lyrics

 

pale blue black holes

rows of small squares on
folded sea charts
remote trapdoors
marking sinking hearts
shades of palest blue where
we climbed the masts
and kicked black holes
through the one-way glass

when we struck sky
yeah it poured down light
yeah it poured down light
as if to say
you’re still part of something
you’d let go
when you sank so low
like an ember thrown
into the depths
that tried to burn
alone

beacons glow softly
then disappear
between the flashes
they whisper

i’m still here

to a boy by a fjord it
felt like love
but here the urgent sea
eats the soft light up

when we struck sky
yeah it poured down night
yeah it poured down night
as if to say
you’re still a stranger to yourself
moving shell to shell
that the rainbow’s spell
is only meant for bluebirds
and the angels

well
we still flew like we could never fall
so high the sea looked very small

trains we both missed

long good-byes like
magic tricks
left us transfixed
from separate crumbling platforms
waiting for
trains we’d both missed

i watched the meteor’s tail flash
on its way to nowhere
i’ll lay myself across these tracks
just take me in your arms
tell me i belong there

sound the bell
call the lions back
back to their kills
we’re nothing but a trick of the light
pools of blood where
time won’t stand still

and even this will pass
though you swear you’ll save it all
we’re shadows muted stars once cast
shoot me like an arrow
beyond the city’s high walls

i watched the fox’s tail flash
then vanish in the frozen air
i laid my hand across its tracks
imagined them still warm
that love was waiting somewhere

Öxnadalur 
(released november 2014)

/

all those setting suns
directions we were facing
i was born(e) a hit and run
on beams
some fools are chasing

but this could be enough
the dark above
the scene

and your voice is breaking up
can you
explain that again
why i should come back
explain it again to me

chasms

you were my favourite view
and then something changed
as things always do
we’re chasms at close range
surfaces not set in stone
but half-crystallized
a snapshot of snowswept ice
a fleeting disguise

but night leaves an open window
and in this dream
no hearts can break
so turn the lights out
and come stargaze

i’ll be
by your side
when you crack and split at the ridge
we’ll meet at the wild end
of the washed out bridge

you’ll be my favourite view
mine alone
let’s never change
for anyone

Öxnadalur

take me over your palace walls
my magic word
drifts high as my chest
my heartbeat melts a line
of helpless steps

deep
winters where the clocks crept
undersea
and left forgiveness spinning
from a golden reel
across the field
i drop my shield
and run the last mile home

(i belong with you there
i belong

ashes in the air)

but always the departures
plunging elevators with
my new lives inside
all those unkind good-byes

star of love
let your snow-streaked hair down
for me again
you are my return through the storm
my tightrope to the light
above the door

free
here i’m in a city
under siege
and there a lamb she’s gathered
in her golden fleece
you rescued me
you rescued me

but what do i do now

what new day
promises getting closer
all of those days are over
just come and climb with me
in the sun

i remember stars

how did i drift so far
from the thundering tide
a wreckage of the wishes i once whispered
to the night
i remember stars
where there isn’t any sky
i remember victories when i didn’t
have to try

i remember losing too
line for line

i climbed the only ladder
where the city streets snake
i looked down at the scores of crumpled notes
in the storm drains
i remember tenderness
if i look back too far
i remember memory before locked rooms
and alarms

i promised you the world
i promised you the world back then
destroyer of worlds
now i want my promise back

i’ll keep it to myself this time
outlaw in a coastal cave
a spell walked into red sand
beyond the reach of the waves

i promised you the world
i promised you the world back then
destroyer of worlds
you’re part of me
don’t forget

and i remember enough
of the things that you’ve pushed away
when it’s late and i feel your chill
i whisper for them to

stay
please
stay

stay
please stay

no one can break my heart
i remember stars

Katla

dreamed i was her only child
wrapped in burning blankets
on the ice
licked clean of spoiled honey
from a distant rotten hive
a boy like me can only dare to try
to be seen

but the vision was wrong
i sold it for a song
its colours were out of key
horses charging the bay
aflame
all the small lights swept away
i’m ready to see you now

i’m ready to see

in the path of her last false start
no one’s holding their breath
all we have are these pounding hearts
and whatever comes next

dreamed i was a lonely lake
wrapped in quiet miles of unmapped space
from cradle to caldera
passing notes from cage to cage
a bird like me can only dare to try
to fly free

in the eye of the song
i’m already gone
but maybe i won’t draw your fire
singing your name
because i’ve loved you from far away
but it’s only far away

i’m ready to see

in the getaway car

in the getaway car
i am guilty
but only of watching certainty fall apart
behind me
and picking up steam
where the fjords flank me
blocking signals
and pardoning crimes
that drove their knives to my side
those old wounds
start singing

then i’m blinded
and even darkness is sparkling
in your open palm
is where my stolen heart belongs

come run away
let those tired reflections go
bomb the dams
and let the rivers flow

in the getaway car
i am traceless
traceless as streams deep
under abandoned farms
and maybe
just as cut off and faceless but
i run clear now
swimming with sparks
that kindled a kindred heart
old lava is glowing

then i’m blinded
and in the darkness i start again
in your open palm
i’m finally sure what side i’m on

so here it is

the slow approach
i’ve surrendered
i’ve come alone
with my hands above my head
and i am free
i’ll take my chances
and let them take me

Hraunsvatn

ghost
come match your shape to mine
a stone chained
as if it might fly
no prisms corroding
my sight
the blizzard of code
regret writes

arctic terns bow
in awe
and i am the man that i saw
once long ago in her eyes
cast up against a blank sky

i remember your soft voice
it had me
tumbling down on black tape
to the valley floor
oh the heights and the depths that we’ve known
i’ll follow
your fathoms
clouds sounding below

all my thirsts gone dry
victory day
final flight
from Þverbrekkuhnjúkur’s bright peak
i know what’s expected of me

(all you gave
and all i owe
swore my love was as alone as you
cut the lines
dropped my pack
sent a note and you
sang it back to me

all my lost blood
flowing back to me)

i remember your soft voice
beside me
you sent your fastest foot soldiers to find me
i will bring Jónas safely back home
i’ll follow the old track
blood under the snow
i’ll follow
the earthly weight
stripped from our bones

a lakeside
the walls of my heart
overthrown

i know it’s real

some distant part of me remembers
where the missile silos are concealed
the place all endings are imagined
i know it’s real
i know it’s real

but there must be time left
to confuse the coordinates
where the whirling birds nest

but how can i climb when i’m tethered from below
a silhouette cut from a glowing window
the other life i’m letting go

call
i won’t turn around
i faced us backwards even then
so this can’t be happening now
it’s just an echo’s end
waterfall
can i be renamed
the old underground’s been locked and sold
songbirds bursting up from the snow

here
time returns
the days and nights you stole

can’t i have just one kiss
was it always so dangerous
was it all that first hit
and the fallout that preys on the sound
of the all clear

i sing a few songs to a tattered atmosphere
but more and more
i disappear

call out
i won’t turn around
all those telegrams were sent
from a phantom finding now
and if not now
when?
waterfall
can i be redeemed
blood vessels drinking up the cold
songbirds bursting up from the snow

here
time returns
the days and nights you stole

the valley’s beautiful tonight
i watch the stars take up
their shields
and no one else needs to believe it
i know it’s real
i know it’s real

a way to get by

all those villages drowning
linking arms
as floodwaters rise
show me a way to get by
i need a way to get by

time is hung in a darkroom
your aching smile
high on a wire
show me a real good-bye
i need a real good-bye

one that won’t change its mind
swinging for the fences
for separate sky

i once found love
but lost it all because
the landslide swallowed both of us
as starving love does

after all that we’ve been through
to think i thought
i knew
we reach out into night
and hope our aim is true

guardian of the silver mine
promised you i’d throw you a line
show me you’ve stayed alive

show me you’re still alive
that love got to you in time
the glacier advances
the battery dies
we’re collapsing worlds
we’re shells protecting pearls
caught between what could have been
and all that we were

after all that we’ve been through
i know that we
can do this
we reach out into night
and hope our aim is true

spilled more blood

never thought you’d lose your way back home to me
i bled a trail along the mountain pass
fled so fast no map could hold its potency
yeah i cut my X’s low and hard

and all i’ve done is spilled more blood
the drifts are deepening
on the switchbacks
below the peaks

miles up H________
i walked on mirrors
a horse was drowning
the glass broke underneath me
a hail of arrows circled
waiting on my word

oh mercy
you left it up to me

i’ll always come
to spill more blood
for the route you braved for me
where the cliffs repel the sea

it’s going to take more and more to stop
the infinite crush of insects
gaining on the moat
i fall back unprotected
attached and disconnected
i let you through
then i lit the fuel

it’s so much simpler than we thought
hope waits
where we’d almost given up
as patient as the land

the inkwells
overflowing
the rivers never knowing
always writing
always erasing

tunnels to villages

bring my lost senses up to speed
let the roar of the exits
wash over me
or i stop just to feel the weight
yeah i stop
just to fill a space

and there’s a ghost i keep passing by
he’s like a long distance call
stalled in the sky
i recognize his face
it was drawn
then it was erased

oh, tunnels to villages
the wounded wend their way
home
under the avalanches

oh landslide
block my way
pin my shadows in
starless places

when i leaned towards the sea
and the gale cradled me
the last ceiling pulled back and faded
(the name of the world
became my own)

oh, tunnels to villages
the guilty hiding their
gold
under the avalanches

oh, i’m ready for something
(footprints have formed again
between me and my
hit and run twin)

and on the outskirts i float
waiting for night to close in

depth charges

i wish i could take it back
the way i left you then
i flooded the tanks and ran
phantasms at force ten

i dropped like a knife
for years i just scraped by
curled up
bow down
half blind

don’t know where you are
but sometimes a depth charge
stirs my
ancient sonar

as fast as i dared to drive
the icy roads
ghost white
rose up from the river bed
your long dead star
reeled me in

the glittering lights
and faces i crept by
eyes wide
skipped and stuttered

i’d surfaced behind a melting projection
banks where
flags once fluttered

it’s like the more dead reckonings i take
the more i fail to see
that in this life of mine
you’re lost to me

except us dreamers

dreamers
where do we end up
staggering out into the sun after
some desperate final run
we’d never dreamed of

maybe i’d wake up
drag myself from the burning plane
no log books
just a wall of flame
where my dream was

but the waking life has nothing over this
in the sweetest light
there would always be a dream i’d miss

heard your voice through a crack in the ice
a frozen ribbon in your hair
i knew i carried a great weight
more than you could bear

each night i found the waterfall
through the rows of newborn trees
no lightning strike
of brutal truth
could have stopped the likes of me

though the rocks rumbled far below
i came as close as i was dared
it took a while to realize
i’d already fallen there

up to the meadows by the ruins
the aurora held us tight
forget the curses we both hide
will you stay
will you stay tonight

there is nowhere else but right here by your side
as your body melts
i freeze

but all dreams will fall
they’re running out of time
so just spend it all
with me

there is nowhere else
(diving down now)
there is nowhere else
(there is nowhere i’d rather
brave the flames to save)
but all dreams will fall
(but all dreams will wake and fade)
so just spend it all
(so just spend it all before we burn
this precious chance
away)

dreamers
where do we end up
staggering out into the sun after some
desperate final run
we’d never dreamed of

diving bird /portal

where low waters sing
is an animal king
whose anxious heart quiets itself
away from the cruelty of love

tracing contour lines
tracking black into white
running silent and
on all fours
i climb to the side of your soft shores

and cache away a diving bird
in a shallow grave
a coin to close the lid
the toll you took
i hid
a heart that’s spent can still be saved

i’m on my knees
airships pass over me
when did it become me against them
shovels scraping the roof of the den
i held your head
yeah i stayed with the dead
i imagined our final stand
will it make me a better man

have no fear
the portal’s core is cold and clear
and this end opens wide
amid the fireflies
where i first dried your frightened tears

it’s okay
a single arrow can bend
and break

but a diving bird
is nothing but a blur
wild music
in its wake

no ghostless place
(all lyrics © eric howden (raised by swans), 2010)

we were never young, sheet music

we were never young

from every room hearts spoke through walls too thin to hold
the weight of what they heard
so fires crept through spaces long left soft and blurred

notes pushed under the doors
frozen to the floor we believed everything
leaves blown beneath the eaves
whirring like a nest of wound-up starlings

we were young
we didn’t heed those things
if birds were singing we were loved

we were young
like the universe
like our mothers were
like these words

hail of arrows

sleep and forget until the names we knew are
bodies walled in a doorless room
and we won’t turn back
clouds of sparrows are startled into flight
as a hail of arrows is unleashed at the sky
and we won’t turn back

so here we go

this might curse our luck
these mirror-haunted hallways
we’re echo-testing for a hole we’ll never find
so let’s just close our eyes this time
i will love you always
i wouldn’t lie
i wouldn’t lie

so pour me out on the eastern coast where the water’s cold as a mermaid’s ghost
and the long days hide
and one of these nights we will bloom in the trees
push our old sick hearts from the roots to the leaves
and then open wide

so here we go

this might curse our luck
these mirror-haunted hallways
we’re echo-testing for a hole we’ll never find
so let’s just close our eyes this time
i will love you always
i wouldn’t lie
i wouldn’t lie

locked hearts keep lost time

’cause it’s hard to lay arms down
in the arms of the one who lays you bare
but if we don’t shield ourselves
then we won’t have to fear the arrows

secret garden/ s.c.

my love buried its young with
just one question
it broke the spell
i’ve bitten my tongue but
it’s set in motion

i pulled a rope and rang a bell
when you carved your neural runes into my spine
and then you lowered a light for me to decode them
i dug through miles of tangled earth to say i’d try

in your arms i’m silver air and sleeping pills
but you draw your tripwires with poison quills
the garden awakes
you’re drawing away
i’m drawing my first breath
but roots hold tight like traplines
they carry a lot of weight

don’t save your strength for the end of the dream
all you’ll have left is please don’t leave
please don’t leave

easier

we were never meant to be apart
every step we take is getting harder
for all your promises pinned like ribbons to your bed
tell me
why’s the ice so thin around you
you say it gets easier to fall right through

suddenly we felt the night go numb
stalling as the lightning cut the horizon
and all the miles went dark between the city and the stars
tell me would you leave our love behind
you say it gets easier to throw the fight

my heart is taking off

night fighter

look down upon the coastline
the airstrip strange and bare
just let the instruments slide
the radio dead air

back when you were young you knew the words
now they’re just a distant hum
the sun was bright behind her
the memory’s here somewhere

and you and i will fall too
from the beauty of it all
you’re coming in so low now
close your eyes
relinquish the controls

and you and i will fall too
from the beauty that we once knew
you’re coming in solo now
close your eyes
relinquish the control

loop and climb
lake of fire
dive deep
dive deep
trees and sky
her eyes
sleep
sleep
sleep
sleep

by an ion

when you crawl to my side
you’re like a wounded bird
with your wings weighed down
you’re somehow smaller than you were
but all of it was real to me
’til you showed me
we were make-believe

why are we not accelerating
pedals down
our pulses racing
particles kaleidoscopic
fireworks dreamed by an ion

now the charges are laid
the poles have swung away
and right at the split
you might just feel some pain
or maybe you will realize that
i’m small enough to slip your mind

how do these hearts unfold

when strangers meet
they seem more real to me
wide open spaces and consciences clean
and to what end must i protect
the boy i used to be
who thought a home where only silence falls
no clock inside its walls
could dodge a wrecking ball

locks blocking strangers both ways
what kind of safety’s that anyway

i could have risked you love

how do we stand our ground
how do we say we’re brave now
i am waiting on your command
a blindfold between my sight and your sleight of hand
how do these hands hold
how do these hearts unfold now
never knowing the ways they can
a blindfold between the night and Neverland

you will come back to me

the waiting’s over

no more oceans left
reserves have all been tapped and spent
so raise the floodlights

shipwrecks on the snow
they seem so small against the glow
we struck the night blind

now opened wide and robbed for pearls
there were signs
but we stormed the doors
where once slept a sinking continent now
there is nothing more

i would wait for you
but something tells me that won’t do
the waiting’s over

start it again
start it again
drown out all light
the love this day
would desecrate
lost in time

old fires

no shadow beneath my feet
no trace left on the ground
i used to think that our hearts could beat
the speed of sound

we’d soar past the crowd like angels
hardly visible
and back to the times we’d time to kill
darling
it’s criminal

only if i’d only kept if only to myself

starlight hide your warmth
although the wolves cry at our door
and days get older
the night is young
vanish like the moon without the sun

we stretched like a sunbeam across the sky
no end in sight
who would have thought a heart could break
the speed of light

entwined in the night like animals
hardly divisible
my shadow has not rejoined me still
darling
it’s criminal

morning without warning
cut the moorings
push me out

starlight hide your warmth
although the wolves cry at our door
and days gets older
the night is young
vanish like the moon without the sun

old fires burn young again tonight

the past is the prey

love
you promised me
then you led us deeper into the trees
and looped the trail where it traced the thin air
when you track the old days
remember the game

the past’s not always the prey

and we numbed the earth’s skin
when we tried to strike a spark
never known where to begin
staring backwards from the start
and the needle skips and spins
stumbling from blind to blind
let them hunt us down again
i will keep us safe tonight

on and on
you told me i was wrong then
please tell me i’ll be wrong again
a heart behind glass
in a tower of stone
i smuggled the spark
that led the forest fire home

and we numbed the earth’s skin
when we tried to strike a spark
never known where to begin
in the landscape of a heart
and the needle skips and spins
stumbling from blind to blind
let the tables turn again
i will keep us safe tonight

safe
we’re safe tonight
above the earth
an arc of escaped light
the first time we’ve been lost
to second sight
the sky’s the blind
for a pair of newborn kites
you told me i was wrong
please tell me i’ll be wrong again

longer shadows, shorter days

left behind when summer’s over
in quiet lineups by the lake
cheating hearts descend like clouds of falling leaves
to lie and rot and wait for rain

summer heat will you drain your blood from me
into lawns and limpid pools where your kiss was young and cruel
cut by cut and play by play it will always be this way
summer love

if i could only hold your heart
and never beat again

someone’s breath against your shoulder
someone’s voice to say your name
just as long as someone’s there to break your fall
longer shadows shorter days

if i could only hold your heart
i’d never beat again

there’s hope yet

the mornings you stole away
i kept my eyes low
let you break my heart
you break my heart

her ceilings and sandbars
locations unknown
we’ve gone way too far

tiny creature
brave the vents below

hey
there’s hope yet
there is hope again
it sails through vicious storms my love
hey there’s hope yet
and if you believe that
then sail those wrecks to shore my love
hey

i’d almost forgotten this
we’re anchored alone
in a lake of stars
a lake of stars

north of light’s end

from this moment
there is nothing left of us
maybe there never was
much point in hanging our hopes
high like daggers
aimed to pierce the earth’s core
who were we falling for
before we broke we glittered in the sun

one day
you’ll slip past the sleeping guards
through the gardens of drowned alarms
swallow me in your swan dive
fly from this house of cards

north of light’s end
where the curtain falls
we’re nowhere at all

one day
you’ll slip past the sleeping guards
through the gardens of drowned alarms
signal me through the cell walls
sing to me from afar
a siren in an ice storm
at the end of the world

all lyrics © eric howden (SOCAN)

 

home