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Goddammit Keep Going

by Chris Kiehne

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1.
God god. Ain't it a mystery I even met you, baby? If you consider every part of it, it could have gone so different. You had this tragic elegance... Lord, you were the sweetest thing, I was permanently seventeen and in love with suffering. Years we spent lost Each wandering our own unlit corridor Hands on the wall That passage was long But we kept going Good god. Ain't it the strangest thing? We sure ain't kids no more. But ain't we done alright? Ain't we still got time? We sing our blessings every night Wake up in the morning Try to do some kind of honest work Try to earn this God god. Ain't it a blessed thing? There's a cold wind blowing. The cardinal coloring the canopy... It's that old spirit showing, baby. I never thought we'd live to see the summer end. I never really thought we'd get this far. I guess - if you consider every part of it - it's a wonder that we're here at all.
2.
Some Wonder 03:57
From our place down there in the valley We saw a movement in the hills. Then we saw it was the hill itself. What horror! Oh, what a thrill! So we emptied every bottle Like it was ceremonial We burnt our tabernacle to the ground We let it go We’d spent all summer waiting for the miracle to come For the grace of some gentle god… Don’t that seem dumb now? Just a bunch of stupid kids, all begging to be weighed and judged, ‘cos we thought that we knew the judge. But we were wrong. Lordy, were we ever wrong. In those hungry months that followed, I lugged my meanness everywhere. I burnt my robe, I broke my staff, I cut off all of my hair. I lost what faith I had known in my younger days. I didn’t trust Van Morrison. I didn’t want no human fellowship. I didn’t love a goddamn thing. But then you spit a little blood for a couple of months… You gonna learn you some humility. You’re gonna reconnect with the wildness of the country. You’re gonna learn your debt, and start to see that even solitary things need rest, and often lean against each other. So get a dog, man. Take a lover. Baby, when you met me I was an undecided thing Somewhere between the man I was And the man I thought that I could be. I’ve known some failure, and a few small victories, but - hand to god, baby - when I first saw you, I knelt down willingly. No, there ain’t no final purpose, And there ain’t no destiny. It’s just timing and a little luck. And ain’t that some wonder? So, we won’t make plans on how its gonna end, And we won’t make promises. We’ll just lean into the work and we’ll keep going
3.
Poughkeepsie 05:55
Weren’t they holy: all the wounds that we wore? Just a couple of kids in the world. Stoned and stubborn and stupid and bored. We had no idea how blessed we were. We just had no idea how blessed we were. Weren’t we righteous? Weren’t we good with the lord? Just a couple of kids wild with lust for the world. Weren’t our bodies sunburnt and firm? Didn’t we push em together with a dreadful force? Wasn’t that what we had em for? Babe, wasn’t we righteous? Weren’t we good with the lord? Weren’t we mighty? Weren’t we brave? Weren’t we bold? Weren’t we the best fuckin’ band on the Green Metro North? Skipping practice and doing lines off the dorm room floor. Weren’t we something to behold? Baby wasn’t we mighty? Weren’t we brave? Weren’t we bold? Weren’t we hopeful? Weren’t we green, weren’t we young? Didn’t we honestly think that we were bound by our love? We thought we’d change this world, but the world changed us. God knows how distant we’ll become. But weren’t we something when we were young? Ain’t they holy: all the wounds that we wore Just a couple of kids knelt in fear of the world Always fighting our separate wars Who can even remember what we fought them for? Who can even remember what we were fighting for?
4.
I stood in front of mirrors, baby, and I spoke your name Then I stood upon the mountain top, and, there, I did the same In darkened rooms I sang the sacred words and felt ashamed 'Cos they meant nothing to me, honey. It was empty medicine. I would burn a dozen altars, I would sing all the psalms all backwards If I thought that would draw a spark. Karen: in your life, you answered every call I have wrecked my skeptic’s heart Wondering where you are In the year before you died, I kept insisting that I’d visit But of course that was a lie, and I just knelt to my laziness In my own way I have tried to draft some reckoning of this The only the things I’m haunted by are all those chances that I missed A Sunday drive to say goodbye, Then an evening in the country I mean, what cause did I have to stall? I wasn’t in denial, I wasn’t frightened at all I have taxed my selfish heart Wondering at the cost In my time, I too will lie in some hospital bed Balancing the line between the wrestle and the rest In that moment will I have any fellowship left Or will I stand before the darkness alone and unmet 'Cos I might sing about the spirit, I might sing about the soul. But it’s only ritual. A way to render meaning when I know there is none I have wrecked my stupid heart Wondering what becomes of us
5.
There ain't no beacon lit upon that shore There's no signal fire for us to burn There's no red dress waving in that slamming screen door No, we don't live here anymore We built this whole haunted mess ourselves That old sleeping giant? He ain't concerned with us. We ain't had no devil in here riding shotgun. But we got that wilderness in our blood. Baby, when you met me, I was living scared. I was always braiding fennel wreaths and running up the cellar stairs. I was so in love with my despair, that I almost missed you, Standing there, A cardinal feather in your long black hair... Hell no, baby. I ain't going anywhere.
6.
Renfield 02:32
I ain’t no true believer I’ve got a grim and faithless heart Nine years old in my bone-white robe My spirit lit up like a catacomb All the other kids were screaming their Hosanna! As if I doubted you alone I would have been your witness, baby I could have been your red right hand You need somebody to behold your terror? Well, here I am, Lord. Here I am. I ain’t no true believer I’ve got a grim and foolish heart In my time I was that kind of man That called himself a haunted man Just ‘cos it seemed to get me into any bed I wanted to get in But I could be your great love, baby. I could be the bedlam on the mount. You need somebody to behold your glory? Call my name, babe. I’m around.
7.
Look out on the water, baby If you should mourn this loss Remember it for what it was And for all that it was not Look out upon the water, baby It’s running clear and calm It’s here and gone It’s the same water that we crawled out from Wild and young With yet no concern for Abaddon Stubborn and dumb Our burnt bodies baking in the sun In some ways we’ve been lucky In others, not so much Look out upon the water, baby If you should fear the light is gone That water don’t care if you kneel or not Fog rolls down off the mountaintop Carries the cold and surrounds us Both of us want to believe it’s the breath of some old god… But it’s just fog fell down from the mountaintop Look out on the water, baby If you should miss me when I’m gone Remember me the man that I was And the man that I was not I had that real cool mean spirit, baby I was a selfish little fuck But I loved what things I loved. And, ah baby. I loved you.
8.
There was blood striped across my face Blood striped the moon Blood hung down in ropes from my family blade And filled the saloon The bartenders sang calamity And the gravediggers swooned That was any given Tuesday night in my life... But then I met you And I cut off my long brown blood-slicked hair I sutured my wounds I left that cheap shit sitting down there on that bottom shelf And I stopped running right at my blues I opened the windows of the house I unlocked every room And, in the morning, that old sun came up As it's been known to We ain't gonna save this wretched world from the Cults of Abaddon We ain't gonna save our hangdog souls, baby We can't undo what things we've done But, come on, kid. We've still got lives to live. And, yeah, we might be dying. But we ain't dead yet. The wolf knelt before the hearth And the cereus bloomed Every empty bottle filled back up When you walked in the room The light fell across my heart Light filled the tomb And the kingdoms of the dead despaired On the day that I met you
9.
I'm a child of god I got six friends and a dog And a woman that I love We got 97 beers left in a cooler in the trunk We work hard, we have fun, is that really so far wrong? I mean what would you have done? Not laughed, or run, or fucked? Not lit a fire, or sat and watched the stars above us fall? No. There's no "deserving" here at all. Ain't u a child of god? Ain't we built from the same stuff? Ain't we both just bones and guts? Or am I something that you want? Am I expected to repent? Am I supposed to feel ashamed? Cos I would do it all again. There's not one moment I would change. There's nothing I regret. I'm still in love with everything. I'm so in love with everything

about

"Melville, as he always does, began to reason of Providence and futurity, and of everything that lies beyond human ken, and informed me that he “pretty much made up his mind to be annihilated”; but still he does not seem to rest in that anticipation; and, I think, will never rest until he gets hold of a definite belief.

It is strange how he persists — and has persisted ever since I knew him, and probably long before — in wandering to-and-fro over these deserts, as dismal and monotonous as the sand hills amid which we were sitting. He can neither believe, nor be comfortable in his unbelief; and he is too honest and courageous not to try to do one or the other.

If he were a religious man, he would be one of the most truly religious and reverential; he has a very high and noble nature, and better worth immortality than most of us."

N. Hawthorne // 11.20.1856

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Damn don't that Hawthorne sing.

This is a record about the cold permanence of loss; the endless and expanding empty universe; the creeping horror of 35. It's also a record about hope and grace and remembering and bodily joy and dogs and liquor and dark forests and singing loudly. Go wild.

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released October 31, 2019

By Chris Kiehne.
With Sonya Cotton.
GKG is for Lauren, Bones, and Cricket, with much gratitude.

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Chris Kiehne Towson, Maryland

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