The Labor in Our Stillness

by Joel Dobbins

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1.
I was fifteen in May of 03 When the old man came crumblin' down From up on Cannon Mountain where he spent his whole life Every piece of him fell to the ground With a chin that was chiseled of stone And a mouth frozen taking a breath Of that fresh, elevated, Franconia air Two-thousand feet high 'til his death And they wrote him in poetry Hailed him in imagery Even carved him in currency Late in his life But they couldn't protect That Old Man of the Mountain From the Nor'easter winds and the New England ice For millennia lending an ear to the forest Surrounded by choruses rising in praise In my short simple life on that sorry small day I outlived him to say even men made of stone do not stay
2.
We don’t have to wonder We have all the questions we can take A list longer than our shadows At the tail end of the day There’s not too much that shakes us With these waves of chaos on the rise But we read a phrase in sidewalk chalk So sincere it made you cry If you want to fall apart Or if you want to hold yourself together for now While we’re waiting in the dark I can be whatever you need until we get out This toxic positivity Is like staring into artificial light Pollution of the optimist Is so bright it hurts my eyes I don’t want to be happy now I want to know the truth and nothing more Even though it breaks me down Though it knocks me to the floor So if you want to fall apart Or if you want to hold yourself together for now While we’re waiting in the dark I can be whatever you need until we get out
3.
He so casually explains How the world will be destroyed by fire not rain As if he does not call it home And I guess he doesn't You know, the meek will inherit the earth Only if the proud don't destroy it first I was told we leave it all behind I guess that's how we've learned to justify our crimes As if it's just burnin' anyway It's self-fulfilling It's a slow burn It's a fever
4.
What is September for But to walk hand in hand Down the darkening way We’re in like a fire by night And we’re out like a cloud By the shortening day We shot Roman candles in the dark One misfired by my ear And I nearly went deaf Those days are a memory now With the brightness of sun In a split second breath Who, who Who will you hold when the night falls? Who, who Who will you hold when the night falls? What is September for But to cross the Red Sea And the river Jordan Out of the desert we fled ’Til we hungered to be captives In a bed they made for us September is promised land That everyone knows Will lead us to diaspora Head full of thoughts with empty hands What should have flown by now In branches caught like Absalom In the morning you’ll awake To a world of white and gray
5.
It’s never a good time to hit the brakes In a world that’s built for speed, that runs on haste They can’t say when It will be over They can’t tell us How long it’ll take to heal With predictions like Carnival mirrors It’s all contorted There’s nothing that looks quite real When there’s nowhere to go but here Every day is a story yet to break And when all that you have is time Well there’s nothing to do but Wait Wait Wait Wait We pressed the pedal but got nothing back What should have been a correction ended up as a crash Every failure to Stop the transmission Is a moment That serves as a metaphor For the way that A lie can travel Around the world Before the truth can get out the door When there’s nowhere to go but here Every day is a story yet to break And when all that you have is time Well there’s nothing to do but Wait Wait Wait Wait
6.
Several feet of snow Pure white in the field Often will it grow Rarely will it yield But something’s in the dirt Something’s breaking free The waking of the seeds Buried underneath Buried underneath The waking of the seeds Resistance in the act Of every single breach That snow is melting now And as it does we’ll see A field of rising seeds That was buried underneath
7.
Rutabaga 04:45
8.
Nervous Tick 06:04
You can dig in your heels as you scream at the clock Throw a wrench in the gears but the hands will not stop You can drink to forget but the time’s not forgot And you beg for a little but it takes a lot You've got a nervous Tick and I can understand You’ve got a nervous Tickin' of the second hand You’re encaged in the grid of a calendar’s page Every x in the square is a note that you played It’s been writing a melody, you’re center stage And you pray you’re in key as your voice starts to shake Tear it all down, what do they know? Isn't time an illusion? Oh, I heard that before But how our ears ring as the pendulum falls! It's the clapper that swings in the bell that will toll for us all You can dig in your heels Throw a wrench in the gears You're encaged in the grid Every x in the square
9.
When you look to the stars do you see it ’Tween the dots is the dark, something secret Fill the space with a line, something needed Constellation of mine, did you hear that? Always seeking, ever moving Don’t grow weary in well-doing Always seeking, ever moving Don’t grow weary When I follow the curve of the zenith Far beyond the horizon I feel it We are cells in an organic being Might as well be it well’s what I’m thinking When you look to the stars Can you feel it?
10.
The labor in our stillness The rattle in our bones The tyranny of privilege Banging on the glass windows A sight that the world has seen Many times before Maybe not so obvious But now it's at the door We’re just trying to live here Bottled up and waiting While they spread it like a virus Burning down the world And they do it for the ratings (All eyes on me, all lies on me)
11.
I believe wholeheartedly that life is what you make it You can build a wonder but you gotta be creative Isn’t the point of living something bigger than a moment Hard to understand until you’ve had the chance to hold it Well hope is not gone, you just misplaced it (In the back of your mind) That word is alive, you can’t erase it (It’s out there to find) If you need reminding What you seek is what you find Then I will show you why this life is still worth chasing ‘Cause all is not lost It’s just the dark before the dawn All is not lost We’ll find a way to carry on All is not lost I’ll wait with you ’til morning brings the sun Oh, believe it or not, all is not lost There’s an opportunity to change if you will take it Push against the mold for long enough and you can break it Somewhere beyond the now the who you’ll be is softly callin' Begging to just be found, the door is waiting to be open Well hope is not gone, you just misplaced it (In the back of your mind) That word is alive, you can’t erase it (It’s out there to find) If you need reminding What you seek is what you find Then I will show you why this life is still worth chasing ‘Cause all is not lost It’s just the dark before the dawn All is not lost We’ll find a way to carry on All is not lost I’ll wait with you ’til morning brings the sun Oh, believe it or not, all is not lost If you need a shoulder I’m already heading over All you need to do is make it to the morning It’s just the dark before the dawn We’ll find a way to carry on I’ll wait with you ’til morning brings the sun Oh, believe it or not, all is not lost
12.
On Her Way 05:54

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released January 1, 2021

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Joel Dobbins Bellingham, Washington

Self-produced singer-songwriter

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