Speech Songs

by Haworth Hodgkinson

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Speech Songs
Music by Haworth Hodgkinson
See www.highmoss.co.uk/speech-songs for full details
Catalogue no. HM 003

credits

released October 25, 2015

All tracks composed, performed and recorded by Haworth Hodgkinson, with the voices of John Mackie and Catriona Yule. Texts by John Mackie, Catriona Yule and Haworth Hodgkinson.

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about

Haworth Hodgkinson Scotland, UK

Composer, improviser and sound artist based in Aberdeenshire and inspired by the landscapes of the North of Scotland. Solo performances often combine poetry with live music. Has worked on many collaborations with writers, dancers, actors, musicians and visual artists. ... more

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Track Name: This Story
This Story

I'm telling you this story
about what happened in the pub
the other night
and as I tell the story
I'm editing details;
making minor alterations
to who said what
and in which order,
and removing the characters
who seem irrelevant
or inconvenient
to the point I'm trying to make.

After several retellings,
embellished and enhanced,
my story will be complete,
and my story
will have become
the truth.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Nothing has Changed
The Forest Orchid

How deep is
the glory
the power, the grace
of her offering up
at the melding place
of languid lissom limbs

She opens to me
as a forest orchid
beaded, brimming,
running over
with the simplest of pleasures

I have learned
the long strong tensing
of her arching back
her gentle bite
the subtle contours
of her enfolding grip

She says "this changes nothing"
no, nothing has changed
except
at that moment
everything
between us

Irreversibly.

© John Mackie
from Pearl Diving by Moonlight (Malfranteaux Concepts, 2012)
Track Name: Six Weaknesses - 1. Six Rivers Distant
Six Rivers Distant

She arrived late
with booming eucalyptus.

My fingers
found rhythms of skin.

She sat
legs crossed at my feet
assembling a flute.

I negotiated
an embrace far too long
for a stranger
six rivers distant
and opted
for early departure.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Six Weaknesses - 2. Late Night Reel
Late Night Reel

Old bloke staggers along the street
avoiding such obstacles as lamp-posts.
Reaches for the pub door – misses the handle.
A kindly passer-by lends a hand.
The pub's just closing – the barmaid's cashing up
but she lets him take a bottle for the road.
Takes a swig and staggers back along the street
avoiding such obstacles as walls.
Bright lights draw him to the late-night take-away.
Staggers out, two cartons in a bag.
Pauses on a bench – begins to unwrap supper
but then, food in one hand, drink in the other,
makes a last-ditch effort – staggers on.

It's an old old story – you've heard it all before.
Perhaps he'll make it home,
and if he doesn't, maybe nobody will know.
It's an old old story – thirty years from now
it might be mine.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Six Weaknesses - 3. From One Lamp-Post to Another
From One Lamp-Post to Another

Along Buchanan Gardens
evenly spaced sentinels
hang their glowing heads,
observing all within eyelight
and noting every passer-by.

The girl stands against a lamp-post
as if to save her companion
from indiscreet collision.

The eye unmovingly stares.
Last night, she was with someone else
and he was alone.

Two dogs sing passionately to one another across the town.

He makes for the next lamp-post,
but stops and turns half way.
She catches up
and they collide.

The eye rocks gently,
chattering in the wind.

In the courtyard
she makes her farewell
and he watches her window,
waiting to see the light go out again.

A spluttering car crawls past and disappears towards the horizon.

An hour later
he is caught by the night warden
in the rose bed.

There is screeching and hooting from the woods by the mill pond.

Next morning at breakfast
she offers him
the casual truth:
I fell asleep with the light on.

In a quiet corner
a street lamp stands
unlit.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Six Weaknesses - 4. Working Lemons
Working Lemons

I. My Contribution to the Scientific Literature

What is there to say
about lemons,
the most unselfish of fruit?
The acid in their flesh
alerts our tongues
to whatever else we may be eating.

Rather like decaying soya beans, with vitamin C for protein,
I wrote.

II. A Day in the Life of a Working Lemon

Unemployed, I wake up late.
Tonight I must eat.
I must go in search of food.

There is no time to plant seeds –
I am too hungry to wait for results.
I could go out hunting –
chasing cabbages along the beach
or turnips across the hills.
No, that is a skill my ancestors forgot.
I must go to the supermarket and obtain
food for promises on paper.

Casually avoiding the dairyman and the fleshwoman
I arrive at the display of perfected plant life.
I pretend not to notice the young assistant
picking mushrooms from the floor
and rearranging them on the shelf –
those trodden beyond recognition
are gracefully kicked beneath the cabinet.

I wonder why I never buy
lemons, lettuce, lychees,
preferring less respectful fare.
Idly, I glance over
red apples, green apples, pineapples,
this week's special reductions –
what will it be tonight?
My first cherry tomato?
What could I use to liven up
yesterday's rice
or tomorrow's inquisitive potato?
Cautiously I handle a large Hungarian onion,
looking to see if the carrots are watching.
Dare I?

I arrive home with an out-of-date cauliflower,
rain-damaged bread,
last week's newspaper,
and a lemon.

III. Another Day

Another day, quite by accident,
I caught the end of a radio feature
about how lemons work.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Six Weaknesses - 5. Rose
Rose

Thirteen nights
I hear the single rose
riding high
on waves of polyester.

Thirteen mornings
I find petals
on the stair.

Thirteen excuses
to turn away
the postman.

Thirteen ways
to lose
your blissful smile.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Six Weaknesses - 6. Seaside Elephant
Seaside Elephant

On these shores
elephants are rare.
It must be the pebbles
they dislike.

But pictures of elephants
can be found in craft shops
everywhere.

I take a dozen small elephant pictures
and paste them to rocks along the tideline,
hoping their cousins will recognise
common spirit
and come to join them.

My camera is primed,
my microphone tuned
to the trumpeting frequencies.

I wait.

Perhaps I should have brought
buns as an extra lure.

Only at dusk,
as the sky fades,
am I rewarded for my patience.

Out of the dark sea
looms a large shape:
an enormous
picture
of an elephant.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Canvas Null
Behind the Canvas

These grey angular lines,
elbow chiselled to the core.
Who looks after these
calloused hands,
anoints the cracks?

Watch her face darken
as she strains across my gaze.
Each crease is hers to bare.
And on she grafts,
each breath of the iron

bearing her down
with the weight of
centuries on her back.
Is it the fate of woman
to never become woman?

Watch as the light flickers
on and off in those grey eyes;
how she steels herself in
the late hours, her dignity
tight in her fist.

And if a splash of water
should moisten her cheek,
roll beneath her chin,
to cling there
like an undiscovered pearl,

I would not tell a soul.

© Catriona Yule
from Shedding Skin (Koo Press, 2007)
Track Name: Horizontal Gaze
Seaside Elephant

On these shores
elephants are rare.
It must be the pebbles
they dislike.

But pictures of elephants
can be found in craft shops
everywhere.

I take a dozen small elephant pictures
and paste them to rocks along the tideline,
hoping their cousins will recognise
common spirit
and come to join them.

My camera is primed,
my microphone tuned
to the trumpeting frequencies.

I wait.

Perhaps I should have brought
buns as an extra lure.

Only at dusk,
as the sky fades,
am I rewarded for my patience.

Out of the dark sea
looms a large shape:
an enormous
picture
of an elephant.

© Haworth Hodgkinson
from A Weakness for Mermaids (Koo Press, 2007)