The Kingdom Belongs to a Child

lyrics by Cashavelly Morrison

Long-Haired Mare

 

When my daughter was barely sixteen, 

I began to wonder of all she’d seen.

Before the sun rose on an icy morn’,

I woke to the screams of my darling first born.

 

With my dagger in hand, I threw open the door,

saw a man had taken her to the floor.

 

(Chorus)

Promise never tend my grave.

Take the long-haired mare and go far, far away.

 

The man had the eyes of my love.

My husband, my one who’d stolen enough.

A red sun rose on the love I’d divest.

I pushed the dagger through his chest.

 

Chorus

 

My daughter wailed, “I’m among the damned.”

“No, no, girl. I’ve untied your hands.”

I held a long white thread

pulled from the lily laced on her bed.

 

Chorus x2

 

By sundown, I stood alone

in a sunken cell of ashen stone.

Before the gallows, I wept myself clean

for my only daughter had been set free.

 

Chorus x2

 

Emory

 

In our yard, we made a pyre.

Stacked wood, threw in the books,

burning lines of evil and good.

 

Went in the house to get our baby.

She ran; it was a game.

Promised candy and to us she came.

 

We held her back, threw in the cradle.

She asked to play with her teddy bear.

“Not now, you’re too sick and frail.”

 

“It’s not that we don’t love you, baby.

Doctor says we have no choice.”

It seems God is tossing a coin.

 

We stared, the fire rocked her,

holding pails of kerosene, oil.

The smell was milk gone sour

the day we turned her back to soil.

 

Made of Sand

 

I can’t say it

the sun’s setting scarlet

you’ll find I’m made of sand

a sparrow in your hand

don’t go away tonight

 

my dress is dirty

my lips are cracking

I watch you from the street

a feline in heat

don’t go away tonight

 

Wait for me,

Tonight

 

I have tin wings

in this icy rain

you are a shelter

a coal shed discovered

don’t go away tonight

 

I made you thin twine

from the wet white pine

pull me through your door

hear lily-white roars

don’t go away tonight

 

Wait for me,

Tonight

 

Iodine

 

My son, he cannot hear me.

In the end, I’ll speak his last words,

soak my baby’s shirt in lye,

and mend his injuries with thread and iodine.

 

My baby boy had brown eyes.

In daylight, he cried.

I ran, I ran, I ran

to kneal at his side.

 

The day turns into midnight

as more sons fall to genocide.

I hold, I hold, I hold

black blooms all my life.

 

A mother’s voice is the ocean’s tide

and can drown out your army’s riled

I stand, I stand, I stand

and will survive.

 

Jesus Dies Every Time

 

Bullet in the grass, she pulled it loose

from its descent to the middle of the earth.

She buries it in her ancestral wound

given her the right of her birth.

 

She gives the bullet to her father and mother,

who refuse to hold what is not their own.

Confined at home, blood-letting her body.

A crimson pail as all she owns.

 

Jesus dies every time.

Still she cuts off her hands.

Her teeth tearing graves

of new land.

 

When her lover falls to the floor,

she puts the bullet ‘tween his broken teeth.

He vows carry it an eternity.

Her howls replace all for which he speaks.

 

Amputation will not save her

from the bullet, the sum of her worth.

She suffers a coward’s burden

on her descent to the middle of the earth.

 

Breakwater

 

This water can smother no fire

 

Miscarried

Hemopheliac

Cutthroat

Ruby Waters

 

Steel is the mirror of regret

Face dripping down your shoulder

Following you across the room

On a Sunday after he turned cold

and the sea was full of black gold

 

This water can smother no fire

 

Miscarried

Hemopheliac

Cutthroat

Ruby Waters

 

Breakwater’s Red Tongue

 

Ships sinking down my throat and yours

A leak was sprung in each of ink

What had no voice was never said

I was alone after he turned cold

and the sea was full of black gold

 

Breakwater’s Red Tongue,

The ocean

 

Pink Dress

 

I have scratches on my legs

from the briars on the trail

where the weeds were overgrown and waist-high

and I could tell no one had been there in awhile

 

I’d been there once before

with my first lover

where we made a bed of thorns

and I’ve been finding them since we’ve been over

 

(Chorus)

wear your pink dress

clean up your mess

 

From the ridge, I couldn’t see the river

without a slide of my foot down the ledge

and I caught myself down on the ground

and that’s where I found wide-eyed Connie under the hedge

 

Chorus

 

Connie doesn’t look like herself any longer

eyelet dress and a daisy by her ear

posed in a casket, going lower and lower

and her mommy cursing the Holy Father

 

Chorus

 

Now I can’t go anywhere anymore

without a daddy or a brother

I dream of Connie standing at my door

She says there’ll never be a day when I’m without her


Chorus

 

May 5th

 

You grew like a vine

You grew inside

You grew a short time

Made a womb your tomb

 

I made no bed

Wherein you could sleep

I did not bring silk and tin

No sleep tight, no fist fights

 

No milk will be offered

Praying hands, fodder

Not bought, only earned

I am cold mountain stone

 

Should we meet behind the curtain

I will open you like a fan

It’s nice to know you again

You are not weak. Learn to speak.

 

The Nobleman and the Queen

 

Silver fists come flying.

If I could open them, I’d lay inside and sleep.

The vines into the ruins

and at the door a beggarwoman turning,

 

“Have you seen the mad bull idling,

whose spine rises the edge of an arrow feather?”

Swaying into the moonlight,

that is my father I scarcely know anymore.

 

(Chorus)

Father’s a nobleman.

Mother’s a queen.

Do not let me die before I...

 

Forgive me I was there no longer.

The great white lily wilting in his breath.

My tears are not weapons.

I’ve grown boughs carrying the weight of snow and ice.

 

His bold body staggers,

pulsing down to the ivy ‘round his legs.

 

In my arms, he is shards of rain,

collected by a child’s hand.

My father, his breath and blood,

drain into the cradle of my marrow.

 

Chorus

 

Dangling gravedigger lashes.

Love is not dead beneath the mask of earth.

The beggarwoman burdens me,

howling for my return to the ruin.

 

Chorus x 2

 

29 Bells

 

Here the profit comes x 3

and the hard cash

my husband becomes.

 

The man got away

Man got away

The man got away

who as good sparked

the coal seam’s methane.

 

My love is gone x 3

and here come my children

the coal baron will pawn.

 

I ring a bell x 3

and that man hears

every strike swell.

 

It rings in the night,

it rings all day,

it rings in this fray,

it rings like children

drowning in the lake.