8. The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome

Lizard Play

Frozen moment, cold blood time:
the Iguana lady is saying goodbye….
She’s not quite ready, she wants to stay,
she wants to be perfect, but not in the way.
He tries to be cautious, one more cigarette,
he wants to be open, but the time
is not yet.

They talk about poetry, life-stories too;
he wants to know if she keeps a pet or two.
She’s into lizards, she’s into snakes,
he’s into trauma – still got the shakes
from a lady who only talked dogs and cats
making love in the alley – she thought like that….
So he doesn’t notice he’s falling in
to a change in colour of chameleon skin.

And the sun beats down on the baking earth
in the land where the lizards play.
And the tongues flick out – though they want to touch
all the words get in the way.
And it’s you and me and it’s he and she
and it’s everything I say.

Frozen vision,deaf and dumb:
still trying to work out what I’ve become….
I tried to reach you, I tried to score,
I shot the bolt on the open door…
the secret reaction, base metal to gold,
and all I felt was my blood froze…
I walked on water – I was wearing skis –
and now the water must dance on me.

Anyway, for all that, will you dance with me?
will you dance with me?
And the sun beats down on the baking earth
in the land where the lizards play.
And they shed their skins and at last begin
to find colours for the day.
Will you dance with me?

The Habit of the Broken Heart

Oh, the Sisters of Blindness
from the Convent of the Broken Heart,
they want to smother it with kindness,
they want to tear it all apart.
And there’s a rock of sterile virtu’
in the centre of the bay….
I’m so sorry he hurt you,
but don’t throw yourself away.

You only wanted to have some fun,
you only wanted to try it;
you only wanted to be someone,
but everybody denies it. Why’s it
so hard to make you listen?
Don’t go and change your name:
learning to lose can be
the start of winning the game.
You’re so special, such sadness seems a shame.

I know that you’ve got a service to catch,
I wouldn’t want you to miss it,
but there’s something so mismatched,
some motive inexplicit…is it
the call of the Convent?

You only wanted to find someone
or something more than pleasure;
penitence for the Chosen One
you can indulge at leisure –
by the light of the sinking sun,
don’t turn your back on the treasure.
Whether or not you want to face it,
you’re a beautiful girl
and your lay-lady laughter
has a right to be heard;
but what can I give you
if you’ve already got the Word?

Don’t go
don’t start
don’t take on
the Habit of the Broken Heart

The Siren Song

Letters in pencil, some of them as heavy as lead,
as dated as carbon, as black as coal,
but burning as red.
Clues faintly stencilled: the message,
though leeched, is unbled,
as secret as marble – as young, as old,
as living, as dead.
And always that laugh
that comes as though it’s from pain:
though I’m lashed to the mast
still it hammers round my brain.

Laughter in the backbone,
laughter impossibly wise,
that same laughter that comes
every time I flash on that look in your eyes
which whispers of a black zone
which’ll mock all my credos as lies,
where all logic is done
and time will smash every theory I devise.
And the hour-glass is shattered
only by the magic of your touch
where nothing really matter….
No, Nothing matters very much!

So the siren song runs through the ages,
and it courses through my veins like champagne;
and with all the sweet kisses of addiction
it’s calling me to break my bonds again.

Future memory exploding like shrapnel,
some splinters escape on my tongue,
some of them scar comprehension…
beneath the scab they burn,
but the wound becomes numbs.
And always the song draws me forward,
rejoicing in the search and the prayer,
bored with all but the mad,
the strange, the freak, the impossible dare.
Still your laugh chills my marrow
till I embrace it on my knees….
Oh, when the mast becomes a flagpole,
what becomes of me?
What becomes, oh, what becomes of me?

Last Frame

Pretty keen – yes, my hobby keeps me busy;
and if I talk to myself, what’s the crime?
In the darkroom I am a dealer in space and time…
when all memory is mellowed,
when the photograph is yellowed,
still it never lies.

There you are, your eyes laced with secret pleasure,
saying that you’re on the way to change,
devouring in inordinate measure
every diversion that’s arranged.
For every appetite, a cruel attraction,
but there’s a panic in your actions;
oh, I never saw you look so strange.

Fixing memory chemically,
holding time on the stop-clock,
hanging back from that last frame
just in case it didn’t show you
in the way I used to know you…
I thought you’d always stay the same.

The red light, the silver,
the black and the bromide;
the silence, the waiting for overview….
The past seems under-exposed, low tide,
but still the images ghost through.
And you’re there in the bath,
which is all this has led to,
and I can’t say your path
is a right one to choose….

But then
I only have a negative of you.

The Wave

The wave hits the beach,
writing words on the sand –
to the academic man,
this could be the answer….
In fact, it’s no more than a hunch;
still we try to eat it…
I think we’re all pretty out to lunch.

The wave is out of reach,
trailing words from the hand
only air can understand;
semaphore on the shoreline,
waiting for distance to recede,
unhappily imperfect
when we should be happy just to breathe.

But with each bated breath,
so present, tense,
we want to know, we want it sure,
it don’t make sense!
So I’ll do mine and you do yours
but let’s not trade sand and sea
for brick and cement.

The wave hits the beach,
laps around abandoned clothes,
wants to share a joke with those
who’ll brave the breakers,
who’ll break bread rather than pray
while the definition-maker’s
lost in the small print of the day.

The words are only pictures
that the next wave wipes away.

Cat’s Eye / Yellow Fever (Running)

I was walking in the evening, I was
looking for something good, clean, fine,
pure, straight, but instead I found
the bunker wall and gate.

It was open: I was free. I gave a
token guarantee; though I later knew I
had promised more, with an I.O.U.
I could scarcely score my way… Oh! But I herald Apocalypse anyway!
I was a prime believer in the faith
of 'I’: yellow fever in the cat’s eye.

And it’s everything you
want, own,love, hate, touch, dream,
trust; and it’s everything you need.

I got a heart like a rochet, I
was out of control, I’d cleaned out
my pockets for some luck to show…
really looking like a hopeless case,
I found it in my hand, it was
the Angry Ace. He wants to talk to
me, one on one, he wants to give
me his professional opinion…but
I’m running; I just can’t wait,
I haven’t got a moment to anticipate;
yes, I’m running, I just can’t stop,
I’ve got to get to the bottom just to
get to the top, I’ve got the dark
alleys and the open skies, I got
the yellow fever from the cat’s eye.

I’ll let you know how it goes in the ninth life.

The Sphinx in the Face

I remember what it felt like at seventeen,
I was a cat, a snake, a lizard, a mouse;
still got an interest in the limousine
and a spouse and a brat,
country house, London flat.

I’m gonna head for the island when the summer’s out,
I’m gonna do all the stuff that I can,
drink like a fish in a waterspout –
I’m a fan of the flow,
it began long ago,
I’m a man who should know it doesn’t stop.

There’s so much to remember,
so much to forget:
we’re all in the possession of the future tense,
but don’t know it yet.
The flesh comes through the spirit,
the spirit through the flesh…
we look the Sphinx in the face for answers
and, of course, we’re really not impressed.
We’re caught between age and beauty,
experience and youth,
so we feel the need acutely
for any kind of Truth.

Oh, but we get copped some days,
caught between options we’ve failed
to play, such wasted chance.
So I join the wastrel’s dance:
it has slow as well as fast movement,
and any change must be an improvement
on simply fossilising, standing still.

I got a steady vocation for the Quiet Zone,
I just can’t wait for the song to be sung,
I’m still possessed by the promise
of the Pleasure Dome

You’re so young, you’re so here,so gone,
so old, so near,so wrong,
such a drag so queer,so strong,so…
to be told.
Such a drag to be told…

Chemical World

„Well what’s the harm?
It’s good clean fun…
why don’t you just
go on and have another one?
When there’s hanky-panky in the
boardroom, wooly-bully on the farm,
what’s the harm?
It’s quite allright –
I mean to say,
tomorrow’s just another day…”

Oh, but in the morning,
Oh, but in the morning haze
will you still feel as fine,
will you still need to trade day for night?
In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king;
in the country of the sheep, they call him Cyclops.
And the quality of mind is such a
tenuous thing that here you need it
like a blind man needs eye drops.

Get out of that back room,this vacuum,
it attracts you, but in fact
you don’t know quite what it is;
you’re being sapped of everything
you once valued so highly…
Will you still feel as strong,
will you still long for weakness to come?

It’s a Chemical World
…Not a candidate ever fails;
though you search for the Holy Grail
you’re not going to find it
in the Chemical World.

A sleeper train; you can’t escape;
fast overnight…the ticker-tape.
Oh but in the morning,
but in the morning haze
will the market have turned,
will there be no more days left to trade?

It’s the Chemical World
and from the moment that it’s embraced
It’s the Chemical World
all the diamonds turn to paste
in the Chemical World…
Yeah, you think you’ll look so pretty –
it’s gonna blow up in your face.

„It’s just the time, so slow to pass.
It’s just the drug…it doesn’t last….”

All lyrics by Peter Hammill

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