Listener, Take 2: Whispers of a Wooden World

Welcome to Take 2 of our Listener reaction. This week, a few of us are taking different pieces from the band Listener and writing what comes to mind. For Take 1 by Erika Morrison, click here. Today, Abby Barnhart's writing is inspired by Listener's "Wooden Heart." She does well with this piece. Really well. And after you have spent some time here, run over to her place and see just how good her other words are.

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[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/16335289 w=400&h=170]

Listener "Wooden Heart" from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo.

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Kara was a fairy child, half gypsy, made of signal smoke. I can’t remember her eyes, hair, or skin color, but the playground whispers, the stories of far away mysteries, those she painted on thick as the ink-mud we’d imagine with, deep into the darkening night, until there were only mother voices and mosquitoes left to guide us home.   Her favorite story was about the wooden world.   Here, she’d say, the trees is wood, and everything else is made all up of metal or skin. But there, her smile blooming, all’s turned backwards, upside, and down.   Trees, she claimed, of flesh and blood. People of wood, some flowering.   We only have what we remember.   Kara’s whispered words return to me on their own well-wandered time. For ages, I search in vain for her trail, a taste of that sacred story. It’s twenty years later, the sleepless third of November, when delirium and anxiety surround, a perfect storm, to carry her to me, and I to her wooden world.   It’s surprisingly serene – this nature of steel and bone. Colossal oaks, branching arms bent low, extended always for embrace. I fit just so in one hand hammock, two low-lying offshoots folded to size. I squint but see no horizon far-off, only endless plush pink sky. I see no sun, yet it seems to glow eternal, ever-setting in the warm dusk limbo of darkness delayed.   I wake from fear that night may never come, but find it deep and sticking. A clammy dampness coats my skin, morning dew come in the midst of the blackness. The urge to stretch is so sudden strong it tickles, and I rise to crack the window.   I creak. Loud enough to wake the dreaming, the shock shakes free a memory. On the welcome bit of breeze now passing, I hear Kara once again.   These is seeds from the wooden world people. She digs deep in the pit of my fist. If you swallow ‘em down, they’ll grow tree stuff in you . . . her whisper cracks as it reaches its loudest point, and you’ll flower forever and always.   We only have what we remember.   And I do. I remember.   I remember Kara’s pigtails dancing fast and free behind her as she raced me home, laughing louder for the falling feeling freedom always brings. I remember soon after, the stories fading with the light, finally stopping all together, squelched by cursed terms like “girls of a certain age.” Story turned swear word, thrown out in the same load as fancy and fable. And the spark of the fairy child all but disappeared, replaced by empty eyes of expectation. I remember the whisper’s end.   I remember, too, the hope of good grown from the dirt, and the pain of a broken whole turned to pieces that don’t add up. I fall fast from the weight of all the remembering – wooden knees meet wooden floor and there I find her seeds.   I splinter, pulling shards of past from my flesh to trade for those few magic beans. I plant rows of tree-people, a piece of myself in each plot. I wish them grown, water and tend and want only what the gypsy child promised. With roots entwined, we buoy each other, smoke signaling together, our stories building rings in the bark of shared memory.

People of wood, some flowering.

Listener, Take 1: Sacrament of Strange

A while back, Malone sent this bizarre spoken word piece by a fellah named Dan Smith, the frontman to a band called "Listener." I couldn't figure why he sent it, so I watched it again... and again... and again, until it clicked. And man, did it click. This week, a few of us are responding--maybe reacting--to various Listener pieces. Today's piece is written by Erika Morrison, and it's a well-fitting introduction to Listener. Her thoughts were inspired by "House on Fire." After you read her piece and watch the video, spend some time at her place. You won't be sorry.

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Madness, fearlessness and a message for "right now", wasn't that what all those Bible-prophets had in common? Would the same ingredients be present in the oracles of our age?

:::

In my child-eye estimation, my mama was the free-est and Spirit-fullest woman I knew. Sometimes she would just be crazy for crazy's sake, deliciously and graciously defying convention and institution. It was not uncommon to watch her get high from nothing more than a large intake of clean, country air and whoop some unnatural sound into the sky. To me it was evident that she wasn't like the other mama's around our growing-up-parts, yet all the neighborhood kids wanted to live in our home, to have her for their very own nurturer and nestle next the comfort of her love-shadowed wings. She was bright and vibrant and packed with glory and I'm sure we took for granted what she was giving us; maybe we didn't know how she was weaving us to be free, to be our own person--not ball-and-chained to protocol or must-do's or must-be's. Because she made a sacrament out of doing strange things, arced her neck and blew that weird and wild trumpet to keep the society-informed-walls at bay. She was a prophetess of what it meant to be all-the-way-alive and she didn't care what anyone thought - she stood before God alone and He craved her brand of uniqueness for the enrichment it brought His heart and kingdom.

:::

I'm hoping, now that I'm a mama, that the fire inside me continues to burn just a little to the left or right of normal so I can deposit in our kids the same thing my mama planted in me. Sometimes I intentionally take a moment out of our ordinary space and purpose myself to lose all appropriateness and let Spirit take over my body. And sometimes the Uncommon just happens and I surrender to it and am not surprised to find my feet loosed-to-run, my arms stretched far-out like flesh-wings and serpentining through the IKEA parking lot, hollering so big in front of the immediate watching world . . . and only because the breeze had just the perfect degree of balm to it and slid elegantly across my bared skin. My younger two lads watch this public display and go loud and giggly with excitement and my oldest smiles all the way to his lit-up eyes and says with a small head shake, "Mama, you're the CRAZIEST person I know." With tears of joy I told that boy-child of mine that he cold pay me no higher compliment. And I know he thinks the crazy-mama-thought when I bellow my prayers in the car while driving through the city streets or when I dance in my room to music and sing so loud my voice comes out hoarse. It's just that . . . whenever I am as close to being me as I possibly can, when I'm living like I'm naked inside, I feel dark things breaking down in and all around me. And when the son who has the most inhibitions starts hollering his prayers around the house and in our vehicle? The recognition that history is repeating itself intoxicates me and I pray these boys will forever know the fruit of letting a little wild take over, even when they're grown and the rules are miles wide and anchor deep. I pray that they will make a sacrament out of being a little strange because these world-walls sometimes feel thicker then ancient Jericho's, but when we all blow our own fearless trumpets, the stones come crashing down around our cities and we--the people--seem to break a little free.

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Which brings me to Listener. This guy? He has a seriously primitive breaker-spirit and he blows a very singular trumpet and when I watched THIS video first, his strangeness crashed into me and something ruptured open-to-wide inside my chest. I started to feel really wild again and my walls were crumbling at the audacity of his artfully expressed eccentrics and he made me feel like I could come out with all my closet-weird and be even more dangerous. He reminded me of my mom and how she would tear the walls around us just by being true to herself and not caring if she was doing things the way they were supposed to be done. And this guy, he blasts his modern hymns against the stones the world has erected, beats them down with all the passion of a undressed prophet and makes a sacrament out of being off-center. He is a little mad, a lot fearless and no doubt yells and yells the right messages for our time.

Every word of this song is crafted to connect with your deepest parts. Put headphones one, hear it close and "repeat for emphasis". "House on Fire it's called and is my favorite of all the songs and I may have misplaced an octave of my hearing while listening to it. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/28990378 w=400&h=183] Listener "House on Fire" from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo. Oh, and . . . let's all blow our own strange and fearless trumpets, eh?