Just Songs

by Tristan Zaba

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1.
I shiver with my hands in my pockets, Looking out over the river. Just south of the city on the highway-side, I see land scorched by the wind Going on forever and ever and ever, And the solitude warms me too, Because I know I’m in good company, With you and you and what’s their name, And the geese so thick and still, Resting in the bloody, freezing waters. Desolate and flat, Bitingly cold. This country’s truth is cruelty behind hoke. Our nice cities hide their insincerity With sculptures and things that look older than they are. Our ugly cities do the same unsuccessfully, But we know we’ve stopped trying. While Union Station is an ongoing project, The other on Higgins sits alone and untouched. To restore it again, Would be to deny our basest identity As the true capital, abandoned and forgotten in the names of Displacement and Eternal denial. I shiver with my hands in my pockets, Looking far far away to the Hudson Bay. Not so much from cold anymore, But maybe still from the wind. I see water pummelled by oceanic breeze, I see faces etched in the ice. I know people carved in petrified wood, But they can’t match this age, this rage, this wrath Going on forever and ever and ever, And ever…
2.
I ain’t got no heritage, so I’m coming to steal yours. I took what I could from everyone else, so I’ll rip off the skin and the sores, and grab myself some glue and Slap them on my feet So everyone can see just how legit I fill this seat. I took this pattern from the Spanish invaders, and the rhythms from the African plains, I know they’re not mine, but I do what I can to drown that fact in my pain. “I hate to tell you mister, but only dead men lose their ropes,” Well I can tell you from holding the end that the answer to that is “nope.” You see, I’m a vampire here and so is the rest of my race. You won’t find a mirror around that can show you the lines of my face. I’ll turn it around and I’ll judge your success because my name is Simon Cowell, And everyone knows, but at the same time ignores exactly just how foul It is that I continue to go on now and do what I do when I want. I’m hanging around your graves at night and in the daylight I’m in a hipster coffee shop Pretending to feel upset about what I’m telling you about right now, So everyone can check the box on their list and avoid saying “wait it now, You’re a terrible person so we’re gonna take to the streets of the web and exclaim, That you got no respect and you’re here to collect the debts of their souls and their names.” But even after you’re finished with that and you go back to watch your TV, You still can’t watch a hole or a notch and know in your mind that you’re free Of the thing that you crucify everyone for, and you know in your heart you’re a liar, Because you just strung up Prometheus, and you’re still gonna sit by the fire. So know that I’m sorry and know that I know and know that I’m trying my best, Not to need water or air or food or love or hate or theft, And I’ll keep going and I’ll keep reaping because It’s all that I know how to do, And I’ll invent the serial system, and delight in my travel, and stretch a note to the blue. I ain’t got no heritage, so I’m coming to steal yours. I took what I could from everyone else, so I’ll rip off the skin and the sores, and grab myself some glue and Slap them on my feet So everyone can see just how legit I fill this seat.
3.
The Sum 03:29
Truthfully a voice cannot be anything, and neither in reality can a self. I am the sum of my experiences, And my ability to convey them to you. The sum of my myriad impulses, And my absolute faith in their importance. The sum of my many lives, And my many many rebirths... As a totem, or a killer, Or an animal, or a lamb, Or a leader, or a brick. As a spirit on the land, Or as something with intention. “And what about love?” You may ask This shape that says it knows itself... Well, I say “that is something special,” When meeting a handful fills the void Of the mystery you may or may not know Your intentions to truly be. When eternal blanks in whitewashed time Are carved in the way the holes suggest... As faces, or places, Or hates, or chimneys, Or grasses, or idols, Or might nots and will bes, Or the most ferocious weapons. “And why must I suffer?” Night asks This Daylight hiding in plainest sight. “To build yourself” you empty slate, “To love yourself” you ego freak, “To destroy yourself” you full-formed light, “To laugh at yourself” you hardened mold, “To detest yourself” you happy clam, “To know yourself” you time-scarred mass Of issues, and tissues, And war, and mortar, And cloth, and sorrow, And brutality, and ardour, And peace you know is there, somewhere. I am the sum of what is none, And everything I have ever thought. I am the sum of everything that will be, And everything I know cannot!
4.
Mosaic 2 02:27
Pushing through a winter’s Mosaic, baby’s just a coveted stretch of the mind. Riding out the gale in a notch watch, baby’s just a junkie’s next step on a line. Dancing on a moon you’ve created, baby’s just the proper place to look at the sun, While it burns through the void and the people around watch the virus reorder the sum. What is with this affliction that’s got me? Pinwheel timeline turning round and round. Do I fear myself or do I fear The one that comes creeping without even a sound? Sitting in your bed in the twilight, baby’s just the way to scare yourself to the mic. Finding some way to live these effects is just a way to find a self that you like. Death and order, rebirth, and leaves on the trees are just the omnipresent forces you feel That pull you to hell and push you to sell what you’ve always known might be real. What is with this affliction that’s got me? Pinwheel timeline turning round and round. Do I fear myself or do I fear The one that comes creeping without even a sound?
5.
In the midst of night’s clasp, Steam billows from mouths Outside in the mid winter air. My hand holds a pen, And the pen holds concern For the war beneath the part of your hair. The city drains my blood, Though I lack any doubt That the cold treats me better than most, And despite the wind’s chill I skate down river veins To find music to which I can toast, And a fragment of nonchalance, a sliver of your form, was brought by my door yesterday. The unfortunate product of some insane will, as you stared down the stars from your windowsill. The question that springs to my lips as I write is the goodness to which you now pray. When our eyes last locked Your veins jutted out And your weariness showed through your seams. The appearance of shelter Clung to your sweater From the shoulder-hole torn in your dreams. The roaring of engines Rattled your brain from the Meeting that you’d never known, And some song from the war Seemed to promise you more Than staring through mirrors alone. This fragment of your nonchalance, this sliver of your form, was brought by my door the other day. The unfortunate product of some insane will, as you stared down the stars through our mutual friend, Who also demanded her place from my hand in this letter I send you today. After love and destruction, Demoralization, What can I possibly say? I’m backed in a corner between disgust and forgiveness. You’re stuck in my head every day. But my gratitude’s true, though my soul may be broken, for the light you returned to her gaze. I was told that this glare was through love and strong will, as you stared down the stars in your famous blue raincoat, Which I never saw through my view of the dirt and never imagined to claim. And a fragment of your nonchalance, a sliver of your form was brought by the door where I lay. Your will here was clear and incited such fear, as you stared down the stars in my eyes. The question that springs to my lips as I write is your forgiveness as I sign off my name.
6.
You probably wouldn't care if I Sang you the apple of Eurydice's eye. Moving through every bit of my range, Blending the familiar and the strange, Could I hope to make you laugh or even cry? Your rule was true within your cage Until you witnessed all her rage. Your splintering grace gave through and you fell. The beauty of her secrets broke your spell And finally revealed your tired age. But the anger of this holiest of ghosts, Is not the thing that I fear the most. It may just be the ground on which I tread. There's little to love in a simple word. Recitation colours it true or absurd, And I've no clue of my intention today, Whether I meant to suffer or just to pray, And you aren't quite sure which of the two you've heard. I tried as hard as I possibly could To strip all the dirt away from what I thought good, But quit before I ever hoped to succeed. I've told the truth, I've shown you my need, And cry the truth through this rotting wood. But the wrathful song of this holiest of ghosts, Is not the thing that I love the most. It's simply on your grave that I now tread.
7.
Hold it right there, I wanna be here for you now. Without a shred of significance, I’m squirming around Hearing you narrate the end of times In the midst of what’s going down. Brought me to life without a bit of a reason In the dawn of brimstone and the end of all seasons. Without a shred of significance, I’m squirming around Hearing you narrate the end of times In the midst of what’s going down. Don’t know your voice, and if I want it or not. It reminds me of things I might have forgot, Takes me back to Boccaccio and Minneapolis. Without a shred of significance, I’m squirming around Hearing you narrate the end of times In the midst of what’s going down. The scene of the crime and desperate measures, The disappearing act, and other treasures. Rough and rowdy ways for things that have failed In the gentle ones of bygone days. Without a shred of significance, I’m squirming around Hearing you narrate the end of times In the midst of what’s going down. And I’m here in my apartment Singing songs for myself, With the poetry of Tiger King Surrounded by disassembled shelves, Laughing and crying, and lying, and trying To be what I will be from this day on. Laughing at the seriousness of this stupid charade, Crying at the ridiculousness of the old and new gods, Lying that I’m the only one untwisted from knots, Trying so hard to know someone I’m not, And things, you know, they’re getting better, But things, you know, they’re fucking hard To summarize in 280 characters, If that’s possible at all. Maybe leave that to Nazis. It’s reducing us with the gravy to machines keeping this shit ongoing, For the benefit of someone who makes a living Calling bluffs but never suggesting Solutions to problems his blithering, fascistic self, But coming back to the original point... Without a shred of significance, I’m squirming around Hearing you narrate the end of times In the midst of what’s going down.

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Singer-songwriter album by Toronto-based musical artist Tristan Zaba.

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released July 27, 2020

Tristan Zaba - Vocals, Guitar, Bansuri, Saw, Accordion, Keyboards, Percussion

All Music and Lyrics by Tristan Zaba
Produced by Tristan Zaba
Mixed and Mastered by Tristan Zaba
Artwork by Moriz Jung (original lithograph), Kerrigan Salnikowski (sketches of lithograph), and Tristan Zaba (collage of sketches of lithograph)

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Tristan Zaba Toronto, Ontario

Canadian composer, performer, and producer.

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