People At Work

by Jonathan Russell

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The so-called "[Demos]" album, now available as "People At Work," is a notebook that opened and closed in three seasons of 2007. It is at once honorable and shabby, playful and dying, tender, mostly, perhaps a book of dedications, but, above all, it seems to work well as a thread or temporary dye. It collects dust as well as a book, and will hopefully be as sticky now as it was the early days of September 2007.


released September 1, 2007

for Nora



all rights reserved


Jonathan Russell Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Have you seen Nijinksy dance the Rite of Spring?
And I said, Nijinksy did not dance the Rite of Spring.
And I said, there is so much beauty in the world.
And he said: None of it has to do with my being in this world.
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Track Name: Nobody Told Me
Regina went to Lido with a flower
And she’d love if we could meet within the hour
Wise men come and beat their drum
Children come and beat their drum
Sandra says I have more sense then many
But this show is gonna cost a thousand pennies
And I paid for beer I fear, I’ll just sit outside and hear—
I thought it would be free, nobody told me, nos reunamos en una hora
Gino’s drinking pinot by the water
And so soon we’ll come and greet like sons and daughters,
And I’ll strum to beated drum
Track Name: On Platforms High
I have a rope that pulls, my platforms high,
and for Juno’s will, I have a boat that’s dry—
platform’s high when you fill me up
On my clipper ship, I lost you my fleet,
so on hands I stand, and I pray with feet—
platform’s high when you fill me up, fill me up
Track Name: For a Band of Prisoners
Cruel soft spinners frail from winter falling from shade into the light,
No soft-spoken clouds have opened prior to this sacred night,
A band of prison men were driven slow away
from Montclair’s wooden door,
They chill and shiver and slowly wither
like the herbs we all expect to store—
and I drove down just to meet them

A weary hollowed man had followed full suspected prey into the lake,
He drown intending on pretending he could simply rest before the wake,
No one’s driven by his visions causing him to sit instead of change—
and I drove down just to see him
Yes, I did
Track Name: Miserable Month of March
Why do rainy hours give names like Miserable Month of March?
Cooled off lovers in the same street make me weep
Exposéd players and lovers in the sun
Get chills when it rain, rain, rains
Impressed by my rhymes of you,
I swear that sometimes I feel like I’m right—but I’m right here
Rise up sun’s out everybody’s got binoculars,
When I see so far I feel so small,
Telling me what makes me tick is going to make me talk,
Ah! Pen on pad making hand so hot,
If you had wet it it could never have burned,
I’ve wallowed in misery for thirty (odd/strange) nights
and that why I feel like I’m right—but I’m right here
Oh, wheels and wheels of Time.
Miserable Month of March.
Track Name: Brothers Shout to One Another
On a ragged plane that only hovers seven feet above the ground
Everybody’s door is closed I knock and knock but no one is around
Pretty faces growing out in front of every floor except for Five
I move from places low and high I’m pretty sure
the change keeps me alive, and crying—I don’t know?
Brothers brothers brothers shout to one another, don’t they wooden boy?
Leaving trails of fluid for the wake and no one
wonders what they’re there for
Pile of papers on the floor I wonder how I’ll ever get them done
And all this wasted time is shit so luckily
it all equates to none, I’m done—I don’t know?
Track Name: That Was My News
I try to tell it all on a telephone call, but I lose
And I walk so long just to tell you you’re wrong, but you’ve moved
I have composed rows and rows of muse, that was my news,
And nothing greater—true
We’ve got two eyes in front and three in the back, and it shows
And the man on the roof is telling the truth, so we know
I’d trade none of it in for I know were I’ve been, and I know where I will go
Lido or living alone
I have completed all I’ve competed in blue, that was my news
And nothing greater—true
We’ve got two eyes and front and three in the back. Is that right?
And the man on the roof is blind and aloof and a-flight
I’d traded everything in but I know were I’ve been, and here I am!
And nothing greater—true
Track Name: Silversilversilver
Strap me up in silver lady I want to fight, I’ve come to take my armor back this time, and I’d love to get my message down the line—even if that ain’t right, I’m going to burn them down tonight There’s and old and lonely fever on the ground, and I’d love to get my fever rolling down […]
Track Name: Jillian
Leave me be, leave me be
Close my eyes I do not want to see
These ancient leaves breed possibility through my windows, Ha!
Young and free, young and free
Agnostic chambers full of friends who cry and tease,
Jillian and Lily may come as they will please—
But Jillian, Jillian, Jillian is taller than me
Let me in, let me in,
Hold me up before I fall again,
Let me know if ever when I’m nearing on the edge
of this waiting for you, Ha!
“Mission gang? You’re in a mission gang?
To you I’m ripetide-facist-in-chains?
Holey jean word machine uncovered in the rain?”—
Oh, but Jillian I think you’re crazy
I don’t need a spotted clue!
I can see you standing!
Won’t you come by and freeze!
Jillian is taller than me
Track Name: Baby Tina
Rumor gave me eyes and now I see in through my windows
And through this moonlight splashing I hear boats and buildings crashing
Just at night ‘til someone makes it day,
if you had known what she had said
My distraught companion is now sleeping in a sandbed
With oysters ‘round her creeping just to swim upon her weeping
Baby Tina spent the night in pain, that’s what she said,
if you had known where I had been, Oh!
Monday morning message may deliver close containment
Though if Tuesday comes in order I’ll have jumped across the border
When will I be close enough to help? When you are well?
And all is said and done?
Oh! Thousands in their chambers with moonlight on their faces
And linen over laces while confined in their spaces,
Baby Tina spends the night in pain
Track Name: Dream no. 3
Though I’ve never been out there
I know that there’s mountain air that’s for me
I may never get where I think it would be fair
To say I’d be happy
But if you see the tree that I dreamed will you carve in my name?
God will always forgive you
How I’ll never regret all the people I met
When I stared in that frame
And the fever that burns so will naturally go
And our feels will remain the same,
I want you to shake while in Spain and let youthfulness
lay your cool body down
God will always forgive you
(I will always forgive you)
I was thinking some May if you feel the same way
I would dry out my clothes,
And sell them for paper and then I could pay for
The passport to go and grow
And I could call life “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful”
Track Name: Katie
It is rainy,
What will Katie do?
Waxing waning
Always changing moon sees you through
I don’t have second days like the days I had with you
Oh! I don’t know any craze like the craze that loves to live like Katie, Katie
Ladies cry, I
Hope you never do
Keep on smiling
Somehow light gets through, I’m amused!
Please let my Katie play on ecliptic wheels through days
Oh! Please let my Katie stay, know the Bedouin gets sad, Oh! Katie, Baby
Track Name: Diamond Mines
“World went backwards while you slept soundly
The North Pole is the South Pole in Cali/Italy—
As the miners await the daylight in the nighttime
Rocks bend and break, but the air is hard in the Diamond Mines
Nighttime turned into daytime, as the asteroids became the stars
The sun shone when the moon went home so I slept til it was dark—
And as the miners await the daylight in the nighttime,
Rocks bend and break, but the air is hard in the diamond mines.”
Track Name: Dream no. 4 (or The Time I Waited at the Manor House)
Over in the springtime kids ring bells for me
Ring it loud, ring it on!
Everything was true,
I’d love to feel you right
Still I know this vision came at night
Oh! Mr. Freeze, emancipate my feet
Or I know I’ll be returning
Please! This isn’t me!
I need to write out postcards,
I feel it every week
I’m not that guy though I’ve tried
While these demon threads
Are winding through my dreams,
Still at night or wide awake I plea
To set my free!—ring it on, ring it loud!
You see him by the window
You’d love to say ‘hello’
But when you try, feel him cry
Words in there swim deep
Outside the door you weep
But when you try to say ‘it’
Then he’ll plead “This isn’t me!”—ring it on, ring it loud!
Track Name: Epiphany Tiffany (and The Carpenter)
I love it in the springtime on the west side of my country
Coming home I see it again
For all I care every night and day
I love it when the lights go out
And the door stays closed forever
Tick, tick, tick in that afternoon
It makes me want to build The Table
—"I’m hardly able if I could, I’d stain the wood with tears"—
Familiar trees are breathing; it’s another time to find out “why?”
I love it when the night flies by in my self-secluded wilderness
Truly a scene for all things great
Sunrise don’t lie, days go by—
"How can I promise to be true, I hardly love my neighbor?"
I’m loving every fucking day
I can’t wake without discretion,
Try, try, try in this morning sun,
If only I could build you the table
—"I’m hardly able if I could, I’d stain the wood with tears"—
This is my epiphany, Tiffany: I’ll give at least a try.
Track Name: So-called Captain
(I’m glad that you’re away from home having a great time,
because that’s quality)
Well, the tide that washed you up let you down
And the sun that once was over is now underground
And the neighbors will explode if you make a sound—
Make a sound.
I’m losing all my ground and I’m not even home
I’ve left a pregnant sister sitting all alone
How do you critics smile with your tile so new?
I’m begging on you Waldemere to see me through—
I know you’ll do…
Cool off, baby, find time to sleep
How long have you felt like you’ve been in too deep?
Tonight you’d like to pray the Lord your soul to keep—
I know he’ll keep yours…
I’ve got a helping hand you can’t refuse
To call yourself a man don’t really make it true
And this “so-called captain” won’t abandon crew—
how about you?
Track Name: Smart Little Girl
I can hardly see
The sun has barely risen from the ground,
And the tree line is shaking cause it’s cold in June—
Smart little girl, I love you.
I can hardly wait to see you stand,
I can hardly stand to leave you,
Some day you’ll stay awake and see the sun like I am—
Smart little girl, don’t forget me.
I can hardly see
The sun has barely shown on what I have,
But when Nora wakes, Nora makes me glad—
And when Nora wakes, Nora makes me glad—
Smart little girl, I love you.