Austerity Measures

by Liam Betson

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"Where there is an œuvre, there is no madness."

The point is to give some order to thoughts. To excavate memory, speech, identity, history. Sometimes approaching things unreasonably, obliquely, or simply against common sense can help. A strange order can help.

The point is to keep yourself entertained, and to do so cheaply. Writing poems outside the grocery store, cross-legged on the parquet, playing music with a child's toy, recording the results in an apartment above a Hungarian restaurant. See the mice scurry amongst pastries left in the window overnight.

So there's the joke about austerity. Setting limits to boost growth. Harper Lee had a regular booth at McDonald's. There is something about the phrase "living deliberately" which sticks in my mind. The only compliment I've received that really made me blush was that I choose my words carefully.

If somewhere the question is asked, "What was 2014-2016?" then this is my infinitesimal contribution to its answer. I am politically and historically located. And however impossible it feels, or may actually be, to pinpoint the significance of this body and this location, or to understand my role as an actor, perhaps these songs will help convey the love and hope I often feel, despite my ignorance.

Best wishes,
Liam Betson: Voice, guitar, synthesizer
David Krol: Synthesizer on tracks 1 and 2
Jonathan Leblanc: Synthesizer, percussion
All songs written by Liam Betson
Recorded between July 2015 and February 2016
Produced by Jonathan LeBlanc
Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk
Photography by David Krol
Released by Double Double Whammy, 2016


released August 19, 2016


tags: folk


all rights reserved


Liam the Younger

Liam Betson is a North American songwriter.

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Track Name: Mispronounced
Let our mouths distort
the words for which
there are no words
Clumsily shaping,
"What can be said
can be said clearly,"
what we've seen
but never spoken
Ignoring their laughter,
their moronic contempt
We without children
gathered at the table,
holding hands
with kindness kindling
effortless cares
The heat covers us
I am swimming in your mouth
I am a lisp articulating, enunciating,
crawling from your tongue
Shadows dance across
the edges of your lashes
Colors turn to dust
against your memory
And for a little while
we wish to change nothing
Our love gestured
Our words mispronounced
Track Name: Remove Me
Do not affirm me
Close your eyes over me
In so far as my body is an object
Objectify me
Do not affirm
Close your eyes over
In so far as body is an object
In the light, affirm me
Open your eyes under me
And of course my body can be seen and touched
I am more than what is seen and touched
Do not objectify me
My voice bends to my will
In the light, affirm
Open your eyes under
And of course body can be seen and touched
More than what is seen and touched
Do not objectify
Voice bends to will
The sky fell blue on the window
Track Name: Sale
Moonrise over
the dollar store
Oh moon, you
discount, you clearance
Alison's curls weaving,
bobbing along the sidewalk
Everything for sale
and nothing sold
Verily we merry three
watching dusk in transit
from one end of the room
to another
as the birds sing
their city-crazed song
and fight
on telephone wires
and tin awnings
The church's adjacent
yawning in the fog
I hear the dog-walker coughing
and the dog barking at a car
Layers emerge in sequined depth
Our love lies dormant
but rages with seizures
behind hospital curtains
Track Name: Crane
Beautiful day
No sun in sight
Gray spills over
the branches,
the squirrel's nest
Some birds hop around
and do whatever else
it is they do
The crane continues
to swing about
and the high-rise
grows without
my even noticing it
Like a child

Wonderful day
I wish I was
a mole in the ground
I spent 59 cents
on an orange
and cried my
yawning tears
These eyes of mine
Bless them
But enough already!
Love and humor
have made me strong.
Kimpy, let your
hair grow long
Track Name: Boycott
Rain falls on city streets
A bizarre recipe
Drunken cook
You spilling servant,
my gratitude will forever
be too little

We've passed
beyond the fields
and wondered,
“How sad for so-and-so”
Avoiding the snares,
our tongues progress
Whatever, strange currency
The tears in your eyes,
the measured breaths
betray your moneyed brow
Though cloaked expensively,
Comrades, we will wear
your uniforms in tribute
And speak out against imbecility

Vanquished thoughts,
swiftly denied
To the tumbrel, the gibbet
this MRA hellscape
The dreams aren’t their dreams
Okay, amazing
An entire world covered
with my hands
Track Name: The Comedians
Weeping behind your opposite
Fists denied their openness
Desire hidden in the cabinet
Oh, private property!
Oh, adoration!
Thoughts pierced,
caught in prayer
Obscure intentions laid bare
The mind is echoing
The mind is haunted
The portrait's eyes are following you

The communards feast gleefully
The weight lifters flex furiously
The witches shop for ointments and brooms
The ferocious invalids ignore their wounds
Stare at others on the street
What's required isn't
Sirens (as in police) draw us in
Our madness is deliberate

Contradictions amounting to
the same thing,
the same view
Bless the comedians
and spit at the past
Despotic idiots spoke of
"Bourgeois science"
"Jewish mathematics"
Language will see itself out the door
Track Name: Framework/Not Today
Dreamed about nothing…
A hand holding under water,
a holding under another
Collapsing into confidence,
confiding in diminishment
Love without contest
And if we are to build this
if we are to build
this in its framework,
all things in their given framework,
listener, we should become poorer
We should become
the architects of our own humility
Call my name
Call to me my name
This being my name
I will respond
Track Name: The Past Tense
I will go. I am going. I went.
The past tense
From the wall
to the window
And saw the
wilting ginger plant
All green and yellow
Not rotting
Opposite blossoming
Like our love
and sentiments inverted:
"To sterve in wanhope and distresse
Farwel my lif, my lust, my gladnesse"
Some jokes aren't funny
but must be told
Some songs aren't sad
but sound just-so
Some acts are colonial fantasies
but drape the flag of nature
Bah! Humbug!
Here I am
The present tense
Paint chips dot the crevices
"Spring cleaning"
Open the window
The sound of your
mouth and nose asleep
And again my budding love
My watering eyes
Track Name: Soft Wounds
And for thee my dedications
My bleeding
Gasping, often casually
My flippant cigarette lighting
Cat-walking dangerously
There is an edge
and I shall cross it
For my glamour deserves
soft wounds

I am bosomed and unmoored
A little boat
A child without a sailor's tongue
Seasick and grasping
the bedsides,
swimming with the speckled trout
Oh, provincial stream meanderer
I am lost in the underneath,
thrashing in the netting

I am a remainder, unbalanced
Accounts not yet closed
For sale what will never be sold
And for thee all nervous glances
in ATM mirrors
A red marker
on the binding
of your memory

My frothy sippings,
toothpicking with lavender buds
Yawning through games of Snood, or
quack-quacking my Pringled mouth
Imagining a grandmother
pinching the cheeks of
your ever pudgy face
Your hair cut short
Your days grown long
Your fingers krazy-glued
Her ceramics made whole
"This is the body of Christ"

These are the stop signs
scrivened in delight.
The tread upon lawns
The overgrown brush
The laughter of birds
Oh, street of particular width
and length
May we build our cities
without fear of criminals
or police

I assert my right to silence