The Fires I Started

by Unwoman

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about

Written in late 2010 - mid 2012.
There's also an instrumental version here: unwoman.bandcamp.com/album/the-fires-i-started

credits

released 16 August 2012

Unwoman is Erica Mulkey
All music written, performed, engineered, and produced by Unwoman.
Lyrics by others as noted.
Trumpet on "The Future, The Boot" and "The Heroine" by Perrish
Photography by Audrey Penven
Projections by Steen Comer (mediapathic)
Digitally mastered by Da5id Din at Corrosive Audio
This album was funded by you, and inspired by many beautiful fish
Extra thanks to:
Laura Perlin, Kat “Unmomma” and Ben Mulkey, Trista Musco, KC
Crowell, Elizabeth Powers, Rebecca & Ryan Coseboom, Bunny Holmes,
Devin & Val Tuffy, Suzanne Forbes, Joe Pate, and Neil Girling for
various acts of education, support, family, and friendship
Alyssa Rosenbloom and everyone in the Steam Federation, Clockwork
Alchemy, Margaret (Magpie) Killjoy at Steampunk Magazine, Joseph
Vourteque at Steampunk Chicago, Jordan Bodewell at Sepiachord,
Diana Vick at Steamcon, Gil Cnaan, Jeff Mach, Dr Q, Emmett
Davenport and Clockwork Cabaret, Pablo & Cameron and Aetherfest,
AnomalyCon, Emerald City Steampunk Expo, Ladies of Steampunk
Calendar, Cum & Glitter, Bawdy Storytelling, and everyone else
who’s allowed me on their stage
Amazing live musicians Laela Peterson-Stolen, Felix Macnee,
Whitney Moses
Beautiful dancers Laura Elisabeth, The Empress, IrinaXara,
Unsinkable Molly, Lisa Hyde, Isa Shisha, Aminah Zareh, and
Natalie Nayun, Jodi Waseca
Huge thanks to these people and shows for letting me perform or
record with them: Stripmall Architecture, Amanda Palmer and the
Grand Theft Orchestra, Abney Park, Vernian Process, Caustic,
Everything Goes Cold, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Attrition,
Best Before 1886, Nathaniel Johnstone, Jody Ellen, Escape the
Clouds, Psyche Corporation, Pocket Full of Rye, Classical
Revolution, Doctor Popular, and MC Frontalot
I am honored.
Without tenderness, all this power is meaningless.

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about

Unwoman San Francisco

Unwoman is a San Francisco-based cellist-singer-songwriter. Layered with skillful cello, rich vocals, and electronically arranged beats, her solo music is a futuristic homage to her classical training. Unwoman has been featured at steampunk, goth, and sci-fi-related events all over North America and has performed with Abney Park, Rasputina, Voltaire, Amanda Palmer, Stripmall Architecture... ... more

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Track Name: For the Killers
I am all raccoon eyes, I am peacock-colored flesh
I am supple parchment, my skin a palimpsest

In red filigree the madmen carve their illustrious names
And with clumsy blue marks in quick succession stake their claims

No no nobody can own me
This is my only authority
My my my body is mine to poison
It is my gift for the killers to cut open

I am drying eyes, I am fading green-yellow flesh
I am brittle parchment, a bleached palimpsest

Living each wound again as a first kiss
Clasping tightly memories of myriad fists

This sovereignty is all that’s sacred to me
This is the key to kicking tyranny
Track Name: The Future, The Boot
We all worked in a factory
Where only Faustian bargains were made
When the circuses and bread ran out
Our subversive plans were laid
Now you ask us what did we do
For the revolution today?
We learned when life throws you sarin
To sing a sweet serenade

Suddenly everything depends upon us
We’ll determine whether
Our future is a big boot
Stomping on a human face forever
And if we win will we win
Just the right to our new chosen leader
Or is there something bigger
To believe in to unite us under

It’s inevitable these methods
Decide how our world goes
As falls the king so we know
As we seize the crown so we grow

You know entropy always wins
But what rises from the ruins?
Read these coded instructions
Sewn into your skirt hems

Love love and love again
They that hate you, love them
Love love and love again
They that hate you, love them
Track Name: The Heroine
The city is war-torn
And nearly impassable
I act the lovelorn
Dramatically laughable

You said you’d come see me
Here underground
Now it’s closing night
You can’t be found

I go through the motions again and again
But you are not here to see them
I go through the emotions again and again
And this time I actually feel them

I play the heroine
I play to their sympathies
I say the sweetest things
To command their empathy

I asked just one thing of you, to be here
Did I not let it slip that I was sincere?
That was my best poker face, trying not to care
I watch and I wait while you never appear

And though I’ve been spoiled by pretty privilege
I am no child throwing a fit
I could write the book on disappointment
And you’d be the final chapter of it

So you’re a coward or
Could never love me
Or you have fallen
To the enemy

All these people came all this way
Faces stained with loss but smiling as they’re crying
I would rather see you laugh at my tragedy
Than choke on these tears while I’m curtsying
Track Name: The Fires I Started
I could stand here in the dark
Until they bring me a glass jar
To catch the things I want to catch
To keep a spider as a pet

I could howl up at the moon
Until the ending comes too soon
For things I used to beg to fetch
Things like you, my pet

And they would all see my unserious desperation
As my arms unfurl to retrieve words already spilled
All the fires I ever started can’t begin to warm me
They all got away -- not one left a trace

I will end here listening
To the sound of my own breathing
To my many accomplishments
Though you never heard what I meant

I will leave your memory
To those who see you clearly
I will not carve you into song
I tell everyone’s story wrong

This is the song you forget in a day
This is the love I threw away
This is the choice you forget in a day
This is the hope we threw away
Track Name: Silently Conjure
Without any moon to guide us
One impulse from what’s denied us
You gave me this potent mix
As if you don’t know your strength

To possess beauty wild as this
Silently conjures every wish
I could pretend I don’t know
You’re paralyzed yet it shows

All the beasts of the forest
Watch and wait or else ignore us
Human needs will continue
A growing scream that’s within you

Come to me in your sleep
Lie next to me breathe me deep
Fingertips crushing fear
On your lips as I draw near

I enter in to your mind
Your pupils have opened wide
I hypnotize you are mine
All my fingers count the signs

Come to me
I hypnotize
Free from yourself
Now you are mine
Track Name: Black Magic
If I could save you
I would kiss you
I would run to you
I would fix you

If I could stitch their hearts
I’d collect another
All the lonely boys
I could be their mother

If it was more than the lure
Of a possible fall
I would consider
Breaking it all

But it is merely polar
Opposites attracting
My perfect order
To meet chaos again

Still something pulls me
And I don’t want the blame
This is black magic
I can only lose this game

You ask for what seems simple
And god I love to give
But it’s impossible
You are not mine to save
Track Name: Crows
I ride over rivers and mountains
Trees are covered in blossoms and mosses
To deliver my wilted body to your door
I’m weighing my gains and losses

You welcome me with the look of a madman
I lose myself in your pandemonium

The bed next to the railroad shakes all night
I am systematically giving up the fight

The one who’s gone beyond and back
Has taught me to let go
Caught up in your violent thunderstorm
A branch in your stream, pulled to and fro

Black birds line the path
I ride home through rain and snow
It’s always the crows who watch
Each lover come and go

The bed next to the railroad shook all night
For those moments I’d given up the fight

You are sweet, with the look of a madman
I love myself when I can’t chase equilibrium
Still the crows watch as I run and run away
I will return when the storm pulls me in again
Track Name: The Bridge
I pulled myself out of the rubble
With no expectations or hope
Vaguely curious what lies beyond
I emerged to cross the bridge alone

I did not expect to find a new dealer for desire
A new leader into the era where we’ll thrive
It was you, holding the power of light and death
As I walked West

The resonance of our minds, our sympathetic vibrations
Excite the bridge we’re on in catastrophic undulations

Your hand tight in mine
I know I will fall in deep
You'll show me your Atlantis
And teach me how to breathe

In the depths lie all the bad decisions I make when I fall in love
But I don't want to chase the red flags any more
I just want a piece of your flawed utopia
Track Name: The Snowstorm
We tear love out by its roots
Replant it in a hundred distant gardens
“The love is dead, long live the love”
And we have no gods, no partners

The leaves grow pale and weak
The flowers bloom too soon

I let them fall all around me, falling for me
I blush unseen and see them falling remotely

We live the myth, self-sufficient, brave and confident
Mock-courage is our favorite currency
Demanding all the signifiers, calling happiness to us
But without tenderness all this power is meaningless

The roots had rotted
Before they could spread

I let them fall all around me, falling for me
I blush unseen and watch them falling remotely
In this snowstorm I don't know which arms I miss around me
With only words to tie us, intangible and tenuous
(Trivial)
Track Name: Neophile
I love what’s new so much
I can’t tell what’s best
I’ll never have what I want
I want what I can’t get

I won’t control myself, I won’t hide
The blackness draws you in, my pupils are so wide
It scares you when I look into your eyes
But this is the kind of fear you like

You’ve never met a girl like me before
You’ll never meet one again
It’s cruel for me to leave you wanting more
But these affairs are meant to end

I love what’s new so much
I can’t tell what’s best
I’ll never have what I want
I want what I can’t get

Because you are strange
Because you are new
Because nothing not now
Can ever be true

We walk to your place from the center of the city
I love your accent but I can’t stand the rain
One-night-stands have become a part of me
You say you never do this kind of thing but -

If our bodies were always touching
Then of course we would be feeling nothing
At least this spark is something

My skin is wrapped
In red warning labels
But I’ve nothing to conceal
My inner truths are on the table
Track Name: Siren Ship
You’re fearless and lawless, you follow no captain
But you’re ruled by desire approaching obsession
I am a shapely vessel full of riches to plunder
I’ve been breached before, but I’ve never gone under

You cannon blasts split me, resolutely defiled
I am humbled and broken by a boyish smile
You enter violently, but this was my plan
You think it all your choice, you arrogant man!

Your type can never resist my call
I have been so many sailors’ downfall
Your type can never resist my call
I have been so many conquerors’ downfall

Racing the hourglass to escape with my treasure
But my humiliation promises such pleasure
This is the glorious destruction you’ve wrought
You can’t deny yourself the wounded beast you caught

I’m losing my grip on the horizon
You clutch at me tightly as the water is rising
I am a shattered vessel, full of riches, going down
But you’re the one begging as I watch you drown
Track Name: A Poison Tree - Words by William Blake
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Track Name: Written in Red - Words by Voltairine de Cleyre
Written in red their protest stands,
For the Gods of the World to see;
On the dooming wall their bodiless hands
have blazoned "Upharsin," and flaring brands
Illumine the message: "Seize the lands!
Open the prisons and make men free!"
Flame out the living words of the dead
Written-in-red.

Gods of the World! Their mouths are dumb!
Your guns have spoken and they are dust.
But the shrouded Living, whose hearts were numb,
have felt the beat of a wakening drum
Within them sounding — the Dead men’s tongue —
Calling : "Smite off the ancient rust!"
Have beheld "Resurrexit," the word of the Dead,
Written-in-red.

Bear it aloft, O roaring flame!
Skyward aloft, where all may see.
Slaves of the World! Our cause is the same;
One is the immemorial shame;
One is the struggle, and in One name —
Manhood— we battle to set men free.
"Uncurse us the Land!" burn the words of the Dead,
Written-in-red.
Track Name: Star-Crossed
I play the odds for any coins the gods might toss us
You are content just gazing at the stars that cross us

They keep throwing things to wish upon
But it’s never enough to loose our bonds
They keep taunting us with fantasies
Compromises for improbabilities

Oh please, please ask me to fight
Don’t ask me to sacrifice
Oh please let us have ground to stand
Don’t ask me to fold my hand

I keep my cards close to my chest but feel it thumping
For you I try but fail at concealing one thing

I am a hack artist of truths left unsaid
You have a way of getting into my head
Desperation is our biggest threat
When outside forces force us into their debt
Track Name: Be So
Be So (words by Michael Barnstijn)

Time is running all too slow
I always stop when I must go.
When I race I fall behind
And curse the shadows in my mind.

(too slow, must go, too slow, must go)

Walk the street with empty hands
Can’t keep up with life’s demands.
Tried it fast and tried it slow
Just can’t see where next to go.

(must go, too slow, must go, too slow)

Now I find where I must be
Here with you and you with me.
Noise and fear have blinded me
I stand still and now I see.

(don’t go, be so, don’t go, be so)
Track Name: If I Woke Up In Temescal
If I woke up in Temescal more than once
I would have fallen in love
Not with you, but with your neighborhood
Which had already carved itself into memory in realtime
Burned with luminous skin in the late morning sun
And the perilously foreign-yet-familiar feel of someone’s hand in mine
The treacherous ways I was at your command
Gave in completely because I’d found peace, at long last

Is each successive rejection a Russian doll
A little smaller, but really just the same, mocking me
And even though so few of my stars were hung on your tree
I will mourn every loss
I want to tear out your heart in response
But you would have to see what you are missing
And we know you are blind to the charms
I tell myself I still wield
You’ve tacitly declared them invisible

So I punish myself with an overdose of my beloved solitude
I will never know how much pleasure I negate
By setting my body off-limits
It could all just be a delusion
I might truly be as worthless as you clearly found me
At best a lovely and damaged illusion
To those who can’t touch me

If I woke up in Temescal again
I would have written another song about you
And no -- I’ve finally cut you off from the honors you never deserved

If I woke up
If I woke up in your arms again
Nostalgia is the worst drug I’ve ever tried to kick
How close did we ever come?