World Until Yesterday

by Daniel J Townsend

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A collection of stories from a tiny island on the edge of the world.


released January 28, 2016


all rights reserved



Daniel J Townsend TAS, Australia

"A head full of stories, a soul old enough to have lived them, and a heart young enough to believe in their power to move us."

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Track Name: Sunrise on the Coast
Grey dawn on the sand hills, the night wind has drifted
All night from the rollers a scent of the sea
With the dawn the grey fog his battalion has lifted
At the call of the morning they scatter and flee.

Like mariners calling the roll of their number
The seafowl put out to the infinite deep
And far overhead, sinking softly to slumber
Worn out by their watching, the stars fall asleep.

To eastward where resteth the dome of the skies on
The sea line stirs softly the curtain of night
And far from behind the enshrouded horizon
Comes the voice of a god saying, "Let there be light."

And lo, there is light! Evanescent and tender,
It glows ruby-red where 'twas now ashen grey;
And purple and scarlet and gold in its splendour -
Behold, 'tis that marvel, the birth of a day!

© A B Paterson
Track Name: Musselroe Bay
Long time ago, my father say,
When every night was just the same
Sister moon would wax and wane
Down at the bay
Down at the bay
Down at Musselroe Bay

Then one time the strange man came
Took a fish to use for bait
Took a seal, its skin for sale

Many moons did pass away
Til strange man came in the light of day
With nets and traps which he did lay

With the morning sun’s new rays
He offered tea and flour for trade
He asked my mother’s hand to take

But then he took and he did not pay
Then he put our legs into chains
Then on the ground my brother lay

We blacked his house with the golden flame
We made the red flow from his veins
We took his life and took the blame
Track Name: Burning
When I left my home it was burning, burning
When I left this world I was burning
Track Name: Rumours of Others
Just like anyone, I didn’t choose to be here
But here I stand and here they’ll bury me
These rumours of others spook like shadows ’neath this tree
But here I stand and here they’ll bury me

Hey, stranger
Ain’t you got some place to be?
Step lightly here or, better still, kindly disappear
Hey, stranger
Seems this place has chosen me
So step lightly here or kindly disappear

They say we’re unjustified
But round here it’s about surviving
I keep my lover’s name inside of me
I keep her memory
Far away they say “forgive”
But round here we’re just trying to live
Building shelter, missing sleep
With all the good ones who believe

This winter chill it kills my bones
And this heart has found its own way home
When suddenly you’re staring back at me
But I didn’t choose to be here
So before they lay me low
Here we stand
Here we stand
Track Name: King Billy
King Billy, get your head
I won’t get my head
I have become the air

King Billy, get your hands
I won’t get my hands
I have become the land

King Billy, get your feet
I won’t get my feet
I have become the trees

A king without a kingdom and a kid without a name
Track Name: Sixteen Souls on Elizabeth Street
Sixteen souls on Elizabeth Street
Ancient dirt
Naked feet
Bullet wounds

A thousand souls on either side
Watch the parade
Eyes open wide
Why had they been so terrified?
Sixteen souls
Track Name: Beaumaris Zoo
You should have seen this place
Twenty years ago
Wild beasts in iron cages
Twenty years ago
And all over the world
The people used to know
Remember when Mary was here?

Take your leopard for a walk upon the lawn
Feed the lions til the visitors are gone
See the tiger wolf take in a lazy yawn
Take your leopard on the lawn

But when the hard times come,
The animals get old
The sky is on fire all day
The nights are freezing cold
And in the morning
I just dig another hole
But when I lay those bodies down
I didn’t know
Track Name: Fish and Chips at the Neighbours' Place
One, two, three little ones, a fourth on the way
When he got his injury, everything changed
He paced the house just like a bear in a rage
One, two, three little ones, a fourth on the way

The Cruiser, the Commodore and the V8
Rusted and seized over old oil stains
Ghosts in the garage, dreams in the driveway
One, two, three little ones, a fourth on the way

Three children tumble to the street now to play
She takes a job up at the local takeaway
Up half the night, on her feet all the day
One, two, three little ones, a fourth on the way

Her belly tightens in that familiar way
Leans on the drinks fridge and breathes through the pain
It could be tomorrow or two months away
One, two, three little ones, a fourth on the way

Jim Beam and Coca-Cola and video games
Cigarette glows as he stares into space
Kids eating fish and chips at the neighbours’ place
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight paper plates

Sky’s getting dark as she opens the gate
Holes in her soles, tired lines on her face
Nobody told her life could be this way
She turns the front door handle
He does the same
Track Name: Don't Say a Word
The baby never got to see the sunshine
She lived til she was just an hour old
You don’t say a word

The doctors placed her in a little box
And left her on her own there in the cold
You don’t say a word

And even though she tried
My mother never got to say hello or goodbye

You turn your eyes, look outside
You change your mind
You don’t say a word

My mother came back home, her tummy empty
Just her and Pa in the car on their own
You don’t say a word

Mum lay down and Dad just watched the telly
And he would not let us pick up the phone

You wonder why
You run and hide
You don’t say a word

I lay awake in bed one summer evening
I heard Mum in the kitchen start to cry
I knew her hands were wrinkling in the sink
I knew she’d use her sleeve to dry her eyes
In the lounge I heard my Dad get from his chair
I heard Mum’s voice all shaky through a smile
I knew her head was resting on his chest
I knew that he was holding her so tight
Track Name: Row Until You Know
I filled my suitcase with treasures
Then rowed my boat into the sea
I didn’t know what I’d see

Castles of clouds
Towers of power
Autumn trees grieving the glow of the sun
Vagabond clowns
Pounding pavement with tamers of lions and liars
And lovers of none

You gotta row, row, row
Until you know, know, know
You gotta shine, shine, shine
Til you glow

I wrote a note on each board of the floating boat
And then pushed it back into the sea
And I had to concede, as the ocean receded from me
I was blissful and fearless and free

They turn right from the left lane
There’s rhino ahead
There’s gazelle in a huddle
Same songs in their head
Ants in their hard hats
Have conquered the underground
Now tunnel upwards instead

You gotta row
Until you know
You gotta shine, shine, shine

I had to concede as the ocean receded from me
I was blissful and fearless
Track Name: Sterling, Silver and Old
Sterling, silver and old
Sits in the silence of sunlight
Fingers all folded, he’s finished his food
But it’s not yet time for the news

Margaret’s rings are of gold
Circular swipes in the sink, white
Plates are prepared for a place in the pile
Perfect and porcelain blue

Margaret moves in her mind
Morning and midday and moonlight
Washing her white wedding cutlery, she
Wanders the world as it used to be

Sterling, seated between
Two sacred souls on the wall
The carpenter saviour, the cricketer saint
Stare as he stands and walks to the TV
They stare as he stands and walks to the TV
Track Name: We Know the Wait and the Wait is Better
We know the sudden summer scorching of the grass
We know the pale flame of fields lit upon by light
The emptiness of things now lost between the things that we have found
We know the space between the ever-changing skies

We know the rush
We know the race
We know the wait

We know the novelty of energy, fast fading
We know our promises to keep ourselves at peace
We know the smell of earth, the secret scent of what we’ve come from
Underneath our nails and in the shining of our teeth

We know the push
We know the pulse
We know the wait

We know fast food
But we know the slow meal
The low swing of candlelight
The dark undressing of wine
Scorpions scuttle between
The rustle of ideas within
The battle of the windowpane against the braying wind

We know the sense of life that churns invisible
Within the rich crush of this old earth’s history
Layers pressed together and blended and now running over
With what it wants to teach to those who have the guts to learn

We know the rush
We know the race
We know the push
We know the pulse
We know the wait and the wait is better

Based on Bert Spinks’ poem of the same name

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