Ship in a Bottle, Part III: Listing Starboard

Coming September 2022

Ship in a Bottle, a concept album split into four parts, tells the story of twelve co-conspirators who steal a ship to escape life on shore. (Read more about the entire concept as outlined in Part I.)

Part III: Listing Starboard features three more archetypes taking a turn at the helm:

Shapeshifter (“Automaton Gone”)
Dreamer (“Delicate Serious”)
Outlaw (“Outlaw”)

Part III closes with the 3rd Passageway: “Lost Causeway” leading us to the 4th and final part of the album.

Lyrics

Automaton Gone (Shapeshifter)

Ones and zeros scaffold our thoughts
As the cyber-circus stirs our pots
Shave and shear us, we’ll wear the guise
As glam-spun heroes fondle our eyes

Trough fill, news feed, such scrumptious slop
Swaths ‘tween skewed needs to toil and shop
Maschinen-mensch in my looking glass
My best friends are all holographs

Wind us up, the movement seems all ours
But we wind up birds in clocks that sing the hour
How are we to jump the rails, tip the scales?
And wail: “So long, we’re automaton gone
So long, automaton gone”

Texts calls, emails – ray gun and stun me
Laugh tracks, hearsay – decide what’s funny
Alexa, Siri – sweet talk us dolls
While Palantiri glow in our palms

Wind us up, we think we’re cock of the walk
But we wind up just spinning atop a music box
Knock, knock – anyone there? I just came to declare:
“So long, I’m automaton gone
So long, I’m automaton gone
So long, I’m automaton gone”

Rack and pinion, cogs are spinning
My opinion backs into line
Core processor, cylinder pressure
My will is lesser, can’t draw the line
Valves are open, pistons stroke and
Dreams and hopes, they trace the line
Gears and levers, these things I treasure
All pre-measured to keep me in line

Time after time I escape to find I’m back in
Still just their jack-in-the-box
And I pick the locks
And I flee up the stairs there
But it’s like some picture by Escher

As the camshaft’s churning, dial is turning
All my yearnings fall into line
Foot on treadle, flesh is metal
And I settle back into line
Valves are open, pistons stroke and
Dreams and hopes, they trace the line
Gears and levers, these things I treasure
All pre-measured to keep me in line

And time after time, I think I’m so free and whimsical, rare and so nimble
But time after time, I find I’m a crank-up chimp doll, just banging his cymbals
And time after time, I keep trying… undermining
The confines winding ’round my mind and
Since I’m no longer inclined to get in front or behind of the mule
There really is just one escape hatch left that might get me through, I’ll…
Just have to retool myself into the Fool

Clothes on backwards, flipped wig on
Thus closes the chapter, automaton is gone

Delicate Serious (Dreamer)

Saturday is every day
If you’ll meet me in the garden, on that bridge, in the fog
Our umbrellas will make an enclave
We won’t be coy, we’ll talk about it all

Every day is Saturday
If you’ll greet me ‘neath the warm moon, on that dock, by the lake
Bare toes will make ripples
And we’ll forget those cold, cold days

And the rains we thought were against us
Were just hinting we were in the wrong parade
And the winds we felt bent against us
Were just nudging us to this place
Where the dreams we were saving for tomorrow
All came round today, and it looks like they plan to stay

Into one day melts all days
If you’ll join me on that path, in the wood, by the brook
Stone skips and little bark ships
And rapture nipping at all our hooks

All days melt into one day
When you point me t’ward the ladder, up to your house, in the tree
With candles, a halo will put a ring around all we hope to reach

And the time we thought had fenced us
Was just defending us from infinity
‘Cause the life we know that’s lent to us
Must be returned before we’re ready

And the dreams we’re saving for tomorrow
I think they’ll all come around today
Looks like they’re on their way

And the rains we thought were against us
Were just hinting we were in the wrong parade
And the winds we felt bent against us
Were just nudging us to this place

Where our last hopes are no longer borrowed
From that Ferris wheel of joy and sorrow
Where the dreams we were saving for tomorrow
All came round today
Let’s find them a place to stay

Outlaw (Outlaw)

There’s your silhouette, out on the horizon
Dark’s comin’, cold and wet
What keeps you runnin’? You’ve committed no crime and…
The earth and sky, they’ve put a vice on you
Sometimes I think you want them to
Tell me, is it true? The grass in Hell has no dew

You wake up in a culvert as dawn kicks wake the morn
And you crawl from beneath the highway, dusty and worn
And the brambles clutch at you – it’s all serpents and thorns

And the oil derricks peck and grub for blood beneath the wastes
And the gusts of disdain from passing cars and trucks erase
Any taste of shift in the wind, any trace of a new beginning

Outlaw, there was no crime
Why you flyin’ away?
Barbed wire’s sewn all along your route
How long can it hold back the truth?

Road lights become searchlights as headlights hunt you down
And the empty silence of the night feels like a sea and you’re drownin’
And the ghost towns are the only places where you’ve found common ground

And the roadkill skeletons show you you’re in the right place
‘Cause this is what it comes to, no matter what the pace
And the Fates spare none of their grace on you
But it’s not like you would ever ask them to
And you say: “Yeah, it’s true, the grass in Hell has no dew”

Outlaw, what say you?
Will you shout: “Draw!”
Then pull your gun against the sun?
Outlaw, what can save you from what you would become?

It’s not the last straw, that breaks you
Not the last god, that you pray to
Not the last cause, that you deign to eye
Before shrugging it aside
No, it’s that you, that you’ve decided
The rhyme, the reason, the why of it
No longer applies to you

So ride on, ride on
Into the night, drawn away from the light
And the fight for unmolested sight has bore a hole
Right through the core of your precious war

And still you ride on, ride on
Into the night, drawn away from any life
In which you might be counted upon

Lost Causeway (3rd Passageway)

I see you way over there
But between is ground unforgiving

Any spot ‘pon which I tread
Just leaves me sinking
And the broken bits of my resolve
Can’t be absolved into stepping stones

It’s not a lost cause
Just a lost causeway
I’ll find it again
I know it’s here somewhere

Dwell here?
No
This place was never part of the plan
But this sad patch of earth
I could have done worse
It was the only dry land
Left to make my stand

Why did I come here?
What had I hoped to gain?
I knew of the rains that couldn’t be tamed
I staked a claim here just the same

It’s not a lost cause
It’s just a lost causeway
I’ll find it again
I know it’s here somewhere
When I find it again
I’ll meet you there

Look around – tiny islands
There laid with sandbags ‘gainst the tides
Look at us all on our tiny islands
Wearing faces, so brave
Trying to stand so tall

And like lighthouses in the night with fraught eyes shining
Hoping and dreading someone, somehow will come to call
Look at us…
All…
All…
All together alone