The Once & Future Boyfriend

by Shareef Ali & The Radical Folksonomy

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released September 1, 2010

Shareef Ali: guitar, vocals
Guy Brown: guitar
Kenny Leftin: drums
Erika Oba: piano, organ
Alex Stein: bass
Jay Thompson: vocals




Shareef Ali San Francisco, California

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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,
and 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.

And 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.
Track Name: Sweeter Things
Oh, the songs I could have given you, sweet thing,
if it’d seemed like the thing to do;
if I’d have written down everything,
oh, the shit I’d have put you through.
One on the wonderful in we,
and two about the same in you.
Three, the flame you put in me;
Four more, nothing I couldn’t do.

But I never did; never could keep away from you,
not even to make something you could take away with you,
to stay with you. The way other things stay with you,
the way I can’t stay with you.

Oh, that scare that you gave me there, sweet thing—
and I know that you didn’t mean to—
well, I wish I could say it was fleeting,
but it’s still there, between me and you.
Oh, that the flame’s gone out in thee,
that you’d taken it out of me too.
That you’re moving on to sweeter things,
but for me, are there sweeter than you?

It just keeps getting harder to pretend
that this love will live to see a different end.
I keep wondering if this is too much to spend,
but I spend anyway. And I spend ‘til I’m spent.
So it’s hard, just to know I don’t know where it went.

Oh, the fool you must think of me, lover;
some crazy bat taken with fear.
But dementia is more than just shudders,
and I don’t think I’m making it clear.
Oh, the wishes I had for us, doll;
well, I knew they’d crumble like sand.
But before my infection could madden us all,
I dreamed we’d start a rock and roll band!

So we never did. Still, we know that there’s songs to sing,
sittin’ to get written, the potential in everything.
If you write one, you could call me darling,
and I’d write back, and I’d call you sweet thing.
Like Jeff would say, if he sang to Debbie,
in another world, where I was dead instead of he;
or if she sang to him, like blue-eyed you to brown-eyed me.
Oh, sweet thing. Oh, darling.
Track Name: The State Of The Garden
It was a cold night, we huddled in your yard;
you’d come to walk me out, we didn’t get that far.
You lamented the sad state of the garden
you’d been meaning to re-seed since god knows when.
And as you pondered all the work you’d have to do,
well, right then I just had to plant one right on you.
But since you asked what I was thinking,
I hope you’ve grasped at least an inkling.

Either kick me out, or kiss me back,
but please don’t talk. We’re way past that.
Just let me know, without a word, whether I’ll
fall asleep wanting you, or get no sleep at all.

I arrived to pick you up at eight;
per your request, we don’t call it a date.
Matter fact, we’ve been not dating for six months,
just screenings for our private art film club.
With dinner first, and drinking after it,
and during, sharing the same small blanket.
Your sofa, Susie, it ain’t no IMAX.
As for the movie: at least it had a climax.

Either kick me out, or kiss me back,
but don’t try to talk. I can’t abide that.
‘Cause by now you know the only reason that I’m not
balls deep in love with you is that isn’t what you want.

I know I said I would let it go, but
I haven’t yet, and you know what? So what?
You have a choice, and I’m still waiting.
So kill that noise, and start deliberating.

I shouldn’t go, way I’ve been drinking;
if you must know, no, I wasn’t really thinking.

Either kick me out, or kiss me back.
Those are your options, and that’s a natural fact.
But first you should know that your flowers have all died.
Forget the garden, Sue. You can’t bring them inside.

But you can kick me out, or you can kiss me back.
Either way I’ll know if you don’t like me like that.
But one way you’ll know which way you like me most:
all in a heap under you, or over you, or both.
Track Name: Broken Record
This opus that we leave behind,
heart-rend, heart-mend set to verse.
Never was a finer work
written for the stage.
We had the script down, line for line,
costumed, decked out, dress-rehearsed,
then struck down, hapless as these words,
sitting on the page.

But the story went like:

If you have an equal, I’ve never met her.
She wouldn’t be the reason I can’t stay.
Baby, I’m a broken record;
I keep saying “I love you” like that’s all there is to say.

All our tunes from better times
we tried to capture on cassette.
The other channels fade and die,
your station at full blare.
The master tapes we’ll never find,
the melody is with me yet:
the music from and inspired by
our doomed love affair.

But the chorus went like:

If there’s other people, it doesn’t matter.
I know that’s not the reason you can’t stay.
Baby, I’m a broken record.
I keep saying “I love you” like that’s all there is to say.

This might be my fault, as these things tend to be.
This might break my heart, as these things tend to do.
But maybe when I play this song, it’ll make sense to me.
Maybe when you hear this one, it’ll make sense to you.

Well, even if we call things off,
you never really leave the biz.
The soul of me just shrugs and grins,
what say the heart of you?
‘Cause once we’re rich and strong enough,
we’ll make a movie of all this.
And who else could ever be convinced
to play the part of you?

So this story ends like:

If we have a sequel, I know it’ll be better.
For now, there’s only one thing I can say.
You’ll never be a broken record.
I’ll never love another quite this way.
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 judgment 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: Married To The Sea
Though I never meant you wrong,
mine’d be a liar’s tongue
if I said I didn’t know a day would come
when I’d have to set you free.
Oh, it’s true we’ve shared this road,
and we’ve each borne each other’s load,
but for years I’d been betrothed
and now I’m married to the sea.

I got married to the sea,
and I can’t have none other but she.
And sweetheart, it’s true
that I’ll always love you
but I’m married to that sea.

I thought I’d a bachelor’s fate,
and we swore to our parents we’d wait,
that this privilege we’d abdicate
in solidarity.
Oh, but I was seduced by the rite,
and my bride and I took up in flight,
and the state won’t recognize it
but I’m married to the sea.

I got married to the sea;
from now on, that’s all that I’ll be.
At some point it’s too late
to go trading your fate;
guess I’m married to the sea.

I am married to the sea,
and sometimes I wish it were thee.
But I gave my word
that a lifetime I’d serve;
so I’m married to that sea.

I am wedded to that sea,
and I can’t make a home for us three.
And you deserve a lad
better’n this one you’ve had:
but I belong to that sea,
and she belongs to me.