Luck & Courage

by Franz Nicolay

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1.
She called him Felix Which meant "lucky" to her He was a middle-distance runner She didn't take him seriously But shifted in her seat when he walked by He thought her plain But sensual in some way She licked the corner of her mouth thoughtfully Wore her skirts above the knee He told her a story about a pair of green and gold yarn gloves That he'd been given It was with a sting of recognition She realized he'd given those gloves to her When he left it had the feel of a little tradition Lash solitude to the wind But when you leave again Leave something of you with them Tie your fishing lines to the fence posts And do your best to reel them in The candle flickers You measure morals by unsturdy things Tear leaves off of the sycamore Pin down the butterfly's wings "I never knew it got this cold in August Here in Tuscon" "Only in the evening There's nothing here to hold the heat The sun goes down It floats off and is lost Anyway, you've got a jacket Tell me where you got that necklace." He looked across the parking lot At the path under the highway At the mouth of it a man slung bags of cans across his back He coughed, and he turned back to the table She told him a story of a hand-embroidered pillow She'd been given It was with a sting of recognition He realized she'd given him that pillow When she left it had the feel of a little tradition So lash solitude to the wind But when you leave again Leave something of you with the Tie your fishing lines to fence posts And do your best to reel them in The candle flickers You measure morals by unsturdy things Tear leaves off of the sycamore And pin down the butterfly's wings
2.
Have Mercy 03:45
I was the shadow of a waxwing slain I was the moonlight on a moving train I was the center of a circle of light I was my father's heart on a youthful night I was a broken batwing strewn On a broken street, in a sunken moon I was the sound of a hunting tune I am the sound of a hunter's tune I was the red king in moonlit flight I was the danger in a drunken night I was a ragged dog spoiling for a fight Saw the death ship sailing when I was five It's the devil I love, and the devil must die Have mercy I was a leveller, you were a thief Cry mercy I was transparent, your motives were murky Cry mercy, mercy. Left an Econoline carcass in a desert grave Front right wheel splayed like a gull's wing on a tidal wave It's who you leave behind, it's not who you save That you'll be judged by That you are judged by.
3.
This is not a chair That is not a table This is not a cup That is not a kettle It is not raining My shoe is not untied I have not been unhappy my whole life. This is not a wall That is not a ceiling This is not a scrape And I don't know that feeling Not a spoon Not dirty dishes, not a knife I have not been unhappy my whole life. All the lies I've ever told will come back to me one day But if this rain keeps coming we can wash the world away. This is not your hand. That is not my rib. This is not your farewell kiss And those are not your lips. I became a writer And you became my wife And I was not unhappy my whole life. All the lies I've ever told will come back to me one day But if this rain keeps coming we can wash the world away. All the lies I've ever told will come back to me one day But if this rain keeps coming it'll wash the world away. If it keeps coming it'll wash the world away. If it keeps coming it'll wash the world away.
4.
My criminal uncle crashes the garden party on a four-day drunk Clears the nephews, he clears the cousins, and he He's got visions, he's grabbing for lifelines Livid and lunatic with laughing gas He parked his grandmother's pickup truck lengthwise Loaded with a half-cord of wood But it's too late for him It's too late for me It's too late for us We've run out of things to be. My criminal uncle lived in a cabin on a mountain notch road Hunting license and a buck strung up by the heels in the yard He's got a gripe with his neighbor, a bad knee to favor Bass amp, he's a backroom bard My criminal uncle smashed his car on a six-week bender Flecks of white paint, dried animal on the right rear fender Don't you remember? He says, "Why have you forsaken me? Ask anyone I know, isn't this what a man's supposed to be?" I got fooled by philosophers He was led astray by country songs He's oopy and lonely, driving circles 'round his front yard Cork and bottle, cock and bull Hook and bullet business meetings Downstairs rumble, rattle and roll Upstairs greetings It's too late for him It's too late for me It's too late for us We've run out of things to be It's too late for us I don't know where we are Spinning across the heavens Drowning like some falling star.
5.
You are mine tonight Despite the world and all its ills tonight You’re mine tonight. I touched her skin Hot oil burned She breathed me in Stroked her face Rearranged her hair Put every strand in place Yesterday it was your sister Tomorrow, your mother Tonight, you’re mine You are mine tonight Despite the world and all its ills tonight I go door to door Like a salesman giving of myself but taking much more I bless the first-born and the next Take them wholly and give them rest I’ll pass by, I’ll find you; Z for Zachariah I’ll pluck out your eyes You are mine tonight Despite the world and all its ills tonight You’re mine tonight. Tonight you’re mine.
6.
Job 35:10 03:52
We dressed her all in white So that God would pass her over Thinking she already was an angel So let this sickness pass like sorrow Let these blasphemies protect Let our children never know the danger God giveth songs in the night Let us wait upon him for the music But let us not remain songless When affliction is upon us Let us remember how to use it When you dream about our world too long You dream about our world too long Dream someone else's. Bloated and white we rise, corpses to the surface Shocked, still and senseless by the horror Even if the best among us still must die Please, God, protect my daughter When you dream about our world too long You dream about our world too long Dream someone else's.
7.
They came down for a reckoning They came down for the feast They came in the first, full flush of youth To the cold and mordant east They came down for a reckoning They came in from the heat They came down in the flush of youth Most days we get more or less what we desire Skeletons try to warm themselves by the fire Around a simple spark, masses gather Troy, redeemed, in straw, silk and leather They came up from the coastline Devoured by their host Knelt down in the oil sands Lashed themselves to a post Poets should neither be given money, nor money take from An interest in the baser things never does become them A song is a pencil sketch A story is an ikon in chrome A novel is a moral carved into a grave Myth is stone in silicon. These days are not more nor less than we desire. Skeletons try to warm themselves by the fire It's such a simple spark, but masses gather For Troy, redeemed, in straw, silk and leather. Most days we're not more nor less than we desire Skeletons try to warm themselves by the fire Around a simple spark, masses gather Troy, redeemed, in straw, silk and leather.
8.
Sandpipers prick the grey mudflats of Anchorage That extend their filth a quarter mile into the sea An overloaded Piper Cub hops rabbitlike into a cloud Smoke trails high above, sediment below me I sat and watched the diving birds Fish the placid bay in Charleston Asked a young guy in the street Where you drink if you look like me There's not too many on the street With five days' beard in Charleston But you can buy a vodka that tastes just like sweet tea From the one room with no windows To the other with no bed One messed with my pocket The other with my head One man can live on bread alone I should know, 'cause I've tried But if you live on bread alone You'll probably die Yellow propellor biplane pulling circles overhead Take me back to Brooklyn, back to our four-post iron bed I can't be away from you, no, I can't be alone I know I've been away too long, I'm coming home. Yellow propellor biplane pulling circles overhead Take me back to Brooklyn, back to our four-post iron bed One man can live on bread alone I should know, I've tried But if you live on bread alone Then you die New moon baby, your voice is steady on the phone I'm coming home Each day was one long road It made sense to be alone Each days' trip was one long road As long as I kept moving, it made sense to be alone I can't be away from you, no, I can't be alone 'Cause with you I've found a home.
9.
(lyrics by Franz Nicolay & Emilyn Brodsky) Set your clock ten minutes late Close your eyes and concentrate On me. On you. Can't we? Won't you? Set your clock two hours late Just to make our children wait For us...Won't you? Can't we? Please... Please, world, give us what we need We plead for the world to give us what we need We will the world to lend us what we need But it ends, we concede, learn joy And extend... ...Our small worlds and sympathies Made our loves, our friends, We skinned our knees, didn't we? Don't we? Won't we? Please, world, give us what we need We plead for the world to give us what we need We will the world to lend us all we need But it ends, we concede, learn joy And ascend.
10.
(lyrics by Franz Nicolay & Maria Sonevytsky) Her name Adelita, it meant "courage" to him She came with a purpose, left on a whim Aang a song about the ways in which man is wolf to man Takes what he wants, eats when he can Runs from the daylight and sleeps in the sand Sings songs for cigarettes and spits up in the garbage can "When i sleep in strange beds my tattoo swells up like a bad reaction My body rebels and demands satisfaction." He didn't sleep for three days, ridges and itches His Chalino record skipped when she fell in the kitchen Go on you jack of diamonds Go on you queen of spades Your love lies in the highlands Playing knave off knave Go on you jack of diamonds Go on you queen of spades Go beyond the highlands Out beyond the glades Anyone can be a God-fearing man on a mountain it's easy to be a good boy at the circus She passed her right hand idly through the fountain He called her worthless She managed a bar for a while in Manila He spent some time in the service It's easy to be kind when your heart has some purchase Go on you jack of diamonds Go on you queen of spades Your love lies in the highlands Playing knave off knave Come you jack of diamonds Cast your bets, reel in your dreams Queen of hearts played knave off knave Nothing's as it seems Go on you jack of diamonds Go on you queen of spades Go beyond the highlands Out beyond the glades Poor Felix & Adelita Had a wife and couldn't keep her He was a star that fell on Alabama She was a seafarer He was a station of the Paris Metro She was a Mexican soldier The town in Almeria, five popes and sixteen saints The German plan to take Gibraltar, his entreaties and her feints His insistence And her absence at the altar Go on you jack of diamonds Go on you queen of spades Your love lies in the highlands Playing knave off knave Come you jack of diamonds Cast your bets, reel in your dreams Queen of hearts played knave off knave Nothing's as it seems Go on you jack of diamonds Go on you queen of spades Go beyond the highlands Out beyond the glades
11.
I stole the bottles and I smashed them on the wall One by one, glassine transparent rockets Gathered them up in my arms after the show Some in suit coats’ inside pockets Austin to Tucson, trouble in the van Red wine against the tall-boy cans I still believe in the perfect kind of band God help me, in the perfect kind of man And that someday we’ll make it, baby Someday we’ll get paid back for it Someday we’ll get payback for the things we put in Then we can forget about it forever An apple in one hand, cheese in the other Bottle of wine next to the seat Rock, rinse, repeat, rock, rinse, repeat Biting off bits, calling it dinner A rank of chilled and vagrant cynics, lined up for the swill, some sinners Left an Econoline carcass in a desert grave Front right wheel splayed like a gull’s wing on a tidal wave All the roadside cafes sell turquoise and fudge It’s easy to get lost if you want it too much But someday we’ll make it, baby Someday we’ll get paid back for it Someday we’ll get payback for the things we put in Then we can forget about it forever My perfect band has matching suits and matching boots And days of wine and roses And we stay up most nights holding courts and practicing our poses On a street called hope in a town named freedom Where each clock is pointed to the hour of love We celebrate the days we have, yeah, we celebrate our love I will phrase my regrets in the form of a song How we couldn’t survive, how we couldn’t get along Put down the guitars There’s nothing new to play with them Put down the microphones Nothing new to say with them Just celebrate the days we had, just celebrate our love Celebrate the days we have, and celebrate our love

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released October 12, 2010

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Franz Nicolay New York

To us, the beautiful - and to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out.

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