Mantichorean

by Stephen Wordsmith

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about

It's finally here. The long-promised Bandcamp album of the songs of Stephen Wordsmith, by the artists of FAWM and 50/90.
An album that spans Wellington, London, New York, much of the midwest, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Finland, and even Delaware.
Featuring songs on such hard-hitting issues as coffee, sneezing and jigsaw puzzles, with a few light-hearted tracks about love, mortality, purpose, domination and destruction.
I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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released September 3, 2013

See individual tracks for contributors credits and websites.

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Stephen Wordsmith Wellington, New Zealand

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Track Name: Charlie Cheney & Das Binky - I'll be on the Ceiling
It's Monday morning. Code awaits
A task devoid of thanks
My heart is tanked
My spirit sank
My mind and screen both blank

I draw the cup towards my lips
In just a moment's time
With xanthine
All crystalline
Im feeling fit and fine

Now bursting with the energy of twelve supercolliders
My fingers flying freely like a pair of wired spiders

And all through my veins this peculiar feeling
A spinal chord chorus of synapses squealing
A car chase in my bloodstream forever free-wheeling
If anyone needs me, I'll be on the ceiling

Cafe diem! My fingertips
This working day will seize
With careless ease
And expertise
On battered number keys

But if I don't come down again
I'll end up unemployed
And paranoid
My soul destroyed
By perky alkaloid

A-shaking on the couch alone, defeated and deflated
And sweating mocha latte till I'm all decaffeinated

And all through my veins this peculiar feeling
A spinal chord chorus of synapses squealing
A car chase in my bloodstream forever free-wheeling
If anyone needs me, I'll be on the ceiling

INSTRUMENTAL

I dig my nails into the tiles and watch the world beneath
A baby with a turning head and yellow-stained milk teeth

And all through my veins this peculiar feeling
A spinal chord chorus of synapses squealing
A car chase in my bloodstream forever free-wheeling
If anyone needs me, I'll be on the ceiling

The peal of this choir's no longer appealing
A curse on this cafe and all their drug-dealing!
I swear by tomorrow, I'll switch to darjeeling
If anyone needs me, I'll be on the ceiling
Track Name: Lazy Afro - On Camels and Needling
In decades of old, when the world wars were cold
And the tellies were colourless things
The medium's shows were mere puppets in throes
With corporate giants at the strings

Comedy by colgate, and a sports cavalcade
On the edge of Gilette's brand-new razor
Kaiser-Fraser adventures in myst'ry presented
By these good folk at Kaiser-Fraser

But do you recall
The most galling sponsor of all?

CHORUS
They call us R. J. Reynolds, smoke until you're old and feeble
And we don't care if you think that message sucks
Cause it's simpler for a Camel to pass through a one-eyed needle
Than for you to get on air without our bucks

By the pack for the hero, for his nemesis? Zero
No viceroys with his vice and larceny
And let this great villain get famous by killin'
But not through crime fiery or arsony.

Give 'em hell, give 'em violence, but we'll fume in silence
The moment we hear any coughin'
Give us smoke, give us flames, and it's just you to blame
For the nails hammered in your show's coffin

So will you hail us
As your wife and kids inhale us?

CHORUS

BRIDGE
Do you trust your wife? Was a show that advances
New couple's finances through factual answers
'What sign is your wifey?' 'She's clearly a cancer'
'I'm sorry, sir' Camel said, 'That's the wrong answer
You can't say that word, we'll be barraged with queries
And good benign folk will form malignant theories
So in the best interests of keeping this series
Your poor lovely wife's been demoted to Aries

There's one last example with waywardness ample
That AGA's ben'son let pass
A holocaust drama with legions of trauma
But no single mention of gas...

CHORUS
Track Name: Geoff Geis - Pirate Pete (and the Conspicuous Absence of Bacardi)
I'm Pirate Pete and I'm here to party
Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of... Can I start again?

I'm Pirate Pete and I'm here to party
Yo, ho, ho and a slice of havarti
I slice up these swabs like a bright yellow cheese
Poking holes in their eyes with such effortless ease

I'm Pirate Pete and I'm here to party
Yo, ho, ho and a nice Chianti
My fava-rite cutlass cuts straight to the liver
Spills tides of blood on me timbers a-shiver

Sing with me, ye salty landlubbers...

CHORUS
Rolling over, rolling under, hear me as I roar like thunder
Tear these scalliwags asunder! Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!
Pitching, tossing, westward crossing, straight to Davy Jones' locking
Dead men got no tales for talking! Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!

I'm Pirate Pete and I'm here to party
Yo, ho, ho and some Lemon & Barley
Do you or I or anyone know
Where the crew of a scuttled Sunfish go?

I'm Pirate Pete and I'm here to party
Yo, ho, ho and a cable-knit cardi
Braid all yer whiskers then braid the ropes
Then board the dash sea dogs and dash their hopes!

Make like me parrot and squawk along...
CHORUS

Avast! It be time for the brig!

A song on the seas ain't no great crime
With the slaves in the galley with the oars keepin' time
So tap yer peg legs and swing yer hooks
And sing til you're crook, you scurvy crooks

I'm Pete and I'm one of a pirate party
We drink our rum to stay hale and hearty
As we right to the heart of darkness sail
Hoping not to wind up in the heart of a whale

Now sing from the bottom of yer yellow bellies...

CHORUS x 2
Track Name: Dr. Rahkoi and the Shamblers of Dissonant Skies - The March of Butcher Grey
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left,

Left leg, right leg, butcher's man.
Making you steak as fast as I can
Serving up pieces for your two bits
All with me's meat I can fashion fit!

Left, right, left, right, left, right, left

Left shoulder, right shoulder, in my court
Sharpen my blade for today's onslaught
Customers, starving, filing in ranks
Everyone's closing in on my flanks!

Now who wants a piece of butcher Grey?
With a left, and a right, and a one-and-two
Cause its me and my army of meats all day
And I won't go home 'til I've seen them through!

Left, right, left, right, left, right, left
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left

Left thigh, right thigh, queues to the door
See our blue ribbons and quake in awe
All the best creatures have come to join
And today's special is the brave Sir Loin!

And they all want a piece of butcher Grey
With a left, and a right, and an un-deux-trois
Cause its me and my army of meats all day
And it's only the best who've made the cut

Left, right, left, right, left, right, left
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left

Left breast, right breast, yes my liege
Hungry hordes crowd in a castle siege
Pay me your tribute and you'll be spared
And at no extra charge, the rind comes pre-pared

So come get a piece of butcher Grey
With a left, and a right, and an ein-zwei-drei
Cause its me and my army of meats all day
And I never will quit cause the steaks are too high

Left, right, left, right, left, right, left (until fade)
Track Name: Hoopshank - Steal Your Rain
When your blue-grey eyes are cloudy
And there's no way to control
The rivers of saltwater
Down the windows to your soul
They say a problem shared's a problem
Torn in half again
I'll never steal your thunder
But I'll always steal your rain

I've always been the one to take
You've always seen me through
But time has come for giving back
So now I lend to you
Another pair of shoulders
For the burden of your pain
I'll never steal your thunder
But I'll always steal your rain

When life becomes a thunderstorm
That roars without relief
I'll take away your blackened clouds
As softly as a thief
So come into these open arms
And you'll find shelter here
Until the final drop has fallen
And the sky is clear

When you're all wet from head to foot
From all your weary woes
And drowning in your sorrows
From a cup that overflows
And all the heavens have to give
Falls mainly on your plain
You'll find me here beside you
To always steal your rain
Track Name: The Pannacotta Army - All Blessed up
I'm all blessed up
With nowhere to go
And nothing I really can do
Yet blessings, of course
Come out in full force
With every recurring achoo!

As strangers and friends
Fall over their ends
To give me their sweet benediction
While I just sneeze over
And over and over
And over like it's an addiction

CHORUS
But this little reflex ain't something I choose
I choose
I choose
With nothing but bloodshot-red eyeballs to lose
I choose
I choose

It's all so distressing
With all of these blessings
You'd think I'd be churning out miracles
Or healing the Lepers
Instead it's like pepper's
Encrusting the ends of my spiracles

CHORUS

BRIDGE
I tell myself that I'm OK
As colleagues chime 'A tes souhaits!'
I swear it's going to be all right
With every heartfelt 'Gesundheit!'
But I know how this story goes
As sure as tides will ebb and flow
The winds of change will never blow
I'm all blessed up...

.. with nowhere to go

There's no real cause
To bless and rejoice
The moment that I sternutated
Just one blessed nuisance
As all my phlegm loosens
And I sit in-capacitated

CHORUS X 2
Track Name: Roel van Veldt - I Don't Pump to Survive
I once met a man on the cracks of a forecourt
Down state highway seventy-five
I remember his smell, like a gas-sodden Camel
And his words, 'I don't pump to survive'

He drew near as I turned the cap on the gas tank
A tattered mesh cap on his head
He must have seen pity in my eyes, for he drawled
'I don't do this for my daily bread

Folk see what I do as no more than a lifeline
For those who refuse to work hard
Who're just passing by to a job more fulfilling
Or fate dealt them no higher cards

But no better life can I see than to live for
The travellers I meet every day
To water the thirsty, breathe life to their journey
And see them off safe on their way'

His clothes were all damp, with petroleum stinking
And his breath held a cigarette smell
But he lived by the wisdom imparted by Lincoln
Whatever you do, do it well

And he waved with a hand that had built him a lifetime
Staid by the road, watching me drive
A man who aspired to no more than his station
But didn't pump just to survive
Track Name: Rod Johnson - When the Oracle Drives
When the oracle drives
He sees it all coming
Each hazard that lies in his way
Every twist, every bend
Each potential rear-end
Every overpriced roadside cafe

And all of the journeys
He'll choose to embark on
Take exactly the time they deserve
With no wasted moments
On reckless opponents
To end in a last-minute swerve

But he has no idea if the diamond that lies
in wait in the pocket where so long it's slept
Will be met with rejection and tears in her eyes
Or tears of joy that he's the one she'll accept

And the overturned card is a shadowy ace
And the silver piece tumbles and falls on its face
And a stranger god counts down
The days of our lives...

... and the oracle drives

When the soothsayer dines
He knows all the specials
And sole will be fish of the day
He'll skirt the scotch fillet
As the roundsman will kill it
(The rotisseur's home without pay)

But he cannot but guess through the haze of his fears
The fate of the dark spot upon his fair head
Will he sit down to dinner for twenty more years
Or dine at the last in his hospital bed?

And the overturned card is a shadowy ace
And the silver piece tumbles and falls on its face
And a stranger god counts down
The days of our lives...

... and the soothsayer dines

Their palms were crossed a thousandfold
To see a thousand fates foretold
But all this gold to no avail
These men of sight can only fail
To see what their own futures hold

As the oracle drives
Past a bar by the roadside
He dreams of an exchange of vows
And outside, in the court
A man sits deep in thought
While rubbing a mark on his brow

And the overturned card is a shadowy ace
And the silver piece tumbles and falls on its face
And a stranger god counts down
The days of our lives...

... and the oracle drives
Track Name: Meadows - I Spy
I spy
With my little eye
Something beginning with C
A crack in the wall
Of the primary school hall
And a brick that is sitting by me

I spy
With my little eye
Something beginning with L
A liquefied lawn
All soft and forlorn
A hole all the way down to hell

I was playing at school when the earthquake came
Then we stood outside by the climbing frame
And we played I spy, I was the best by far
Then dad picked me up in the car

I spy
With my little eye
Something beginning with Y
A thin yellow line
We must all stand behind
I don't really understand why

I hear
With my little ear
Something beginning with H
Kids howling, screaming
While we should be kneeling
Like turtles, so we can be safe

I was playing at school when the earthquake hit
Then we stood outside on the concrete bit
And we played I spy, I was the best in the land
Then dad picked me up, he looked sad

I started to think as we played I spy
If school's only 3 or 4 metres high
And there's only one storey to fall down
Then what's going to happen to the folks downtown?

I spy
With my little eye
A teacher beginning to cry...

I was playing at school when the earthquake shook
And the floor was all covered in library books
And we played I hear with the things we heard
Then dad picked me up without a word

I was playing with Jack when the earthquake struck
And I stood next to him by the cleaner's truck
And we played I spy, and I beat him too
But his dad hasn't come yet...

... I hope he comes soon.
Track Name: Sapient Network - Five Hundred Pieces of Sky
The sky lies torn in pieces on the carpet at my knees
Between the tangled branches of an avenue of trees
The vivisected torso of a lady all in red
By half her patterned stockings and a quarter of her head

A painting by Picasso yet more thorough in distortion
I'm faced now with a clean-up job of Dresden-esque proportions

An azure pile
Of orphaned tiles
A well-placed reminder that I
Try to avoid
These nubs and voids
And five hundred pieces of sky

The scene unfolds before my eyes in adventitious order
Between the light cerulean and concrete of the border
Like all his fallen brothers, yet another scrap advances
And fights to find a home among the the shreds of floating branches

I damn the hand of logic as the piece falls into place
A maiden with a softwood arm and shingle for her face

A sadistic joke
I twist and poke
And painfully ask myself 'Why?'
Aye, there's the rub
The voids and nubs
And five hundred pieces of sky

BRIDGE
I've tried every shard of sky six times at least
Rotated them through all three-sixty degrees
Arranged them by shade in a gradient spectrum
And now they'll be shoved up Thos Holdson's fat... nose.

The rain assaults
My window-bolts
But inside, it's long since run dry
My will to snub
The voids and nubs
And five hundred pieces of sky

A fatal shock!
The final lock
Betrays a missing link
With face serene
I flee this scene
And pour a sky-blue drink.
Track Name: T.C. Elliott - This Other Flood
Dear God, It's Noah. Please explain
Since I've done all you said to do
I've built this raft of two-by-fours
And let the beasts in, two-by-two
While in the process, I have drained
The world's supply of gopher wood
Would all the patron saints object?
I do believe a gopher would.

Why, just as I have touched down after
Forty days and nights of rain
And let creation stretch its legs
The heavens opened up again?
It's no great matter for a laugh
The rainbow shone, and next minute
Even my twenty-foot giraffes
Are right up to their necks in it!

I saw your promised rainbow, yellow, orange, red as blood
You've explained its significance, explain this other flood!

I'm looking like a drowned rat
And surrounded in drowned mice
I thought the 'second coming'
Meant the next coming of Christ
Who will in Bethlehem appear
A moment of great relevance
To wash away our sins
Like you've just washed away my elephants

I've had it up to here with this, I'm up to here in mud
you've justified the first one, now explain this other flood!

Now, I'm a Bible literalist
And my whole world has drowned
But, figuratively speaking,
It's been all turned upside down!
I saw my second son trapped there
His face a sketch of anguish
'twixt two unbreathing buffalo
A harrowing Ham sandwich

I've read Genesis 9:13, I'm off the hook now, bud
The earth has signed your covenant, explain this other flood!

The last surviving brontosaur just fell down with a thud
You said you'd keep your promises, explain this other flood!

I haven't lived six centuries to wind up as a dud
So all I ask is, loving God, explain this other flood!

*gasp*
Go back to sleep, Noah...
Track Name: Squirt - Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­kitanatahu
It's a day named for a treaty drawn up centuries ago
Named for the town 'Waitangi' where the document was signed
A name which lets you know you're where the weeping waters flow
Which calls decades of protests and divided souls to mind

It's strange to think that had they signed it halfway down the road
We'd all be celebrating 'Bay of Islands Day' instead
Or, had they gone down south, you'd find the shops on 'Gore Day' closed
And being alive on 'Gore Day''s reason 'nuff to stay in bed

The one prevailing pity's the pronunciation's Maori
And you can watch a world of anchors nonchalantly spoil it
With syllables that aren't quite there and vowels a little flowery
But thank God that they signed up north and we don't have to call it

The trea - ty - of

Taumata­
whakatangihanga­
koauau­o­tamatea
turi­pukakapiki­
maunga­horo­nuku­pokai
whenua­kitanatahu
And that, said John, was that.

Waitangi was a tiny town, austere and unpretentious
But you will find that Taumata et caetera's just the same
So if you find that tri-syllabic name a bit contentious
Just thank your stars that's all there is and join in this refrain

The trea - ty - of

Taumata­
whakatangihanga­
koauau­o­tamatea
turi­pukakapiki­
maunga­horo­nuku­pokai
whenua­kitanatahu
And that, said John, was that.

Taumata­
whakatangihanga­
koauau­o­tamatea
turi­pukakapiki­
maunga­horo­nuku­pokai
whenua­kitanatahu
I'd like Fox News to try that.
Track Name: Nancy Rost - Trying on an Alphabet
I'm trying on an alphabet
To see it on for size
It feels quite snug across the Ts
But sure brings out my Is
This one has subtle accents
Though I find Cyrillic finer
And here's one full of character
The tag says 'Made in China'

CHORUS
I'm trying on an alphabet
To be an alpha Betty
And I will alphabetcha
That with one, I will be ready
I'll span the distant consonants
Take on the whole wide word
But to be a lass of letters
I must find the letters first

I'll be fitted with a language
Always seamless, never broken
A suit for me bespoke
For all the words that must be spoken
With letters sewn together
And a few exotic blends
I'll spin a yarn for humankind
And you, my close-knit friends

CHORUS
Track Name: Mike Skliar - Polar Moonshine
Welcome to our establishment!
Please take a seat, and you'll be sent
A complementary mug of polar beer
Our house special's been made to suit
A shard of spice, a hint of fruit
It's only northern comfort you'll find here

The seats are comfy, near palatial
And all our atmosphere is glacial
So let our product look you in the mouth
We're not just out to take your money
And our outlook is always sunny
As every window in here faces south

CHORUS
Polar moonshine so divine
(ninety's the proof, and also the latitude)
Polar moonshine so divine
(warms you inside, and that ain't no platitude)
Polar moonshine so divine
(a frosty mug works great for your attitude)
Polar moonshine so divine
(you'll regain feeling, 'specially gratitude)

Do you suffer from backaches chronic?
Then try our gin and isotonic
We serve it up with shelf-ice from the floes
Or rye distilled by Santa's elves
Who quite like to imbibe themselves
(That's why they have a very shiny nose)

Like Vodka from New Zealand's shores
It's forty-two below outdoors
So come and warm your cockles 'fore you freeze
And we don't need no stinkin' license
To dispense your fire-and-ice
Since there's no liquor law upon the seas!

CHORUS
Track Name: Scoob - Ghosts and Wildflowers
Down a road barely travelled
Through gates never oiled
Lies a land no more living
By no caller spoiled
From a village forgotten
Forgotten souls die
And return to the earth
Where forgotten bones lie

CHORUS
'mid the wild, perfumed flowers
As they lonesomely grow
Over crosses and shingles
Across every row
Leaving brushstrokes of colour
On a canvas grey land
Moving as if they're guided
By invisible hands

Like the hands of a painter
Who long ago dwelt
In a tower where he captured
The sights that he felt
A life built of still-lives
For the sake of his art
But the portrait of Lily
Was near'st to his heart

For they loved each other
With each living breath
But breathed not a word of it
Even 'til death
Where artist and subject
Were drawn, in the end
Together at last
Where the wildflowers bend

Down a road barely travelled
Through gates never oiled
In a land no more living
By no caller spoiled
From a village forgotten
Forgotten souls die
And return to the earth
Where forgotten bones lie
Track Name: Rod Johnson - Sidewalk Fisherman
He baits his line with clockwork hands
And hooks of lion's teeth
As booted heels fall by his face
He'll cast his nets beneath
Anticipation stirs the milky blood
Within his veins
On the sidewalk, the public sidewalk
The dandelion will fish today

He fishes not for food
But for a place to spread his roots
Commanding fleets of nimble seeds
Equipped with parachutes
To spread their nets across the world
Where'er the wind shall blow
And when they've laid their sails down
All that's left is chill-less snow

As evening falls, he'll weave another
Silken fishing line
Safe from unsated teacups
Or casks of splendid wine
And pack away his proud rosettes
Of yellow firelight
On the sidewalk, the trodden sidewalk
The dandelion will sleep tonight
Track Name: Helen Robertson - The Worst Fairytale Ever
High in a tower of outlandish height
Dwelt a fair princess in trappings of white
Fervently waiting for some gallant knight
Then she was eaten by a manticore

A manticore
A manticore
She was eaten by a manticore
With a swoon and a squeal
And a taste quite like veal
She was eaten by a manticore

A dragon stood guard as she endlessly slumbered
With teeth like burnt plowshares and bad breath abundant
Not knowing his job was now strictly redundant
Then he was eaten by a manticore

A manticore
A manticore
He was eaten by a manticore
Though he brutally struggled
He soon was found snuggled
In the belly of a manticore

The knight neared the tower, the fair princess to take
To burst through the doors, do away with the drake
And save the kingdom for his livelihood's sake
Then he was eaten by a manticore

A manticore
A manticore
He was eaten by a manticore
Now our hero is destined
For a large small intestine
He was eaten by a manticore

The king bent his knees to the floor of his palace
And prayed for the errant knight, fearless and callous
And his long-lost girl, born without hate or malice
Then he was eaten by a manticore

A manticore
A manticore
He was eaten by a manticore
And his sceptre and crown
Went not easily down
To the belly of the manticore

The bard heaved a sigh as he plucked at his lute
And he sang bitter rhymes of a harrowing brute
And a quest to recover a maiden minute
Then he was - wait, what's that thi - AAAAAAAAAAARGH