by Ben Lemen

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The tired old sentinel, standing over my bed, catching dreams through the night. Through the ninth, I forget who was on the mound.
Breadwinner 03:52
Several dreams I actually remember, I've been cursing snow machines, the month of December. The cameos of ivory and pearl, standing in the place where she stood, shaking hands with a big black hood. You're paid by the tune to play in the saloon, and you remain safe as long as you play. The shattered glass seems to avoid you as long as you provide a soundtrack. I'll quit saloons and you someday. You know I'll see you in everything I see, in every silver dollar, in every silver coin, in every silver medal, in every silver. . .
Almanac 04:23
Straddle the ridge, the sun mounts again in the distance. The bridle and bit, the hands and the feet feel resisted. The vagueness of idleness and sin, and a day's worth of work to fence in. Caution's conditioned, a nature inherited's careless. The fear of the flame burns through a fallow field. A steady, work-worn grace coaxes embers to a blinding rage. And they'll go back in (roam upwind) when the dust plants itself in the skin, and let silence survive the death of the din. Failures and glories make short work of stories but scrape up and wear thin a life. The valleys are dried out, the water's low hideouts are the dark in the well witch's nights. Fence post and cable keep elbows off tables if they're sure and they're straight and set tight. And I'm writing this letter to burn it up later and I'll know what it meant when it lights.
Morning Moon 03:57
Enough birds in the sky to black out the blue, whether I'd forgotten or I never knew. We'd walk the park, our feet gone dark with dew. She'd say "I've never really seen this side of you". Sure as the wind picks up or the sun goes down, all the hangers-on that fill up this town find a patron saint when they see the morning moon. All the boys in the street sing a joyful tune, but I've never really placed the tongue they use. As we pass them by we both stare down at our shoes, because they've got theirs and I know my muse. But we'll hum down low as they come and go, but the songs play out in the clash and bout with the wildest howls to greet the morning moon. The morning moon. . .
75 04:10
I see the joy spread on the land. She was feeding the drunks from her hand. A life of duty is spare, but her heart changes fast, she's taking the blades to her hair. I look on from above, the height of the world. All the work that we'd done for the name or the love of a girl, to see it all come crumbling down, the tower we built from the tip to the blade to the hilt. Oh, watch it go, watch it go. A dance in the dark with a spectre, a moth eaten robe and a sceptre, a venom-less crown, laid on the ground when I left her. Sometimes I'll write a word, there in the sand. But up comes the crown, the crush bearing down on my hand. How I can never look away as the lines disappear in the salt and the froth and the spray. I'm alone in a room, when I find the throne. In the milk of the moon lies the root of the doom that I've known. And I'm moved to dance at the foot of the stair. A shroud and a crown in a heap on the seat of a chair. Oh, watch it go, watch it go. The crumbling of stones from the spire, the dust on the wind climbing higher, a wave of decay with no sign of the quake, flood or fire.
All I hear, inside my head, is the widest whistle sound, that one, maybe two could canter through.
Sunset 05:04
Honey if you asked me about the nature of a heart, and trust me I know that you won't, I'd point you down the road, where the asphalt comes apart, all the weather, all the traffic, all the load. I'd sit up all night talking to the girls I used to know, thumbing past each picture at a glance. The years of folded paper, the awkwardness in dance, a smile split wide with every second chance. Around the time you put away your warmer dress, and stood out freezing in the snow, the clouds would part, just so you could see it best, the light fading off into the west. It's one more for the canon of loss and regret, as winter winds down and you go. It's your breath in the title, or worn into the frets, and the light fading off into the west. Here are all these revellers, amassed unfocussed joy, the rings of senseless stepping ripple out, breaking to surround you, the air that you employ, when all they need's an idol, or something to destroy.
Passerines 04:25
I had a dream I was buried by Mary, the sun shining down on the cold, open earth. The passerine birds rang through the garden. Each dream of death is a sick dream of birth. Tight as hands hold or folds roll in whale bone, a song in every sigh. I've been a soothsayer's sign-seen or presage, I built my walls up high. Cut to a scene of a wide open prairie, the creak from a tap where no water flows, the sting in your eyes from the ghosts of blue smoke rings, the pounding of drums through the floorboards below. The scarlet one sings a righteous song, "All the best of us are gone". The smallest rose proves herself most vain, all she sings is her own name. The telegraph beats a binary sound from the bark to the ground. I rush to write then I turn to recite aloud.
Cursed or blessed with a wandering mind, the seraph, in the grove cutting sage or trimming thyme, precious time, only sometimes she can share. With the leaves that she cuts at her ease, the marks that we accrue. But in the book, pressing leaves that I took, we weren't made to think but to do. Clandestine girl, capricious lord. The lord brings storms, wills the chill and whims the warm, the changing of seasons. The wildest wind and the ice moves out, the water still freezing. The wind is a wandering mind. Our petty gaze, swathed around each sprawling phrase, we worry at meaning. The lines wind out, ear to ear and mouth to mouth, a season of gleaning. Cast out we return redefined. Now I'm a fraud and we got it all wrong when we chose between man, beast and god.
Kind Women 04:58
Sometimes pretend how it could be? Squinting your eyes or straining to see, not how I am, but something more free, a far-off vision of me. It's hard to be so hard with the sun going down, but there are kind, kind women in this town. I have it in me to clear out the bar, or drive them from town, "Let me out of this car", and I know it well, how bad it can be, so please just go easy on me. I can get by on the fear in the eyes, the turn to the side when the tears start to rise, but it's easy to tire of fuelling a fire, along comes a new state of mind. There's no sense in forcing a flower to bloom, it's water and light and give it some room. I fill up my lungs and check on it soon, and set down what I mean to a tune. It's funny how little time really cares, the barkers still sound as we peddle our wares. Our memory and worry eternally bound to the kind, kind women in this town.


A lyrically dense roots record, a poetic examination of the mundanity of the day-to-day, failings and glories in personal relationships, and a mythologized history of place.


released August 10, 2017

Recorded and produced by Brett Caswell, Lincoln Hamlyn and Ben Lemen at Good Cop / Bad Cop in Barrie, ON. Mixed by Lincoln Hamlyn. Mastered by Reuben Ghose at Mojito Mastering. Artwork by Mary Doust. All songs © Ben Lemen (SOCAN) 2017.


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Ben Lemen Barrie, Ontario

Singer / songwriter from Barrie, ON.

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