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Left and Leaving

by The Weakerthans

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credits

released July 25, 2000

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The Weakerthans Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Track Name: Everything Must Go!
Garage Sale. Saturday. I need to pay
my heart's outstanding bills.
A cracked-up compass and a pocket watch, some plastic daffodils.
The cutlery and coffee cups I stole
from all-night restaurants, a sense of wonder (only slightly used),
a year or two to haunt you in the dark.

For a phone call from far away
with a "Hi, how are you today"
and a sign recovery comes to the broken ones.

A wage-slave forty-hour work week (weighs
a thousand kilograms, so bend your knees)
comes with a free fake smile for all your dumb demands,
the cordless razor that my father bought when I turned 17,
a puke-green sofa
and the outline to a complicated dream of dignity.

For a laugh too loud and too long
For a place where awkward belongs
And a sign recovery comes to the broken ones.
To the broken ones.
To the broken ones.
For the broken ones.
Or best offer.
Track Name: Aside
Measure me in metered lines, in one decisive stare,
the time it takes to get from here to there.
My ribs that show through t-shirts and these shoes I got for free;
I'm unconsoled, I'm lonely.
I am so much better than I used to be.

Terrified of telephones and shopping malls and knives,
And drowning in the pools of other lives.
Rely a bit to heavily on alcohol and irony.
Get clobbered on by courtesy, in love with love, and lousy poetry.

And I'm leaning on this broken fence between Past and Present tense.
And I'm losing all those stupid games that I swore I'd never play.
But it almost feels okay.

Circumnavigate this body of wonder and uncertainty.
Armed with every precious failure, and amateur cartography,
I breathe in deep before I spread those maps out on my bedroom floor.

And I'm leaning on this broken fence between Past and Present tense.
And I'm losing all those stupid games that I swore I'd never play.
But it feels okay.

And I'm leaving. Wave goodbye.
And I'm losing, but I'll try, with the last ways left, to remember.
Sing my imperfect offering.
Track Name: Watermark
I count to three and grin. You smile and let me in.
We sit and watch the wall you painted purple.
Speech will spill on space.
Our little cups of grace.

But pauses rattle on about the way
That you cut the snow-fence, braved the blood,
The metal of those hearts
That you always end up pressing your tongue to.
How your body still remembers things you told it to forget.
How those furious affections followed you.

I've got this store-bought way of saying I'm okay,
And you learned how to cry in total silence.
We're talented and bright.
We're lonely and uptight.

We've found some lovely ways to disappoint,
But the airport's always almost empty this time of the year,
So let's go play on a baggage carousel.
Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here
From a past we left in a place we knew too well.
(We knew too well, we knew too well)

Hold on to the corners of today,
And we'll fold it up to save until it's needed. Stand still.
Let me scrub that brackish line that you got
When something rose and then receded.
(Hold on!)
Track Name: Pamphleteer
I'm standing on this corner.
Can't get their attention.
Facing rush hour faces turned around.
I clutch my stack of paper, press one to a chest,
then watch it swoop and stutter to the ground.
I'm weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight,
and waiting for a winter to be done.
Why do I still see you in every mirrored window,
in all that I could never overcome?
How I don't know what I should do with my hands when I talk to you.
How you don't know where you should look, so you look at my hands.
How movements rise and then dissolve, melted by our shallow breath.
How causes dance away from me.
I am your pamphleteer.
I walk this room in time to the beat of the Gestetner,
contemplate my next communique.
The rhetoric and treason of saying that I'll miss you.
Of saying "Hey, well maybe you should stay."
Sing "Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one"
like me remembering the way it could have been.
Help me with this barricade.
No surrender. No defeat.
A spectre's haunting Albert Street.
I am your pamphleteer.
Track Name: This Is A Fire Door Never Leave Open
Headlights race towards the corner of the dining room.
Half illuminate a face before they disappear.
You breathe in forty years of failing to describe a feeling.
I breathe out smoke against the window, trace the letters in your name.
Our letters sound the same;
full of all our changing that isn't change at all.
All straight lines circle sometime.
You said "Somewhere there's a box full of replacement parts
to all the tenderness we've broken or let rust away.
Somewhere sympathy is more than just a way of leaving.
Somewhere someone says 'I'm sorry.'
Someone's making plans to stay."
So tell me it's okay.
Tell me anything, or show me there's a pull,
unassailable, that will lead you there,
from the dark, alone, benevolence that you've never known,
or you knew when you were four and can't remember.
Where a small knife tears out those sloppy seams,
and the silence knows what your silence means,
and your metaphors (as mixed as you can make them)
are linked, like days, together.
I still hear trains at night, when the wind is right.
I remember everything, lick
and thread this string that will never mend you
or tailor more than a memory of a kitchen floor,
or the fire-door that we kept propping open.
And I love this place; the enormous sky,
and the faces, hands that I'm haunted by,
so why can't I forgive these buildings,
these frameworks labeled "Home"?
Track Name: Without Mythologies
A soft breeze with the slippery concrete black and full of muddy slush,
contrasting with the hoarfrost,
clean and hung on a tunnel of silent shivering trees
(the ones you said you'd like to be),
and the birds that screamed at the sun
now buried deep down below the ground,
beneath the snow, I press my shoulder to this wall between us.
I know you are behind me but I press my shoulder to this wall,
determined not to turn around.
I know I'll see you standing,
still that statue that I molded in my mind to kiss,
so beautiful you'll never move again.
Someplace far away, at some sad table littered with bad light,
with chipped plates,
in 48 frames from a movie on the cutting room floor,
you said "True meaning would be dying with you",
and though I wanted to, I did not smile.
But now I will give up on this wall that we have fought with,
never uncover meaning behind our rich words.
If I could I would make you a raging river,
with angry rapids, supplied with rain,
so you could always meander
and forever be able to run away
without contending with myths wrongly interpreted with pain.
A harsh wind.
Track Name: Left And Leaving
My city's still breathing (but barely it's true)
through buildings gone missing like teeth.
The sidewalks are watching me think about you,
sparkled with broken glass.
I'm back with scars to show.
Back with the streets I know.
Will never take me anywhere but here.
The stain in the carpet, this drink in my hand,
the strangers whose faces I know.
We meet here for our dress-rehearsal to say "I wanted it this way"
wait for the year to drown.
Spring forward, fall back down.
I'm trying not to wonder where you are.
All this time lingers, undefined.
Someone choose who's left and who's leaving.
Memory will rust and erode into lists of all that you gave me:
a blanket, some matches, this pain in my chest,
the best parts of Lonely, duct-tape and soldered wires,
new words for old desires,
and every birthday card I threw away.
I wait in 4/4 time.
Count yellow highway lines that you're relying on to lead you home.
Track Name: Elegy For Elsabet
So the fields are stubble,
the garden is done where the scary scarecrow stands
and sees her holding up horizons with her hands.
She's so tired of reading Daddy's lips - -that essay on a frown.
Watch her memories of human voices drown.
Let horsey bray break between the thunder boom.
Make grasses' swish meet the cricket's ring.
Let every sound consecrate our whispering words that Betta never heard.
The backlanes tie the city down; a mess of dirty string.
Winter dies the same way every spring.
As the skytries on its uniform of turned off t.v. grey,
and the way we watched her watch us walks away,
let every rain clatter down at groaning streets.
Make footsteps tick, talk to echoed walls.
Let every sound consecrate our whispering the words that Betta never heard.
Let every wind howl and creak the creaking doors
to rooms that too much has happened in.
Let every sound consecrate our whispering the words that Betta never heard.
Track Name: History To The Defeated
There's blood in the sink, and he's plunging his wrists in.
A hangover halo is washing away.
Mechanic-school dropout stares into the mirror,
stands up in his derelict daydreams.
Always too tall,
always walked around wearing a smile that was never quite sure of itself.
Planning a future of failures inflicted in phone calls
from strip clubs and bail bonds.
Don't give me that look,
I looked harder than most did,
let details like sharp nails punch holes in my shoes.
Soft-traced to frown as I put the receiver down.
Where do I go for a pardon?
There's a light left on.
There's a pace to our direction.
There's a movie-still of a heart I'd like to mention.
We're listing what's left: a signed Slayer t-shirt,
a car up on blocks in his mother's back yard.
Track Name: Exiles Among You
Her body is a difficult sister, and she loves her,
and hides her somewhere in herself safe from harm.
She's barely coasting into a paycheque, stuck on empty.
Her blue eyes frozen green in the low-lit ATM.
I need a way to measure the distance.
I need a way to say why,
out of breath or out of key, her voice resonated in me.
Her body is a difficult sister, and she loves her,
and hides her somewhere in herself safe from harm.
Her night shift is over,
she's writing you a postcard to say that she's okay
and it's raining there again.
My fury's rising faster than bus-fares.
Could someone clarify why there's no structured narrative?
No neat story-line to explain?
Wish on everything.
Pray that she remains proud and strange and so hopelessly hopeful.
(Wishes and prayers are the way that we leave the lonely alone
and push the wounded away).
She shoplifts some Christmas gifts,
and a bracelet for herself, and considers phoning home.
Has some quarters in her hand.
But she sits down on the sidewalk and bites her bottom lip,
and spends the afternoon willing traffic-lights to change.
Track Name: My Favourite Chords
They're tearing up streets again.
They're building a new hotel.
The Mayor's out killing kids to keep taxes down,
and me and my anger sit folding a paper bird,
letting the curtains turn to beating wings.
Wish I had a socket-set to dismantle this morning.
And just one pair of clean socks.
And a photo of you.
When you get off work tonight,
meet me at the construction site,
and we'll write some notes to tape to the heavy machines,
like "We hope they treat you well. Hope you don't work too hard.
We hope you get to be happy sometimes."
Bring your swiss-army knife, and a bottle of something,
and I'll bring some spraypaint and a new deck of cards.
Hey I found the safest place to keep all our tenderness.
Keep all our bad ideas. Keep all our hope.
It's here in the smallest bones, the feet and the inner-ear.
It's such an enormous thing to walk and to listen.
I'd like to fall asleep to the beat of you breathing
in a room near a truckstop on a highway somewhere.
You are a radio. You are an open door.
I am a faulty string of blue christmas lights.
You swim through frequencies.
You let that stranger in, as I'm blinking off and on and off again.
We've got a lot of time.
Or maybe we don't, but I'd like to think so, so let me pretend.
These are my favourite chords.
I know you like them too.
When I get a new guitar, you can have this one and sing me a lullaby.
Sing me the alphabet.
Sing me a story I haven't heard yet.
Track Name: Slips And Tangles
Neon lights and slinking purple skies squeeze out soft regrets from all our lies, as I greet another door that opens in to that place where we repeatedly begin. Another urban wasteland thick with fears. Icy lights that shine like frozen television tears. Oh dying embers of another day, please tell me what it is I want to say: I'm tangled up in try. Slipping on "I wonder why..." I face affection not embrace affectionate embrace.