their skin catches fire at my touch.

They’re hangoverberries when I add handfuls to my homebrew,
or christmaslightberries, cause once one goes bad, they all do.

They’re mosquitoberries when I get eaten more than them,
or macbethberries when I can’t wash their stain off my hands,

and pallberries with their leaves like little white gloves,
or traveling wilberries that taste like all the best berries at once.

I call them alienberries when hideous insects burst out,
or swanberries, since they’re like gooseberries but different,

or tambourineberries when they jangle around,
or minimumwageberries when I only get eight bucks a gallon.

Some people call them waxberries, swear they don’t have a taste,
but I mostly call them Baulineberries, cause they’re just in that one place.
Track Name: Whale Heart
Oh when the whale washed up in early September,
you told me that you couldn’t remember
the last time you saw a whale, dead or alive,
so I said we should go for a drive.

The radio was saying they would take the whale apart
and bottle up its organs in formaldehyde.
They said its heart could be the size of a small car,
and I thought of an enormous crumpled valentine.

Oh, if my heart was the size of a small car,
we could drive around blasting the beat of it,
blood pumping as we race down the boulevard,
roll the windows down to let out the heat of it.

And there was no one at the beach when we got there,
just the whale with little marks on its skin where
seagulls were picking at it, nibbling its tongue.
And you said whales sing beautiful songs.

Oh, if my heart was the size of a small car,
we could drive around blasting the beat of it,
we could park it down behind the old navy yard,
we could make out in the back seat of it.

And as we stood there I couldn’t help but worry
about that heart trapped like a car on a ferry
that would never reach the place it set out for.
So I hugged you a little bit closer.

Oh, if my heart was the size of a small car,
we could drive around blasting the beat of it,
and as long as you were my passenger,
no other heart could compete with it.

Then you pressed your ear up to the whaleskin,
and you told me you could hear a little something,
not a heartbeat, not an engine, not a voice,
but the sound inside a shell, that soft white noise.

Oh, if my heart was the size of a small car,
we could drive around blasting the beat of it,
and if you helped me pay for the winter tires,
I could even give you a key to it.

And when we walked back to the car and got in
we must have lost the radio reception,
cause it was whispering that same softspoken static
and you said maybe the whale was telepathic.

And my heart was the size of the whale
and my heart was the size of the whale.
Track Name: Signatures (but different)
I carved a long line
in the bark of a spruce
and its sap smelled like medicine
as it dribbled and oozed,

and I remembered a moth
I’d seen fossilized in amber
for a hundred million years,
and I started to wonder,

had I signed my name there,
on the bark, in the resin?
Would my sticky sap fingerprints
forever stay frozen?


I walked a long line
in the slush by the highway
with my thumb aimed at Port-aux-Basques
and the cars splashing by me,

but no one pulled over,
and my thumb ached with anger,
so I stomped back through my footprints
all the way home to Gander.

And I’d signed my name there
on that long dotted line,
I can still see it now,
even though it’s July.


I cast my long line
out into Deadman’s Pond
and I stood there until
I felt it tug on my hand,

and I reeled it in slowly
through the reeds and the mud
til a stubborn trout stared up at me
from his little cloud of blood.

And I would’ve signed my name there
in the sand by the pond,
but it was already there,
it was there all along.
Track Name: All Things Hairy
There's a house fly walking around in the hair on my legs
The cats are in the shadow cast by the patio table
The sun is beaming down and I’m sweating
I flick off a spider that itches my breast
My backyard is a jungle of trees, bugs, brush and stones
I never wanna leave, I find comfort in the leafy green

And I can’t help but feel
No I can’t help but feel
That this home is temporary,

And I can’t help but feel
No I can’t help but feel
That this home is temporary,

I rub my shoulder over and over again
I look up to feel fresh rain on my skin
I get up from the green patio chair and grin
I flick off a slug that moves from shoe to shin

Tiniest worm on my book and he’s moving so fast
He makes his way onto my dirty fingernail
A soft breeze hardens just one nipple,
the span worm shit hitting my head
The sound of the leaves shivering
shivering

And I can’t help but feel
No I can’t help but feel
That this home is temporary,

And I can’t help but feel
No I can’t help but feel
That this home is temporary