Music From And Inspired By Our Doomed Love Affair

by Shareef Ali

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released August 1, 2008




Shareef Ali San Francisco, California

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Track Name: poetry, as I needed it
And when I fell, sure, I knew what'd come.
"You can only run for so long, you lucky son of a gun.
And neither fate nor fairness give a damn what you've become;
There's not a lover so righteous they never get it wrong
and get shat on, like their faith was just a pen;
get shat on, like they're in high school again."
Of course, I knew sometime it'd have to be
like this. It all started coming back to me.

Oh, I remember this. It's the positive worst.
All the groaning and the heaving and the waiting to burst;
and then bursting at last, so bored and so sore
that it's even a chore just to fall to the floor.

But before, it was different; see, I'd shudder from fear,
and I'd bloody my knuckles just praying for tears.
But I've been standing stock still since the day you gutted me,
and crying's not half the relief I thought it'd be.

No, I don't know just what I thought would surface then,
if all this mess you talk would start to sound like words again.
I know I said I couldn't believe you anymore;
still, I think I liked it better the way I couldn't do it before.

You used to love my laugh, you said. "Keep it up a minute or two
longer this time." 'Cause if I kept mine, you might get to keep yours too.
Well, it's stopped now, and I'm sorry. I did all I could for you.
But it was yours that winked out first, I think, if memory's true.

"Oh, why'd you go and say a thing like that, you spiteful S.O.B.?
Like she needed one more reason not to stand here next to me."
I'm sorry, Lisa. One never doubts he's in his lover's eyes.
But losing that, the things he does to know he's recognized.

But besides, I've got all these questions still.
Like, are you sure this isn't a test of will?
Because I still can't believe those things you wrote to me.
I keep reading them. They keep stirring hope in me.

And how stupid would I have to be
to think you might come back to me?
This is, of course, speaking hypothetically;
I'm only curious how such an unfettering
would move you, if any of this was how I really felt,
which of course it is, which I can't keep to myself.
Of course it is, and I can't keep to myself.
Track Name: World's Oldest Profession
And if you made me wonder--
though frankly I hadn't till now--
what spell you laid me under;
well, you must have learned it somehow.
And if I had to guess
what line of work you were trained in
where you picked up this skill set--
I would not call it discipline.

Dear, you were a doctor:
splicing your photographs,
stitching your monster;
well, I just had to laugh.
Your blueprint was laudable,
your theory, all well and smart.
But two souls--impossible!--
conjoined at the very heart?

"Well, it's just a hunch of mine,
merely hypothesis;
a joke with no punchline;
no progress and no promises,
and that is all that science is."

Dear, you were an artist,
sketching your love for me.
God, it was flawless;
it was your masterpiece.
Your focus so dutiful,
your stroke so deliberate,
and like you, more beautiful
than ever was its subject.

But it's just a portrait,
smudges and shavings.
You don't have to restore it
if you don't think it's worth saving.
But if it's meant for the fire, then don't keep the fire waiting.

And if you made me suffer,
well, it isn't all that odd.
Some things one expects from a lover,
a criminal, or god.
But there's some advantage,
harsh as the judgement is,
to that knave who can manage
to finish his sentences

and speak in a tongue I can hear
and brandish for whetting my knife.
You don't bring your face so near
unless it's to threaten my life--
and that is my professional advice.
Track Name: Emotional Vampire
So you've found my hidden chamber,
your weapon and candle in hand.
I sense your confusion, your anger,
I'll try to explain as best as I can.

I'm an emotional vampire,
but not in the way you might think.
It's true, I stay somber in attire,
and I'm certainly drawn to the drink.

I stay out till an hour that's evil
as if time were only to kill.
And though I'm quite fond of cathedrals,
the sight of the crucifix makes me ill.

A curse is lain on me, some vile incarnation,
I have no reflection except for this one.
The thing about garlic's a myth, thank tarnation,
but yes, I blister in the sun. Ummm...

My fashions are quite modern, spare one:
the collar popped on my dark cape.
But I didn't have to ask you to wear one
to hide that love mark on your nape.

My tastes range from fine to impeccable
in food, architecture and art.
In bed, I'm a positive wrecking ball;
I would that I could boast the same of my heart.

For centuries, I've lingered with lovers,
but you mustn't think I sleep around.
My bed is close, quiet and covered,
and theirs are all covered in ground.

I don't claim my passion was healthy, pet,
but it's not by my hand that they died.
A stake through the heart hasn't felled me yet,
but I bet it'd work if you tried.

And you'd end my centuries of grieving, my shame;
what's worse is this breath, so restless a sigh.
They each killed their love before leaving this plane,
My curse is this: mine is as deathless as I.
Track Name: Red Balloon
And when the dream leaves,
like the red balloon drifting away,
each second it only gets further,
and bluer the day.
And never mind getting it back;
how could you have let go so soon?
And then you remember:
it wasn't red, or a balloon.

But the homeless man wakes
to an ungentle nudge from the cop.
He doesn't know what he keeps doing wrong,
but he can't seem to stop.
And the cop's telling him to go,
but he won't tell him where.
It's strange; you remember
the first time you heard your mother swear.

You pay money you've never touched
to people that you've never seen,
for some promise you don't understand,
but could ruin everything.
And you're sure what you owe
seems like more than these things could've cost,
And it's strange, you remember
the first fistfight you ever lost.

On TV there's a man
who they say may be next to lead this country.
They pick him to pieces,
but you still hope it adds up to something.
It's absurd, you admit,
but you were stirred by the speeches he gave;
it's strange when it occurs to you
to visit your father's grave.

You climb into the shower
and you can't seem to stay long enough.
Some things rinse right away;
others, you'll never be rid of.
Now you're crouched to the floor,
filthy as any language you've heard.
Strange enough, it reminds you
of your first favorite four-letter word.

Oh, Love: the places and lengths
that you'll go just to meet her.
In plain shape and shame to some bar,
or in disguise to some theater.
Oh, it's corny, it's tacky,
but you're still glad that she made you come.
And then strange, you think
of the first time you made yourself come.

So then you two retreat,
where the lights and the judgment are softer.
And you grope for the switch
in the dark, unmusical, awkward.
But then you find the tune,
and she starts to hum like a machine;
strange, you remember
the one you crashed when you were sixteen.

Now she's sleeping soft,
and you cradle her like your balloon,
and then, strange as a dream,
it's floating right there in the room with you.
And you can't recognize it,
or fathom what lightness it holds inside.
And you can't hold your own.
Can you remember the last time you cried?
Track Name: Come Closer
I flew from L.A. to Tucson, where there's less palms but more sand,
and a girl who (it's been too long) still fits in the palm of your hand.
It took us two years, sweet thing, just to even find the place;
but when you're not sure who you're meeting, I guess that's a kind of grace.

I never thought I'd find you in the places that I found you.
I missed being inside you; I missed being around you.
Come closer's what I beckon; you pull closer, and I smirk.
There's lots of things, I reckon, I'd try if I thought they'd work.

I'd wet your eyes forever like I'd run out of projects.
I've memorized your letters just to quote out of context.
And I broke your wooden solitude and carved an elven head!
And what I said I couldn't promise you, I promised myself instead.

But all those things we used to do, you said you never could again.
Well, that's okay, we don't have to, though we were pretty good at them.
There's parts of me that are savage, but I don't need you that way.
Just come as close as you can manage, and I will meet you halfway.

If we're lovers that don't make love, then that doesn't seem unfair.
But we must just generate love, since it must come from somewhere.
I'm a gremlin electrical, unicycling a line:
you're a water elemental, your wire parallel to mine.

You zip something acrobatic; I try to keep balance and pace.
Wobbling, shrieking and ecstatic; I forget it's not a race.
So if I brush you, and the sparks fly, that's the most you owe to me.
There's not much use in the dark sky, if we can't read poetry.