Lives of the Saints was completed in 1993. Except where specifically noted, all work was written and performed by Frederick Moore. Produced by Frederick Moore and Phil Calvert. Painting by Mark Christopher.
1. A Rain Less Acrylic
2. Lives of the Saints
3. The Blue Night
4. At the Wall of Tears Boutique
5. Credo Arcana
6. A Dream Loop
7. Manchester Between the Lakes
8. An L.A. Harbor Grey
Timothy K. Taylor: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones
Greyhound: Three days on this crowded bus, but we’re almost there./ And as with most women, her face takes on a quality of childhood as she sleeps./ The sky is getting darker./ For me, this simply means that evening is on its way,/ But for her nothing is so simple./ You see, if it rains it does so because her garden is thirsty,/ And every earthquake is a personal message for her./ “But what of those who reside at the epicenter of your correspondence?” I ask./ And although she will not permit herself the vocabulary to express it/ The fact is she despises me at these time./ But we both feed on resistance,/ And we have found remorse to be the bed of commitment./ So though I’m tempted to wake her,/ I leave her dreaming of her distant, distant, distance./ Some stories have no resolution,/ But these are my days of contentment and grace./ This story has no resolution.
Sudden Gravity: Those who fell were immediately divided into two groups,/ And the polarity was such that each was repelled by its own refracted image in the eye of the other./ Still each possessing the missing words which could complete the language of the very ones they despised./ In a flood of dissolving years these once memorious ones have been reduced by their comforts and TV’s./ The fallen have sentenced themselves to lives of self-help books and do-it-yourself manuals,/ Puking on the banality of their own aspirations./ A plate of stones,/ A moment of perforated laughter./ And in the dark hours praying into the eyes of the idiot saint:/ “Deliver me now, oh patron of fools,/ Deliver me.”
The Master’s Psalm of Short-Term Gain: Of the many, few could see so well as she the simple truths found in “The Master’s Psalm of Short-Term Gain.”/ Personal recollection should be evaded./ In her wedding photo she stands, one of six thousand simplicity-pattern brides scattered across the open expanse of the football field./ Even then she was set apart,/ At times speaking for the Master/ Or even writing the words he would say./ She once gave birth in a field,/ But by the time she’d finished cleaning herself she’d forgotten the child altogether/ Thereby freeing herself to walk away without another thought of the little one left behind,/ Free to complete her vision of the Master./ And in her later years her urine was routinely diluted into holy water,/ And the disciples still recite the words she wrote:/ “When the Master sings the statues cry, and when the statues cry the Master sings.”/ In times like these we become dismayed, again and again, as we step into puddles of repressed-self knowledge./ In times like these it is our dreams which coagulate/ And eventually harden into compressed, dark cores of reduced expectation./ In times like these.
Grasspin: With practiced hands we divide the brick into smaller portions./ And each is weighed and wrapped in a clear plastic bag of its own./ She passes the sample around, and it is received by each as a small sacrament./ A procedure of solemn execution, for we are instruments of precision./ But when they are gone she takes the bills and counts them repeatedly,/ And I will do the same in turn,/ For I know suspicion is the bed of trust./ Through smoke-induced dreams of starving reptiles and images of shells pried open/ There can be found a place which divides into equal parts resistance and surrender./ And there together we will taste together that one true act of grace for which we retain capacity./ Again and again I find myself returning to a scene some years ago in a room about this size./ There she sat behind the keyboard, playing a sonata or some such thing,/ And in my brain I formed a derisive vision of her sitting home like some Jane Austen bitch playing piano throughout the morning./ But on she played oblivious to my presence,/ For her eyes were focused on piano fingers/ And her peripheral vision had been lost in the white light./
Together we sit watching the screen with the sound turned off./ Hundreds of faces stare into the camera from behind a steel fence./ And whether expressions of hunger or from the crushing weight of a thousand other bodies,/ We continue watching for they give to us something fundamental./ Do you see the fence?/ And do you see the ocean of open mouths?/ Can you see them?
The Church of Stained Thighs: We did not begin this canon, and it will not end with us./ But like you I have come uninvited to this centerless circle/ Where for a time I will breath the air that you breath/ And I will speak with an accent I did not invent./ And like you, I can only see from a position of darkness./ Darkness can be the absence of light,/ But darkness can also mean the presence of things unseen./ So no more odes of anticipation./ For with severed arms and a burned tongue/ I welcome you to this darkened room which will sustain and confine, at least for a time,/ For now this is the Church of Stained Thighs.
She Believes in Angels: A woman I know believes in angels, but it’s really not hard to see why./ She lives alone, but every morning a breakfast is waiting on her table./ Her house has no roof, but it has never once rained inside./ And though she makes no effort at all, her garden thrives and naturally grows into perfectly symmetrical formations./ Her shop was looted a while back, but the only things missing turned out to be a few scented candles and a large portrait of the Master./ When she drives down the boulevard her lane immediately clears, and each light locks green until she passes./ If she is late getting to the airport, it inevitably turns out that her flight has been delayed./ I went to a movie with her once, and when she left the theater for five minutes the actors paused until she returned.
Anna Homler: Voice
It’s just a series of seamless steps in which the blue night resides./ Like some old movie you know of but have never seen,/ The one who isn’t here lies below on the beach./ But the moments form and the moments fade,/ Each one chasing the cumulus further west./ Its darkening clouds dispersing wide/ Like so many songs for the doomed one.
Like so many songs for the doomed one,/ She counts the gossamer covered veins of her hands./ Her eyes befitting the deepening pain of the skyline,/ Her mouth betrays a longing./ And with feedbacking loops of faith/ In times as dark as this time seems for her,/ She craves a species of silent tongues/ Whose words have become luminous but vague.
If freed from weight and freed from form/ She’d slowly crawl into the open mouth./ Her only path an extended tongue/ Descending far into the caverned heart./ And at this depth seduced obscure/ Her twin of flesh would be carved away./ And every piece of the one not here /Could be gathered up in the warm arms of her voice.
In a series of seamless steps the blue night arrives.
Asuncion Ojeda: Flute, Piccolo, and Voice
A Genesis of Sorts: For a year following the war my father was stationed in Germany,/ And during that time he did the things that young men do when members of occupying armies./ It was in this context that he met a young German woman./ She was delicate and refined, and even aristocratic in manner;/ However, her post war circumstances had reduced her to a life of utter dependency upon the goodwill, and indeed, the attentions of the American GI’s./ I don’t know, but quite possibly it was the very helplessness of her situation that left an indelible impression upon my father./ In any event, for years my mother’s body would serve as a vessel into which this German woman could enter for a few moments at a time.
Now I am not one who subscribes to notions of divine sense and order,/ And I truly do not expect Apollo to ever escape the shackles of this green-blue world,/ But in my estimation we are born of many things.
I came of age in a time when metallic birds occupied the skies above Hanoi,/ Joyfully dropping their eggs in midair.
Metallic Birds: (flute)
Assassin : You will not know the face of your assassin,/ And he will know you only as a symbol./ Your crimes will be ones of association,/ And you will see his weapon as a small toy./ (At night the sounds of TV news float up through the floorboards that lie beneath his bed.)
He will be younger than you,/ (He will be much younger than I am now.)/ And his upper lip will be trimmed by a white-milk mustache,/ (And I will mistake his gun for a small toy.)/ Oh the sound of soft, demurring walls,/ And the heat of warm piaster lays,/ And the scent of dark, surrendering arms surrendering wide.
Back in Midtown there are women without men on Veterans Day./ And it is on this day that each one takes the boots of her one who isn’t here,/ And with dry-eyed intent the boots are caressed into bright, shining mirrors through which her eyes may enter into themselves./ On past the gates of dissolving cement and up through the breathing atmosphere/ They move toward the center of something like solace./ But in the end it’s a solace whose recollection evaporates into ether each morning./ But they march in trance from the projects of Midtown to the Wall of Tears Boutique located on the third floor of the shopping mall./ And here some will rent novena booths in which their framed black-and-whites can be draped in the darkened hues of oversized Hallmark cards.
He will suffer, but only to a point,/ For in time he will formulate an equation./ And in it he and I will come to represent a sort of symmetry of loss./ And as his own children grow, his memory of me will fade./ Oh the sound of soft, demurring walls,/ And the heat of warm piaster lays,/ And the scent of dark, surrendering arms surrendering wide.
Garden Scene: There are sounds in the garden./ There is the sound of blood-red flowers searching for light,/ And there are sounds of lusting birds./ All the while, dreams of poom poom float in the air above the heads of these young ones drifting.
There are girls with buck teeth laughing./ Adjusting their bracelets and earrings made from the toenails of birds,/ Exposed by the night-light lunar wild,/ In unison, they bleed into the warm, receptive river.
Perfumed eels ingest their blood./ Intoxicated snakes!/ They leave their eggs misplaced on the tidal floor of the southern bank,/ And here they are claimed in the morning by the bald ones squatting in the river.
They never speak./ But in a language of silent tongues they clearly infer that one serves the function of another,/ And that this is the same as that, and on and on./ It is our function to desire./ And so we continue to listen to the sound of the sounds in the garden.
Communique: In recent months their letters have become increasingly animated./ He writes of water and of capsized, bourbon lulls,/ Where, but for the dime-bags in his pockets, he’d have drowned in the river of perfumed mud./ Back home she spends her time doing window-pane with the mimes in People’s Park./ And having learned of incursions into the land of bloated kings, she refuses to speak to her father./ Her allowance has been cut off, and for this she holds the president directly responsible./ Indeed, in her mind the two men have become virtually indistinguishable./ In one, she offers a highly descriptive account of a weekend in the desert /Where she claims to have entered the cacti-soul collective./ She shares with him her gestural fantasies of self immolation./ For her death would merely be the shredded outer skin of awakening./ And oh, to awaken from a world which reveres the dog-who-eats-first./ In this her own feelings are deeply ambivalent./ Even now her dreams are dominated by an imaginary stream of marines and highway patrolmen./ She shares with him her notion of a function anointed./ How many cells can one subdivide into?/ And how many venom-soaked prayers can even a guardian accept?/ And how many crimes can you dignify through appeals to higher law?
His Last Day: On his last day he wakes to a low-humming D-note stuck in his throat from the night before/ When Saigon-inflected, Motown tunes slid from the throats of the local girls in Cholon./ “Do you want some love Johnny,” they call from across the boulevard near Zinnia Park./ In vain, he fumbles through his empty pockets.
But now in his mind’s eye he’s passing over the choice lots of Sunny Dunes,/ Where just for fun he decides to buzz the ninth hole in a section of developing acres./ From up here the large, circular driveways resemble dried lake beds,/ And it dawns on him that this could be then, or even far, far from now.
On his last day his heart’s blood burns into khaki-green./ Below he spots an amorous army of child warriors grouped off in two’s or three’s,/ Their uniforms strewn about the basin./ From the distance his reflecting vulture descends toward the choreographed greeting, as if in silent acceptance.
Voce Arcana: Joanne Metcalf, Florence Riggs, Micheal Smith
Timothy K. Taylor: Tenor Saxophone
The Laughter of Drowning Hermits: It’s only inertia,/ And we, inertly embracing our own./ Soluble are we,/ Coveting the cardboard of sleeping strangers,/ Awakening only to find.
The vaporized soul of the father island/ Skirts the heads of the Three Sisters/ Their softness stung by the frozen mist./ For these are the broken hands of history,/ And this is a town of missing fingers,/ But these are not clouds of chlorine,/ And this is not the sound of rivers collapsing./ On the wall of a nearby cave/ The Youngest Sister has whispered in spray paint/ That it’s only the laughter of drowning hermits.
Beneath the Hissing Skyline: It was always the same./ Like convicts we’d crawl down stairways,/ Escaping the smell of turnip and perspiring walls,/ Fleeing the black and white of Irish grief and the rounds of beaded chains./ But out beneath the hissing skyline/ We’d cut through the doghouse structures,/ A gang of Gabriels floating over the spiked fences/ To gather on the fields of frozen mud./ Just an army of muted angels,/ Articulation shamed us.
It was cold that year in Manchester./ The snow was laced with carbon dust,/ And with each gate locked,/ The price of plasma rose./ But for some this was a time of prosperity,/ So that for those who were able to continuously mine that vein of blue life/ Hunger itself had been frozen./ Up and down 18th Street the mothers sang songs of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Bench,/ And of how she warmed her hands in the night/ Reminiscing of the anointed arms and legs of her irreducible companion./ But in our time she has receded into the silent prayers of a hollow people,/ Her words fusing with the obbligato babble of the elders.
Circumference to Center: From the circumference to the center/ There is no radius in time,/ So we may choose a chord point slowly/ Like the keepers of some Sacred Heart.
It was a tequila weekend,/ But not before licking the salt from your face,/ And you, arched like a boat with a broken back,/ We could not deal away those waves of countersponding grooves./ And on Sunday morning I’d still be checking for your smell on my fingers./ Like Lydia feeding the needy,/ You were a saint to the whores and a whore to the saints,/ But by the scars on my knees/ You are here focused and laughing,/ Amid the fading secrets of memory,/ Far from beyond the circumference.
The Frozen Lake: (Saxophone)
The Troubled Sleep of Broken Wings: These are not clouds of chlorine,/ And this is not the sound of rivers collapsing.
A falling cloud of tears to veil the finite earth,/ A billion eyes floating in the air,/ Their anabatic stares receive an orphaned winged one,/ Its fossil dance protesting as it slowly spirals to the surface./ A fractured stone to be washed again and again by these rivers of salt and mud./ Mindless winds erode the fields./ Their broken shields have been washed away./ A cube of amber preserves the troubled sleep of broken wings./ Granite towers divide a clouded sky,/ Its face-dissolving tears./ No thoughts to furnish these hidden caves,/ No thoughts at all,/ No scribbled walls./ Only senseless wall against senseless wall,/ Their friction producing a burning, fluorescent snow that shines on the empty fields,/ Reflecting in the eyes of the sightless lakes it shines!/ As if these mangled forms were to one day stand up and rise from the earth.
Whirlpool: Out of the frozen mist below, a crippled boat makes its way down the stunned river./ From the Canadian side a child throws a stone from two hundred feet above,/ But otherwise it’s three miles of silently echoing dolomite./ There comes a point when the river veers west/ into the white-watered circles of diminishing size./ And each time around the boat moves quicker and closer to the center,/ Until at last, unable to pull away, it sinks like a pilgrim.