When I Died

by Geoff Sanborn

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released October 15, 2014




Geoff Sanborn Northampton, Massachusetts

B. 1965, bred in Maine, mystery to himself.

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Track Name: The Chimney Sweeper
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved, so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, & Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for a father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

Do your duty and don't fear harm
Do your duty and don't fear harm
Track Name: O My Carmen
O my Carmen, my little Carmen!
Something, something those something nights
And the stars and the cars and the bars and the barmen--
And, O my charmin', our dreadful fights

Time: Sunday morning in June
Place: sunlit living room.
Props: old sofa, magazines, phonograph.
She wore that day a pretty print dress that I had seen on her once before,
Ample in the skirt, tight in the bodice, short-sleeved, pink.
She had painted her lips and was holding in her hollowed hands a beautiful, banal, Eden-red apple.
She tossed it up into the sun-dusted air, and caught it--
It made a cupped polished plop.

And the something town where so gaily, arm in
Arm, we went, and our final row,
And the gun I killed you with, O my Carmen,
The gun I am holding now.

There seemed to be nothing to prevent my muscular thumb from reaching the hot hollow of her groin--just as you might tickle a giggling child--
Just that--and: "Oh it's nothing at all," she cried with a sudden shrill note in her voice, and she threw her head back,
And her teeth rested on her glistening underlip, and my moaning mouth almost reached her bare neck,
While I crushed out against her left buttock the last throb of the longest ecstasy man or monster had ever known.

Immediately afterwards (as if we had been struggling and now my grip had eased) she rolled off the sofa and jumped to get
The telephone that may have been ringing for ages as far as I was concerned.
There she stood and blinked, cheeks aflame, hair awry, her eyes passing over me as lightly as they did over the furniture.
Blessed be the Lord, she had noticed nothing!
Track Name: anyone lived in a pretty how town
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
Track Name: War Song
From my mother's sleep I fell into the state
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters
And when I died, they washed me out of the turret with a hose
(Randall Jarrell, "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner")

Dim through panes of thick green light, as under a green sea I saw him drowning
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning
And when he died, I marched behind the wagon that we flung him in
(from Wilfred Owen, "Dulce Et Decorum Est")

A sight in camp in the daybreak gray and dim, as slow I walk in the cool fresh air
Along the path near the hospital tent, three forms on stretchers I see lying there
And on the dead, the grey and heavy blanket covering all
Curious I halt, then with light fingers lift it off

Who are you, man so gaunt and grim, with flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Then to the second, a boy with cheeks still red, who are you my child?
Then to the third, a face neither old nor young, beautiful yellow-white
I think this face is the face of the Christ, dead and divine and the brother of all and here again he lies
(from Walt Whitman, "A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Grey and Dim")

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