The Golden Archipelago – Lyrics

The Golden Archipelago
The Golden Dossier (lite edition): lyrics, documents, and photos (PDF 36MB) | Images from the Golden Archipelago


In the burning days
of unnatural light
I took a long drive
into the evening

On the barracks road
past the generals’ eyes
down to the seawall
where the waves stand by

The enormous lull
then the roar in the sky
and then the searchlights
over the airfield

And over the ocean
winging low
I saw the first wave
and the flares that fall
like fireflies
on the islands

In the boom and swell
from the waves to the heights
of our old lives

Like a golden bell
that would ring through the night
and then the front moves
and we raise our eyes
in the silence of the islands

Black Eyes

Come down from the lion’s back!
Call down to the endless sleepers!
Bring light to the dimming days
that run in an endless stream

In the black of the eye
In the heat of the act
is a crack in the ice

Come down from the iron wheel!
Come back from the endless labor!
Look down on the rolling waves
that strike on the crumbling reef

Is what the body becomes
in the bellow aloud
in the crack of the drum
and as the body dies
what is left of the heart
burns white

No light on the western shore
No sign of the ships at anchor
No sound but the roaring winds
No warmth but the life behind the eye

And what the body allows
is a flash in the heart
until the memory dies
and a forever life
is an infinite lie
hung wide.

Landscape at Speed

In a power dive
in a slow burn
over ancient fields
over islands
from the slope and the rise
of the mainland
unfamiliar shapes

Through the atmosphere
over rain clouds
to the brimming bowl
how we lit them up
with the sun in our eyes

Hidden Lakes

Gone from the house
to the snows
like a wandering light
you send a last balloon
to the solemn light
of the moon’s eye

Over the fields
and the arcs of the radial lines
that bind the waking world
to the hidden life
of the empire
that sleeps in the frozen lakes
and moors in the darkened bays
and glows in the golden rays
and dreams of us

That moves
without sound
through the air
through the ground
and that streams through each break
carved in the line
and dreams of us


Walk him up and down the corridors
till his arms are tired
till his lungs are tired

Starve him of the air, the dimming light
till his eyes are wide
till his eyes are wild
till he sees the other side

Chain him to the burning carousel
till the horses tire
till the horses tire

Blast away the bearings of his life
till his eyes are wild
till his eyes are white
but stave off suicide
Oh my my my my my my my my my my my

God Made Me

My brother stands at the back of the line
My children at the breaking wall
The clouds are opening over the earth
The palms a dark and waving wall
And we call back to the old familiar life:
Please hide me

My father climbs to the top of the rail
his head above the roaring world
his body burning
his eyes on the waves
and a god below the waterline

And the grim towers along the barrier line
in the cold light of a weakening star
unchain me

Though the last shower of fire wheels in the air
I am life breathed in the radiant lie:
God made me

Runners of the Sun

could I have seen them
their faces and distant lives
shells in the ocean

Just a mark
laid on the map lines
to drown in the ocean’s rise
or burn in a heat wave

This is why
I turned away
to slowly break
under the lashes

This is how
I learned a lie
that power breeds


By shadowing
all the darkened fields
of forgotten words
and civilian lives

Through violence
through the changing guards
through the grinding away
and the furious marching

By gathering
the holy light
and weathering
a castaway life
and the rising fear

The hollowness
of the flags and gods
that are raised in the air
in the wake of their raging

Your skinny arms
hold a lantern up
on the brightest array
of the stars in their moorings

And summoning
the holy light down
on their citadels:
the blackening sky
the collapsing sun, the burning wall
that approaches our eyes.

You live again
in the shuddering light
of these images.
This valediction:
You are running from a rising tide.
You are castaways.

An Insular Life

A calm
then the roaring wall of the eye
as we sailed to the world
from an insular life
from the boughs that had sheltered us all of our lives
from the sun’s red blooming

With a shadow on every life
and we laid in the dark
through the thundering nights
and awoke to an ocean of shimmering white
where the hull scrapes on the silent ice
and the gulls on the frozen ropes

Oh, lights on the floor.
Let the audience rise.
Let them file through the halls
still assured in their lives
until the sky shudders open
impossibly wide
and the room glows in the sudden light
and they are gone.
They are gone for life.


Send back the uniforms!
Send back the generous reich!
Give us back to our lives
on the waving blue wild
and remove every mark
down to the waterline
and with your arms at your sides
turn homeward.

Over seas
Over roads
Over burning atolls
Hurl your empire’s crown
back in the heart
of the waves.

eber im lok jiktok ikerele
kot iban bok hartu jonan an elap ippa

Relay, relay the unquenchable song through the wire
where your horses alight
on the shores of our lives.

The world blooms for the last time.

Missing Islands

Effortless gulls in the wake
silver and white on the bow
as the island is broken away
from the world

Bandages pulled from the eyes
The violent surging of life
in the bloodstream of heaven and earth
falls away

Stars on the boundary line
bloom and recede in the day
and the airfield is under the waves-