Where are the Arms

by Gabriel Kahane

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1.
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03:00
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03:07
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03:43
7.
02:32
8.
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03:13
10.
03:35
11.
04:22

credits

released 09 September 2011

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Track Name: Charming Disease
You were on the floor when I got home
Scraped you up, cleaned you off, got you out the door
I drove you to the basement on your knees.

You were sneaking out with little lies
in the morning by the market, for a good time
You tried to hide it by the lemon trees
I took you home and took away your keys.

What a charming
What a charming
charming little disease.

The doctor says you’ll make it if you try
You look up at all of us with your yellow eye

I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry

What a charming
What a charming
charming little disease.

Coffee burned, the plastic chair
the shuffled feet, the shuffled stare
90 days, no guarantees

You sank into a wine dark sea
You tried so hard so hard to please

What a charming
What a charming
charming little disease.

You were on the floor when I got home
Held my breath and stepped real soft
Then I locked the door

I’ll bring the bottle...

What a charming
What a charming
charming little disease.
Track Name: Merritt Pkwy
I was on the side of the road
Shiny traffic beetling by
She picked up a box of my clothes
Offered me a wash and a ride

We collected clovers in a park
Threaded them through our little fingers
She pulled up her shirt and showed me the mark
where her father’s snow white knuckle lingered

And I say now what I said then
please let me forget you
In some hot one gas station town
please let me forget you

We came up with names for our kids
though we’d only met an hour before
Names with an eastern european fit
Frederick, Casimir, and Isidore

At a seaside town we picked at our lunch
Talking of family, the books that we’d read
Back in the car, too nervous to touch
She emptied a bottle of water on my head

And I say now what I said then
please let me forget you
In some hot one gas station town
please let me forget you
Track Name: Parts of Speech
they sit on steps against the wind
the colors changing growing thin
in lights and lye and lost illusions
watch these two discussing
what to make of
unborn children who may take or not take
let us not break

their cups are cold their hands are black
they sit at angles but
distraction will not find them it will find them
in a white room
where it’s all just touching shells
it’s touching shells
but It’s just nothing
it’s just nothing

he would never know
if she had never told
him that she’d like to be a kind of mother
now he’s on his own
a drift of sallow bone
and nothing there to lift him from the shudder

your first love teaches you the parts of speech
all the words that you never thought that you could reach

the shop and the bulletproof chinese
the yellow billboard yellow frieze
of last year’s summer flicks
and soon the bus of nations hits
it’s blinking in the breeze
of afternoons and afternoons
of yawning
and he’s longing

and though he’s certain that the shudder’s tied to fall
his throat is tight can’t quite recall
it’s in the books or in the wall
that scene of children standing tall?
he clears his throat
he clears it

he’s got a place in some small town
far from the garden and the gown
she wears for someone else
while someone else
will hold her hand
in some cold off-white room

but he’s okay
and you’re okay
and we’re okay
we break the fall

but he’s okay
and you’re okay
and we’re okay
it’s nothing it all
Track Name: Where are the Arms
Come on, boy
Hasn’t it been long enough?
When all you ever thinking of is
where are the arms
that armed your love?

Come on, girl
In the window that you now look through
You see him grey and curled and blue
Where are the arms
that armed your love?

And come on, heart
Dress yourself in cartoon clothes
Color cut and fresh cut rose
Where are the arms
that armed your love?

So come on, boy
Light the light of narrow joy
Pick up the floor, your broken toy

Where are the arms
that armed your love?
Track Name: LA
The color wheel and the western sky.
The reflection of a stranger in a strange fluorescent light.
Water on the bathroom floor.
A mattress for an island and a plastic sheet for shore.

LA

The selfish city wins again.

She drives cause there’s a lot of road.
And motion makes her calmer than to take it slow.
The man puts on the yellow gloves.
She concentrates discretely on the TV up above.

LA

The selfish city wins again.

The windscreen is a cinema tonight
The shot of what she left behind
She sees herself in stereo.

The bungalow gets a splash of sun.
She opens up the front door when the man is done.
Water on the bathroom floor.
Tub’s been up for days now and I can’t see anymore.
Track Name: Last Dance
When winter announced itself
new pleasures were smaller:
corner table, routines—
daily walk to the main street;
she takes her bundle of pills,
she poaches her egg and eats it
and feels his slight impression
like crushed pillows
hold the shape of a body
after nights of sleep and shadows
oh dear woman…

She sits across eager men
eager to impress her.
They offer words like,
“your loss—how are you getting on
dear woman?” She
smiles and straightens her dress,
excuses herself, and gets up
out from the table, eyeing
the dessert tray.
Brief distraction, and then
the ladies’ lounge all decked in velvet…
locks herself in the stall and
she begins to sing:

How do I deny
do I deny that I am
tired and trembling
over evening when
all I want is a face to hold
and love and light and sex
and cigarettes?

One final delight,
final delight in all the
finer things that
I had grown so used to
when all I want is your face;
all I want is a last dance.

So long. Where’d you go?
Oh oh no.
Track Name: Icebox
My grandmother catalogued
the contents of the icebox,
sure that there’s a meal
to be made from what was in there.
She offered us an orange
for the seven days of aftershocks,
dressed up in our best clothes
with the powder in our hair.

It sticks in the throat
It sticks in the throat
I tried to run, but it runs on remote.

The blonde girls in midtown board
the express for the East Side;
I stare for lack of purpose
knowing you are far and gone.
I slept through my stop
and disembarked to make a joyride;
Brighton Beach and Russian baths
and Hudson River dawn.

It sticks in the throat
It sticks in the throat
I tried to run, but it runs on remote.

My grandmother listens
to the men in conversation,
sure that there’s a reason
to be silent and be still.
Table turned and jacket torn
in ancient observation,
all of us in black against the February chill;
I am at the window with my feet up on the sill.
Track Name: Calabash & Catamaran
Do you ever feel alone?
Let me tell you about something I know
A device, a device
I made something for you.

You could even call it home
there are pictures of people you know!
A device, a device
I made something for you.

We would prefer the shades be drawn
that you don’t have to look back to what’s gone
Do you like, do you like?
We long to be near you.

You caress the dial
It makes you whole again
Lie behind the smile
You wake up fresh
and we’ll pretend that
that You can feel the touch
ocean and shallow sand
You don’t remember much
of Calabash & Catamaran.

From the glow and from the tongue
You could taste it by tapping your thumb
Do you like, do you like?
We long to be near you.

What’s in the pocket of your dress?
It’s like a lover but bothers you less
the delight, the delight
He longs to be near you.

All the devices
All that you like is ours
you touch the dial
lie behind the smile the wonder of the
small things a comfort
your delight in one word
oh we touch the dial
on and on and on and on
Track Name: Barn Song
Kids don’t learn to write their cursive letters here anymore.
Fingers more than nimble, and recall's in the frost.
Oh all these schools of lisping children,
singing rhymes to their dad.

What of words in cracked communion? Noble, silent, and bare.
Come apart like needles, and we don’t know the names of
All these trees up on the island,
don’t they just look the same?

Why don’t you ever look up to the sky?
Windows are shuttered, you cover your eye
Don’t see a reason for keeping in time.

What of films of Joseph Cotten, angles shot from on high?
None of us remembers the details of the plot, but
We found black and white romantic,
now you’re left with the thought…

Why don’t you ever look up to the sky?
Windows are shuttered, you cover your eye
Don’t see a reason for keeping in time,
you’re always distracted, the devil in signs.
Track Name: Winter Song
where did it begin?
we forgot to mow the lawn
too much time spent
with electric deck of cards

where did it begin?
one day the words were gone
letters lost and found
in someone’s yard

kids fall down in the snow
they used to

shopping carts, a highway
toward a single spire
mask and glove and pipe
but not much learned

when you let me in
against that careless fire
all the farms all the farms
all the freight
all the books had burned

scratching out a past
we don’t remember much
words come apart like
tendon shattered bone

once there was a city
you knew well its touch
still got the linen but
the memory’s thread is gone

kids fall down in the snow
Track Name: Great Lakes
Beyond the spare black curtain
the candle and the glow
My friend can’t get a word in
between the din and the show

What’s the use of hammering
with tooth and nail
what’s all gone pale
from fright?

When we’re deaf and stammering
it’s all a pose.
At least our clothes
are tight.

She second guessed his gesture
His threaded bucktooth grin.
She falls for men in sweatshirts
and boyish boys too thin.

Then that Modern Lovers’ song
filled up the room.
They sang in tune
so proud.

But that moment petered out;
she picked a fight—
so what’s that line
so what’s that line
about?