PSYCHO​/​TROPIC

by Joshua Powell

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1.
Beryl smudge of spruce The guardrail grin of West Virginia Hex of a fog on Davis lawns Like a blossom, you collapsed in on yourself But what is the death of the body to a God without one? Forgiving your hippie daughters (there are pictures of you in uniform) Reciting components of engine parts Or singing “Kaw-liga” on the front porch And Robert’s mowed the lawn “Like shit he did,” says Dora in a rage And Jacob and I build our lexicon Two young brother bears Bound to freeze in Christmas trees as one Running it off into coal country Weekender at Blackwater Mother is somber on the phone My cousin tells me how she saw Jesus And now how he won’t leave her alone
2.
New aura of sonic flora And that corrected set of gap teeth That allow me to sing less dissonantly And I would swallow arrowheads or worse To demonstrate my empathy for how it must have felt for you To watch me at the altar once again Repeating vows through slanted mouths As all my life, I’ve alchemized your grief Ephemera of desert light! I was grown when I was five Blooming in unqualified defiance of my youth Like seven times of seventy The chariots are deafening And swinging low as I am thumbing rides To take the fire I have been prescribed The spiders are in the fallow My mother’s listless But child me, with sugar cereal, ignores her warnings Why couldn’t we with ink the oceans fill? The sun rescinds its offer of celestial hallucination And we (the prone to melancholy) Will hear the rooster crow and we will know exactly how we’ve made you feel Ephemera of desert light! I was grown when I was five Blooming in unqualified defiance of my youth Like seven times of seventy The chariots are deafening And swinging low as I am thumbing rides You are where I will go when I die
3.
Bright deceiver, O believer, coming in a cowl to kill and rob This territory is the glory of our long awaited Son of God You have no power here on this, our blue-green sphere Go back beneath, where you belong All of your dogs are dead and gone We are raising their replacements here Trans-Pacific metaphysics, conjuring a city from the reef With all satanic in a panic, eulogizing sets of gnashing teeth We’re planting sovereign flags on Pacific gyre flats Picking through the trash Making love inside thrash far off the tealer coasts of Thailand Made up with the opal black of iridescent pen shells: Your sweet seagull bride! All in favor, sign the paper Show your neighbors where you’ve kept your guns Lay them out and melt them down to farming implements to feed your sons And no less! Your daughters Turning saline waters into wedding banquet wine To stain the beard of braided brine that you will wear to wintertime A reincarnate Noah tribe on Ararat arrived! Fruitful! Multiplied! Indigo and orchid white And shined up in a gown like a thundercloud
4.
Econoline 04:21
Bravery at Backbone Drawing x’s on our hands, dreaming of big summer tour plans History of Monsters With their hooks deep in a scene, acting like we weren’t all 16 And we’d take the Econoline your dad provided Provided we make sure to bring it back full And be respectful And all those things our fathers say And at some Catholic church There was glory in our sweat for that fifteen minute set Opening for Oceana You tried to talk me off the ledge of going off to college And you’d make it another few months I promised you once that I was sure that Indy wouldn’t take But the shows in Delray are the ones I still play back when someone shouts a breakdown call
5.
Hands done up in rose gold You were a vision with a baby on your hip And prone to meddle with crystals As though you missed all other spiritual conduits And as I’m hacking at a novel somewhere Trying to comb the sparrows out of my hair I’m thinking back about the time you read my palm; And God, I hope you did it wrong Bliss? Bliss is a flak jacket Guilt is the shrapnel/coat rack I’ve since sought to expel But I fear it’s clear that I’m not a shaman So I’ll keep my “cosmic revelations” to myself I watched a revolution choke and sputter I saw depression try to kill my brother I heard Leviathan was living in a lake up near the border states And back, back off the back porch There was a demon in the bonfire we made So we formed an assembly line To cart back buckets we had summoned from the lake And even when all of the kindling had flattened We were never certain anything happened Besides the vestiges of smoke getting in my shirt And smelling of the earth
6.
Ascension 06:33
I was in your bedroom I knew you planned to leave soon With your legs like javelins And your ribcage rattlin’ The making of arrangements The stripping down naked To administer the sacrament Your last will and testament When I see the silver ring I wear I’m reminded of my family singing hymns around your bed Sometimes, “It is well with my soul” is a damn lie Is history a mantra? I never knew my grandpa And my dear old dad has mileage Will my children have the privilege? When I see the silver in his hair I’m reminded of my family singing hymns in the church where I grew up When it was well with my soul I’m told that when my grandfather died He sat up in his bed and said, “O! I see a light! It’s beautiful!” But I am less certain of my corpse Will you have to break me like a horse? Will you have to break me, like a horse? Can I just take you at your word, or will you have to break me?
7.
I was workin’ for the county when I saw her standing there With a ribcage like a washboard and with briars in her hair Alabama is a furnace and the summer is a dog And she was naked in the creek bed in the image of her god On the Dia de los Muertos, I was sitting in a bar With tequila as my mistress, when my thoughts all turned to dark So I gave up heavy drinking and stitched up my broken mouth And I felt that old conviction, so I started driving south In the clay of Mason-Dixon, in the absence of all snow Where the button buck is rutting for the white tail of the doe She is toddling in the tall grass, just as timeless as the trees Just as grungy as Seattle, just as holy as a priest I was climbin’ up to Babel, she was tugging at my jeans Said, “You can’t ever get to heaven if you don’t know what heaven means!” “It’s not peeling like a paint job, it’s not brushed under the rug No, it’s much deeper beneath the floorboards, in these trenches that we’ve dug.” With a prismatic halo and emaciated legs She took all my constitution and faded back into the dregs And as the sun set on the trailers of my past and future lives The magnolias are pregnant! The cicadas harmonize!
8.
Supercareful 04:17
Cull the unwashed spirits in your skull Come and watch some basketball with me The quarter’s almost through! Soon, the reservoir azaleas’ bloom Will break this catatonic fugue if we are supercareful You, as diaphanous as dew Crucifix in the rear-view, honest and ethereal Stay! And when the rain lets up, we’ll skate And I can show you 808s and talk of evolution I dug the retro diner coffee mug Though the grounds collect like mud on ceramic seafloor And ate the holy breakfast that you made And watched you do your hair in braids, ever super careful
9.
Well I’ve been down on the lathe I carved myself in frame And I memorized clever things to say from a tarot deck And your reading list I was so impressed And I asked about your cats As I’m enraptured by your cheekbones And the way you are so self-possessed I’m no good at this But in your sanskrit eyes I am wrapped in white And laid in the earth With a rosary in my hands What are these yokes even worth if I’m shouldering my half with a ghost? Well, I am a crow in mourning: Broke down, stiff, and taking the winter drugs I take to not hate myself It isn’t going well But you? You’re something else You are sand in my fist You are snow in my mouth But religion’s a bitch and my mother prays with instant results I don’t want to wake the neighbors through these thin walls
10.
'59 Tomahawk 06:47
The way that “Montauk” feels in your mouth To conjure white sands and moto jeans As though we all somehow got greyer-eyed on Halloween The all-white quiet of Meadowlark Woods Split clean open by Mossberg report And the downy barn owls, palmetto vexed, become a sport Lavender in a wreath around your head Safely hidden in the monolith Sacred horror sleeps it off in fits There are islands of lucidity But we’ve been proven irresponsible And I am hardly jettisoning gold with no excuse Lavender in a wreath around your head Safely hidden in the monolith Sacred horror sleeps it off in fits Twisting slowly from the black lagoon Smoking flower in an azure plume Having finally found our quiet room
11.
chakra #6 05:38
In your screaming ultraviolet brain The messenger of the bad moon comes down Says, “Little babe, you’re in retrograde! What happened to you? When did you get so old?” In your young bride’s face, you memorize her soul like no one should have to While you know it starts snowing soon And the Series is won But you won’t see the score Twisted up like wraiths in the throat of the morning The redolence of gloom in unfamiliar rooms My brother rests off the factory line In the pre-dawn fires of middle age Rituals of solipsistic doom/ I wish I were a faith healer Blisteringly paced, without any warning Astral tripping slow/ I wonder if you know: Do vultures sing? What color is God? I’ve forgotten But brother, rest your blood Your wars are won

credits

released January 18, 2019

All songs written and performed by Joshua Powell.

Produced by Jonathan Class at Varsity Recording Co. in Anderson, IN.
Mastered by Alex Dobbert.
Arranged by Joshua Powell, Jonathan Class, Adam Shuntich, and Jacob Powell.

Joshua Powell - guitars, vocals, keyboards
Adam Shuntich - guitars
Jonathan Class - keyboards, bass
Jacob Powell - drums

Amber Everling - flute
Rob Lowman - cello
Kels Arntzen - violin
Jesse Proctor - world percussion
Nate Dugger - pedal steel

Album art by Maarten Donders

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Joshua Powell Indianapolis, Indiana

Joshua Powell is an artist from Indianapolis with a literate brand of psychedelic indie rock that is simultaneously socially conscious and spiritually turbulent. With over 900 shows under his belt, Powell blends the narrative richness of folk with a dose of hallucinatory swirl and notes of ‘00s-vintage bedroom indie, all highlighted in ethereal falsetto by his purposeful, kaleidoscopic poetry. ... more

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