Untethered Dog

A Commonplace By Tom Swift

Birth

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete

Oh simple thing where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

-Keane, “Somewhere Only We Know,” Hopes and Fears (2004)

Death

That night at dinner my father asked my mother what they had been talking about all that time, and my mother told us about a sermon our pastor James had given recently. “What he said was that when all is lost and the center will not hold, that you do die an existential death. Like when someone dies or leaves you or in some other way the whole bottom just drops out. It’s like when Mary went to the tomb and the body of Christ was missing and suddenly her center wouldn’t hold. All of the sudden she didn’t know for sure if any of it had happened. She didn’t know what end was up. And James said that when you’re hurt that badly, you do die, sort of, as a means of survival. And you lie there and you lie there in your grief for as long as it takes, until finally, finally life can pull you back into itself; as if it could give you its hands and pull you to your feet, so that you can totter along again.”

-Anne Lamott, All New People: A Novel (1989)

Despair

Mama says truth is all that matters
Lying and deceiving is a sin
Drifting through a world that’s torn and tattered
Every thought I have don’t mean a thing

Don’t stop, don’t stop the dance
(No) More music (Don’t stop the dance)

Mama says love is all that matters
Beauty should be deeper than your skin
Living for the moment, lips and lashes
Will I ever find my way again?

Don’t stop, don’t stop the dance
(No) More music (Don’t stop the dance)

Don’t stop, don’t stop the dance

-Bryan Ferry, “Don’t Stop the Dance,” Boys and Girls (1985)

Love

Dream baby dream
Dream baby dream
Dream baby dream
Come on and dream baby dream
Come on and dream baby dream

We gotta keep the light burning
Come on, we gotta keep the light burning
Come on, we gotta keep the light burning
Come on, we gotta keep the light burning
Come on and dream baby dream

We gotta keep the fire burning
Come on, we gotta keep the fire burning
Come on, we gotta keep the fire burning
Come on and dream baby dream

Come open up your heart
Come on and open up your heart
Come on and open up your heart
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

-Bruce Springsteen, “Dream Baby Dream,” High Hopes (2014)

The Moment

Listen to the girl
As she takes on half the world

-The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey,” Psychocandy (1985)

Love

Stylish, dramatic, vulnerable, romantic, eccentric: Bryan Ferry’s style is hard to put into words … but it seemed he was always working to express the same feeling. His passion was for the sort of ineffable excitement that makes you feel you could stay up every night, and also its corollary — a longing so sweet and consuming you feel you could fall over and drift away on a soft wind.

-iTunes Review, “The Best of Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music” (2016)

Surrender

I could feel at the time
There was no way of knowing
Fallen leaves in the night
Who can say where they’re blowing
As free as the wind
And hopefully learning
Why the sea on the tide
Has no way of turning
More than this — you know there is nothing
More than this — tell me one thing
More than this — there is nothing

-Roxy Music, “More Than This,” Avalon (1982)

Self Trust

Charlotte: “I’m stuck. … Does it get easier?”

Bob: “No. … Yes. It gets easier.”

Charlotte: “Oh yeah? Look at you.”

Bob: “Thanks. … And the more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

Lost in Translation (2003)

Despair

Where? In the black trees that lay down and drown here?
In the drowned clouds? — and no one to hold them back.
Rhododendron, the night never ends. A still-life and a
way to get home again. A moss-dark photograph turned
holy in his memory.

It’s anyone against the wind tonight. In the eyes of a child
who looks up at us from the bottom of a well, or across
the table, the uninvited guest taking the oranges we
intended to eat.

In these very hands. A window of the soul already open to
the sea. An hour outside of itself. A name that’s repeated
over and over until it’s just noise.

River of ashes. River and flame, the small vibration we set in
motion there. I wouldn’t know how to find you or
anyone.

Searchlights and choppers. With cats on the rooftops and moths-
turned-to-dust on the sill. Pillar, and bell tower. Wall, and
earlier than that, the peaceful cities.

Calm, without talking. In our oldest clothes. From the
balcony, on the fire escape — just leaning on the railings
above the flood streets.

-Ralph Angel, “Months Later,” Twice Removed (2001)

Control

Just hold on loosely
But don’t let go

-38 Special, “Hold On Loosely,” Wild-Eyed Southern Boys (1981)