Special thanks to: Joseph and Susan Martin (my parents), Seth Martin and Nan Young Lee, Andrew and Brittany Martin, Katie and Chris Martin-Brown, Ben and Nicole Martin, Peter Martin, Jenny and Mitch Martin-Johnson, Sally Martin, Peter and Fran Martin, Travis and Alyssa Hilley, Adam Engle, Jack Wyant, Edna Cuellar, Kenny Holt, Greg and Diane Webster, Rob and Elyn Nollan, Connor Berk, Stuart Louderback, Eric and Rebecca Oberg, and Torre and Heather Oberg!
Could not have made this without all your kindly support!
released April 1, 2019
Cover art by Nan Young Lee
Cover art text by Sally Martin
Layout by David Fuller
Recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by David Fuller
Co-produced by Joel Martin
Love Just Isn't recorded and produced by Britton Holman and David Fuller
Joel Martin: lyrics and melodies, vocals, guitars, piano, banjo, percussion, synths, bass guitar, banjolele
Waiting on a package
I ordered in august.
some book for a college class.
could be at the wrong address,
or gone in a hat trick,
a mercury flame turned to ash
And I don’t know whether to order another,
or to wait it out, ‘cause it could be a long while.
So I’m watching the calendar,
and waiting for the mail to get here,
if it ever does arrive.
I remember your tail lights
blur zigzags of red light
as they meandered away in the night rain.
I never thought in that instance,
that the increasing distance.
would be more than your wheels on the grey.
now it’s trial by withering fire,
singing in the monophonic choir
You travelled but you’re stone still,
unravelling, cyclones spill
what they tore from the ground’s seed,
Hope then I’m sighing with relief, that
your destination ain't dead leaves
if you ever do arrive.
I know it’s true, but I have to see it for myself.
And I know it’s you, but I’m trying with everything to believe it’s someone else.
Don’t have any coordinates,
don’t know where I am yet
And I still can’t tell where I’m not
If I’m a mass with momentum,
I’m bound towards the center,
Well I ain’t moving, but I never stopped.
Everything’s a circular
coil built upward
it’ll worry and strangle your mind.
Go round and round the game
and though, different, it’s all the same
and I never do arrive.
And that’s how I stay alive.
Is this town Cairo?
No man it ain’t.
Just stay on your raft boat,
and float on your way.
Is this where I’m heading to,
a bigger cage, in a smaller zoo?
Hey, Zeno, I’m almost halfway to halfway to you.
and I’m running out of days
We’re all lost in the mail haul
stable bound angels, reduced to the last place we slept.
Postmarked and stamped, but we don’t understand,
we arrive at the same time we've left
And there’s so much noise, so much inanity and mire (Oh! Neverending count to absurd!)
One glass has poison, so I’m crossing fingers, and praying we survive (Oh! Everbending calculus curve!)
I’m holding breaths, and hoping we arrive.
If we ever do
Track Name: California Rain
how does it feel to exist?
as a poster for pain
and cognitive dissonance
I know we all need our niche
but could you get out of my way?
I’ve got a blindfold to stitch.
And it’s a brilliant plan, to convince ourselves
that we don’t wave a flag for anyone else.
Eating from the hand, of what we buy and sell.
Old Uncle sam don’t share the wealth.
we say “that how it is, let’s smile big while the ice all melts.”
it’s who you are, don’t try to be something else.
Flash of light, and frozen time, in our finest masks.
We’re not as splendid as we seem, but no one asks.
The rain is coming down again, but everyone’s prepared.
With umbrellas out, and expensive coats, we can rest assured
that it won’t be very long, ’til we forget it’s there.
and it won’t sink in, or touch our skin, there’ll be no cleansing here.
no we don’t have to be scared... at all.
And it comes pouring down, all at once.
Racing towards the ground, just to rise back up.
Trying to wash out, this monotonous air
the middle of a drought, but we cover our hair.
And it’s a brilliant plan to convince ourselves
that we don’t give a damn about anyone else.
Eating from the hand of what we buy and sell.
Drunk in the promised land, don’t share the wealth.
(we just blew it all to hell)
Smile big, smile big, in your finest mask.
He’s not as hungry as he tries to look, but no one asks.
Track Name: Ellipsis
Most minutes I’m sleeping,
Most hours I’m dreaming.
My hands are tired of keeping the time.
The reel spins happy and sad things,
train travels, plane crashes.
But they’re the same, they both make me cry.
Oh take me away from.
the circle conundrum.
I need to follow the breadcrumbs
till they come to a dead end.
Every town has a jailhouse,
and a cathedral for the dropouts
I could drive east or walk south.
but I’ve got both those in my head.
Most years pass in seconds,
like paint peeling from wreckage.
that seem from another life.
Something grand I remember,
telling myself to remember.
but it’s forgotten in the embers,
stirred every sleepless night.
But I’m more confused, with every upturned tile.
and I never felt more lost, then when you told me I’d arrived.
is there escape from the escapement, we all rotate inside?
I can’t run forever, but I may run til I die.
I’m not exactly searching, but I’m scared of what I’ll find.
But no I’ve got to go somewhere..
even if everywhere’s the same.
Just a token piece, going round round
on the same fatalist board game.
I’ll be leaving anyway
to see the mountain as the mountain again,
even if just by change of name.
Close my roulette eyes again... and hope I get the train.
I’m the best at excuses.
I’m always tightening my nooses.
then praying fate will come shooting
through the rope before it jerks.
Looking for that gold gateway
to take me back to where I’ve always stayed.
to wander ’til I forget my name
then I'll know that I’ve arrived.
Upstairs, then downstairs,
when I’m either, I’m nowhere
cause I can’t stand not knowing
what’s happening where I left.
End this song in ellipsis.
if there’s a plot, it’s just thickening.
My mind’s a seconds hand ticking,
circling round till it strikes death.
it’s trying so hard to forget.
something I can’t quite comprehend
and I threw everything away
you’re the only thing I kept
Track Name: Yellow Boat
Grey cloudy skies..
The silver raindrops fall..
it’s a steady cry.
Our collective eyes..
I don’t blame them now,
There’s a lot to cry about this time
Sinking like our innocence
over the ocean grade.
It’s alright if you have doubts,
There’s a lot to doubt about these days.
with ghosts and acrobats
from the mausoleum.
It’s not comedy.
But it’s alright if you can laugh.
Not a lot to smile at, lately.
on the patched up yellow boat
o’er the tiny waves
Right here he'll stay..
Who of us are honestly okay?
Trains wander by..
We’ve all said goodbyes.
No one blames you now.
There’s a lot to cry about this time.
Track Name: Pantomimes
It’s a wash
an eclectic collage
an engine sabotaged
a lingering mirage.
I had that dream
on my consciousness stream.
and when I woke, I felt more asleep..
You know the one.
it’s colors blur designs
it’s paint migrates the lines
of what is pain imagination and what is real life.
Hey it’s been.. A long old time.
Since we’ve seen.. a clear plot.
We changed more.. into pantomimes
every time.. we talked
But, sometimes yelling loudest makes you heard less.
Sometimes a little blood makes you hurt less.
Sometimes a little acting is the only thing that rests
between you and the outline chalk.
Mensa rubik’s cube.
Conductor of the room.
Ventriloquist in bloom.
Always full of shit.
You’d sell me for a compliment.
Even if you knew it was counterfeit.
Hey it’s been.. a long old time,
since we’ve seen.. a clear plot.
Seemed more like stones.. on the mountainside,
Every time.. we walked.
But sometimes yelling loudest makes you heard less,
sometimes a little cut makes you hurt less.
Sometimes a little acting,
is the saving thing that rests,
between you and the outline chalk.
Sometimes bigger spaces can contain less
Sometimes you see better through windows that are stained glass..
Sometimes you only slow down.. by moving far too fast.
Experiencer of horror.
I can’t blame you anymore.
Track Name: Love Just Isn't
The barometer says, there is a storm
The mercury's low and the sky is forlorn.
there’s a wayward draft, under my door.
the barometer says there is a storm
the textbook says, this is what took place
eyewitness accounts and magistrates
the gavel came down, and they closed the case
the textbook says, this is what took place
the preacher says, love all that you find
the drunks, the whores, the poor and the blind.
all of us must be of one mind.
the preacher says, love all that you find
the composer says, the rules go like this
no 2nd inversions or parallel fifths.
no predestined notes that don’t go where they fit.
the composer says, the rules go like this.
The orphan says, I’m tired of your wars
an eye for an eye, but you question what for.
you took my father and mother, now you’re asking for more.
the orphan says I’m tired of your wars
the newsman says, we can’t let them in
at the end of the day, it’s us or them.
there’s no room, left in the inn.
the newsman says we can’t let them in.
well, the draft came and went, and the storm simply quit.
the historians acquired new evidence.
the street dwellers still sing their laments.
with out of key harmonies and parallel fifths.
and the newsman’s a wanderer, but they can’t let him in.
there’s simply no room left in that orphan’s inn.
words and numbers are fickle, and complex.
but love just isn’t.
Track Name: Journal
Where do they go, I asked myself?
As a child I’d watch the sparks ascend?
They circle the flames and then go out.
never to be seen again.
Where do we go?
And where does it end I asked this time?
can hunger itself ever be fed?
If I’m to live off the feast while others die.
Maybe I’d rather live on bread.
I’ll let you know if I ever clear my head.
We both know this winding road.
has brought us to this harrowed spot
we shaped our lives like palindromes,
so looking back is present thought.
it’s a trap, I know, I’m trying to stay caught.
Where sorrow springs no soul can tell.
is pain the mother or the egg?
If humpty dumpty never fell?
Would he be broken all the same?
If i knew, I could tell you who to blame.
What does it mean now to arrive?
The same thing that it means to leave.
I’ll be doing both till I forget time
and in time, I trust, time forgets me.
Track Name: Octavia
With the dawn coyotes now,
Don Quixotes howl.
They’re taking theirs back.
Deluded, backtracking toward bliss
on a holy war path
So tear everything down,
burn the shack to the ground,
scatter the ash
the sun will be coming up soon,
flaming marigold bloom,
we’ve got to move fast
Baby they’re coming for us,
and they’re not our friends
incredulous, dressed in sapien skins,
and it’s hazy hurdling through the dust,
back to where it began
we are trapped in the rust of an age at its end.
And if I don’t make it out, let it be because I couldn’t save us both..
I’ll gladly return to the clay
if the teeth inside this mouth come down on us faster than we thought they would close,
we’ll die as poison in their veins.
and if they cut us down like old growth forest where we stand, it’s how we’ll go,
our roots will strengthen what remains.
Wrap your cold bones in these flags,
most use they’ve ever had
count the constellations.
The rhythms of constantine’s drums
and technocratic doldrums
sync like parts in a hymn.
If you’re listening lu xun,
it’s no illusion
it’s the song that you wept!
Organs with keys made of teeth
moan proudly our creeds,
and the tables are set!
Baby they’re gunning for us
they’ve got bags for our heads
caesar’s being revived on an ICU bed
Octavia, don’t weep for your son,
weep what’s been ushered in,
Caught in the stitch as an empire begins.
Pantheons and pentagons and crushing bones, ground into oxygen..
Crooked crosses on our breath
we breathe it in, indulge the sin, drink iron gin, and then we lick our lips..
beating the collective chest.
it’s falling, it’s falling, it’s falling,
Nothing here can be kept.
He’s trying to make it but slow go the minutes,
he oscitates and the sleep rushes in him
eyes heavy, he feels his veins tingle
his body jerks and he’s back in the sinkhole.
almost got out of the swastika freakshow.
Back at progress farm, the scientists haggle
the garden withers while the children play scrabble
is there a word that describes what we’re building toward?
Oh shit the atom split, put it on the triple word score.
growing meaninglessness in a petri dish spore.
I’m sorry now if this comes across crass,
said the ant to the man with the magnifying glass
all the power is within myself
I should be able to make it without your help
But I’m so damn tired, I know that’s my fault,
all the same, praise the lord that I’m living at all
Behind the wheel of a plexiglass pequod,
on the freeway in a jam looking for his white god,
smothered him in a flag, his the cries with a chainsaw
every war from the top is decreed by the same god.
Baby they’re coming for us,
and they’re not our friends.
The lion with ropes freshly cut, gives thanks to the mouse.
Then says get the fuck out of my house.
Baby they won’t let us leave,
we’ve been here all night.
Gaping, trapped at the scene,
of a cult suicide.
Let’s break free and run for the hills
be mountain ascetics.
and we’ll watch the paint peel from the age as it ends.
We’ll watch the flames spill over played violins
We’ll watch the landfill of an empire descend
Track Name: From Holly Hill
My New Year’s acquiescence..
Twelve month long therapy session.
Image in water,
here’s my first reflection..
I don’t know.. what to be
and another completed trip around the sun don’t change a thing
there’s just a couple things to hold.
but they’re always moving far too fast and when I have them I let go
Floating further in the outer cold..
Moon’s shifting phases
She’s shifting faces,
Says Up there’s so consistent,
but down here certainty evades us.
She don’t know.. who she is.
and no crab shaped constellation makes that any different.
And she’s running out of time.
If the sand would just stop shifting, she’d crawl out into the light..
But the nighttime lasts for days.. sometimes.
He says we’re building toward nothing,
he’s a building that’s crumbling,
with loosening rivets,
he could blow away with the slightest wind..
He don’t know.. what to say..
And no amount of strangers takes the loneliness away..
he’s trying to stay awake..
In his dreams he kicks a folding chair, makes a ceiling fan escape..
Brother.. please stay.
Here comes the impatience of the dawn,
Aided by light pollution from freeway truck-stops.
Guess nothing real should last too long.
The snow will melt from every mountain top.
And then no honest soul escapes..
Being torn out of the sky, and pulled down toward the waves..
Suspended in between the magnet and her solemn sway.
Somewhere off in the distance, I heard a voice solemnly say,
"Time is a broom behind us, sweeping our footsteps away!
Time is a broom behind us, sweeping our footsteps away.."
And there’s just a couple things.. to hold..
But they’re always moving far too fast and when I have them I let go.
And I don’t know why we’re here..
Lying on the rocks, the river ferries off our fears.
And I’m drifting off to sleep..
don’t know what's next, but rising breath, and for now that’s all I need.
Track Name: Then
Excuse the rude interruption,
but I’ve got to tell you,
this thing’s sinking quickly
and it’s gonna kill you.
Too late to solve it
with an intervention
but there are some ideas
we’ve yet to mention..
sacred string of words;
healing energy fields,
We’ve got to get you cleaned up
and out of those dress clothes
I’ll explain to you now
how the sickness will unfold..
It starts with insomnia
and a gradual pneumonia
and when you start to cough blood
they’ll quickly disown you,
and you’ll have to be open
to an uncertain surface,
to place your tired feet on,
while we perform the surgery..
Let’s get you better friend..
Let’s get you better friend..
When you ligaments break
and your anger is toothless,
with Antigone’s shame,
knowing you didn’t choose this,
some will kick out the ladders,
but most are indifferent,
and when your ashes are scattered,
they’ll quickly forget you.
The other night I looked up at Orion
and though he has no eyes,
I could tell he’d been crying..
up in darkness undying,
I recalled the time when
you held up a lantern
to a face on some money
and with comic perfection
declared its bankruptcy.
Friend, I wouldn’t worry
about which direction.
Waters are all murky,
and all connected.
And I wouldn’t fret
who comes to your shores now,
the windows are blurry
inside every lighthouse.
But my God I said
more than I meant to say,
I just get on a tangent,
get carried away…
I shouldn’t worry you
all about the future,
so often I get lost
in all the minutiae,
but let’s get you better first..
let’s get you breathing first..
let’s get you water for your thirst..
you’ll be up and at it again.
And the wheels will start to spin.
And we’ll worry about this then.
Track Name: Cascades
The sun escapes
and cascades down your face
and it’s clear there’s something wrong
Arrived by train
whole life in a suitcase
you feel you just don’t belong
does anyone belong for long
said see this snowfall’s
into nothing at all
as it dries up in my hand
we don’t spend
thinking about being in the moment
is already long since past and if you try there’s just no way
to be where you’re at
it’s a lost cause
to watch the clock
cause to be found I must be lost
if I’m to know where I am and where we’re at
is where the moment’s just passed
the question’s surely open ended
somewhere inside we hang suspended
between suns rising and descending
missed the moment caught a memory
revolving door of destinations
delusion believes in stasis
moon dances in constant stages
I shouldn’t define what always changes
Mountain tourist trap,
they walk past
Music playing in back..
might come off,
like new age sycophants
but I don’t have the funds,
to ease your conscience,
like these mystic capitalists (franciscan for-profits)
Are you present? are you remembering this?
With forest mime men
Played nine pens
decades gone in an instant,
An amnesiac trance.
On the lake docks,
stay all night; talk,
Till we’ve all but forgot
to remember the slim chance,
time takes some time off.
Don’t be mad, don’t be mad.
And don’t stop.
the times are surely far from honest,
bootstraps ego, but stay modest
form your rhymes into a sonnet,
free yourself and chant our mantras!
like billionaire philanthropists,
we thank cancer for killing one less kid,
and we thank clocks for granting us a minute
we found a path, but I’m losing it again.
I’ve a bleeding hole,
in my dry soul
a Leeward rain shadow
Hood covering my eyes.
were the slow mass suicide.
Seconds blur on,
flip book drawn,
Always time in between..
you felt fenced in
but I want to set you free.
grow on the mountainside with me.
from all those carpet daydreams
does anything still dream?
Do you know what I mean? I’m not sure I do.
I’ve been climbing high mountains trying to get home
Swimming in the genever,
The strangest dream to me occurred
That we lost track of where we were
And woke to find the forest burned.
The sun escapes
how’d it get so damn late,
Or rather early,
Where were we?
it’s much the same.
Track Name: Sloganeers
They say it’s going down
I say it’s coming up
but I suppose if you traverse a far enough distance from the earth
you’ll see it’s doing both at once…
you’ll see it’s doing neither one.
Well this thing we call love
some say it’s unmistakable
Still others claim, there’s simply no way to say
just what it is until it was
Well I don’t claim to know,
so let’s play rochambeau
And that’s how we’ll decide which definition will preside
and then we’ll do away with both..
we’ll do away with them all…
Cause I’ve thought a lot about this
and there’ s no case in which
Except we all know, there’s something we missed
but we don’t… know where.
With our copper in the well
are we imagining ourselves?
root of negative one
Two answers to the equation
but neither of them help.
I’m looking for the way out.
So is it all a rorschach test
where we’ve all pre-practiced.
seeing what we wanna see
and there are no real boundaries
only what we project?
and these things we must protect.
With so little time, who in their right mind, is prepared
with so little time, who in their right mind still cares?
Books alone in crowded shelves
the plot the city tells.
Maybe a song that can’t be shared,
is as worthless as a billionaire
is to everybody else..
Maybe that’s all that counts?
I’m not really sure myself.
They say don’t look in the past
but the past is where we’re at
haven’t you heard, time is an inkblot it’s circular,
not linear, it’s flat.
are like a limb that fell asleep.
Still connected, tingling,
but a feeling of a place you can’t quite be.
What does it mean to mend?
to walk familiar ground?
it’s a thing that makes you think
it’s a riddle that could trick the sphinx
into leaving her own town
Where love and hate begins.
Can’t erase what’s been
To forgive is to be free
but to forget is just to bury deep
like a coal mine, waiting to cave in
Like an optical illusion
tricking me once again
to quantify love.
We cry, and shake our fists in rage,
push away and embrace..
we love and we hate.. all at once.
and neither one.
is like a house engulfed in flames
Trying to save everything, but you gotta go..
it burns too bad to stay.
That’s why I’m tempted to leave..
take only what I’ll need
like Chris McCandless in a bus,
or captain Nemo in the Nautilus
I just need some time to think
I just need some time to grieve.
From all the sloganeers..
cynical and sly
blowing smoke rings in my eyes until I grudgingly concur
So like the king and queen Pevensies,
lost in the trees
finally free of regret
before they realize… I’d left.
And I wish you could come with me
I wish you were here with me
So many mountains to stand beneath.
so many people for us to be.
And I wish things had turned out different.
a labyrinth of paradigms that shifted
There was a path, but we kept it hidden.
There was a path but it stayed hidden.
It could be going down.
It could be coming up.
Could be doing both at once,
but what I am most afraid of,
is that you’re doing neither one
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