[syracuse​.​]

by K. Adem

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about

These songs were written from December of 2011 through April of 2012 following a complete emotional breakdown that ate away at me psychologically for a period that cannot be qualified by any measure of time. *They were written and recorded in my basement where I locked myself away like a prisoner to my own grief, diving into the music like it would save me. All of my agony and confusion that could not be expressed with words are poured into the sounds and experiences here. While conceptual and intentional, this collection is more of a sentiment than a statement- it is the deep feeling of separation from the self and the other that can sometimes be consuming and clutter the objective I that is I. They are my stories as true stories can only by told- as stories.

*St. John’s Ukrainian Catholic Church was recorded live at Jupiter Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee and recorded and mixed by Dylen Terflinger. It features Evan Hickernell on the saxophone; direction by a nearby janitor who was once the greatest violinist of all time. Additionally, Dylen Terflinger performs on I Am Alright. I don’t even know what he does but he’s on there.

This album is dedicated to the city of Syracuse- Café 407 in Liverpool where I was shown a tremendous patience and compassion, the former C&G Music who gave me this amazing guitar a few years back, the open mic at the Baldwinsville Public Library where I learned how to play the guitar, John Lerner for providing me an opportunity to share my songs and a reason to dress up and meet girls every Tuesday night in highschool, Sweet Lou Althoff for the same reason but after I had graduated highschool, Scott Dixon for spinning a record that I made six years ago like it’s still cool and giving me a stage at the Lost Horizon when I was still chasing more people out of venues than I brought in, Mike Patrick Ryan and Garrett Knaub for letting me sit in on their gigs and learn how to play guitar with them, Jim Goldsworthy for giving me the opportunity to make a record way before I was talented enough or even self-aware enough to do so and for always listening to my new songs with active and interested ears, Mike Tarolli for opening his house to me so that I could scream the first five songs I wrote into his home studio and show it off at school, Rob Isbell for all of the same reasons (Why have I recorded so much music), Charley Orlando and countless other bands that allowed me to play with them over the years, The Scarlet Ending, Club Crystal and my first 4 hour sets where I made my fingers bleed in front of people for the first time, screaming out, “Fuck all the principalities!” before leading worship the following Sunday morning, the little diner in the village of Baldwinsville beside of the bridge where I had so many breakfasts after a long bike ride from Kimbrook, all of the people that took my stupid CD’s and listened to them, Mark Bialczak for reviewing my first EP and making me feel like it was super badass, the usual crew at Lock 24, my friend Mike McKay who I’ve had the privilege to learn how to be a musician with, and all of you filthy bastards that I love so well who still come to my shows. I love you all.

I would like to thank especially Dylen Terflinger. He has given me so many opportunities to do something I love. There are not enough words for my appreciation. Also my brother Caleb, my sister Sarah, my parents, and every one of you mother fuckers that tolerated me when I lost my mind the most.

credits

released 17 May 2013

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Track Name: Syracuse
In September, the sun doesn’t hang so heavy in Syracuse. The sky turns a different shade of blue this time of year and on select days it isn't difficult to be convinced you've discovered something extraordinary.

By November, I actually begin to ache for the cold days when snow towers above the mailboxes- when I have to thrust my hand into the thick barricades of snow that disguise my deliveries and revel in the majesty of winter as it is unveiled before me. It is like a woman in the soft light of a dying fire stepping out of her robe and into your eyes.

Sometimes, when I was still a boy, I would lie in the snow and stare up at the emptiness of the gray sky reaching out into the expanse of the universe. My hands growing cold inside cotton gloves and hairs freezing to my nose, winter's arms would wrap around my body and push her hard lips against the few strands of exposed skin and out there in the cold, with my back in the snow…

I would die.
Track Name: Nietzsche Is For Lovers
We left the cabin undiscovered, crept through the brush as close as lovers.
You crashed through the gate and we shared a laugh for a brief moment,
Then you saw the Nazi soldiers driving down the path
With their guns and their dogs- their silhouette in a great fog of dust
And we dashed for the woods as fast as we could; the shots fired piercing our ears.
But I haven’t seen you smile more beautifully than you do right here.
Track Name: St. John's Ukrainian Catholic Church
Take your hat off when you walk through the door like you’ve been here before- act like you know what you’re doing. Shake the hand of the man who is clearly in charge. They don’t get many visitors here outside of masses. She smiles in a way that’s revealing and although I can’t tell what she’s feeling, I believe that it is love.

We hold hands as we’re guided down the aisle by a quiet man to the steep stairs up where the choir sings and we part with him. I lean in to kiss you but I miss you, your face collapsed to your hands as your children are asking your husband who that strange man is you kiss when he is away.

Just then, the wind begins to roar- tearing through the sanctuary door; hymnals dancing up above us, our faces pressed against the temple floor. Then the thunder and rain like a rhythm to the faithless words we pray. The priest is screaming in Ukrainian as the storm rips him away.

Next thing I know, you are standing about ten feet away from me. The stained glass windows explode and their pieces cover everything. Freckles of blood on your face when the earth starts to shake and the ceiling divides. The black smoke pours like a flood and then when it clears you are no longer alive.

The image dissolves and I’m awake and I remember- go out into the infinite unknown. Bury your good things- from terror to terror, learn your own name.

Learn your own name.
Track Name: I Am Alright
It was a fucked up season that I made it through- nearly lost myself in substance abuse. But I am changing the lens through which I noticed you and cleaning out my old bedroom; a leather wallet on a rusted chain, I put it on- wear it around for the next few days. Memories dense like fog in my head. Apologies were made that I should not have meant.

Now I want to be whole and I am desperate to know that I am not alone. And when I sleep, I sleep tumultuously, trembling beneath the bed sheets that we bought on the day we picked out names for a child we never saw but still miss.

And inside the room where her ghost is pacing, I’m throwing windows open saying, “You’ve got to get the fuck out of my head.” Dowse the curtains in gasoline, light the place up, and start to dream that I am on fire. I’ve got a small collection of baby clothes, letters contained in envelopes, a room I never open, hopes I can’t disclose and memories I don’t show anyone.

And if I am remade, let it be in only positive ways. Let the twelve foot waves of change extinguish me, and then recreate me.

I am alright.

Pushed the feelings through a bottle or a pipe and typed down the thoughts into a few course lines. I tried, I swear it, but it’s hard to bear it alone and I’ve been staring at the numbers you put in my phone. I got away with a few small scars, the shards of broken glass splintered in my left arm and the money- all of that money stacked in the back doesn’t make up for leaving me, blood running from my ears and lips and I remember this- you left and I will die before I forget.
Track Name: I Am Not
The clouds peeled apart to reveal the moon
I connected the stars into a poem for you,
Traced my finger across the sky like a lightning bolt
Made a childish sigh, spoke your name
It fizzled on my tongue- the soft burning sensation of forgetting all about me
Danced to the rhythm of the rain drops
Stomping hard against the pavement in my damp socks,
Wearing my heart on my sleeve like the memories I am constantly imprisoned by

Your mother was an immigrant- independent of the consumer driven system
And you were raised with a passion for living simply
When it breaks, it breaks all the way
and you ruptured the main artery during the course of the love we made
I wrote a note in the back of The Prophet, asking you to reply but you never did-
I don’t know if you got it
Saw a therapist twice but I didn’t like it,
The god damn man said you were a prostitute and he’s probably right
But it’s so hard to believe in anything
When what you see is just your brain prescribing meaning based on what you’ve seen
Or what you’re told you’ve seen, or what your parents thought when you were born
But now they don’t believe

I’ve counted pills in week old clothes
With the cold tile of the bathroom burning into my skin,
Dried bile on the toilet lip- a metaphorical pen that catalogs my crimes against the innocent
I had a vision in my sleep again,
The dead rose up to eat God if he won’t repent
What are we but designed to be confined to an illusion?
And if it isn’t obvious, I’m using again to cope with the confusion of this
Dare I even ask if we really exist?
I am not.

I am not in the river but I still am drowning
I am not quite prepared when the past surrounds me
I am not more than the thin strands of fear that stitch my skin together
I am not beyond the mundane matters
I am not convinced I’ll break this pattern
I am not alive in any sense that would seem good
Track Name: David's Song
You undress and slip into the shower with such elegance that I can’t speak to the fears that are raging inside of me and if I die in this memory, I am going to hell- but you’re coming with me.

Then the levee breaks and the people mostly drown
Rumors spread like cancer across neighboring towns
There will be no survivors in the aftermath of us
We are victims to the carelessness of love

I close my eyes, get kind of overwhelmed. Somewhere in time we are still dancing, wholly unaware we will die. Raising prophets from the asphalt where they’ll bury you and I

When the fever comes like an altar call and we sweat it out naked on the bathroom floor.
You mutter prayers to a God you’ve never known and me? I pray to you but before I say amen, they are nailing you back up again.
Track Name: Journal Entries
Well, the spring months felt worse. She was dusted across the horizon in the color of every dress I could remember her wearing. I wiped the morning from my eyes and chased the whiskey with a vivid memory and in this one, I was back at the beginning when there was only our youth and the reckless ways we exercised it. Two lonely arms stretched out towards anything and, in the limitless sky, confused another pair with that which they most desperately craved. There we were, again- me in some kind of love and you crying on the stained carpet of the motel room.

I bit my lip until it drew the blood and disappeared into a memory entirely.

Little hands outstretched from the trashcan or underfed, disillusioned with existence. My father buried his into my mother’s gut; it split her apart, the whole ordeal, by the end of it. I remember facing the schoolhouse, undone by the movement of the masses in slow motion. When the door opened, I sat still and didn’t move. I was still woven tightly into the fabric of my mother’s preconceived notions.

Malnourished spirit with eyes wide open, smoking hand rolled cigarettes I think of my father on his knees on the floor so we were near equals. He tossed me around and held me upside down like I was weightless. Ageless memories trapped in a bottle neck, pushed to the top of all the rest so I don’t forget. I would laugh when I fell and he would catch me and when I’m here, I’m not afraid of you or of anything but when I reach out and through him- he is gone, like a ghost he disappears and I’m back here but I’m alone

and someday, I’ll have a son of my own. I’m the same age he was in 1988 when I was born.

It was autumn, my favorite season. Everything dies this time a year and that’s just one reason for my obsession with the thin veil that divides us from the science of the unseen things that still define us and for a brief moment, I stop believing.

It’s like my lungs become aware of themselves so I stop breathing.

I was reaching, sure- I was always reaching.
But I wasn’t reaching out for you, I want to say-
I was only reaching and I’m sorry you got in the way.
Track Name: After Jackson
Each man acts transparently, carries baggage, and exclaims their dignity or humiliation. And when I’m dead, they’ll say of me some nice things almost certainly and there’ll be some exaggerations. I’ll be laughing violently inside the box they built for me, carving poetry into the framework and when angels descend, they’ll find a newborn demon locked inside and I’ll burn every one of them up.

In an effort to forgive you, I took a bottle of Skelaxin. I sank deep into a sleep that I couldn’t leave, breathing deep and never quite relaxing. I woke up to a pain that I couldn’t explain to my hyper analytical mind and called up the preacher who told me, “Just leave her behind.”

So I was driving and trying to keep from crying, denying the facts- maybe I was the one who was lying. Counting the lines we divide cars by, wept to the stretch of exit in far off headlights where the road winds and for seconds, the present is almost palpable. Breathe in and out and in and we both are invisible-misguided stars like sparse flakes of black in a snow storm from a house fire where the kids died and nobody would buy that home.
Track Name: Learning To Drive Again
It’s been four months since you left and I’m recovering, I guess
But I’m afraid that I might wreck all the time
They’ve been starting me off slow in a parking lot.
You know, in my friends van?
I get overwhelmed with memories, pressure on all sides
The pain inside of them is all consuming
But when I press that pedal down, the idling caravan resounds,
And I revisit all the ways you screwed me

I am learning to drive again, revving the loud engine
Drown out the voices of my past with the fierce power of the present

I haven’t searched your name on Google in at least two months
And I can’t remember what you look like naked- even when I want
I even slept with someone beautiful-
Someone who wasn’t you at all;
Weaved her hair through my fingers in an unlocked bathroom stall,
Gave her my cut of the money, sent the rest to your last known address,
And I called the police from a pre-paid phone to tell them where to find you and arrest you

I am learning to drive again, revving the loud engine.
Drown out the voices of my past with the fierce power of the present.
Track Name: Get Away
I got out of bed at a quarter ‘till noon, put the same clothes on, and wrote to you in a little book that I’ve been carrying with me since you left; short notes and poems you would like or memories I walk to close beside of- you’ve got a sort of hold on me, it’s unfortunate to say.

I’ve got to get away.

Drove by your house again last week just to see it’s there and real and me? I’m still running laps around the things I thought I knew about you. When I was born, it was by mistake and I remember every day. You just had this subtle way of making me feel purpose.

I’ve got to get away

I saw the sun sink into the Syracuse sky line in my rear view mirror, looked like an atom bomb bursting and the shards of the confusing memories cluttered along with rolling papers on the dash seemed to sing out like stones to an unknown God. I couldn’t stop myself from screaming- like I was being born all over again
Track Name: The Sunset Alone
Sitting on a stone,
cast my eyes towards my feet.
little drops of life swim in circles aimlessly.

I sing a quiet song in my unfamiliar voice
these days it sounds so broken.

I watch the sunset alone.

Homemade cigarettes,
names I can’t recall
kept awake by faces of people I don’t know anymore.

I drive into the mountains on a Friday afternoon.
I don’t take my phone.

I watch the sunset alone.