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1.
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.
2.
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.
3.
Signatures 02:51
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.
4.
Snails 03:31
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.
5.
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?
6.
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.
7.
Whale Heart 05:16
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.
8.
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.
9.
10.
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

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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