Ancient Fire

by Jake Shane

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1.
I was burned and burned out But I came back again Against the black meridian Your shadow told me then That hell had been invented But it couldn’t stop the sins The orphans, the Ophelia’s The persecuted skins We ought to be ashamed To think we know what’s right Oh, baby, it’s all going to end tonight Your shining dark gray eyes Hold the image of the sun But you know that all reflection Is a lie the mind has spun While peasants dream of stone and bread And cross themselves with thunder Devils ready sharp their hooks And wait to pull them under As we struggle in the darkness To try to find the light Oh, baby, it’s all going to end tonight One still summer evening A window open wide A mother kneeling broken cried With nothing left to hide Held her son out up for God In the slant of the setting sun To the holy image haloed high She prayed him for protection That memory seared into his soul And still shines burning bright Oh, baby, we might just make it tonight Oh, baby, we might just make it tonight
2.
Swinging, Judas swinging from an aspen tree Jesus payed him back for all his loyalty There’s a brandy glass broken beneath his feet And a bottle in his hand This world was just too much for him to stand This world was just too much for him to stand Drowning, David drowning out his doubts Singing, “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out” His blues harp cast on the cold, cold ground No ink left in his pen All his songs won’t bring his child back again All his songs can’t bring his child back again Cursing, Joseph cursing his new wife’s name He didn’t do it, and someone’s to blame “It must’ve been the farmer, or maybe the priest” He mumbles as he aims his twenty-two At the dove eating bread by the statue At the dove eating bread by the statue Lying, Queen of Eternity lying on the sand You touched my eyes with your water-glazed hand Then whispered in my ear, as if I couldn’t hear “I know the Truth, follow me to find it out” But angel lady, the Truth isn’t what counts But angel lady, the Truth isn’t what counts
3.
I can see the future in your eyes it’s on fire And the buildings are burning to the ground You are so somber as if nothing is to live for And the ashes are all falling down The ashes all fall down A thousand men marching as one beating heart To the rhythm of a common progenitor Where manmade borders were touched by the soldiers It began but don’t anybody ask why for The day it was darkened with bullets and bodies And the joy in the world grew less There you were, expecting your ruin When rain led the iron sky to rust Fragmented thoughts floated inside droplets Of crystal silence falling one by one Like an ocean for an imagination Clotting just like blood before the sun My child have you lost your innocent yearning To find out what it is to exist? Have you forgotten the whirlwind you’re caught in Is as fleeting as the memories you miss? I heard you say yesterday “Nothing matters anyway All is made to perish in time And the world is spinning its demise” Well if that’s true and I were you I’d enjoy it all while it lasts And not worry about the future or the past Even the dreams of a prophet like you Could not foresee the darkness of this night I can only wonder where you are at this moment Beyond the scope of this stargazer’s sight A candle flame dances to the orchestra wind Playing sharp through a cracked window I guessed not you would go so soon And leave me here conversing with the shadows As the ashes are all falling down The ashes all fall down
4.
Welcome to the masquerade ball Come inside before the rain begins to fall Meet the Jack of Hearts, the Queen of Spades Give your coat to the butler, your hat to the maid Grab a truffle, chocolate, caviar Listen to the blind man play guitar And the Jews sound the fiddle and the cymbals all night We might be bad but the world is all right As moments flying across the room Are buried in the earthen floor Little Boy Blue leaps onto a table Lets everybody know that he’s young and able Swears the age of silver souls is over As samovars steam-dance right off the stove Rain is rapping and candles are lit Gregory the butler is losing his wits Girl in the corner on an easy chair Softly sips champagne and stares At her reflection in a crystal vase Broken on the earthen floor In flies the Falcon to find his bride Looking like Jekyll, feeling like Hyde He spies her in the corner of the room Wearing a black butterfly costume And Madame Bovary is pouring tea Telling Othello what she wants to be The chorus sings of diamonds and pearls A fool dancing the mazurka twirls One too many times and falls Hard upon the earthen floor Hollow men whimper as cards are dealt Candles on the table melt The Jack and Queen watch the game unfold Everyone squints at the stacks of gold Bets are placed and aces call Glasses clatter out in the hall The loser calls the winner a cheat Kicks and punches and the winner is beat A full house falls at the bruised man’s feet Cold upon the earthen floor Well everything eventually came to a head Nobody knows exactly what was said But the Falcon was slapped and spit and swore Barreled his way to the broken down door Over the fool on the floor he tripped Knocked the fiddler’s bow from his grip It landed on a candle and set to flame All of the cards in the gambler’s game The whole place burned from the chimney top Right down to the earthen floor
5.
Take this scarlet thread and bind it fast To this table so I can escape at last Out the window, down the tower Through the metal garden gates God knows why they’re open But there is no time to wait I must run, run away from the light Out of this garden to fulfill my appetite Across the burning cities of the plain Over the mountains to finally regain The sickness, the war, the death of my youth The cold satisfaction of knotting the noose Far from this place of unending elegance Inside a cave of fire and deliverance Where the drums beat and the woman in red Takes me hand in hand to join the dance As I grope through this grove of fruit long forbidden I long to grip what the gardener has hidden Under the rock’s rising red shadow Over the river’s sinking sick yellow Haze staining pillars forged with salt And melting halos down into asphalt Where the sailor lies with pearl eyes By the bones of the prophet who dreamed his demise And the hangman himself without disguise Hangs out with the butcher among the flies Moaning, “How many more do you need? How many more do you want me to bleed?” And the drums beat and the woman in red Takes me hand in hand to join the dance You let me get to the edge of the mount I started to think I was finally out As I entered the darkness of a distant land And reached out to touch it with trembling hands It was then that the brass began to blow Echoed the mountain, eclipsed by your shadow And your voice brought me down to my knees Stitched my hands together to plea As the drums beat and the woman in red Forced my eyes wide to watch you dance Selah!
6.
In the beginning there was God, then Eden, Adam, Eve At least that’s what you used to tell me you believed Those were the days when death never came And no one did anything anyone else could blame That was the first and last time everybody got along And even then it didn’t take too long for everything to go wrong The blood Cain tasted was bitter but it was free Now we have no choice but to bear the agony Oh where, oh where, could it be, that long lost harmony? The sentimentalists are searching among the wreckage of the past As if anything they find they will really want to last And the godless claim they’re clever but know that they are not Because they’ve lost all direction without any ‘should’ or ‘ought’ You are still waiting for Him to return with the law But I heard He already came back and didn’t much like what He saw What good is hell, my brother, for crimes already done? Why wouldn’t a good God prevent every single one? Oh where, oh where, could it be, that long lost harmony? In the end nobody knows but now everything means so much I guess that’s how it goes when you’ve got this human crutch You say you feel a presence deep down forever unknown Well some things are better when they’re left alone And while nobody is listening, brother let me tell this to you I have no idea if anything I’ve ever said is true But when I’m beneath the cypress tree all dirt and bone And you come singing softly like a river over stone Oh there, oh there, it will be, that long lost harmony
7.
05:05
I stand still in the cathedral square The muddy ground, the brutal air The lamppost lights the notebook page A poem placed inside a cage Between me and the widow’s house The vagabond, the church’s mouse And from an open door I hear Someone whisper, “The end is near” A nervous laugh, a slipping tear The silence falling over fear And for a moment it is almost clear The crackling sound so very dear That ancient fire, that one desire, within Just beyond the lamppost light Three nuns are walking through the night Muttering memorized liturgy Dried up psalms and eulogies A sidewalk child folds a paper rose A prisoner quietly changes clothes On a nearby bench a blackbird looms The wind carries a maiden’s perfume Into the widow’s smoke-filled room Illuminated by the moon And through the crack of a forgotten tomb Leaking like static at a faint volume Comes that ancient fire, that one desire, within I went to the river’s only bridge Below a shivering black image Upon each breath a silent dare Water flowing past in prayer As if this life repeats eternally I will live accordingly For deeper than the vagabond’s leather stare The widow’s longing and despair Brighter than the lamppost glare Stronger than the child’s first nightmare Quiet as the mouse underneath the stairs The ceaseless hiss of decompressing air It’s that ancient fire, that one desire, within
8.
Oh, how fortunes change like lightning strikes And consequences roll like thunder In the flashing darkness wind licks my lips Whispers in my ear to go under And from on top of the hill I hear someone say “If you go you must be your own savior” And the voices of hammers pound in the night And the stars and the flag wane and waiver But I will not throw down my cup Until the last drop has been drained Only then I’ll climb the hill one more time Lie down and wash away with the rain The bricks beneath my knees are still cold and wet with fog Like these thoughts that I can’t quite get a hold on It’s been dark for a while and my hands are hard and worn But I think I finally see the first steel shade of dawn And as I make out the lines of my shadow I know That I am still a stonemason’s son And I will lay and play my path and part Under blood and sweat and sun And I will not throw down my cup Until the last drop has been drained Only then I’ll climb the hill one more time Lie down and wash away with the rain The sun is shining in the amber sky Onto Spanish fishermen who row Toward seagulls circling the horizon Toward a promise that will be fulfilled tomorrow From the shore comes the voice of my father Nearly overtaken by the shadows Singing “If I Forget Thee Jerusalem” And the waves crashing just like a piano And I will not throw down my cup Until the last drop has been drained Only then I’ll climb the hill one more time Lie down and wash away with the rain
9.
There was a woman running naked In my dream last night Through a field of wheat and wind One hand holding a branch of fruit And the other grasping a sword She came to the edge of a cliff And fell down on her knees And in one final act of rebellion She hurled them both into the sea And she began to sing... “We shall see, greater things They will come to pass I know” A tavern of drunks in Mokroe Was having its nightly feast Some were babbling on about Babylon And some about chess and chance In rode Death on a clay-red horse And everybody hit the floor And in six swift sweeps of flashing steel He reaped what the sinners had sown As they sang... “We shall see, greater things They will come to pass we know” There’s a forest full of frozen oaks High above the coastline The leaves hang heavy like dreams That were struck down in their prime I went there just before morning To make sure no one would see And then I cast aside most my beliefs To make room for eternity But still I’m singing... We shall see, greater things They will come to pass I’m told But if they don’t And I’m not saying that they won’t I’ll keep stumbling on
10.
Farewell, you are guiltless though you were born It took a desert howling waste to convince you of scorn Climbing black walls and stepping through thorns Waves crashing and raven claws gripping the morn This is the mountain road up and down This is the ocean to swim in and drown This is the tension tuning beautiful sound It took one hundred twenty years but I have found it The stranger, the fatherless, the widow at my window Seven drops of blood dripping silent and slow Standing in mud Mississippi water flow Eyes closed listen to its rhythm, its tempo This is the broken body that mends This is the beginning, middle and end This is on what everything else depends It took one hundred twenty years but I have found it Good angel come kiss me undress my heart Seven sages, seven kingdoms could not keep us apart Walking through graveyards of ancient art I have waited for wisdom to talk and impart This is the wind that turns fire to sandstone This is where flowers throw heads back and groan This is the hill where the roan stallion roams This is the lantern in mid-morning streets This is the unknown life beneath my feet This is the circle whole and complete It took one hundred twenty years but I have found it It took one hundred twenty years but I have found it

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released April 21, 2012

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Jake Shane Madrid, Spain

Jake Shane is an American singer-songwriter based in Madrid, Spain.

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