The Language of Stones / Snake / Crow / Riding West

The Language of Stones
words & music by Geoff Bartley 1994 & 2003
Published by Joshua Omar's Music BMI All Rights Reserved.
With Grateful Acknowledgement to T.S. Eliot.

Snake / Crow / Riding West
Timothy Mason 2003 All Rights Reserved

The Language of Stones (first verse, spoken)
I watch for the snake charmer, with her burning eyes & fertile belly, standing on the riverbank at noon or midnight, wreathed in the smell of birth & the notes from a wooden flute. Here where the forest opens, the leaves & petals are luminous, edged in silver, poisonous & medicinal. I would be the surface of the pool to see both worlds at once, as self-contained as the snake, to be at home in my skin, at home on the mountain's face, drinking from clouds, talking with the dead, jiggling with Holiness, every sinew spitting sparks!

Snake (spoken)
I am a snake. I live in the cracks, the spaces in between. And since the dawn of time I have warmed my blood, sharing the heat the stones retained, cooled myself in moist crevices secreted in the fissures created when the earth settles & your abodes do not conform. Down here the world is silent & sensuous. I taste the changes in the air. The earth tells me what's afoot. I bathe in vibrations & scents, eat only what I kill. I embrace the dark & light, nurture my venom with the secrets of both, strike like lightning, then withdraw. I haunt your myths & dreams. My individualism awes you. I am to blame for seducing you to Knowledge. I wrap your Healer's Staff. My juices cure & kill. But I am a simple being, seeking to master nothing but my own survival. I find those secret folds in the womb of the planet, match my heartbeat to the pounding tides & hammering pile drivers, tune myself to the earth's enduring. And when it is time for me to grow I leave myself behind; watch me while I shed my skin!

The Language of Stones (first chorus)
I am learning to speak the language of stones. Like rivers over rock, life flowing in the bones, a fire in the wind, an ocean over sand. I am traveling home, where I first began, knowing for the first time, where I once began. Full circle, full!

Crow (spoken)
I saw a murder yesterday: the crows were everywhere, black wings beating against a blacker sky, the still air letting their caws just hang there, necklace for a storm that will not break. She sits in the grasses, a daughter of the badlands as solid & unashamed as those ancient mountains who have allowed existence to erode their edges, holding now their secrets in rolling folds of hills. Black hills, black as crows. Well I am a crow. I hang above, suspended on rising thermals. Vastness surrounds me. From up here all is silence & wind whispers. I soar free, one eye on the landscape, always in search of a meal. Food is ever a priority & despite your desecrations your road kills keep me fed. My other eye sees the nature the Divine intended in the shapes of the clouds on the winds, each shifting billowing form a microcosm of the seasons echoing the ebb & flow of the rivers before the dams. Strong & easy I fly, the substance of the air yielding as I chart distances your roads can rarely match.

The Language of Stones (second verse, spoken)
The strangest landscape begins to look familiar. I can walk this country in my sleep: signs of divination, the Maze of Emergence, the ritual dreams for saving the soul of the world. The sounds are as intimate as breath. Our lips move over the syllables like a blind woman's fingers over the face of her first-born. Insects hum at the forest's edge & the sun stops overhead. Smoke rises from a ring of river stones & the ashes are thrown downwind. The smell of sage & cedar will be on my skin forever. Everything becomes sacred. Bits of thread flutter from the bushes, as if marking a trail.

Riding West (spoken)
Riding west from Cedar City we take a left at Uvada, a one-shack town whose occupant died yesterday & won't be found til Sunday when they close the place. We're off on the trail of lost Everett Ruess, the boy who traded names with his mule & walked to the Grand Canyon hawking woodprints to the Navajos. We're off to find the legacy of Everett Ruess & his secret trail through the Escalante that led him to the ancient everlasting Anasazi, where he joined with the essence of the juniper tree that whispered seditious secrets to Edward Abbey & taught Coyote a few new tricks.

The Language of Stones (third verse, spoken)
You weary Nations, perhaps I am some new being you've never encountered before. Yet there is nothing about me you can't recognize. I live in the place where you perceive nothing. Look again! I am the arrow point that finds the boar's heart! I am the flicker of red from a blackbird's wing! I am the feathers sprouting from your most secret wounds! You will teach me of flying! I will stand on your shoulders & leap! And all will come right, I swear it. We will meet where the forest is deepest, where the night is blank & there are no stars, for I am your annihilation come to make Peace.

The Language of Stones (second chorus)
I am learning to speak the language of stones. Like rivers over rock, life flowing in the bones, a fire in the wind, an ocean over sand. I am traveling home, where I once began, knowing for the first time, where I once began. Full circle, full!

Bones and Breath

track 3

Geoff; reads & vocals, acoustic & electric guitars
Tim; reads
Matt Jenson; Hammond B3 organ
Phil Antoniades; drums & percussion
Ruth Mendelson; bass guitar


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