The Fires I Started

by Unwoman

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1.
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
2.
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
3.
The Heroine 04:47
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
4.
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
5.
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
6.
Black Magic 04:06
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
7.
Crows 05:03
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
8.
The Bridge 04:34
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
9.
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)
10.
Neophile 04:31
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
11.
Siren Ship 03:54
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
12.
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.
13.
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.
14.
Star-Crossed 04:54
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
15.
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)
16.
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?

about

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

credits

released August 16, 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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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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