Death & Danger

by Juniper Ginger

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1.
Just Words 06:13
I take my coffee and the paper I write my scriptures sat in silence Earmark apologies for later Send out a prayer someone might buy it I leave the house some early mornings Return a weaker, weathered shell Cast from a home I cultivated with a calloused sense of purpose Recall the time spent, not spent well So when you come looking for answers I will state My heart is not an island but I’ll keep your ship’s men safe My arms are not a harbor but I’ll wrap you all around In the warmest waters that I’ve found The bigger picture writes me daily But never answers when I call A kaleidoscope perspective that’s not broken or defective Says I’m someone, not nothing after all So if someday we make a meaning out of this If we string together memories of the moments that we miss Recreating lessons that we've gathered on the way You’ll be my favorite game to play Some nights I drive right past my exit And find a neighborhood I knew The nights felt longer when I lived there I know they must still feel long for you You’re not inspired, just under pressure You’re looking worse and feel no better You’re not romantic, just romanticizing illness One that killed off the better men we’ve known So when you gaze up at my shadow, rest assured I cannot tell you what you got sent to this bar or planet for This isn’t something that will transcend or endure It’s just words, and words are all I’ll ever say
2.
The sun lays low above a northern parking lot A backlit glow of shifting silhouettes reveals a trade A get well card, some flowers for his mother A good luck thumbs up, ready, steady, don’t break When he boards the bus and shorts the fare The driver says, “Son, wishing won’t get you anywhere” As the twilight sets in heavy, he considers All the times he must have missed the easy way The solstice marks a decades-long erosion of his spirit At the center of this longest shortest day So lift yourself and shout into the mirror Do it for all the times you thought you never could Personify your fears And forgive them for they know not what they’re doing here Illuminate the path Allow a shrinking light to guide you back You’re catapulting secrets from a barstool Shrouded in a language that you’ve only just made up A stranger’s shaky hand is little comfort But it’s an open door to manifest some good luck "They only think we’re someone if we’re something They say it’s all game over once you’re dead The history books will never name our families or our lovers But it’s not over, no, it’s not done until we say it is"
3.
Haunted 04:28
I drove down in the morning My lazy eye couldn’t shake you My lazy mind didn’t wake you So you slipped away in your sleep Alone now with the image That shatters when I touch it All blood stains on the sheet set That wraps up my bed still Depart Maine on a sharp breeze Down state lines like a trapeze The blood rush bees are buzzing The high wears off Dope sick of the retracting It's my kingdom, thanks for asking Empty throne room, empty glasses To survey, and then decree: we are alone My haunt is feeling haunted All you specters don't belong but The bar keeps moral bars low A ghost calls one name To fake nerves, wield a grand staff And fuck us all with words that Assure us of their importance Stop me if you’ve heard this one before You'll get all that you're owed in time Gospel spread like a wildfire But you’re nobody’s savior My god’s work is much greater I'm not alone My haunt is feeling haunted All you specters don't belong but The bar keeps moral bars low A ghost called my name first
4.
When I get home from this long week of work I won’t hold my breath about changing the world I can’t mince my words or make peace anymore I just smile and say have a nice weekend The rules here keep changing and I can’t keep up I left here at dawn with my jacket zipped up Returned in the summer with heavier bags And the weight of burying dad When I get drinking I’ll say I deserve An audience hung onto my every word A swelling string section to echo the phrase That gets stuck in their heads for days But when I get writing, well, those words sound less smart So what would it take to trade my good health for art? I know how it feels to patch up that hole So let’s shake on it some other time Who’s ever ready to die?
5.
What shall be done with that crack in the wall? The scuffs on the hardwood, the fuses burnt out? The bed left unmade one early spring morning And never slept well in again? What shall be done with a heart left behind? When there’s jobs to return to and planes still to fly There's a piece in the ground, there's a piece in my house There's a piece of my own missing now But if it’s not for me, it’s not for anybody Some days I feel powerful, gentle and wise Open, infallible, as if I'm perched on some kind of ledge And I would jump into the ocean for you one more time Some days I can’t conjure anything kind Spinning my wheels in the dirt, kicking up mud behind me Onto anything I might have looked back on with esteem But if it’s not right for me, it’s not for anybody What shall be done with that crack in the wall? The scuffs on the hardwood, the fuses burnt out? The bed I climb into at night and say, “You can still leave” But you won’t, if I mean it or I don’t I could leave, but I won’t, where the hell would I go? If you invite me to stay I'll build us a home Invite me to stay and I’ll build us a home
6.
I cut you in half and counted the rings You spit smoke and mirrors and started to bleed You were cracked right down a fault line Still refused to show your age then Not quite adult, not quite seventeen You leaned on my shoulder and started to sing We were only little kids How could I not have felt like a child then? How we lived in the dark How we let life carry off the spark On an old city bus, heavy limbs laid askew Floating out of the present, throwing faces at you And you volleyed each one back How could I not have known you’d get stuck like that? This is grief, this is guilt This is feelings being felt too late I cut you in half and counted the rings You spit smoke and mirrors and started to bleed You were cracked right down a fault line How could I not have felt like a child then?
7.
If I ever need to be quickly horrified I just imagine my father's face right before he died You can spend entire weekends counting breaths But you never know the last one until after there's none left And if I ever ache to feel less alone I just pretend that this house that I hate is a home Where I pay no man to contract my existence Divided monthly, cause that ain't living Rachel from the bar says I’m good So why don't I feel good? Michelle from next door comes by for quarters Calls me an asshole I'll buy my drinks from her for the rest of the night And probably the rest of my life If I ever dreamed of leaving this old town I’d probably never find a reason quite as good as hanging around Cause there's nowhere to escape the blooming history I was never convinced when they said that they missed me So if I ever ache to feel less alone I just remember my life before your heart made a home In the caverns of my blood, skin, and bones Rachel from the bar says I'm good But tonight, I don't feel good An old Asian woman gestures for a light I say alright, and then I go upstairs

about

Recorded in my attic in Portland, ME in April/May 2017

credits

released May 9, 2017

Duane Asdourian: harmonica on "Cut You In Half"
Alex Millan: all else
and Nikhil let me borrow his guitar

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Juniper Ginger Portland, Maine

Juniper Ginger is the solo project of Portland, Maine songwriter Alex Millan. Her songs are mostly honest stories about the people and places she encounters. When heard live, sparse accompaniment invites listeners to get lost in the poetry.

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