Unfinished Bird

by Van Reipen Collective

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about

Music from Van Reipen Collective's UNFINISHED BIRD, a theatricalized song cycle, based on Kate Colby's 'Unfinished Bird' poems and other writings. UNFINISHED BIRD first showed at Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival in February 2016.

credits

released November 16, 2016

Cassandra Victoria Chopourian vocals, tenor guitar;
Donna Drinnen backup vocals
Sara Jane Mann backup vocals, melodica, percussion;
Gary Heidt electric bass;
Lisa Woods percussion; toy piano
Tom Woods drums, soprano ukelele;

Lyrics from Kate Colby's Unfinished Bird, Blue Hole (2016)
Written by Cassandra V Chopourian & band
Recorded and mixed by Gary Heidt
Mastered by Mark Tulk / Small House Creative
Cover art by SJ Mann

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Van Reipen Collective Greensboro, North Carolina

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Track Name: Go Where You Are
Driving
Driving to the drugstore
Driving to the drugstore in July
shiny heat and humming green
green leaves with backlit veins.

Fresh Air throbs around an open window
something in Afghanistan,
casualties, in the heat your eczema is erupting,
clouds mound and bubble like old knees with tumid veins.

Stop light.
Zeppelin.

This dirigible mind means go where you are
This dirigible mind means go where you are
This dirigible mind means go where you are
This dirigible mind means go where you are

—static,
clattering pacifier, screaming
screaming green leaves, red flags
marks made by survey
on the skin of the city,
say cut here
the dotted line
roughly defining
this moment.
Track Name: Unfinished Bird
Immediate starscape—
clinking baseboard heat, dripping
invisible eaves on this
blinding, thirty-nine-degree day.

Afternoon light wanes upward
around our capsule,
which rolls through space

through space and possibility
through space and possibility
through space and possibility
of late snow.

Nothing moves but drops from the gutter,
red cardinal on wrought table,
walking on thick, soft ice.

We are flying away
We are flying away
We are flying away
We are flying away

from a thirty-five-year-old world r
ecedes to a pin head,
pinched out and relativity with it.

You enormous moon I orbit
You enormous moon I orbit
and around me, unfinished bird,
and around me, unfinished bird,

Moving between countless snowy mountains
with small, sharp scapulas,
budding wings,
fear of flight.
fear of flight.
Track Name: Midas' Mountain
Dividing till there's no difference
or my favorite paradox—
if the hare never gets anywhere
let's just fold up here

fold paper doves from dollars
and sell them
for fifty cents.
2010 census-takers trudge the sidewalks,
collared shirts shoved into slacks.
The concrete gleams with heat (and minerals,)
old gum circles rubbed black and smooth (with ragged edges,)
suspicious moles on the city's ravaged skin
—not ravaged so much as dividing

cell over cell,
Midas's mountain of metastatic gold.
We're on the other side of the screen,
singing an endless accumulating lullaby—

mama's gonna buy you
a little box
in which to store these ruins.
in which to store these ruins.

mama's gonna buy you
a little box
in which to store these ruins.
Midas's mountain

Midas's mountain
Midas's mountain of metastatic gold.
mountain of metastatic gold.
cell over cell over cell over sell over sell
Track Name: Prince of Potato Chips
The best things are always created by accident—
this dropped into a boiling vat of that.
Horror stories of non-intention
(thirteen years of piano lessons)

I am paralyzed by my power of suggestion—
I held you in my arms at the edge of Ned's grave,
in the doorway of my empty childhood bedroom—
my Prince of Potato Chips,

this sentimental primogeniture
whereby you can have it all
my fragments, these ruins, etc.
my Prince of Potato Chips,

Just So stories about loss
and how you diluted it with
the fact of your newness.
It's not fair or accidental,

this sentimental primogeniture
whereby you can have it all
my fragments, these ruins, etc.
my Prince of Potato Chips,
my Prince of Potato Chips
Track Name: Fins
From the gap in the blackout curtains
at the mid-range hotel
a slice of light falls on your face.
Your halo is shaped like a
rapier by which you are cruelly pinned.

Your writhing reminds me
of the Easter Island Birdman glyphs
on the edge of a precipice
overlooking two thousand miles worth of water.

All that bloody worship of virtually worthless wings,
when fins would be far more useful.
And you, determined bird,
fight fight fight the conditions of your cage
ringed ringed ringed with insipid sea creatures.

In the rough shard of light, your pelagic eyes look past me
for a better escape hatch
must be seeing things
Track Name: Body of Work
A body of work
A body of work made
A body of work made of
made of its medium—
bone needle drawing sinew through hide,
bone needle drawing sinew through hide,

art made of media. art made of media

I love a dead end
and wish you no means,
bite my chin till it bleeds.
A body of bones

arrows suggested trajectories.
arrows suggested trajectories.

Another tooth broken through this morning and I
miss the smooth space it replaced.
I miss the smooth space it replaced.

Every day
a new barb or barbicel
to pierce a new hole
in the tenderness I've given you.
Track Name: Willow
As a willow with the weight of its own profusion,
you're asleep upstairs in a close, dark room,
thighs slashed with red, weepy creases, features
relaxed into TV-baby mounds.

A limp magazine stuck to my lap—
I am empty and impenetrable.

Invisible green-gloved
fingers extend around my neck.
Birds peck -
peck and drone.
I want to wake you,
let you bite my chin,
with your two new teeth,
will cut the skin.
if I let them.

You are the warm metal rack from which I hang my IV bag—
You are the warm metal rack from which I hang my IV bag—
a slow drip,
relieving pain and its relief,
I must contain

everything afforded by gravity.
Track Name: You Are the Sun
Your shape when you sleep is the dead-man wingding
from the first chapter of Trenchtown Rock—

arms bent up at ninety degrees
legs splayed out and down, frog-like,

students love it, think they get it, can't decide if it's cheap or not
students love it, think they get it, can't decide if it's cheap or not.

You're so quiet,
I hear traffic through the monitor,
it's five a.m. and I can't sleep.
Light brightens blandly
behind the window.

You are the sun
You are the sun
enabling life
with your own unwitting combustion

while I am the grass
I am the grass
underscoring the blank places
by just lying here,

You are the sun (I am the grass)
You are the sun (I am the grass)
You are the sun (I am the grass)
You are the sun….while…..

I am the grass (you are the sun)
I am the grass (you are the sun)
I am the grass (you are the sun)
but I'd do anything to cover you up.

I'd do anything to cover you up.
I'd do anything to cover you up.
I'd do anything to cover you up.
I'd do anything to cover you up.
I'd do anything to cover you up.
I'd do anything to cover you up.