armor & teeth

by Thy Courage Quail

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released December 1, 2009

link: songs, words, guitar, saw, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, thumps, beer, carrots

arthur: harmonium, charango, banjo, cleverness, facilities, a drum




Thy Courage Quail Maine

see also THORN & SHOUT

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Track Name: maryland mansion
forget all these green-leaf seasons
of aimless reverie
forget all, said a thief in the night
what has been never again shall be
forget all what wine of truth
you ever chances to sup
here is moonshine and headaches
your tin cup I fill it up

but forget not that we live not long
and that space is vast and cold
forget not that your fists are strong
when yer heart's not half so bold
forget not that when you die
you may not see a light
in the meantime, as I grow old
I wonder if I might --

live out my days
in a maryland mansion
get woodsmoke in my clothes
and sleep like a log
there is news in the world
but I pay no attention
just sit on the porch
and sing palace songs

or I could grow old
in a shack in virginia
and leave off the trains
when the winters are cold
there's a rope swing by the river
where the children jump in
you don't need very much
when you're nothing at all
you don't want very much
when you're nothing at all
and you don't ask very much
when you're nothing at all.
Track Name: boy scout knife
sheriff took my boy scout knife
the one I had since eight years old
a relic of a former life
like arrowheads or lumps of coal

ah, the beasts come home
ah, the beasts come home
all on their own

it's lonely for humans out on the range
someone drives by; you wave hopefully
lean on your shovel, wonder who it could have been
what state they're from / what state they're in

at the indian schoolhouse, everyone knows
there are ghosts in the ceiling and beneath the floor
they write on the chalkboard as they wait patiently
they divide the floorboards as they dig hungrily

- and who will free the preacher's cow?
- and who will bury the mayor of town?
- and who will be the next to go?
- and who will be the last to know?
Track Name: strange old song
build a shack; weave a bonnet
of calendula on it
find some land, and a gun
to learn where your family is from
give yourself a new name
to protect the interchange
and so long as you're human
you will find nothing strange


and I can only be good in the cold
I can only do good when my mind slows
I can only be good in the cold
I can only do good when time grows old


we have armor in spades
to remain safe and shining
we have teeth in our face
for the ripping and the dining
and those who have gone
leave flesh that fits our teeth
and the soil we make
fits the roots of little trees
and they say time's a river
flowing through the centuries
but in fact it's a lake!
with a shore you will never reach
and on an island in the middle
there's a little factory
and someday the workers
will just up and leave
they'll take their lunchboxes
and shuffle along
through a revolving door
as they whistle a

Track Name: other flightless birds
on christmas eve the whipping winds
made front doors hard to find
and all us forest animals
thought best to stay inside
but watching from the window of
my little bleak motel
I thought I saw a robin strain
against the stormy swell and

on christmas eve I did my best
to follow where he went though no
angel choir signalled his arrival
from the firmament he
plunged down through the first
snowfall of winter and
the leaves of fall and
came to rest near spring's sweet breast
at the earth's core
with the moss and all

[and someone is wondering
will he ever come home
somewhere there's a careful nest
but the babies have flown]

it took so long to find a trace of color
on that virgin field
I took off my woolen cap and
reverently kneeled
prepared to speak the last rites
over certain icy death
I tried to warm small feathered wings
with a thousand useless cigarettes

[and someone is wondering
will he ever come home
somewhere there's a careful nest
but the babies have flown
and ain't that just the myth of home
that walls can keep a child
from moving on
well sometimes you've got
to kill yourself
just to learn a new song]

it seemed so cruel to bury in the ground
a creature of the sky
but you know we all return
to sweet dusty nothing
in the by and by
and by the garden wall
there was a hole we filled
with memories
all birthday cakes
and first heartbreaks
and other symptoms of
the disease.