Sprague’s Lyrics

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’

All lyrics © 2017 Richard Jonathan. All rights reserved.

Paul Klee, Houses in the Park, 1925

If Love Is Dirty (I Am Filthy)

 

Beat me like bedclothes on a rock by a river
Endeavour to make me immaculate
If love is dirty I am filthy
You’ll never beat my love out of me

Turn me into a wolf, catch me in a trap
See me gnaw through my own flesh and bone
As much as I loved you on four legs
No less will I love you on three

Once I was your map, now I’ve lost my way
Once I was your compass, now I have no North

Turn me into a barnacle on a whale’s back
Swim me through all the world’s oceans
Swim me from Arctic to Antarctica and back
Never will you wash my love out of me

Stick me in a temple, I’ll live like a monk
Let the decades roll until I’m enlightened
Then when I’m wise stare into my eyes
And feel the love pour out of me

Once I was your map, now I’ve lost my way
Once I was your compass, now I have no North

Where Do Dogs Go to Die?

 

You are that oil stain on the asphalt
I am the sunshine that celebrates it
You are that dress hung out to dry
I am the breeze that undulates it

I am that bread loaf on a baker’s shelf
You are the yeast that raised it
I am that bouquet in a tin bucket
You are the water that sustains it

Now where do dogs go to die
When the crawl space is crowded?
Where do wild horses roam
When the prairie is burning?

You are that bridge spanning the river
I am the initiation at the end of it
You are that red pine reaching for the sky
I am the sun that acclaims it

Now where do tigers go to drink
When all the rivers have run dry?
Where do swallows herald spring
When winter’s pall is never-ending?

I Don’t Think of You

 

I don’t think of you
When she straightens my collar.
I don’t think of you
When she knots my scarf.
When she walks beside me and takes my arm,
I don’t think of you.
But when the wind takes her hair
My heart sinks:
I’m trying very hard, Marietta,
But there is always and only you.

I don’t think of you
When she talks to me.
I don’t think of you
When she rolls a cigarette.
When she brews me tea and dries my hair,
I don’t think of you.
But when the sun dies in her eyes
My heart sinks:
I’m trying very hard, Marietta,
But there is always and only you.

I don’t think of you
When we go to the cinema.
I don’t think of you
When she whispers in my ear.
When she talks of Stalin and Tarkovsky,
I don’t think of you.
But when she licks a raindrop from her lips
My heart sinks:
I’m trying very hard, Marietta,
But there is always and only you.

Fragonard’s Swing

 

Will he remember, when he’s old and grey,
How his heart would flutter to the sway of her swing?
Will she remember, when she’s past her day,
The kindling power of her petticoats?

Hearts like bells, celebrate the living
Mourn the dead, break the lightning

Toothless and dribbling, will he still recall
The arch of her instep, the sandal, the fall?
Her poise at the still-point between surrender and retreat,
Eyeless and infirm, will it still taste sweet?

Hearts like bells, celebrate the living
Mourn the dead, break the lightning

The thrill of expectation, the sudden glimpse—
Will they reminisce about their frivolity?
Will they be convinced by the instant’s eloquence
That to transience the flower owes its beauty?

Hearts like bells, celebrate the living
Mourn the dead, break the lightning

What Is the Wound?

 

What is the wound that drives me to wandering?

A foreigner lives within me.
He says I’m relative, not absolute.
He says forever I shall remain aloof,
Unable to take root.
Incessantly he shapes and reshapes me,
Leaving me no routine or rest.

What is the wound that drives me to wandering?

A stranger lives within me.
He knows my loss is irredeemable.
He knows my secrets, my particular alienation.
He peels back my mask: Who are you, in the end?
There is no end.

What is the wound that drives me to wandering?

An outsider lives within me.
He says my freedom is the freedom
To refuse, the freedom of solitude.
Over an empire of nothing
—experience passes, memory persists—
He leaves me to reign supreme.

What is the wound that drives me to wandering?

An alien lives within me.
He says however great my courage,
It can never overcome my humiliation.
He says whatever I undertake
Is doomed to futility:
I am condemned to turn round and round
In the saga of myself.

What is the wound that drives me to wandering?

Casanova

 

The idiot boy
In a witch’s box
On the island of Murano;
Speaking to no-one,
Never spoken to,
Blood from the nose pouring:
Casanova

Withholding nothing,
Hoarding nothing,
Giving without calculation;
The scandal of pleasure,
The impudence of daring,
Guilt and shame refused:
Casanova

Stealer of fire,
Protector of darkness,
The generosity of the poor;
Lover of women,
Abhorrer of suffering,
The honesty of the outlaw:
Casanova

It’s You, My Love (You Who Are Delicious)

 

The chutney in the curry
The attar in the rose
The silk in the mulberry
The dots on the dominoes

It’s you, my love, you who are delicious!

The tongue in the bell
The fuse in the dynamite
The bucket in the well
The venom in the snakebite

It’s you, my love, you who are delicious!

The doubt in the definite
The horn on the unicorn
The who in the whodunnit
The oak in the acorn

It’s you, my love, you who are delicious!

Any Right to Be

 

‘Don’t move’ said the curfew man
‘Infidel’, the Ayatollah
‘Buy buy buy’ said the TV ad
‘Five minutes to go’, the prison guard

Yes, I was feeling bad
Had many reasons to be sad
Then out of the blue she said ‘I love you’
Now I’m happier
Than I have any right to be
Any right to be

‘Suffocate him’ said the torturer
‘Burn his groves’, the colonist
‘The whole village’ said the general
‘Every house’, the militiaman

Yes, I was feeling bad
Had many reasons to be sad
Then out of the blue she said ‘I love you’
Now I’m happier
Than I have any right to be
Any right to be

Now the day is done, night’s come along
There’s love in her eyes and fear in my soul
You see, it’s not the world of horrors
That’s worrying me, it’s something
Long-standing deep inside of me
That makes me say when she says ‘I love you’
That I’m happier
Than I have any right to be
Any right to be

‘Burn the book’ said the preacher
‘War is peace’, the politician
‘Close the border’ said the voter
‘Loose the dogs’, the policeman

Yes, I was feeling bad
Had many reasons to be sad
Then out of the blue she said ‘I love you’
Now I’m happier
Than I have any right to be
Any right to be

In My Mind I See Your Face

 

Venus is red in the pale light of dawn
Red is the colour of your hair
Venus heralds rebirth and homecoming
Rebirth is your answer to my prayer

In my mind I see your face
In my heart I hold you
In my soul we are wedded in grace
With my body I enfold you

The Pole Star is the nail of heaven
Nail is your role in my life
The Pole Star is the hole in the sky
Hole is your place as my wife

In my mind I see your face
In my heart I hold you
In my soul we are wedded in grace
With my body I enfold you

Night is potential and indeterminacy
Potential is the being you give me
Night is germination and gestation
Germination is your dream of me

In my mind I see your face
In my heart I hold you
In my soul we are wedded in grace
With my body I enfold you

The Miracle of You

 

The miracle of you
Wings my heart
The miracle of you
Sings me

The miracle of you
Iridesces my soul
The miracle of you
Dreams me

The miracle of you
Intimate, without limit
The miracle of you
Heals me

Forgotten, Who Cares

Photo by kind permission of Michal Novotný © 2006

Black-winged kites block out the sky,
The Wall is down, the fence is high;
In the architect’s vision intimidation is found
In the massed concrete, the treeless ground.

Forgotten, who cares, the children they roam;
A hole in the ground is what they call home.

Ghostly fog around the streetlights,
Ice on the wires, wind that bites;
Out of a car a man pushes a boy:
Life is dangerous in the division of joy.

Forgotten, who cares, the children they roam;
A hole in the ground is what they call home.

Fire pot, potatoes and lard,
Burnt-out buildings, mud in the backyard;
Shattered glass, in the mirror a girl,
Lipstick and heels to conquer the world.

Forgotten, who cares, the children they roam;
A hole in the ground is what they call home.

What is to be done with Lenin’s legacy?
Will we ever get over the twentieth century?
Man against man and God against all,
The whore of ideology is always on call.

Forgotten, who cares, the children they roam;
A hole in the ground is what they call home.

Photo by kind permission of Michal Novotný © 2006

Michal Novotný, Street Kids in Odessa