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    The booklet has the complete set of poems printed in full glory.
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Steve Day: words, voice, whistle, hand-percussion
Mark Langford: music, bass clarinet, piano
Julian Dale: double bass, tracks 1, 2, 4, 7
bowed glass bowl (track 4)

Mark Langford and I had been living in different parts of the city since the 1970’s. We were aware of each other, but didn’t arrive in the same space together until autumn 2016. I needed a reeds player; he didn’t realise he required a poet nor I an exceptional pianist, but we ‘got each other’ completely. We are a true pairing and we have pared down these performances to essentials. On five tracks this includes the contributions of Julian Dale, a bass player of nuance and detail, who appreciates ‘less is more’.
Steve Day, 2020.


released January 2, 2020

Recorded at Eastover Studios: September, October 2019 Engineering: Mark Langford
Mixed & mastered by Richard Parsons, Pirate Studios, November 2019
Cover artwork: Lizzie Langford
Copyright: Steve Day/Mark Langford.


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FreeTone Records Bristol, UK

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Track Name: Paring
Here is a two verse poem coming into view
emerging from memory as a rewritten blues.
Short of words it doesn’t know it needs.
An elongated melody stretching into a key
unlocking a tongue that isn’t owned by me.

I wrote the title on the back of a grubby ticket.
Scratched out graphite in stub pencil patterns
like firework hieroglyphics marked on a piano.
Now the two of us pair the core of our complicity.
Black and white turns into daylight so my flamin’
buddy can slip a left hand chord a little density.
Track Name: Dorian Across The Bahamas
There is a gale blowing
Dorian across the Bahamas.
A lashed out trail of ferocious winds
destroying all that has been built
by homing survival, sucking it back
into the mud spat whirlpool spittoon.
Braying oceans, flooding in tumult
in the face of some mythic god’s
pathetic judgement. Terror’s Ball.
This Richter measured curse crashes
these cracked climates into a soured
rage of hurricanes across levels of depth.
There is something very wrong here.
Barely holding fast to the land sunk,
below the road. No upright condo on
the seaboard, no fisherman’s hovel,
no funky palace, no shelter from Dorian
parting the giant waves to the flattened
Abaco Islands drowned in their own sea.
Track Name: About The Piano
Perhaps even his reluctance to leave Algeria
had been about the piano.
But he had left, hadn’t he?
Every step of the way, the weeks of walking
into his own sleep,
aching across his shoulders
with the utter concentration of
keeping his money safe.
The padding in his breast pocket,
tapped eight times a day,
nine times a night for four months.
Normandy was enough, no need to step further.

Pascal’s three small rooms and a toilet,
freely offered and freely taken had seemed
like a gift from gods he did not believe in.
Malika, making him those cinnamon pastries
that first evening he arrived.
Another act of kindness
he felt inadequate to repay.
In truth Pascal and Malika Léandre had given
him a second chance, a second chance
which he now realised he’d been seeking
ever since he left Algiers.
But he had left, hadn’t he?

Now he kept returning to the gite.
Not being able to leave this refuge.
Each morning the excuse,
maybe his bag from the boulangerie,
the baguette and cheese, or his keys
to the old citroën dyane he’d bought
in order to exert drive and discipline
into his plans for a new ordered way
of life. This is what he spoke into
the front of his brain, but there,
lurking right at the back was the fact
that this was really
all about the piano.

Within two full days of settling
into Pascal and Malika’s blessed pile
of rooms he had found another piano
similar to the one he’d left behind
in South Sudan.
The French one was fully varnished,
yet tonally they shared a dark ‘fat’ warmth,
the kind of resonance that builds up inside
quality pianos when smothered with a patina
of playing. It stood inside a chapel
six kilometres away.
He could sit with it whenever he wished,
other than the first Sunday of the month.
On this definite day the dwindling congregation
used it like a bell practising La Belle Époque
for their own funeral cast in echo.

And he couldn’t get passed it and he couldn’t
get round it, couldn’t confound it, wasn’t able
to dismiss the machine; the taunt wire, the little
felt hammers and those two damn, slightly
squeaking pedals. Couldn’t cradle his left hand
through the fingers of his right.
Stalks growing from his wrist joints bent over
into a melody as if they were the nib of his
grandfather’s fountain pen scratching
at manuscript.

But he’d walked out of Algeria, hadn’t he?
Come to France to start again only to find
what was left behind three thousand
kilometres down the road was here,
leaving him leave to leave to grace
the keys and sit long enough to open
up the passage of his heart
and cry with his hands.
Track Name: Blades Of Grass
Blades of grass
cut into the footprints of a circular path
so worn with bare feet it breaks up,
raked by the scuffling population
continually going back to a beginning
they no longer mind treading on.

I see Britain bleeding green blood into the ground.
I hear parrots crowing.
I smell intestine on the edge of knives
exposed in a yellow meadow of wild flowers.
Collectively we watch the pageant of Jerusalem
erected on Mount Pleasant;
a sharp edged impasse scratched
into each corner of occupation at Westminster.

Pastures of tarmac,
under a blank canvas, the hard pale mottled
surface of parkland in memory of King
George V; a man mown down by the
lawnmowers of a faraway fractured isle
that nobody remembers anymore.

The trick, and there is no denying it,
a trick exists.
The trick is to blunt the blade
and let the grass grow over everything
that has passed along this path.
Track Name: Sadness/Sadness For America
Ornette cried for his own country often enough.
Turned his tears inside out and spoke like most
musicians could not; to speak of things the rest
lacked the vocabulary to tell.

Sadness for America played live at a distance in
1965. Too close, would bring the devil to your
door; invite plague to invade. Which is what has
happened, as we know well.

If he were here today Ornette would be weeping
with your grief and sharing the sorrowing for all
those young men’s lives as a terrible war wound,
dressing an enigma in hell.

For this was the beauty of his sadness for a land
where the men who live in the white house deny
respect to women and your stars stripe the skies
marking where freedom fell.

Oh, America, if he were here today Ornette would
play this love song for your soul. But as it is, the
price of a beloved’s heart has already been paid.
Melancholia is a magic spell.
Track Name: White Chalk
I’m no honkie Rapper;
I don’t choose to roll
on someone else’s holy ground.
And let’s make it a statement of fact
“Black Lives Matter”
but I can’t rap-it-to-yer
because no one gets me to chatter
using the rhythm of someone else’s sound.

I swear I do not
want Westminster’s keys to the tunnel of love.
Affairs of their trial of bile are never quite enough.
There, written on a blackboard in white chalk,
is the name of the racist eunuch who was found
drowned in his own Rivers Of Blood.

“In Bristol
there’s a statue
of Ram Mahan Roy.
A photographic opportunity
to enjoy
capturing yourself with
a contemporary celebrity
who gave up the ghost in 1833.
Who is he?
He is the:
Scholar of the Spirit,
of the Spirit of the Age of Empire & Trade,
of The Raj & The Slave.
Victoria & Wilberforce
plant a road to Partition
but-Roy, but-Roy, but-Roy
abolishes sati.
What is sati?
Sati was:
The ritual act of suicide;
a Hindu woman burnt alive
in the fire
of her husband’s funeral pyre.”

Ram Mahan Roy is buried in Arnos Vale cemetery.
There’s no sabre rattling to the memory of RMR.
Grass and weeds, only grass and weeds.
Track Name: Silent Way
His head has gravitated
to the floor, a heavy weight of whispers
utterly absorbent to blue melody.
Feet apart, legs arc bent,
stretch forward and pick
up the split riff of séance sound
bleatin’ without the spirit-devil stealin’
the soul stirrin’ on a hum of rhythm.

In the blistered Tao
I heard his brass speak muted silence
until it got completely in my way.
It wasn’t loud and clear,
in fact barely in my ear;
the sentence that sentenced me
was like a swift spear passin’ through
the drum to pin a pause in thin air.

A way too Silent Way,
spoken words pronounced his blowin’,
knowin’ dust gathered in the
black vinylgroove label
spinnin’ red Columbia.
There are no prayers to chant
and mutter under breath; repeatedly
too hard a hiss to hear out loud.

This is about time travel,
about the way a lacquered trumpet
journeys into the soul of song.
Deep into each fold of love
pumps a red beat of blood
carrying us away, way into the
dark night of ourselves; repeatedly
that voice glistenin’ whispers.
Track Name: Memory Of The Moon
She stepped into his afternoon
offering the madness of the moon.
It suddenly seemed sanity was the rest of life
and the night would soon close in around them
with all the intimacy of mixed meanings.
And so it became so.

They stayed close to the surface
of the moon, regularly keeping watch
and testing the glow that remains in the senses
of the afterlight. They stayed together because a
ray of dark is pitch bright in their memory.
And so it became so.

Sometimes a barely audible tune
is sung in remembrance of the moon.
Sometimes it comes in the dread of knowing it
will be their elegy. The parting gift given to love
when it is wrenched from the act of faith.
And so it became so.
Track Name: In Tune
This young man was born blind,
completely so.
No light and shade can penetrate
those pebbles buried in his eye sockets
scabbed against sore skin.

Now hear this – he brings us an air of intuition
and vision, practicing a precise stirring of sound
because his ears detect the width of pronunciation.
The sigh before the word is spoken, the high syllable,
hesitations, broken accents, repetition – those giveaway
clues of repeating reels which explain to me the world I look
upon; grammar is not what he reads but what surrounds
him, breathed back and forth, patterning explanation
from the bottom of the bell to the top of his tuning
fork beaten for piano, he interprets the air within
our sharpened flats of untangled conversation.
Track Name: Coward
I am a man
still scared of heights
if cornered in a place not of my own choosing.
I am a man
given sand in my salary
for fearing to face the reality of my decisions.

I am a man
paddling in unsalted sea,
lost on the edge of oceans I am forever loosing.
I am a man
frightened to dive for pearls
because I crawl through water as if it is desert.

I am a man
wondering why heroism
continually punches my wound with bruising.
I am a man
asking for salvation
when I know the cost is more than it is worth.

I am that coward
who ran away at the start.
Track Name: Pianist At The Coach Station
A decorated paint splattered up-right piano
with an invitation for anyone to play it. Kids
like to sprinkle their fingers over the keys in
replication of sounding Jackson Pollock, into
sharp topped tinsel, booming the bottom end.

But this Saturday morning, before breakfast
was being considered or open for the asking,
this guy was improvising double hands; chord
craft in the manner of Terry Riley riding raga in
the middle of Brooklyn in the winter of his years.

His right hand lifted melody out of tuning in
the manner of a magician curving coins from
a paper cup. As we walked into the corridor a
lullaby of harmony sang sixteen beats of piano
hammering a wired pilgrimage to safe journeys

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