Judge Us by How we Lived Our Lives not by How we Made our Living.

by Sleep Bellum Sonno

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Released in a limited pressing of 500 on 12" black vinyl with CD and liner notes attached.
Physical copies available at www.sleepbellumsonno.com


released August 8, 2009



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Sleep Bellum Sonno New York, New York

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Track Name: A House of Spades Stands No Chance Against the Wind. (Gambler)
We have been dealt a hand
which built our home out of threes and aces.
We bet on cards and wheels in droughts and floods
to win hearts and families.
We have gone all in. The chips collapsed.
But we’ve been counting.

She folds a line of clothes
while the boys are turning in.
At lights out, father’s choking up; It’s all or nothing.
He pushes straight for the car through the door.
Sometimes it’s the hardest moves
that make the most cents.

I took my ship out to sea
if I’d make something of me.
The night; a blanket of glass,
the waves; a hallowing wake.
Each swell a sigh for my boys.
The crest; a plea for my wife.
The harbor approaches.

By dawn, he cast his net to fish,
four hours, three attempts, two tow them in.
That’s when one line gave out and tore from the -
Fishermen crowded around.
They cast lots and challenged him.

I was the one who laid them bricks.
I was always the first to deal with it.
I would never have chosen
for our paths to run off course,
so of course I’m not responsible for this.

There has never been a line that I’ve struggled with.
Not once was I dealt a hand that I could not play.
Now there is a hand, that she calls for.
I cannot hold.
So many lines, such an overused phrase
that I cannot say.
And to think, she’d be willing to bet on me.
And to think, I used to be her right hand man.

When wife awoke, in her humble home
and to her right, no lover lie.
While both her boys were still tucked away,
she searched the house for a single trace.
Hardly a note, but it sure did the job,
a few scattered words, “Live well, my love”.
Track Name: When the Lights are Low I Can Hear the Devil at My Door. (Hunter)
I held the smoking gun.
I saw the demons tie him down.
I spoke without a sound.
I’ve slept with secretscaught
between a wall of doubt,
and the ambulance was a weighted serenade,
lulling me in and out of sleep.
I am a convicted man.
I have felt what God forbid I touch
lest I slip into the wolves’ lair.

Lock the gates. Malicifient is right outside.
Watch the sheep, a doubting Thomas is all she needs.

Who is worse the witness or the felon,
If what is done can never be spoken of?
I was the circus clown.
I paint my face a pastel white.
Enslaved to entertain.
Cheap thrills and tricks to make you laugh
while you can see what’s coming.

I am the animal.
I curse and howl in my cage,
has become my hiding place.
At the mercy of a man
wearing fur and knives complacently.

Feed the lambs, without direction we’ll devour ourselves.
Dress the wounds and cover up our wicked thoughts.

Severed tongues hold secrets until the grave.
Now, watch him go do his stunts throughout the ring.

I was the kill hung up by my legs. I am chaos.
You were the rope my fleeting escape, the blindfold.
I was the shepherd, mislead by the sheers, the clean cut.
I am your gaze, bewildered and staged and slighted.
Another notch, an even score on the mantelpiece.

Suffer the children and let them hear,
how dear old father spent his early years.
Not quite the gambler, but held two steady hands,
one for the whiskey, one for his wife and kids.

I let the devil in my heart,
I left the doors unlocked.
End. We lived happily every so often.
Track Name: I'm Not Afraid of Storms for I'm Learning to Sail My Ship. (Sailor)
I saw you at the rock
as the rope slipped through your fingers.
We sailed loose from the mooring.
The dock, broke beneath our feet,
which had held up for more than seven years.
But on the shore, the flames rose higher and higher
and the tide sank back to its sea.
“Remember Me,”
Washed up in a bottle,
“Was every kiss you gave to me a lie?”

Come on, Soldier, life is just a game
and in the battlefield there is no winner.
There are two boys, back home
who already think you’re a hero.
If there’s one thing you taught me,
it’s that strength of mind
never came from fighting so long.

You are the Fire.
I am the Sea.
Sky fell. Panic. Waves swell. Starboard.
Reach out your hand. I’m swallowing water.
Man overboard. His swaying arms.
His hopes are high but he’s just getting tired.
Look towards the harbor for the light in the distance,
But the old man left home,
there’s no one in the lighthouse
to help me through, to lead me to shore.

He starts to feel intrigued by the darkness of the water.
Each failing breath is a stone skipping shorter.
“My will is gone.”
“No I must go on.”
“Wait on the Land.”
“Just tread some time longer.”

There’s a young writer who clings to the sails
He’s waiting to hear
what has you so caught up on this
He fixes his eyes onto yours.
Your heavy breathing becomes a song.
There’s an old sailor who’s frail to the bone
but, although he’s weak, he shouldered the mast.
He taught you what real strength is.

We sway away from safety.

In pain he choked, “If there just was more time
I would show you what a mistake you were making.”
He said, “down the coast the fog just grows thicker,
but you could stop the boat
if you would just drop the anchor.”
Then writer wrote one line over and over,
and let it float. Bottled up it read...
Track Name: Rewind, Rewind, Rewind. Tend to our Stories. (Bartender)
Pour me a glass,
whiskey that cuts straight to the chest.
I’ve seen brighter days, I’ve played better hands.
If I could just wash my hands...
I would.

Let me tell you one thing
that my old man burnt into me.
“Once you’ve earned your first scotch
you never let that glass go empty.”

Bartender, save me your gospel.
Show an old man respect,
You know I’ve at least earned that,
Show me no end to this glass.
There is no end.

His head hung low at the bar,
the same town that had driven him out.
A light slipped in through the door,
the young man who stood by the shore.
Without your grip on the sails,
two sons have fell to the wayside.
You can’t take back what you’ve done,
Lord knows what we have become,
rewind, rewind, rewind...

It takes a good man to say
that he’s meant for much better things,
but it takes a real man to stay
and raise the town to follow him.
Yes, I’ve made that mistake,
and I regret it every single day.
But now, I can listen and pour you some drinks,

A sanctuary of fools.
The congregation of drunkards.
And as the bar stools groaned,
the counter served as a pulpit;

“Where have you been all these years?”
“I’ve been chasing storms for far too long.”
“The house you’ve built lies in ruin.”
“Son, I built YOU as its foundation”
“Your home was raised on the sand.”
“So if it fell it had a safe place to land.”
“I mistook your love for salvation”
“I’ve taken yours with me every place I can.”
Track Name: An Anchor Is Useless Without the Ocean Floor. (Brother)
…and so I saw the light.
It came from a note that you wrote
that washed up in the form of a bottle.
It read, I know your will is lost
and your faiths been tried,
but there is refuge in your brother’s arms.

You can’t sail a raft that’s made of stone,
besides the tides have already sank
back towards the moon.
But the sun reveals that you can use the rock
to build a home.

What is it in the wind that makes us move?
And if it didn’t could we learn to on our own?
Would we find our way to help, or turn around,
If shadows didn’t make a compass on the ground?

Love broke through and calmed the sea and storm

I towed the wreck to higher land.
I lift my anchor from the sand.
I lay my bones out on the beach,
and let them wash away.
The boat that brought me here alone,
was caught up in the undertow,
and the hands that taught this boy to fish,
couldn’t teach him how to swim.
Nor I, could teach you to raise the sail, and come for me,
and direct your compass towards my reach.
Grip, take hold of me or sink into the charcoal sea.
Track Name: I've Got So Many Prospects but All of Them are Underground. (Miner)
“What have I done?” a man exclaimed,
as he ruptured the gold veins.
Three men below.
A collapse of stone, smoke and ash.
“Son, take my hand,
I can’t hold on too long.”
His breath was short,
and the air soon grew thin.
We left at dawn,
to dig up the earth for precious metals.
There’s money to be made.
Our children can’t support themselves,
so we pick away by lantern light.
It’s an open grave at the prospect of new life,
where all will be saved.
But the hammer struck too hard.

I always told myself I would get out of this town.
I’ve got maps on the wall
and the bus stop was just down the road.
It’s a dead end job, I know.
But, around here it’s the life we come from.
There is no light at the end of this tunnel.

The structure was weakened,
before it seized us all.

So what happened to the old gambler?
A string of three lights reduced two whispers.
Was he waiting for his big break?
A crack in the caves walls revealing fool’s gold.

My eyes can’t adjust to this kind of darkness.
My mind has played out every ending.
I’m just glad that I’m not alone to lie wondering.

Surviving has become our reason for singing.
Our lungs can’t get used to the cough,
and our legs have no feeling at all.
This slow drip has become our clock,
but we’ve forgotten is it days, or is it months?

And Although you’ve toiled,
your rigid hands have reached no real depth.
Raised, not to slander your name.
For when we all pass away
they will speak of what I have done.
Track Name: The Town will Tell You of What Grew from Our Home. (Gardener)
Sometime last week the lights went out across the street.
Gardener set his last flower bed and said
“It’s time for me to sleep.”
Suits came out deep from closets
and the neighbors all gathered in the streets.
The air still smelt of sage and basil,
and lavender grew dark below the trees.
Shadows led towards the pews
and the light hid under a veil.
We all walked in thyme.
A procession through rosemary leaves.

Then Summer knelt up near an altar
and the family all followed her to their knees.
They said: “Priest can you sing us a sermon?
Teach us to celebrate.”
“He’s gone to a better place.”

No sunlight shone in through the chapel.
No colors leaked from stained glass windowpanes.
When his sick wife became sick widow.
No flowers grew under the shade.

Content with life, at peace with age,
beloved wife, she passed away this morning.
With what little strength she had
she dug a hole through dirt and sand
and whispered:

“The sky hung gray for seven days
while we have been alone.
Embraced we stay eternally
and we can watch it grow.”

“I watched from heaven’s gates.
I heard you call for me.
With all the strength I had
my arms reached out for you are my sustenance,
and I am the seed you sow.”

The lamp post flickers on.
The sidewalk cracks retreat.
The shutters open wide.
The porch bench swings without a creak.
The chimney starts to breathe.
The ceiling beams which had fallen weak,
now support the feeble trees.
From this windowsill across the street,
I’ve seen what life can mean.

Every fern that blocked the sky
has bent it’s twigs revealingly.
Every vine which crept and choked now wraps,
and curls around entwining hope.
Each root that hid itself from us
Each vegetable that shriveled up.
Each neighbor who witnessed their bond,
alone or betrothed, now sing the melody.

Maybe I’ll hear the horns,
Maybe I’ll learn to sing, sometime this week.
Track Name: As Long as My Voice Holds, You Will Be My Song. (Singer)
I came across a man who sold his years of old
for a song that he would never sing.
How could he have known that the love he loaned,
the one he owned, was the only song he’d ever need.
I need thee. Hallelujah, I need.
Track Name: When I Quit, You Can Put Dirt On Me. (Harvester)
I’ve come to lay my face to the dirt,
it’s the closest thing I have to a second birth.
Say, that your well is rich with life,
and your river runs abundantly through it.
You chose to ignore,
the path that was laid out.
Scorched and frail,
are the words you utter now.
On all the other earths you’ve sown,
nothing grew, just withered in the sun.
And all along you’ve had a home,
now drought and dry and dust have come.

And the clouds darken still,
after the torrent of rain.
The harvester nears,
and his footsteps resound like a drum.
A voice echoes out:
“Son, do you know where you stand?”
But, before I respond,
heaven and hell ring as one.

With a shout of acclamation,
I express my newborn clarity.
For what is lost can be restored,
“My God, take my blindness from me!”

We were handmade.
We once were firm but we won’t hide our years.
Underneath the boards you will find these words.
Let our foundation tell our story.

In spite of earthly squalls, our family overcomes.
In spite of scarce supplies, the silo walls withheld.
In spite of severed limbs, our roots remain unscathed.
In spite of weaknesses, our strengths outweigh them all.
In spite of soaking clothes, the troughs have overflowed
into a bountiful harvest, that’s flourished ever since
The sun contests the moon, and light and dark eclipse.
In one accord we see the balance still remains.
The barn birthed by our hands, has grown to bare it’s own
with spider webs and notes, we scribble words of hope.
Track Name: It's Been Years Since She's Put on that Dress. (Mother)
Your hands shake, as you break another glass,
wrinkled by the water, left running.
The kettle whistles on the stove.
The oven is breathing smoke.
The places were set long ago
but now the room is getting cold.
She overflows, as love abides.

And just below,
the stairwell sings, a familiar tune...
Mouse trap clicks.
Clock counts.
Boiler rumbles the house.
Heater speaks to the smoke alarms beeps:
“The room is now filling with clouds”

With every sound, an open eye.
For every pause, a deep breath.
As the daisies that dress bedroom walls lure her to sleep.

At half past eight,
slips the morning light.
Into her bathroom robe
then on towards the kitchen stove
Where right on time, the kettle hissed,
it was off to work with a hurried kiss.

Without a word,
he turned away and every pause left deeper pain.
What she wished he’d say, became her escape,
while each swinging door became sweet saving grace.
Grandfather’s clock, was like a ticking bomb
as it approached with great alarm.

Suddenly to her surprise, she awoke to a ringing bell.
At such an early hour and no expected guest,
she dressed in haste, fear on her face.
The silhouette stood tall in place,
through the window she looks and hesitates.
With both her hands she reached for the door,
removed the locks and opened up.

“Oh, my God. How long has it been?”
she stared straight into his repentant eyes,
and he smiled..
“I’m sorry for leaving this house to ruin.”
The morning came and lifted up
these two old souls back into love.
Track Name: Here Come the Clouds. (Meteorologist)
Are we the salt from the ocean spray,
or were we made to dissipate the snow?
When you can never tell a storm or swell,
you’re buried in the earth.
The sailors watch for colored skies,
while farmers pray for black and white.
If you can’t predict cirrus or cumulous
it’s best to fear the worst of it.
I’ve rolled the dice with my kids and wife.
I’ve reaped a life of turbulence.
I built the cage, though I am the prey,
I long to see the daylight.
What the neighbors sowed, in fertile soil,
has grown to break the surface.
With his mother’s eyes, the boy arrives,
and love’s the proclamation.
“Father, I have watched the tide.
I know the captain goes down with his ship,
Oh to see the sun, through a brother’s hope,
has given me the courage.”

Weather changes everything
and weather is always changing.
The tides, of course, are cyclical
but the wind is unpredictable.
Land erodes and forests grow
if the wind and sun allow.
But, our hands can learn to excavate.
Dry fields can be plowed.
If we find out what is coming
we can plan which way to go.
Foxes dig deep warm holes.
Bears sleep through the snow.
Seagulls flock to southern states
to guard another’s shore,
while sailors watch horizons
for the colors of a storm.
If he chooses to avoid them
his own brother could drown.
If we do not plant the seed
nothing comes from fertile ground.
If we stay inside all winter
snow will come as due reward.
If we hide away from cloudbursts
rain will wash away our farms.
Its what we do in tidal waves
that we find out who we are.
Its why we bet on cards.
What we whispers behind a bar.
It grows calmest at the eye
as we make our last decision.
Judge us by how we lived our lives
not by how we made our living.

For the last seventeen years,
we would all patiently wait,
but what was meant to destroy
has become the capstone
for futures that we will create.

Rejoice, the storm’s through,
Rebuild, the day’s new.
Rejoice, the rain’s done
Relive while love blooms.
(Rewind, while love sings.)