Dead Weight

by Jon Hughes

/
1.
04:37
The Tree The barbed wire fence bit me on the knee, And twisting—chest to sky—and falling; Those teeth ripped through my jeans, cut into my boots; Shoulders touching down, I saw those arms Reaching over me. The clay-colored house, a match head to the east— Smoke curling slowly and intangibly. Snows falling down like ashes, Collecting on the leaves—snow-bowed, those arms Hanging over me. If those twilight dogs pick up on my trail And find me here, a rabbit on a nail, And if they don’t tear my body free, Then I’ll be still and frozen like the tree.
2.
3.
Weightless (The Race) I stand on the edge, A diminutive form on a drugstore lens, And I can’t speak. And the passers implied Through the myriad screams, through the gloom-white sky, And they can’t speak. Watch my float above their heads. Watch me fall and break my legs. Watch me three times over again. When I’m feeling the rise, The Napoleon baby with glittering eyes, He sinks me. And the Virgin Impaled Is leveling under the Dog Wags Tail, And they can’t speak. Watch him turn and watch him bend. Watch him topple over and then Watch him three times over again.
4.
04:56
Lucid, USA The evening compounds Like the bugs on the windshield on the way to your house With your sleeping boy. The camel-backed clouds I see passing over Lucid, USA, Does he see them, too? And the gold-painted hands On the clock that I gave you are arrested at 2. What are you trying to prove? I’m out of my own, This bird is caught and this bird has flown. Complicity thinks complicity shows. You said that I have His father’s fingers from a dead man’s hand, Like a glove on me. You’re holding him now. He’s flush with your blood-milk and his eyes roll back And he’s all I see. I’m out of my own... Smile and I’ll leave you the same, Blood on the windshield is thinning with rain.
5.
Gretta in Rose The streets are filled with destitution— Skin and bone dogs scavenging around. I see the old cathedral standing all black up to the dawn. I see the faces of the statues, Pigeon-shit tears streaming down their cheeks, And the solitary shadow of the man you said I’d be. And I gave you a smile Of the the broken kind, Said, ‘I won’t let you down This time.’ I can hear the ancient silence That you said makes strangers of us all, I see that statue where he’s standing with his back up to the wall. And I know I should be sleeping, But the thought keeps stirring in my head If you ever could forgive me for the things I’ve never said. We were born with these hearts Of a failing kind, But I won’t let you down This time. Hanging out the door, crimson painted toes. Sorry for the years my Gertrude in rose, I’ll be coming home. And I’ll give you a smile Of the broken kind, Says, ‘I won’t let you down This time.’
6.
03:19
Undoing Time She saw me through the windowpane black With nothing on but rain, Talking to delirious clouds, I knew them all by name. Then a lightening bolt said, ‘I’m listening.’ It struck me all the same. Looking at the back of my hands, I don’t know them at all. I have not been given these scars From taking noble calls. I’ve been giving time to the position I’m in. No mystery at all. So tell me that I’m undoing time, Working for my wine. Sitting ‘neath the biblical sun, Stuck in my own mind. Taking wisdom from the negation of some Who were never worth the time.
7.
02:31
The Murderer In my dream I have bound you And I grab you by the scruff, Drag you howlin’ down the stairs Where you’ll hang upside-down and Scream out your lungs and die. In another I’ve found you, And you’re burnt out in your car, And you’re choking on the flames. Through your distended eyes you See me standing by as I watch you die. If I’m right, if I’m wrong, When I wake and I’m strangling the Sheets where he’d lain. Now my Lover only sleeps in the stain, like a Throat-cut dog at your feet. When you wake I’ll be gone.
8.
05:02
The Original I woke—the plaster crackle there— Felt the crackle in my nerves. Geraniums I swore I should’ve seen. Through the windows was an empty vase. Eighteen bells. Blood is screaming in my ears and then, Together, the whispers on the stairs Spell the letters of her name. Great endless rain, traces rearranged Underneath decaying elms. When they find you I’ll be feared above all else, And they’ll love me all the same. The man in black Standing at the gates, See him beckon me, Me alone. I hold a copper to the sun. Watch it set on the rubescent wall. Effluvia of gasoline of piss With the passing of the 408. Eighteen bells. Blood is screaming in my ears again. The idiot ranting on the streets Sees the river where she lay. Good ends resigned, trouble redefined, Under devastating ends. And they will see me as your first and only friend, And they will tremble when they see You are mine.
9.
02:49
Time Weighed When I’m walking through the meadow where he lays your body down. See him light another cigarette and stab it in the ground. Copper moon is pasted meretricious in the sky. Wind is blowing, see you pirouetting on the sound. If you’d leave here I could go. If you’d leave here I could go. See the iris in the window with it’s fevered yellow tongue. Russian novel that I gave to you when you were only young. Rain is tapping like your fingernails against the panes. Ribs of cloud receding, see you breathing through their lung. If you’d leave here I could go. If you’d leave here I could go. When I see the crumpled pillow where I lay my body down. Hear the laughter of my father, seven years now in the ground. Hear the radiator hum a song you used to sing. Iron ribs repeating, here you breathing through the sound. If you’d here I could go....
10.
Gretta’s Body On the bridge, I see the light has changed. Red scuds torn over the bay. A distant window in the left-bank row Hoards the failing sunlight glow. There I go. As I enter that block of flats, A feline form brushes past— Emaciated with a broken face, Lingers there, hobbles away, I go inside. Go through these hallways blind-dark and cold, Hear the sound of elevator doors. Says going ‘up’, it feels like going ‘down’, Let’s me off, I scramble around and find a door. All I want now is to get back somehow... Stairwell’s flooded with lurid light, This time of evening much too bright. A door stands open at the very top, A shatter within. There I stop. There I go. Meet him standing in the sitting room. He calls himself ‘Slow-Hand Luke’. I see flicker in his hog-pin eyes Thoughts of grace or homicide— Who could know? In one corner is a picture framed Of Jesus Christ breathing flames. In the other on the LCD, Beggar children with broken teeth Dance around. All I want now is to get back somehow When all I could do didn’t come back to you... On the dresser stands a figurine Of Gretta’s body, pale and clean. She’s still wearing that selfsame dress: Bloodied beige, torn at the chest. Filthy rose. Now I see, I see the light has changed. Red sun burning over the bay. A distant window in the left-bank row. There I come. There I stop. There I go.
11.
December, 1991 Morning sunlight shining through the blinds Where you were sleeping. I saw the morning sunlight burning white Across your bodies. Couldn’t find you through the smoke, Because I was sleeping, honey, And if you should find me now, I’ll be trying to believe the things That I was seeing. Morning sunlight shining through the bars Where I am sleeping, My head pressing down some wrinkled poems Where only I read them. Couldn’t speak your final words-- I couldn’t find them, honey, And if you should find me now, I’ll be trying to believe the things That I was saying. Now the photograph I kept of us, An ancient secret, Pressed down to my breast with leather straps-- I feel them loosen. Strung up on this old machine. I couldn’t see you, honey, And if you could see me now, You’d be trying to believe the things That you were seeing.

credits

released January 31, 2011

Michael Chang: violin, viola
Przemek Brosz: bass
Dave Deane: drums
Caragh Rotherham: vocals
Geoff Ward: saxophone

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Jon Hughes Ireland

American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jon Hughes, has been based in Ireland since 2005. He has shared a stage with Damien Jurado, She Keeps Bees, and the legendary singer-songwriter, Buddy Mondlock.

Hughes' latest collection of songs, "Sunshine Remorse", was released in January of 2019.
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