Bright is the Ring of Words

by Mark David Ashworth

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released February 9, 2010


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Mark David Ashworth San Francisco, California

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Track Name: Disappearing Ink
the disappearing ink
will return to the page
its a terrifying sight
for a boy of my age.
all the flowers i crushed
in those evil youth whims,
by next spring will be strong and tall
with knives in their stems.
they will have their revenge.
while i pretend to float free
they will be anchoring me down
to that dreaded lush green.

all the nonsense i’ve loved
will slither from my hands
and form stories on the ground
with fairy-tale ends.
and in the green of the void,
and in the chaos i dream,
is an order that i am
too young to see.
if it was up to me
there’d be none of these stones
and the truth would lose track
of the trails that it roams.
as it is, my dear self,
you must learn to deny.
if that vision comes close
you must squint hard thine eyes.

and if the reappearing ink
throws its heavy words at you,
you must fight it back
with every drop of your youth.
Track Name: Sometimes it Turns Dry and the Leaves Fall before they are Beautiful
Words by William Carlos Williams.
Available in THE COLLECTED POEMS: VOLUME II, 1939-1962, published by New Directions. Used with permission.
Track Name: Keeping Things Whole
sometimes its not ok:
to break things in two by giving them names.

keep it whole, brother.

in a room full of people i am
the absence of a room full of people.
at the bus stop i am
the absence of bus stop.

but i keep it whole, brother.
keep it whole, brother.

we will pave a road for this emptiness
and then pinch the cheeks of the fat face of the evening.
Track Name: Pennies
toiling away, lining our pockets with pennies
“good morning,” “good day,” “how are you?” “ok.” “thats fine.”
“thats five for the soup and one more for the bottle of soda.”
the unending magic of all of those vanishing dimes.

but we’ve never seen a mundane thing in our lives.

the crosstown bus creates the sensation of leaving,
and in any elevator going up i’ll believe that i’m found.
if its a fraud, then we’ve stumbled upon some kind of universal,
or would you have me believe life is less here than elsewhere in the world?

we’ve never seen a mundane thing in our lives.

if our educated backs are broken, its not from long hours.
with some wine and a warm bed… how little one needs in this town.
and isnt that precisely what affords us the pleasure
to get lost every evening and then every morning be found.
Track Name: Fountain of Youth
we found the fountain of youth in our grandmothers attic… she must know something we do not… pie for the children on a sunday afternoon as a wrinkle appears on the surface of the earth

the very first law states that nothing can be either created or destroyed… but all can be lost on the eye: this is where we the obfuscators put our most sacred hopes.

dividing, transforming, mutating, becoming, transcending, descending, but never really lost…. but i’ll be damned if it cant all still grow old: this is where we the fatalists hide our most treasured thoughts.

jumping the turnstiles with my former self… i know he will outrun me… its such a pretty picture, its such a pretty picture… my bones creak the tones that will turn it into time.
Track Name: Daylight
Track Name: Saturn
fuck this, we’re moving to saturn.
i’ll mold its rings around your fingers,
and when we’re deep in the vaccum
we will have room for our breathing.
i had a friend who went that way.
i have not spoken to him since,
but in my heart of hearts i know
that he is happy where he is.

i pass a life just to say this one thing, unambiguously: we are leaving.

pitch in we’re paying a toll here.
besides we’ve nothing to save for.
this road is not ours but it’s half theirs.
we’ll use their cliffs as our springboards.
they will say we have gone too far.
they will say all sorts of things.
i thought i’d know it when i saw it,
but this time its so big that i cant tell.

oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. it only just struck me now: we are leaving.
Track Name: Copied his Face
i copied his face on a xerox machine in the library,
and i reread his words and imagined they were
my own
as if i’d see something new.

speak often of ‘we,’ not ‘him,’ ‘you,’ or ‘me,’ but a mixture of the three.
‘we’ll’ live as ‘he’ lived, and ‘we’ll’ die as ‘he’ died:
a multitude of times in countless proxy lives -
gunshots in the desert…
a slow fade by the sea…

i fall for the myths. I fill my sack with golden calves and bread crumbs
should the journey become a list of days
that lead nowhere.
as if there was somewhere they should lead…

we wander around this beautiful town, and he – folded up in my coat pocket – speaks
he practically screams: “we should be somewhere else.”
in the mansions of exile…
or the alleyways of our youth…
Track Name: Clean Slate
the clean slate will stay clean,
though i aim to taint.
the act sustains as crowds run away
and curtains close in vain.
a hush fills the air
full of feelings to fake.
i breathe and depart,
but the spotlight follows me to my car.

an illusion of change to please all the hordes
of selves that call my name.
thats me in the box that i saw in half
and me the crowd that gasps.
and thus, entertained,
i feel i can go,
but i carry with me
all the pieces that i am now.

the clean slate – in spite of the heft
of all this passing time -
keeps pace with all i create
and digests it just fine.
Track Name: Do it Anyway
i will be the apple
in your grubby fingers
that you eat alone.
none of the things you have done
will have any meaning
‘til you do them in the dark.

and the ground it shone like ice…
and the streetlights lost their spark…
your paws were feeling pretty nice…
but the sun made no remark…

oh, how the moss will appear
on your cold, gray matter
when you listen to the sound
of my mind-numbing voice!
there is no reason we should
ever trust each other,
but we do it anyway,
But we do it Anyway.

all the meanings are unclear…
but they persist until this day…
all the patterns all are smeared…
a bunch of tunnels painted gray…
but we do it anyway,
we do it anyway.
Track Name: Dark Continents
the dead lift their eyes on new years morning
to firework shells strewn across the floor.
we havent died, but you cannot say
we havent tried.
give me a break! i’m still being born.

i lost the past in the passage.
it made its escape through the cargo hold.
i chased it vainly through a maze of
dark continents
until it found rest in your arms.

it was just a minor adjustment
to shed my skin and learn to crawl.
i was a pampered newborn.
you were my overloving mother -
making it new in the oldest of ways.
Track Name: Bright is the Ring of Words
(by robert louis stevenson)

bright is the ring of words
when the right man rings them,
fair the fall of song
when the singer sings them.
still they are carolled and said -
on wings they are carried -
after the singer is dead
and the maker buried.

lo, as the singer lies
in the field of heather,
songs of his fashion bring
the swains together.
and when the west is red
with the sunsets embers,
the lover lingers and sings
and the maid remembers.

(public domain)

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