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In the Palace of Green Porcelain

by Helen America

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released December 4, 2009


all rights reserved



Helen America Seattle, Washington

Helen America's delicately-crafted, profusely literary songs evoke fairytale worlds laced with menace - her haunting lullabies for two-headed turtles and murder ballads have a crystalline purity that belies their obsessive intensity and sometimes grotesque imagery. 'In the Palace of Green Porcelain' has been described as "the sound a butterfly's heart would make, if butterflies had hearts." ... more

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Track Name: Cicadas
I thought you said when you left my house
that that pickle-jar was for collecting flies
so don't you turn your delightful head
on bugs with smaller eyes

We sailed tiny ships made of popsicle sticks
with our hearts in our mouths with our teeth
and the water so clear you could see the spines
of the translucent fish underneath

So peel a leaf into a skeleton hand
and hold its shadow up to my face
this armature is for the dawn to obscure
and not for your fingers to trace

Saw you pulling fuzz from the bellies of bees
did you think you would furnish a nest?
only lay out the wings of your animal dead
the cicadas will swarm for the rest

You were a rose painted on my mouth
and flowers on my knees
but the day will come my friend when all that we are
is a buzzing in the trees
Track Name: Two-Headed Turtle
Two-headed turtle
nuclear friendling
soft folds of eyemilk
that portend the ending
clouds of white phosphorous
gather above you
and break into seedlings
so why do I love you

The skin on your brain
coarse and arid as emery
its oils entangled
in fractals of memory
I trace my whole life on
your fractured enamel
your eyelids in dreaming
you wander so far
there is no taste sweeter
we live on a star

The quiet machine
takes its heart to the ocean
I try to remember
the patterns of motion
I spend all my money
on buying you lettuce
we hide in my room where
no noise will upset us

Worn cloudy like seaglass
our angles have softened
we look out the window
not terribly often
Track Name: Play at the Sun
Play at the sun
green glow-worms twinkle on their strings
in your light
ribbons hanging from my bones and I am you
a jellied chrysalis untouched by the frost
of the sun

Open your hand
you are paper in the rain a singing bell
I can’t tell if holes were made by birds or stones
would you hide the veins of sugar in your eyes
in your hands

Look at the sky
there is something in the light that makes me cold
see how crystallized our bodies would decay
not knowing what the sky looked like before we knew
it was a sky
Track Name: Saint Acedia
I love to sleep all day since I read your poisoned letter
my father says it's not a sin but I know better
under the apple trees where the worms consume their tokens
I sleep like rotten food in the scent of sweetness broken

you said you loved me so you would almost die to hold me
your tongue rots through with holes from the saccharine lies you told me
I saturate my heart with the drowsy blood of sleeping
but in my quiet dreams like a worm you're always creeping

darling I know you are tired and dull but the knife in my pocket is sharp and it shines
like the white harvest moon in your eyes

come lay down here with me listen to the insects crawling
the dried decaying leaves can you hear extinction calling
deep in this endless dream you would cruelly have denied me
from this sweet moment on you will always sleep beside me
Track Name: Cowboy Song
I was walking on my hands
in the windless canyon lands
seeing gold in all the bruises of the sky
Smoke was rising from the south
and the blood inside my mouth
found its hollow in a red and lonesome sigh
Painted like a headless clown
takes so long to spiral down
and the smile dries hard on my skin
I've been running for so long
don't know where I first went wrong
Left holes every place that I've been
Took a walk up in the sky
stepped upon a butterfly
he spit on my boots and he said
This is no place for you
if your eyes are still blue
I said mine for a long time been red
In the smoky cotton skies
those are pearls that were his eyes
can't go home with a brain drowned in gin
And I hear the singing birds
and they hear my flightless words
And I'm back on that dead road again
Track Name: Milk Brother Soliloquy
This is not my blood ascension dying in your bed
nothing hot can penetrate the cotton in your head
but how can you face the staring eyes outside the door
don't you know your face is open as a running sore

No you cannot stay the night I have enough to hold
you would take away my blankets if your nose got cold
I have no talk with the protruding fingers of your spine
please don't hold your stomach full of ashes close to mine

and why did you let me
take off your glasses
frosted your skin
running sweet like molasses

The sky is full of far too many birds with hollow bones
I gave you one of my eyelashes in an amber stone
you turn into the window when the rain is on the grass
smiling spinning blood behind a face of sugar glass

and why did you let me
push you away
when the stars in my eyes were melting
the snow is turning grey
Track Name: Aspartame, my Aeroplane
aspartame my aeroplane
leave my hands behind the grain
arthur blurred the softest word
chewing cream of pickle bird
evergreen my turtle bean
I unglove my smile machine
perfidy and entropy
perforate my alchemy
and when I find you
what kind of dress will you be eating
come up behind you
don't drop the eggs that you are beating
oh little goat eyes and cloven toenails shiver
when I whisper
now it's time to go
harlequin ex-capuchin
sweet acetaminophen
carbonade your escapade
carbonate your lemonade
atrophy my enemy
little sea anemone
yellow bees with lung disease
leaf through aristophenes
and when I find you
you will be caroling for petals
and I will wind you
snakelike around a rod of metal
draw you out of the wound where
the flakes of mustard settle
and now its time to go
Track Name: Elsa and Boris
Elsa and Boris knew
all of the pink feathered hives
wrapped in their cellophane blues
limpid with preciousness
my true love waits
washing the dust from the shivering house
watching from cloudtops
the flight of the envious bees

Elsa and Boris fly
holding their heads on their strings
wearing the weather like raincoats
and buzzing diaphanous wings

I tell you I know
where the waterbugs go
when your eyesight begins to grow dim
you tie the white sail to your anklebones
and you ache like a phantom limb

Back in the darkened tree
deep in her moss-quiet eyes
he finds a boat and an ocean
leaving the anchor behind
us we sail out to the foam at the edge of all light
no cobweb no parachute
last freed itself from blue
Track Name: Birdflesh
Here's a table in the garden
Pretty bird now drink your feathers
Pretty thing you are so pretty
Talk to me about the weather

I have wings and I have whistles
I make noises like an airplane
You have eyes like honey buttons
If I ate them would you complain

(Occupy your shaking mouth
All you need is gin and tonic
I would swallow rope and light bulbs
Though my love is embryonic)

If you blinked into my waistcoat
I would leave a blueish stain
And bite through all the icy fibers
Of your little frozen brain

(Now my friends and mutilations
Listen to me spit through silence
Wrapping butterflies in metal
Nothing's more sincere than violence)

Butter spread between your eyebrows
Here's a napkin for that mouse ear
Yes the sky seems greener lately
I know you must like it too dear
Track Name: Twin Bird Song
oh my little twin bird
don't hop so far
you know that my wings are small
and my breath is here
in the willow flowers
in the birch trees
fingerbone and brown
in the hollows of
tufted eiderdown
hotly shadowed here
like the warm air
in your little ears
you know every word I know
white throat full of water
pale green of the underleaves
in your haunted eyes
open recklessly
here the dandelions
blow sweet the breeze
in their grains of white-yellow
oh my precious one
how can you not see
you are wanted here
let us be the broken dead
moss cooling your forehead
you never were meant to be
unwarm and touched by machinery
now I walk with you
only in my bones
there is broken glass
there are pelting stones
and now death is the
only rock I hold
and how could you not
even wait for me