I saw a picture and I thought of you
and the gloomy Christ on your bedroom door:
a clown sits in a giant swing
in the shadows high above the forest floor.
The same tempera blare,
the same tenebrous eyes that dogged your little friends around the room.
Somehow you told yourself a secret joke
and I envied you because I couldn’t laugh.
The house is burning and the clowns are down
in the basement slaughtering a fatted calf.
And as they crackle like thorns blazing under a pot
you cross your eyes and cross yourself and grin
like its some sort of play we’re in.
Well, I was wrong, but I thought at the time
that you were after that calfskin.
Remember, sister, when the baby comes,
that to miss the mark’s the only mortal sin.
Our father hit it running eggs for years
to the local stores until the chains came in,
and if he blackened at Christmas and totaled the truth
he’d find his way into the velvet booth.
Starting to think something happened here
in the dead of night when you and I were small.
A man broke in, left a pile of gifts,
and took the Kennedys from the parlor wall,
Saying I know that you’re good for it brother,
like all the shlubs who drive their own sun out to shine
from nine to nine,
park it downtown, ride home on the red line.
I was alive when that blizzard hit,
I don’t remember but I’ve seen the super-8s.
People asphyxiating in their cars
and there was martial law in parts of some Northeastern states.
And there’s Miracle Car Wash, and you and your friends
are making high-speed angels in the road.
Damon Waitkus – vocals, acoustic, electric, and baritone guitars, hammer dulcimers, banjo, mandolin, keyboards, flute, percussion, car horn, field recordings
Emily Packard – violin, melodica, car horn
Kate McLoughlin – bassoon, vocals, car horn
Jason Hoopes – bass, car horn
Jordan Glenn – drums, percussion, vibraphone, marimba, bells, car horn
Thea Kelley – vocals
Ivor Holloway – tenor saxophone, clarinet