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Untenable

by BAD MOVES

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1.
Local Radio 02:39
On one enduring July 4th I found myself dependent Working in service in the capital I’d heard the burnout rate was off the charts I should have guessed it I ran into it like a dead end though I talked some shit about the job And I’m surprised with how it ended Got interviewed on local radio And they said “Who bites the hand when the hand feeds you?” They’re passing out scraps, you can hardly believe You’d be picking up tabs for some nouveau riche Who’d be making in an hour what you make in a week Trading shifts with the kids just getting started And the kids spinning their wheels into their 40s, yeah I wanted more, I wanted more than I was getting I wanted more from my relationships I wanted sleep, I wanted peace, I wanted ease, I couldn’t get it I couldn’t find a way to pay for it I dreamed of sleeping aids and counted days as they descended I’d grit and smile and bear the weight of it I’d allow myself a modicum of self destruction A microdosed breakdown, semi-dysfunction I’d be riding around the city to the sound of combustion While the Lady of the Harbor was out drinking in public She’d been pacing back and forth under winds of destruction Taking swigs from a flask and selling SIM cards or something While the Independence Day heat was getting me wired I said “I just wanna see the city on fire” And that patriotic thought tangled up the transmission An anonymous voice on the affiliate station Singing “Who bites the hand when the hand feeds you?” They’re passing out scraps and you start to believe Like you’re lucky to have all the scraps that you’re eating While you’re climbing your way to the top of the scrap heap Tell me who bites the hand when the hand feeds you Who bites the hand? I guess you got to believe You got to open your eyes to all the ways that they bleed you While they’re buying your life up in cheap little pieces, oh I wanted more, I wanted more than I was getting I wanted more, I hit a dead end though I wanted sleep, I counted sheep, I couldn’t breathe, I didn’t get it My head was ringing like a telephone My speech was slurred from shattered nerves and nights up with a headache They sunk in steady like a status quo I took the job and what I got was just some paid-off credit And interviewed on local radio
2.
Sometimes I think all I have to do is keep us alive Whatever happens, just make it till the morning light Inhale, exhale, and repeat until dawn But the hours have been dragging, dragging on I can't sleep while I'm counting your every breath Your chest heaves, there’s a rhythm, there’s a pattern I guess Meaning, breathing, all dissolves in doubt And the night terrors got you screaming out We’re sleeping with the light on Willing the dark to pass It only seems to last, to last You wanna find your salvation in reason? And eulogize on the absence of meaning? Reason hasn't ruled here in a long time You’d never know if you’ve been comfortably sleeping What’s it like to never worry if you’ll live through the night? Must be nice — nothing like this restless, weak, wild-eyed, Strung out, wrung out parasomniac It’s a given: This is living, this is how we react
3.
I’ve been running through this world just trying to pass through my days Wondering what the odds say about catching a break I asked my phone, she said I don’t know She said one day you will too fade away Till then, bask in my glory Got a decade in my pocket and it ain’t coming back A sucker selling content, I’ve been running the track Shaking hands, building brands, posting Instagrams of my cat Christ, you know it ain’t easy Always coming up with something to say I wanna tell you everything I’ve been thinking But it never seems to come out that way It comes out kinda twisted and strange Like prophecies and long dark days Like I used to think we’d go out in a nuclear war Don’t know much has changed, but I don’t think that no more I’m not trying to say we won’t see the day There’s a genocide of the poor It just might come in a heatwave And that’s something no one’s trying to hear You wash it down with liquor and beer And spend the night with someone who’s near And party with the kids who wanna party with you You’re already in deep, you wanna watch for the cue Consent isn’t complex, just no one taught it to you Keep that in mind every day, everything that you do ‘Cause someone might be listening to you When you’re coming up with something to say To keep your mind quiet, scream out To keep your mind quiet scream out And I’ll meet you at the back of the bar I’m asking my old friends “How you doing?” I say “How do you even know who you are?” I wanna tell you everything I’ve been thinking But you’re telling me I took it too far I take a take a ride on a heatwave And crash into the rising sea I got myself a SIM card, it’s prepaid To tell me just what’s wrong with me I asked my latest OS and she said “Pray for sweet singularity” She said come on, get, get, get down on your knees
4.
I sank into the sun I sank into the sun I saw heaven undone Singing reverie’s song I sank into the sun I sank into the sun With strained serotonin I chased reverie’s song Straight into the sun You carve a shape into the sand And wait for the sea to dissolve it And wash the wreckage from your head You’re not afraid of the way that you feel But the way that you’re seen in your body You let the waves rush back again We wade, past the jetty we run On the desolate shore, so unguarded Hop the gate and seen by no one But the Cape Henlopen sun You’re not afraid of the way that you feel But the way that you’re seen in your body Beneath the gaze, the ethereal touch Of the Cape Henlopen sun
5.
Tall pines We finally made it across State lines You're letting a long breath out Twilight on the cover of hanging moss The light dies and leaves you alone with yourself Southbound, you just wanna be okay Get down to the quarter and drink all day But right now, you can't shake the likeness you see ‘Cause somehow, it don't match your memory Scuffing our feet down alien streets Search for the words and call back to me: “No one here needs you to be anybody" No one here needs you to be anybody Speed past the places where you grew up Don't ask about the friends that you blew off You burn gas, get that feeling every highway stop You’re lost fast in the shadows of your old self This shape, this frame, this silhouette Don't match with the portrait in your head It's grown soft from too much forgetting An unfocused photo, a permanent negative
6.
Do ya do ya want me want me working for free Come on tell me, do you want my money Do ya do ya want me want me working for free I can tell the way you’re walking on me Do ya do ya want me want me down on my knees I’m begging you for a wage, please, come on (You get it, you want it, you take it, you got it The value, the labor, the profit, the product) Do ya do ya want me want me struggling? Come on, you think that poverty’s a role-play, baby? (The worker, the smothered, Dickensian sucker The server, subaltern, the self and the other) Do ya do ya want me want me working for free You feel entitled to determine my pay, huh? You want a rock-bottom rate, ‘cause you’re there to appraise The value of emotional labor? Do ya do ya want me want me smiling, co-signed If I bow, is that appropriate behavior? You know I hear the word of god through the customer’s mouth I survive by the kindness of strangers This precarious wager, the structural danger The uncertain nature, the conscious erasure That’s not a bug, that’s a feature (The value, the labor, the profit, the product The worker, the smothered, Dickensian sucker The server, subaltern, the self and the other The givers, the tippers, the buyers, the users The bosses, the owners, the hired, the doers You get it, you want it, you take it, you got it The value, the labor) When the world’s run through the hands of unpaid labor Excess income trickles up from wealthy interns Who can afford to work for gratis and accumulated status Skipping line to a management wage while their bills are all paid The givers, the tippers, the buyers, the users The bosses, the owners, the hired, the doers The keepers, the makers, the havers, the favored The leisured contempt for precarious labor The worker, the smothered, Dickensian sucker The server, subaltern, the self and the other Directors, employers and lobbying lawyers United in making survival untenable
7.
Muster 02:43
Gave the cameraman everything I got All the charm that I could muster Can you turn me into something I can sell? Can you turn me into someone else? Can you turn a tide for me? I gave you all I got Everything that I could muster I cast a shadow like a soaken household sponge Pressed up to parchment paper It’s kinda funny when you print it out that way It’s kinda blurry, it don’t look like me Like all I ever really wanted was A portrait of my shadow Once shot and twice exposed, yeah One darkroom course for my self-worth What’s straight up worse? No reaction One played-out hand, I can’t, I can See myself in the reflection
8.
Fog is a funny thing It settles over me at times, I know That I should see much rosier But I can’t bear the color, no My mother says she’s sorry For the years she spent unfeeling I say, “Ma, I know fog is a funny thing” Fog is a funny thing It settles over me at times It’s like the chill that comes in autumn It runs up and down the spine And I know that Saul is leaving town, Although I wish that they would stay, I tell ‘em, “Saul, you know that fog is a funny thing” Take cover in the mist approaching winter We’ll be blown over, you’ll see far less when you squint, you find you Remember me as blurred, opaque and dim, you know Of course, we know that fog is a funny thing When the fog coalesces around a memory of a friend lost in it Indistinct, a warning, it might swallow you up whole, that’s when I Look out at the world filtered in brushstrokes, vague, impressionistic And let it all roll in like fog, let it all roll over
9.
Same bad friends come over again And take turns asking how you've been And it burns to break it down slow If it was this bad, you should have just said so Turn up late, shirt shrunken again A half-smile traced in dusty skin Soft skills and delicate words To cover up cracks and rust in the armor But now they see you stretching your sleeves Carving details off your disease You had blisters, now you just bleed You were special And when intention sharpens your teeth Your profession garbles your speech Burning breaths that choke back belief You were special Frigid fingers fumble in Airtight pockets, worn from wondering You had time to turn out precious Now you have less, it seems you’re just reckless Same bad friends come over again And coax out the worst about you 'Cause when you speak in spurts and stammers The curtains crash down on what you were after And now it's patience grasping your neck Now it’s business gripping your chest Your restraint compels you to rest You were special Your protectors bless your good deeds Your successors live to succeed You'll repress whatever you read Hide out, measure the mess Trust the nice family cutting the checks Ride out nevertheless To find your bad friends impressed with your progress
10.
I’ve been seeking hope in the water When the rain comes pissing down It don’t stress me out I settle into it And when the leaves pile on the corner Under a frozen cloud It don’t freak me out They’ve gone the way I only dream about The way the water rushes down and out The way the water I’ve been seeking hope in the water And when the leaves pile on the corner I’ve been seeking hope in the water (When the rain comes pissing down) It don’t stress me out I settle into it
11.
Tides 02:25
When you saw it for the first time The beauty of the moment passed while you Skimmed application guidelines Tides rush ten thousand feet below Where the hope for a reunion Felt like waiting out the continental drift A barrier to be outlived It’s morning where I land We’re texting from the customs line To dull the ache of being left behind Make do with what we can A funeral in family threads and low-res JPEGs Regret in each reply A story told in headlines And visa stamps denied When you saw it for the first time The condensation all grey and blue The mist on the coast line Ten thousand feet below Where the prospect for reunion Felt like waiting out the continental drift A planetary movement And the weight of displacement While over the Atlantic The story plays itself over again A crowd of faces chanting “Take back control” and all that shit When freedom’s only granted To those who have the means to buy back in We’ll wait for continental drift
12.
End of Time 03:17
I know you’re leaving tomorrow And this is just the comfort of the living room You don’t raise your pen from the crossword We don’t say a thing the whole afternoon Sit down, explore a common intersection Look down, you see a problem that you can’t avoid Four down, sparks some nervous apprehension Calm down, it’s just a window to your fragile mind And you’re having a good time But the clue says, “You alright?” Maybe this all ends up fine Or maybe it’s the end of time We’re still having a good time We’re still having a good time Maybe this all ends up fine We’re still having a good time We’re still having a good time Or maybe it’s the end of time Each circled letter in the crossword spells out A techno-utopian highway, top down This subprime survival is our shared truth now Try these three: Tent-cityscape views Self-driving exhaust fumes Co-working communes

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released June 26, 2020

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BAD MOVES Washington, D.C.

BAD MOVES is:

Emma Cleveland
David Combs
Katie Park
Daoud Tyler-Ameen

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