by Cricket Blue

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Elspeth Cricket Blue wield words like a weapon designed to pierce the heart. The lyricism on this record is intricate and sprawling and achingly beautiful. The sort of beauty that stops you in your tracks; the sort of beauty the knocks the wind out of you. Favorite track: Corn King.
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kshred I perused my followed bands today to see what I'd like to pick up for bandcamp Friday, and was reminded about Cricket Blue. I stupidly threw this album on and now I'm having a terribly unproductive afternoon because this is so beautiful I can't tear myself away. The songs are so interesting, and the lyrics so good, there's simply nothing for it but to sit here and listen.
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Oracles 01:05
when your mama made her mind up your parts should be combined, did she ask herself whether that was kind? (fingers in the viscera; jelly on her skin) from haruspex or sonographer ask what was coming? run to Delphi, mothers — what a thing to be — setting rolling all these stones involuntarily run to Delphi, mothers — what a thing you do — weeping to release someone who surely will weep too
June 04:57
I’m reaching out again, but not to ask you ‘round. (Object of my honest prayers and wishing coins tossed down.) I’ve been thinking on my spiteful curse, when, on that April first I’d expected to enjoy, you couldn’t use your words. (Oh, modern boy.) So do I deserve amends? (The lake-swell gnaws the land. The line of vision ends. The coin stays in my hand.) Jack, my guy, your June’s getting by. Above the unclean stove, I hung a crayoned paper doll. Been worried flying ants are hiding in the wall. There are these lengthy stretches I forget to think of you at all. (O Bernadette, O Augustine: am I still a bright bouquet? Make me a billow, or make me a boat — I want away, away, away.) Forced by the blinding fog to wait by the highway-side; hiding away in some hotel as all our clothing dried. Always known I’d be a long-haul gal. And was I wrong to tell you, that twenty-fifth of March, talking arm-in-arm below the arch? Did I tear apart the spell with a small, unwelcome sound? (Bless the ugly dog heavy on my socks as I write this down.) Jack, my friend, your June can fend. My poetry’s online now. I’m approached by graceful men. Cross-legged, from the porch, I’m spying on the hen. At times, I take you up, but always lay you down again. (O Agatha, O Valentine: a lamb’s gone astray. Make me a billow, or make me a boat — I want away.) Jack (who was mine), your June is fine. I set out all your tasks for you, signed my little nom de plume: eat your daily bread in quiet; lift the windows of your room; learn to slow your skittish breathing (which’ll worsen, I assume); and throw away the fits and worries that you bury and exhume. And when you start to panic, when you have some afternoon — come and see your June.
Psalm 05:26
Down by the river I sat and wept when I remembered Zion. There on the poplar I hung my harp, my songs all to forget. Play us a song, new lover said. Take down your harp! Take up the pen! But no song of mirth to sing again, for all songs came from Zion. May I lose my hand. May my tongue cling to my mouth. Oh, Jerusalem, leveled to the ground. All this garlic sprouting yellow should have died, but it thrives. Lay my head on some new pillow; I don’t cry. On the daybed I sat and wept when I remembered Zion. Was Zion my mirror? What did his hands look like? What is a poplar tree? You feel so tired, my comfort said. And all things wild must go to bed. The paint gone dry, the yeast all dead. I hang my harp for Zion. Did I lose my hand? Does my tongue cling to my mouth? Oh, Jerusalem, would you know me now? All these houseplants growing flowers — are they bad? And these dogs who’ve lost their mothers, still they’re glad — are they bad? Is Zion safe? He said he’d drown in Jerusalem, my wild town. Draw the shade; it’s far from here. It’s all okay; it disappeared.
Milkman 03:47
I came to know the milkman when each day he would come and trade the bottles, air for full, to run upon my tongue. A glass of milk will grow the bones, will fix the ill, and feed. And his milk is the freshest; it’s the only milk I keep. Hot milk warms the lip of the reliquary mug. I bring the warm lip to my lip and do not think of love. It’s friendship puts me on the stoop, planning things to say, and warmest friendship makes him tip his hat and say Good day. And so I set an ordinary chair in the shade, invite him to stay. Each time says he can’t right now. Each day the clock runs through, I will it go to then. We hold the milk in common, for that’s what makes a friend. All my thoughtful letters sent must make the man feel light, like I feel when I think of him and imagine his reply. So I set an ordinary chair on the floor in front of the door. I can’t let you out.
No Carpenter 02:48
Out in your backyard, ‘bout a month before this flood, we stumbled on things tossed away, sunk and defunct in the mud. You took a little box: burned, or caked with grime. Didn’t know what to put it in to make it peel, reveal its undershine, or know what to put in it, what it could safely hold. My best friend, for you, I am trying to get everything said and told. To say: Though your flare from the shore fills the ocean with shadows, I am too fixed on the moon to climb away clear of the tide. Far nearer than that sky your eyes are plainly led, where even lines in parallel converge somewhere up ahead. Am I walking too quick (weighed by no carpenter’s load)? I can’t build a home, though I can pave a road. Late in the rainy season, I wandered back to where you dug in your heels and asked for my plans for our frame and foundation — as if I knew. Though I didn’t tell you anything untrue, still, I am saying I lied. Here there is a box, hollow on the floor. My fierce revelation, I’m trying to want what I wanted before. There’s a roof over you, there’s nothing of mine in your drawer, and I promise I’m glad for the light that shines under your door.
Elliott 05:07
Elliott come in his raincoat to see me. Elliott, holding a damp paper torch. It wasn’t long before I dreamed of Elliott lying in wait on the step of the porch. I bring out the bottles and all of the garbage; who should I find in the street in my mind but Elliott, walking out late in the lamplight, grinning to see me in all my surprise? But he don’t mean any harm, and strangers are dangerous only when you play the part, and you feel you were cold in the blood of your heart. Elliott come to the sidewalk to see me. Elliott knows all the ways I walk home. Wherever I’m crossing, there I will find Elliott parked in his car with his sunglasses on. Everyone knows that you shouldn’t tempt Elliott, your body as wet as a peach on the tongue. When you’re feeling tired, he’ll come to unburden you, the burden a virtue to fold in his palm. But you’re not the only one. It’s probably your vanity making you feel so alone. And he’s already gone, and what harm was done? It wasn’t long before I dreamed of Elliott, his presence run through me, a tangling thread. I dreamed his desire had thrived on indifference; I tried it on like a beautiful dress. Everyone knows when you don’t deny Elliott, when none of your words feel as good as your own. You’re a frog swimming in boiling water. You answered the door when you shouldn’t be home. But what if you were wrong? What once felt like graciousness pulled back the sheet you had hung. If you wouldn’t have thought, then he wouldn’t have come.
Straw Boy 03:25
And I haven’t told our friends a thing, still sacked out on the floor. Fog is on the pitch pines when I sneak out to the shore. I bring your ruthless letter, and I like the way it ends: Care less for humankind — worry more about your friends. The sun is strong on a straw boy, and shame burns even in the shade. Would you look at the mess I’ve made! I’d just been dumped in Dublin. I returned a lady’s glove, and I summoned up for trial my illusions about love. I did some dire songs to set my evidence in place and, when someone kissed me lazily, said: Miss, I rest my case. Her arms were tangled for a straw boy. She’d learned to never feel afraid. (Said so on her shoulder blade.) With my sick and famous lover, I won’t say that I was kind. She gave me gruesome poems that still jangle in my mind. I learned some ocean creatures must swim constantly to breathe, and she couldn’t let me in, but she wouldn’t make me leave. She pushed a pin into a straw boy as misbegotten music played for us, in retrograde. Come fall, I’ll fly to San Francisco; there’s a girl in a white cloche hat. She skims me like a catalog, and I like her most for that. Her pen spins like a compass back to sadness, for a dare. That last time that I met her, she was barely even there. She hums her blues to a straw boy; her colors, vividly displayed, all set to run and fade. And so, with buried feet, I watch the sun and ocean mist engulfing crowds of people that do not know you exist, as flocking gulls come inland, swoop, and spy the wild corn king who once knew where he stood — now, he doesn’t know a thing. The seasons are hard on a straw boy.
Corn King 11:57
I. In the middle of my room, by winter glass lit and dappled, I sat till passions had passed. I, coronate; I, insouciant as the freeze over the land, and well-content. II. But something came and knocked the pane, set rushing my raptureless blood. I stepped outdoors to find my course made sweet with the sun and mud. So, what is this that skips and reels? A tumbling flag, come torn from its stake again, now to tremble against the ground and shake the heart awake. And who is this, with beads so blue, who walks where the seed is outbroken and grown, full as a furnace and soft as a star, like none I’ve ever known? And through me it rose up, enkindled, a bolt through the dark: my heart, leaping crazy, as, begging, you sang through the park and praised the ghosts of radio who taught you how to go in disguise, to murmur as if purposeful with artful streaks of dirt around your eyes. Saw you rise above the lagging breakers of the lake behind, like a pillar hung with heather and with eglantine. Oh, my radiant, oh, resplendent tower risen up among the beasts at the feasting hour. And when I rose, I rose to you. And when we lay down, how the floodwaters rolled and clutched at my tattered, insufferable heart, made riotous and bold. I learned, in turn, to dip and wheel, a gull in the tempest, to eddy and fall against so vast a sky as yours, engulfed, and oh, so small. III. And I recall: how you pried it open, the old plastron cradling my soul; how you stripped me clear down to my waist, and, after my hatching, your turntable scratching a languid tango all over the place; how, mostly uncovered, remembering the others — a flame on the finger, a beak in the eye — I thrashed till the morning. Like robins soaring away over corn went we, weary, but wise. (Wildness in your wild mind, and I stuck by your side, playing mute and blind. Didn’t you seek? And didn’t you find?) Dawn-struck and grinning (but quiet) we moved in the kitchen — despite our condition, un-slowed — and stashed packs of matches away in my autumn’s-blood jacket for later, out there on the road. We drove through the country like specters — my sweet resurrector, the pillows, the pill box, and I — in a waltz across fault-lines, spilling forth joyful like bees swarming up to the curve of the sky. IV. I would this body, dense with dust, would turn as clear as sky: you’d see I love you as I must and need no longer any trust nor fear for any lie. More bright than the bright silent summer moon — more long than the long scarlet contour of Mars — aren’t you my only one? No love was there ever like ours. The silver chain will brown with rust, the hound lie down to die, till orange blooms in gorgeous lust have broken from the frozen crust of ashen months passed by. V. On that cold, yellow hillside, got warm on the inside, the fog of our breath gone stretching like smoke to the cloud. Then you took me out walking away from the squawk of the rubber, the rod, and the spoke to find in the pasture a picket of ash standing sunk and alone in the blue of the gley, and that’s where you faced me, saying Oh, baby, this is the way, oh, this is the way. (Waning white in the blue light of dawn, so sure that when you die you won’t be gone. Aren’t I a child for holding on?) Straw sticking out from my wrists, I shuddered and twisted and hung o’er our lambent domain, ghastly and bloodless — and yet, so in love, so pathetic and grasping. At last, you explain (pin-piercéd as there were a raven fierce ravening your bones) that you (you alone) will be born by the flame. Enkindled completely, commorient, and sweetly, in mutual mourning, the king I became. How dark blew the dust that she danced on with horseshoes and thorns! To think on the smallest or largest is more than we are formed for. As reapers throng to see the phantom’s form, she opens wide her newborn eyes, and still she sees the shorebird standing still, and still she stands inside the tide, and slender limbs still quiver on the breeze where she has blossomed back to life. Who died to be the soil and decay? Who died to be the seed and rise? And still the earth returns, in fruit and chaparral and ferns, the suicides: how they shine! how they shine! how they shine! VI. Your interminable birth out of earth, out of sun, sends you searching for your ghost, half-asleep, on the run. You, the wandering star that I tumble around till the contents of my clothes are returned to the ground.
Little Grays 01:59
little grays the scissors are saved how happy I am to hold them oh my god the kitchen in flames how happy that I was home then throwing your book in the driveway running back in through the door I can’t remember how I opened the drawer little grays the sirens each day where they are going, I couldn’t imagine now, the cobwebs are gray covered in ashes washing the dust off the dishes sweeping the dust from the floor heart full when I find the scissors I thought were all gone
Burdens Down 04:14
Shoot straight. Be kind. All this in mind didn’t help dispel your electrical storm, fuzzy and far away. What the hell? Met you in media, resident of a connatural cold, your head in a cunning cloud, your hammer of gold. Got used to you lank in the spring: recovering, dragging me to shows, burying glass in the ground, barring entry to rooms I couldn’t know. Used to be scared of getting a call — it wouldn’t be you, just your dad or your mom. I’m not scared now; somehow you got strong. (But I catch myself angry for the kid that you’ve been. Wish I’d been there, all grown up, to keep an eye out for him.) Lead in your soil, to bloom where you fall, handing burdens down and down — that be the verse and the chorus come around. Talked a long, long time, then you’re done, turned inside, your disinterred fossil dissolves into sand, and the drag, the resistance, salt on my wrist — it's good, just like this. The table abandoned, you search for your shoes and you rewrap the bandage and bolt out, headlong — (‘Round comes the burden of your song.) So we’re bound but unbound by the ties that we string. I don’t need to know anymore, anything. Work of each moment and moment and moment, laying burdens down with you. Love you, my broadcast-already-in-progress, I do.


released May 10, 2019

Cricket Blue is Laura Heaberlin and Taylor Smith.

Additional musicians:
John Dunlop | cello (all except 8, 10)
Sofia Hirsch | violin (all except 8, 10)
Laura Markowitz | viola (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 11), violin (5, 6)
Tessa Anderson | flute (9, 11)
Dan Bishop | bass (1)
Christopher Hawthorn | trumpet (3, 9, 11)
Dan Liptak | clarinet (6, 9, 11)
Robinson Morse | bass (2, 3, 6, 9, 11)

Recorded at Beehive Productions (Saranac Lake, NY) by Jeff Oehler and at Studio 150 (Burlington, VT) by Christopher Hawthorn. Mixed and mastered by Jeff Oehler and Cricket Blue. Artwork by Leslie Fry.


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Cricket Blue Burlington, Vermont

Indie chamber folk to make you weep into your tomatoes.


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