These are the poems performed by Dan smith from the album Wooden Heart by the band Listener.
released June 1, 2010
all rights reserved
- Track Name: You have never lived because you have never died.
I saw 13 black crows as black as 3AM, & as big as vultures eyes with wings hanging to their sides like laundry on the line they were standing in a circle letting their tongues dry. They’re coming for me like thieves or ghosts stealing songs, & whispering poems to themselves about nonsense & existence. I don’t want to die.
I saw 4 black eagles, with horns growing towards the ground like columns or anchors reaching for the bottom their feathers folded like hands on a man resting in his coffin bending over each other rattling my bones drumming out the answers in ways I will need one day, their hooves are giving me growing pains. I sleep like a tornado.
I saw 18 black hawks, with beaks full of teeth roaring like a pack of wolves in perfect V with hoods over their eyes to cover up what they’ve seen secrets bouncing off the insides of their lips meant for me. They landed on my life like spears, ears tucked back like arrow feathers, wings spread wide like storm clouds over Kansas hailing on me teaching me their dances. They gave me armor. I won’t let you die.
I saw 9 black owls, they were quiet as death they had talons like antlers growing from their hearts, & they were tearing me apart each bird was tagged like cattle with one word, & they burned them in to my mind...they read:
You have never lived because you have never died.
- Track Name: I don't want to live forever.
You've got beet blood in your mouth & lies in your artichoked heart you’re black eyes stalking through me with a birdcage for ribs, that vultures trying to get out it’s scratching your kidney wings. We’re no longer feeding ourselves, the raccoons are eating our dreams pushing past our feeblery to keep them out, this morning I heard one sing: There's a whole big world out there my son, be careful don't believe them. There's a crazy old lady in the sun, she's angry can't you feel it? If you don’t work hard you’re no son of mine, well I’ve earned these riverbeds & I’ll drown you out until you’ve made me proud if you won’t learn you’re better off dead. So, I’m digging in this farm yard trying to find the seeds forgetting all I have left in this world of course that includes me. So I’m building & I’m learning & leaving nothing unsaid, all I am is all I have, I’ll take this garden for my bed, & these are not just words built like a city of dreams, we have no use for this kingdom. I’m proud of you my friends, may your lives be a symphony of freedom
I don't want to live forever I just want to live for now, but the angel on my doorstep keeps pointing me towards that plow. So I’m digging in with both my hands, keeping one eye on the door. If I go looking I’ll probably find it, ...and get all I’ve been asking for. I don't want to live forever I just want to live for me, but your faces just keep haunting ...sometimes it’s all I see. So I’m working hard at learning all I can I’m gonna give it all to you, & I’ll keep making payments, until we’re all so straight & true.
I want to paint seeds together, & follow you right up to the edge, filled up & spilling like carried cups, & watch the sun go red, but there’s poison right here in our water, & a shark somewhere in the well. I wanna show you my life, show me your life & tell me it’s not the devil. I guess I I feel the way I feel, you make me feel like I‘m alive...
and I’m alive, am I alive, i am alive so you can live...please come & live, why don’t you live, you can live inside of me...there’s a home for you inside me, inside of me there is a fire, inside my fire there is more fire, & in that fire there is truth, but we take our furnace-chests, & run em neck deep into that lake, & let the coals stare us down, one last glare of doubt & hate, but we were wrong, no I was wrong, we’ll just be wrong about some things, & it will never be, it can never be, it should never be this easy. To wash away the fire that burns, we wash away our flame, my eyes saw fire, my heart said escape. I said my eyes saw fire, my heart did escape. It’s the beauty in the struggle has me going keeps me shook, sometimes I can see it in your face God but not in the pages of a book, & there's something in your eye that's asking I got no answers, just clues for a path to truth. I thought it was you, but then yeah I thought it was me too.
I don't want to live forever. I just want to live for us, but the head on my shoulders keeps driving me to be careless, our brains don’t want to listen, ears squinting for some honesty. It gets slippery here, hold on....we are not ourselves probably. I don't want to live forever. I just want to live for you, but the devil round my doorway keeps singing me something new, so I’m listening with idle hands cupped tight around both ears. My minds open like a burned down house, I haven’t died at all this year.
- Track Name: Most roads lead to home.
I can’t remember making all these visions in my head, but they’re moving in this room fighting together above my bed shadows swirling hand in hand making new faces in the wind keep trying to help me forget my name, & I keep trying to leave them, our ghosts fill up these hollow walls, empty hands filled with silence we are still alive from what I’ve seen, heads hanging in the balance I’ll keep on in this sleep I’m never gonna find that perfect cure I’ll hold on to my name, because it’s the only thing I still know for sure. Look at the sound of all these people on fire. I want to be on fire, do you want to be on fire? but we don’t love ourselves enough, we pack our hearts with medicine choke our lungs with broke down tries of lesser men. I’d rather give you my name instead of just forget it because I carry it, but I don’t want to carry it, & so I’ll follow you vision & listen with my eyes every maze & twist & bend try to go where you point, step where you recommend oh lead what I should see great specter you say: give up, give up, don’t give up, then I won’t give up, because I know I’m not alone. I know that all roads lead to home in some way, & I’m on my way, are you on your way?
Show me your life, living, speaking in the night above us. We all survived, in this one place forever with our eyes closed. You are alive, you said it would never be this way, you promised. I am alive, & I said I would never go away, to believe me, but I’m awake now, & I still see you do you see me.
I am alive though I might be dead or sleeping. I have survived trying to find my way out of leaving, & I’m having trouble leaving I keep breaking all these oars. I can’t mold what’s not mine that ship won’t sail anymore. The journey is the thing & I’m barely following, like this mirage from inside the back of my head, from just outside my reach. You are survived, you are not alone, don’t give up. ‘cause one day I’m gonna write my dad into my dreams, & tell him how his friends still remember him here. show him I became a man, because they all cared in his absence, & I know you held us, your wife held on tight enough for both of you. She still holds your hand every day & try to live out your last words you are survived, even though we’re still here sorting it all out we all survived, & are amongst the living & the dead. This name is no longer mine, I can see who I am without it, but I can’t just go around dreaming about luck like that, but we all still bleed, we still need help to breathe, & that’s all mine to carry, help me remember when I wake up. I know that all roads lead to home in some way, & I’m on my way, are you on your way?
Show me your life, walking, drifting in the air around us. we all survived, forever & always as we sleep. you are alive, you said it would never be this way, you promised. I am alive, & I said I would never go away, to believe me, but I’m awake now & I still see you...do you see me?
- Track Name: Wooden Heart
We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living, & since that first breath we’ll need grace that we’ve never given. I've been haunted by standard red devils & white ghosts, & it's not only when these eyes are closed. These lies are ropes that I tie down in my stomach, but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather, & my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north stretched thin over my rib bones, & pray that it gets better. but it won’t won’t, at least I don’t believe it will. So I've built a wooden heart inside this iron ship to sail these blood red seas & find your coasts don’t let these waves wash away your hopes. This war-ship is sinking, & I still believe in anchors, pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, I still believe in saviors, but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board washed & bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores. So come on & let’s wash each other with tears of joy & tears of grief, & fold our lives like crashing waves & run up on this beach. Come on & sew us together, tattered rags stained forever. We only have what we remember.
I am the barely living son of a woman & man who barely made it, but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches & new starts. We all have the same holes in our hearts. Everything falls apart at the exact same time that it all comes together perfectly for the next step, but my fear is this prison that I keep locked below the main deck. I keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet & it’s hidden, & my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right, but they’re heavy & I’m awkward I’m always running out of fight. So I’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks. Because I am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam lost & found like you & me scattered out on the sea. So come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy & tears of grief, & fold our lives like crashing waves & run up on this beach. Come on & sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever. We only have what we remember.
My throat it still tastes like house fire & salt water. I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea. If we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together, & not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep. All these machines will rust I promise, but we'll still be electric shocking each other back to life . Your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected our bones grown together inside. Our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided our spines grown stronger in time. Because are church is made out of shipwrecks from every hull these rocks have claimed, but we pick ourselves up, & try & grow better through the change. So come on yall & let’s wash each other with tears of joy & tears of grief, & fold our lives like crashing waves & run up on this beach. Come on & sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever. We only have what we remember.
- Track Name: Falling in love with glaciers.
I met a shell of a mountain who knew she was finished claimed she grew up from a grain of sand. With every year wider she bloomed a little bit longer to the roof of the sky with outstretched hands. She made friends with the sun, shared enemies with no one, counted weeks like she should of counted days, & swallowed handfuls of night so she could sleep tight, & turn her thoughts from its stone cold ways, & this was the beginning, the start of the ending you can't die from a broken heart, but from the time the sun rose to the space where it fell away she would love, & it wouldn't take part, & every every day she would echo echo, in every single way she should let go let go, but it had her in its sights cupids icy arrows, so...well so what.
So she caught every one with her heart like it was her duty. It walked the wrong wrong way down her one way plan. She was surrounded by forests, rivers & beauty until that glacier froze over the land, & so she blamed herself hated her wealth. She was born at too young of an age, & every night her dreams were touched by witches fingers until her heart was caged. With every morning spent not caring if she cares or not sleeping in the melt & mud, waiting for the earth to rot, burying herself alive she scrapes the hole that it left open empty as her very heart, that mountain was all broken. Now I can see that her bloods red & she’s got feelings & they always get spilled both without thinking.
- Track Name: Failing is not just for failures.
I lost my best friend to sadness speaking these words at arms length. He said: to shake things up as hard as you can & if you figure it out by god tell everyone. He said: failing is not just for failures it's for everyone, failures just have more experience, but you can't quit now, you have to climb all night climb everyone of their towers, & show them your life, but if I'm a quitter now, I promise I'll quit her in the end. I don’t need these weapons, I’ll set my heart to win with the weight of the world trying to stop me. Breathe out, then inhale my little heartbeat, & I'll do this for you, because the world might need it if I don't I'll lose hope, & we'll end up losing it...oh well.
I lost my best friend to sadness, even though we tried & tried, I guess we really didn't. I haven’t seen my chin since last may. I’m gonna hold my breath, let's all hold our breath together, & turn this graveyard into a garden & grow from here. We give words to colors & swear we're not blind. We must be the last of our kind, claiming all the world as if we'll never die. We are the ones living right now clamoring around on top of everyone, but it has to hurt of it's to heal, well my god it must be healing it's like a knife in the heart, & I'm starting to lose feeling. It's gonna hurt before it heals, but the pain is getting bigger this dams about to go, & I'm running out of fingers. It'll hurt but it will heal, I'm starting to believe it eyes wide open in the darkness, but I really can't see it. It’s burning right now & I want you to feel it somehow, but without the pain of knowing it. Breathe in, then exhale my little heartbeat, & I'll do this for you, because the world might need it if I don't I'll lose hope, & we'll end up losing it. Because when all is lost I won’t think of you. There's nothing in this world that ghost can do. No matter what's ahead I'll push on through. For your life or through your death, I’ll keep on.
Until I've reached the sea where I can go no further, when all these possibilities keep forcing me towards their goals, confronted with their true self most men run away screaming with nothing as their enemy it's hollow & it's whole. Stuffing sorrow in their souls until all hope is lost in the infinite. I won't ever say goodbye because there's no good in it. I'll stay the course, you've sailed away
while my path leads to God only knows. I'll finish this race, you've quit so early I'd invite you to swim but drifting is not swimming, & this is it, you've given me no choice, but to use mere words to stay alive. while you've paid them no mind, & I'll tell stories about your life, you are no hero but I'll lie. Because when all is lost I won’t think of you. There's nothing in this world that ghost can do. No matter what's ahead I'll push on through. For your life or through your death, I’ll keep on.
- Track Name: Building better bridges.
Our heart burns broken at the ends, they fail us, keep building. My lungs are wax inside my ribs, you’re burning, well I’m breathing. This back breaks walked on from carrying friends, can’t stop now, still working. Your life’s like rain drops on my tongue, I believe you, keep raining. & it’s alright, it’s alright, we are not right now complete. & I’m alright, you’re gonna be alright, we might never be complete, but the water keeps rising, it’s rising, everybody get into the water, & hold each others hands & lives, let’s all push our hearts together..... We’re gonna leave these shores right now, be everything we’ve never been, but you gotta swear to promise that we’ll never go back again, ever again. & we’re not just islands lying beside each others shorelines we’re all bound with veins & hopes, we are not each others ghosts. Our hearts are abridged, let's build bridges to each other so this river won’t take us under filled with monsters & goblins, they keep dragging the bottom. Our life is a bridge, let’s build bridges to each other, & pray we don’t go under, oh these careless waters.
I’m trying not to confuse: being used, with giving all I am. By: being used, & giving everything I have, all I am. So I’ll build a bridge with hollow bones filled with hollow teeth inside a hollow heart, with the insides carved, & let the blood in these veins freeze, let the water in these veins freeze & break & flood the dam. We are all we have, this is all we need, hold on it may never end. & I might have to drink my teeth again if I wash up on the coast. So I’ll build a bridge with all that’s left, & not make any more new ghosts. Show me your life, wide & bright, I hope that patience fills the seams keep what’s inside, dry & right, you arch the frame I’ll span the beams. Our lives are a bridge for us to give, I want to build a better bridge. From every wrong we’ve done to each other, if I forgive will you forgive? Cause one day we’re gonna close our eyes for death or rest, & abandon ourself, this weak mind & breath, & the columns we made, & roots we grew down deep, will be pulled & gathered in to firewood, & burnt for heat. But when the tension shifts, & these braces turn I’ll try & build a better bridge. & when all our piers burn, & the hinges miss I’m gonna build a better bridge. Our hearts are abridged, let’s build bridges to each other so we don’t take ourselves under.
- Track Name: Seatbelt Hands
She's the kind of lady that calls everybody baby, honey, sugar, sweetie, she's always making friends, & she keeps us all locked outside her thick leather skin. She always starts with a smile, it's small & butter yellow, but easier than a handshake, doesn't like her hands touched. She tans alot, gets burnt alot smoking through the cartons, but then gets put out so much, she's considered a bargain. She was born on the fourth of july with her hand on her heart loves america, & being patronized, no one ever told her to guard her heart. She was an angel for halloween once, but never again, & for christmas ever year she's haunted by demons. They always tell her they love her.
She used to believe in innocence until she lost it, & spent a long summer, riding the trains. She has cats & collectors plates to keep her sane watching TV in her favorite chair, both of which are rented. She's alone, & surrounds herself with loners, her life is a loan, lent out to anyone who will own her, waiting for the night to sweep her off her feet, while she mops the bathroom floor. Hoping for a winning ticket or a man to treat her right, but they're both a gamble & she's been a loser all her life, & if she had a nickel for every time she's been punched & kicked, she'd put it together with her camel cash, try to buy some happiness. They always tell her they love her, but then they take something from her.
She would always show us her dreams, they were crumpled up like leaves from holding on too tight, scattered in her shoebox coffin on the cardboard walls covered in butterflies. She's got love in her heart for her babies, & hope in her mind for tomorrow, & blood on her hands that only she sees, holding the last bit of time that's borrowed, but you never know where that heart has been, & we'll never know how hard it's been. I wanna cut open my chest & let her in, but that won’t fix what needs to mend, & she stands there unlit cigarette in hand filling up that empty hole with anything that’ll pour, insides hanging out like a flare, warning. There’s beauty in that pain, can you see it? She’s crashing through life with seat belt hands one accident away from a miracle, & there’s an honesty there, but I can’t take it all in she hides the worst of it in the wrinkles. That’s the ache you get when there’s no where else to go, & she’s got no where else to go, she doesn’t want to go there so I promise I’ll go with her.
- Track Name: These hands weren't meant for us.
These hands were strong once, they held my head & what’s inside. I tried to train them to stop the shaking, but they wouldn't listen to these lies. There's something out there I promise, it's coming for all of us, & it is evil, & I have seen it, it takes life & devours trust. It's bad when I close them worse with my eyes open. I see it if I sleep. So I keep my mind blank, & think of bravery, change & hope but I'm so weak. Please take me in like I'm family, I've been out for far too long my stone hearts aching, but I am changing. stay by me, leave me alone. I’m changing, I hold my head to keep from shaking my hands are full, but I’m not.
I thought these hands were strong with how they used to hold the world. Then It slipped away, I couldn't keep it, & now nothing isn't blurred, but ever since the first time that I flew above the stars like a dragon into heaven trying to tiptoe past the guards, with bricks & bones, blood & stones & skin holding it all loose. I take one last breath & don’t think of death, that halo made a noose, & let's not speak of murder even if the motive is clear, because death is sleep anyways, & I'm fine right here. I couldn’t see what I was looking for, didn’t want to hear it trying to control everything I see, when all I could do is swim in it, or drown or tread in these careless waters just to get by, & just getting by? choking down every single ridiculous lie. Like an axe in the back, like a coward or a hack. Now regret hates me, it’s fear that saved me putting mountains in my path. These arms were strong once, they moved the ground to keep us safe, but they are crumbling, my fingers numbing. I'm not reaching out I'm pushing you away. Please trust it's for your well being, I don't want you here when I come down, so no words are spoken, with my eyes wide open, I’m all ready to be found. I’m changing, I hold my head to keep from shaking my hands are full, but I’m not. I’m changing, I hold myself to keep from shaking these hands are done, but I’m not.
And I’m not full, but I’m not done either just trying to hear what I need to see, & If I see it I promise I’ll let you hear it & if you’ll listen, then I’m all ears. These hands weren’t made for us but they grab at every will we conjure up, my hands weren’t built for me but they still burn the ground enough. Acting like they want to be found, just to go & hide again these hands are all to blame, tearing where it needs to mend. Each finger bent in shame, knuckles every shade of white. Our hands are all the same, over our face cover our eyes. My passports all worn out, if you need these hands they’re all for you. I don’t know what I want, but I know what I don’t want to do.
- Track Name: You were a house on fire.
You were a house on fire, & I couldn't understand why. Burn me all down to the ground, you said, the fire is on the inside, flames dancing like ghosts, behind the windows, pain jumping from the walls. You want to keep this private, I can see that, but you can't ask that of me, we've only just met. I said we need hope now more than ever before, do you believe it? The answer was silence I took it as a no. We all want to be normal anyways we all want to be somewhere else than where we live, but that's not reality, it's just point of view. Let's not talk about the weather & whether or not there's really rain the clouds, unless you want to know if I feel the same as you. It's more measuring up than just wasting time, but time is not on our side, you're burning rain would only be a temporary fix & there's just no place right now for cute ironies. You are a house on fire.
We all write songs about life, we just sing them different. You sing the words but you don't know the song, & you expect us all to sing along? how selfish. The lengths that we go to, to put so much distance between us is staggering. You’re burning alive with stress & life both hands in flames trying to hold the fire inside. Drop & roll repeat line for emphasis. I’ll repeat it & repeat it until you believe it. You're gonna be ok! say it to me. The answer is still silence I’ll take it as a maybe. I can't decide if I should knock down your door or on it. Say the word & I’ll take an axe to your heart or a pin prick cut right through the dark, let it spill out the contents, on our knees sorting through the remnants. Pour out your hate in my hands, I’ll let em slip through my fingers. & this is for you, this is for the times that we only listen long enough to know the other person we’re talking to has the same opinions we do. For when we’re burning inside, for when we’re trying to hide that fact. This is for the scalps that we went after, to be only the best dressed, to scrape another notch on our belts, add another feather to our headres. I want to be the bigger man for you, but I can’t take this truth I'm trying to kick the habit here, but these track marks are 100 proof. Burn me all down to the ground, you said. I’ll kick through your ashes, hope they sober up my head.
- Track Name: Save up your hopes friends.
People who have no hopes are easy to control with nothing & uncertainty. Rumors of wars with monsoons & tornadoes will keep fear over their eyes & locks on their feet. If there were something then at least that would be something but there's not & it buries cracks of drought. Tearing apart empires & homes & the dreams of men sealing the entrance & every way out. There is hope but no heart can touch it unless it's traded wants, for others needs. It is emptiness that is left & destroying the world priceless possessions held so tight that it bleeds. The end is near, they won't believe it until a waking nightmare they can see it. & they'll know it has begun when zero blocks out the sun. Blinded by the fact that they can see nothing one by one they scream silently as they run.
It'll start like hot rain searing through the leaves & boil the sea turning every grass yellow . It comes with no warning & wants no reprieve as it begins with dark clouds & silence. The oceans will be covered in water & the mountains turned in to sand. The trees will be scattered like stars in the night & beneath it all will be buried the land. The air will turn sour & make mothers hate their daughters & fathers will take the blade to their sons. Earthquakes will level houses, hurricanes will take the cattle, birds of prey will lay claim to the rest. The crops will be devoured by locusts & lightning, & when nothing is left, the thunder will rest .The mountains in the sea will crack at their bases & send the earth far away from its sun. They'll fall off the planet & leave the world weightless & everything will freeze together as one. & for years that measure one million times seven times eleven million by seventy seven it'll rocket into nothing, rock ice spinning into nothing until fire smashes it into glass, & sends a rain of boiling vapor, like arrows ripping into paper. On to our heads, lava & poison ash. & it begins. save up your hopes friends & send them to the corners of your end. There is something coming, & everything matters guard your heart, & watch the wind!