Difficult Loves

by Ghostlimb

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Difficult Loves VIT044

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released February 5, 2015

Justin, Neal, Alex recorded live to tape, mixed, and mastered at the Atomic Garden studio by Jack Shirley in May 2012 and June 2015. Art by Adam Hunt Emptydesignco@gmail.com. This is Vitriol Records VIT044. Questions or contact Jason@graforlock.com.

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Vitriol Records Los Angeles

Vitriol is a group of relative stains from the Southern California/Los Angeles area. This project was started as an attempt to maintain the highest level of autonomy, with friends and collaborators, in the most legit way we could. Bands include Graf Orlock, Ghostlimb, Dangers, Fischer, Comadre, Griever, Birds In Row, etc. Write what you want to read, play what you want to hear. ... more

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Track Name: A Gobi of Suburbs
I hated you at first
I couldn’t sleep through the night
no semblance of dread
but strange flashes of light
dark grey and mauve walls
white cobwebs and all
create a locus of triumph and defeat
too much has gone by in a single empty space
that stands in the way of an unfettered escape
imagine the pull gravitational cosmos
every morning and afternoon
anxiety en route
I turn my head each way to look at you
think of the guts destroyed
the teeming overrun milieu

“Amid so much open land there seemed to be no space that met their criteria of ‘civilized urbanity’. Los Angeles, for all its fleshpots and enchantments, was experienced as a cultural antithesis to nostalgic memories of pre-fascist Berlin or Vienna…Los Angeles became increasingly symbolized as the ‘anti-city’, a Gobi of suburbs.”
--Mike Davis “City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles” (1990)
Track Name: Sense of Place
distance I've felt miles I've known years
be it "paradise" awash with pretense
though rich canopies persist or "basin"
a great river's meander
though long since gone
births persistence
I can't compare merits shared
whether basement or hilltop bus stop or wetland
I am glad to have found you

“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. That land yields a cultural harvest is a fact long known, but latterly often forgotten.”
--Aldo Leopold "A Sand County Almanac" (1949)
Track Name: Hostility Compelling
I’ve said something new
I’ve said nothing at all
I cringed at the summer and hated the fall
a lumbering listless ennui
absorbed by the car crash
bottlenecked for eternity
what’s the purpose in such disengagement
barely moved by light from even extinct suns
a subtle hostility, compelling
it gave me a purpose
a reason to breathe
but now it’s just stifling
and it took time to grasp
to stay the sharpened axe
embrace reprieve
for all the worst we did
so when the story does end
with confidence

“To nature’s creatures we allot the spring and the summer,
To the doe, the bear, the gold-finch and the hummer.
To the fishes we ascribe the deep blue sea,
The honey we apportion to the bustling bee.
To the pessimist—good cheer—his mind to sooth,
To the chronic liar, we donate the solemn truth.”
--Nicola Sacco “Last Will” (1927)
Track Name: Wall of Books
I acknowledge the risk
but I trust empirically
in the ribs that break the eyes that see
I always believed
in the lengthening reach
beyond our own restricted field of vision
but the terror of days the gnashing hours of teeth
a debt of autonomy
a built up and torn down Corioli
why I’d push against a Volscan tide
is only now clear to me
every road we trod along
and all the kindred spirits and love we lost
nothing’s more clear than the sound of shattered bone
every dent and bruise is ours and ours alone

“And when Philip wrote thus to the Spartans: If once I enter into your territories, I will destroy ye all, never to rise again; they answered him with the single word, If.”
--Plutarch “Moralia” (100CE)
Track Name: Difficult Loves
I followed you down some dark alleys
and found a few cul-de-sacs of my own
tied to the dual grace of war within and composure unknown
that eclipse desire unleashed
rushed through the veins
bypassed the prostrate heart
and with avarice sought the brain
the cloaked thief of indiscretion and impunity’s velvet rule
a kinship well worn laid waste the unity of throttlehold and jugular
Agon attentive never derelict of his duty
only purged by the smart of acuity
you knew everything the north south west and east
with familiarity the geography of their bodies
and we rend it asunder rend asunder through
circulation circumscribed and a fist clenched tight
we gripped it with one hand
then kicked it down the stairs
conscience: a tumor on the body of early morning
the dual grace of necks hacked clean
ripped through the fence-sitting agnostics
with the causticity of complete certainty
to release
a Virgil in the Lethe
a Baron in the trees
a body washed ashore on Caracol Beach
every atrocious moon and every son bitter
the ever-flowing fount of piss and vinegar
across the fields of youth filled with loss and doom
emerge clearer

“The naked man climbed a willow tree. The valley was all woods and shrub-covered slopes, under a gray hump of mountain. But at the end of it, where the torrent turned, there was a slate roof with white smoke coming up. Life, thought the naked man, was a hell, with rare moments recalling some ancient paradise.”
--Italo Calvino “Difficult Loves” (1949)
Track Name: Brushfire
I guess there’s just a meanness in this world
a slumped forward concession
a teary-eyed wasted insight
a brushfire war on every front
inattentive lack of ambition
offset by the collective acts of indiscipline and inspiration
and I too sate that hunger for the deep
and give up on everyone and everything
and I too sate that hunger for the deep daily
as often as I recommit readily
to what I still hear and read and see
that life is still worth living
without gods or masters or heroism
no martyrs basking in religious contemplation
but there are those who deserve respect
carrying on to the dawn
doing good without remuneration

“Who built the seven towers of Thebes?
The books are filled with the names of kings.
Was it kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone? . . .
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished,
Where did the masons go? . . .
--Bertolt Brecht “Questions from a Worker Who Reads” (1935)
Track Name: Folds in the Sheets
over time I shift
major to minor tonality
from the storms that breached
and the rising sun while everyone’s asleep
a bitter and caustic critique
can be sung so sweetly
between the folds in the sheets
under a helmet at speed
or late at night over a bottle of whiskey
with Sleepwalk on repeat
funneled through a string of lights
the biting air and rising exhaust
the kindred spirits steadily lost
comingled with the exhaled smoke
perfume that reeks
or the cedar chest opened with a creak
full of worthless chaff
childhood casts
potentialities long past
when the sun comes up my inspiration fails

“Strain your wine and prove your wisdom; life is short; should hope be more? In the moment of our talking, envious time has ebb'd away.”
--Horace “Odes” (23 BCE)
Track Name: Nine
under the delusion that they desire
your participation
in the most basic affairs
it’s aching feet it’s calloused hands
the creased document mocks
a directionless persistence
no matter how the ratio breaks
it’s just a sad joke made
where those of weak analysis are easily convinced
as long as they consent they are forever faultless
throw their undeserved support to the wind
and throw their votes in the trash in the end
under the delusion that they inspire
any participation
beyond a bullet catcher in a body bag
a suspect opinion

“In one way or another, as vigorous he-man or kindly father, the candidate must be glamorous. He must also be an entertainer who never bores his audience. Inured to television and radio, that audience is accustomed to being distracted and does not like to be asked to con¬centrate or make a prolonged intellectual effort. All speeches by the entertainer-candidate must therefore be short and snappy. The great issues of the day must be dealt with in five minutes at the most -- and prefera¬bly (since the audience will be eager to pass on to something a little livelier than inflation or the H-bomb) in sixty seconds flat . . . From a pulpit or a platform even the most con¬scientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth. The methods now being used to merchan¬dise the political candidate as though he were a deo¬dorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.”
--Aldous Huxley “Brave New World Revisited” (1958)
Track Name: Addressee Relocated to Cemetery
Dima
selflessly buried in archives deep
dig up
and unfurl the fabric of fractured sleep
driven forth by the demons of transparency
paleology
an alphabet evolving constantly
perhaps a closed door
for a grieving family
who know simply but with no specificity
there’s nothing worse
than a song in the head never put to tape
the palimpsest of unrealized dreams
entire existence wiped clean
from paper and sanitized

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
--Milan Kundera “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” (1979)
Track Name: Treason Fluently
how many ways to sell
the tired packaged white man’s burden
from open arms of her majesty
to the smoke of Santiago streets
and at fifteen years
do you make a kid aware
that their entire life
has been engulfed
in factions and struggles and juntas devolving
without ever knowing
obscured in the open
ignored by definition
because it is somewhere else
and one does not look beyond
the branches of its own stunted elm
unless for resource
so the roots dug deep into the mire
beneath the loamy skin tones
beneath the Tropic of Cancer
at the crux of fruitlessness
at the genesis
to instability’s foundation
where the chemotherapy offered
is the same essence as the infection

“History does not repeat itself, but it delights in patterns and symmetries. When the stories of American “regime change” operations are taken together, they reveal much about why the United States overthrows foreign governments and what consequences it brings on itself by doing so. They also teach lessons for the future.”
--Stephen Kinzer “Overthrow” (2006)
Track Name: Life's Blood
well witcher
brought life from the top of a hill
that moments before lay stamped
browned overlooking the salty blue
where the Tunitas makes its way
"small" life long gone
atop cracked soil of a reservoir gone dry
two days rain
a watershed scale
shown to those who know where to look
a foreign word to many
as faucets run
while teeth are brushed
and toilets flushed

"Water says this, 'Wherever you put me I'll be in my home. I am awfully smart. Lead me out of my springs, lead me from my rivers, but I came out of the ocean and I shall go back into the ocean. You can dig a ditch and put me in it, but I only go so far and I am out of sight. I am awfully smart. When I am out of sight I am on my way back home.' "
--Norris Hundley, Jr. "The Great Thirst: Californians and Water—A History, Revised Edition" (2001)