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The Cover of Hunter

by Liam Betson

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1.
Let’s paint a scene where tall, black trees cast shadows on sheets with blue folds descending and pointing to a place where all contrast dissipates beneath the carpet and wood. Night hangs from a branch, opens out, covers the ground, mixes with the dirt where gardens will bloom— buried, for now, under a waxing moon tacked there from ever to after. As cats hiss and dogs bark at a fox running across the park, back to its dominion in the woods, dreamers breathe softly in their rooms and float through visions of serenity. A trace of light, spitting dust torn from that other world, frames straight lines for straight shapes to appear before eyes blinking open, closed, open, closed, now open on the sun. The world of dreams fades away, fades away, replaced with common things. The same four corners, the same ceiling and floorboards, the same getting up to leave. Walking over broken glass along the highway overpass and the ants between cracks in the sidewalk. Amazing, beautiful trash-land where bottles, cans, plastic bags, cigarettes and newspaper all mix in the street cauldron. Escaped industrial smoke rings around Rusholme, seeps through the dry heat. Cough cough and open the door, up the stairs and down again, already split in two and leaning against a fence. Staring at a robin eating a worm as a million cars pass by, endlessly disappearing into a tunnel, echoing weird concrete like a fortress deteriorating whispers to the ground where everything comes to rest. In the distance it smears to gray, to gray, to gray, to gray... following back the lines until they’re colored again. An atmosphere of devotion— not fade away, not fade away. Still imagining the world as a gigantic painting. Beginning to melt into it, half-remembering a dream with outlines like vapor. Throw it away, throw it away— there is clearly a present and visible world surrounding and filling everything.
2.
Pocket Knife 03:26
Let there be a consoler, a remover of cares, who places tired heads in the palms of their hands. Let there be someone to draw the gun from Hunter. It will give me strength to hold and strength becomes an object and this object becomes an idol to stand before abstraction and memory. Can it stand before anxiety if my wits cannot take care of me? And you are whispering what’s possible. Just imagining what’s possible. Sometimes nothing feels possible, just vague and emptied out. Propped up like a doll with hands over my mouth until night beautifully replaces my vocal cords with those of a gigantic gray crumbling concrete monolith and the filthy gutter water drips and the make up smeared close-up pix of a dungeon-dwelling glitterbest bitch endlessly wheat pasted to the bricks. And you are whispering what’s possible. Just imagining what’s possible.
3.
My seams don't have to be so tight. But if they come undone will they stay undone? And will I pass by everything without noticing anything? Just be floating there? Oh. But I pulled this shirt over my head. I admired the lace around the neck. The stitching is fair, the folds all neat, and my face looks fine, and my hands are clean. So I can turn them around— these bad feelings. Here's a hoot and a howl— I’m celebrating like a neighbor's dog who crawled into the yard; with dirt on his paws, he let out a bark upon finding something he'd buried there last year. It was cause for some joy. Oh.
4.
I don't like it when I act like it was something much bigger than it was. And I don't like it when I can't hide it, like I said it wouldn't hurt but now it does. We sat beneath what I think might have been a willow tree; you and me where the worms squirm and crawl. My eyes were closed and your hand was on my back and when it fell I felt it fall. So what's the use in blushing for you when posture proves such a strong point of view? All strength is collected in your chest or in the decorative perfume bottle kept on your desk. I want to look at myself from another perspective— primarily through disembodiment and absorption into a wall where each scene dissolves into the next one, a dream-world that allows for memory's retention, where I'm cleaned up like a silhouette cut in paper. I’m only there for a minute then I’m back with some resolve. Would that feel better? Reflection without mirrors or talking. Reflection where I see myself as somebody else. But I don't want to disappear even if that were allowed. I like being here and having you around makes it clear: Empathy is real. A cleft in personality is easy to conceal. I have been accepted and will never forget it. I am grateful to speak without apprehension. I won’t feel sorry for how I dreamed about you— APOLOGIZING FOR DREAMS IS OFFENSIVE. Last night I saw a homeless man spit birdseed into a plastic bag; I wasn’t asleep but it felt like I was dreaming. And sometimes that’s how I want it to be. Above and beyond memory there is a complete and total feeling. I’m warmed by it. Surprise is to the neck as adoration is to the eyes. And I’m choked by it. Worry is to the stomach as loneliness is to the entire body.
5.
Tie My Hands 05:28
Completely incapable of making connections with other people. You’re here but distant and calmly disjointed like actors frozen in profile. But I am an actor too and I’ve acted for you. You’ll leave this town, disappear forever. No one will gossip and push you around, no parents to send you to your room, no embarrassment or answering to. And you won't really be alone. Not like now, waking up for school. And when night comes to hold hands with someone, euphoria enters suddenly. But to have it and know it and love it and show it is like leaves and branches over a hole. So tonight will be actual proof of tradition and tribute. In the middle of some happiness stare down this picture of _________. Stare down some little representation of love as a thousand other photographs of a thousand other people stay undeveloped on the dresser where bits of dust will gather like tobacco worked into the wood or discarded newspaper with outlined words shrugged off, completely uninterested, to a world of vapors where idle thoughts go. But dreams rise up from the cracks and people you’ve ignored will come back. And some night on a long walk back home past those stinking roads where the buses don't go, the white walls with lexan windows and the park within subdivisions, hear your name called like hands reaching for your neck.
6.
Cop Car 07:36
Touch the hair above my eyes. Don't just leave it there—brush it aside. And stare directly into a mirror or a store window, pretend that I don't. Draw a line from my mouth to my neck to imagine how fair and delicate this flesh might actually seem in contrast with something completely appalling. Oh, and when you turn your face the other way it changes how I think of you. Almost from lavender to blue or from beautiful to pure. Standing in front of your house, open my mouth, let some words come out. The meaning, the meaning... forgetting the meaning. Because in this light and at this angle, at least, you and everything around you feels like rapture in heat. So if my thoughts are pointless and empty then let this feeling swallow me (like when I saw you in a dreamer’s mirror drawing the lines of beautiful shapes.) Oh, and when you turned your face the other way it changed how I loved you. Almost from lavender to blue or from beautiful to pure.
7.
The little things I did to show I wasn't taking this too seriously will probably get lost over time. But that's fine, right? Yeah that's fine, right. Some parts are mine and, like... other things you just can't help sometimes. So I try to keep it out of my mind and talking with you is a good sign. These motions can't always do what I want them to. Today, I realize, I am in a bad mood, that I scowl and brood like it's clever or cute. But I will see it through, I will curse and rue, I will joke about it too just to confound and confuse— there's nothing wrong with you. And I am smart enough to admit that. I will not stop understanding that. I will bow before that. I will get drunk knowing that. I will not feel bad. I will offer my hand. I haven't been and will continue to refrain from sobbing in my bed. I want crooked teeth and I want a runny nose and I want a cut on my knee to get little specks of blood on my clothes. This too will be a testament as I sit cross-legged in my room. And I'll talk you through the rest of it if that's what you want to do. Intersecting wills in a dark and crowded room where voices whisper who’s sleeping with whom, hiding hands beneath tables like charms in a tomb for an itch to exhume and then posture improves as the ego in you begins to blossom and bloom— the image is renewed! And with eyes splintering a line of pale light you think of what might be the loneliest way home. It's hard, I know, but humility shows that you're willing to go quiet-and-unannoying-ly. I say this knowingly: whatever it turns out to be, I can plainly see right the heck in front of me, like two hands extending, the door is opening.
8.
X 04:45
X did something strange last night. Split himself in two and listened through Cease to Exist and Eyes of a Dreamer. Focusing on a circle floating around his head, eyes fluttering, looked out his window at the once-blue-then-orange-now-purple sky. Some cars passed by, some kids passed by, some animals passed by, some trash passed by, something something something always passes by. X turned around and glared down at words underlined, left open on the table: "he celebrated with a fire and the burial of eight wine bottles in the shape of a swastika beneath the arch of the Pagan Gate." Felt the heat at his neck like what’s between hope and dread, hope and dread, hope and dread... until slowly slowly slowly came back together again. No longer feeling the effects, X dedicated himself to his drawings. Penciling dog fights and martyred saints, drifting between possibilities in a self-created world of images to see if there’s power in posture, in position, in particular arrangements or whatever, in these arrows stuck in Sebastian’s side like a coat for the cold or pills for loneliness, loneliness... and loneliness crept in so X split himself in two again. The lines dissolved, disappeared. Worries, worries disappeared. Making sense of sex and death by rendering them useless or just not romanticizing either of them for the time being. Just closed his eyes and pictured: all traffic in the same direction, all words without vowels, all pain measured equally, all expectations curbed. Seeing the entire world as a big mushy blur.
9.
You don't know which colors go together. But matching doesn't matter anymore, and tonight you will tell her it doesn't matter what she came here for. Because insecurity is no better than all the pointless things we bow before. Cruelty is the whip, anxiety is the tether and depression is the guts and gore. For you the world is poorly lit, so by nightfall you’re used to it. Now you’re staring out the window being abused as shapes float by. Open your hand, smudge the glass to obscure everything outside. You chew on a pill, think about nothing, focus on your knees and fade and sigh. And in your backseat dream you are trepanned under a blue sky. For you the world is poorly lit, so by nightfall you’re used to it.
10.
Bobby, coming out is scary and any advice doesn't feel right. Walking to the door and looking out at the sun reflecting off a car, sharp and bright; in the back of your mind you are trying very hard to recreate something you never even saw in the first place. I tried that too. But did it work for you? Ecstasy in heat or depression in a ditch— always hiding the cause of it. Everything you do is secret, so you forget what it ever even meant. And now it’s impossible to separate the memory from its shape, what it says it wants from what it actually wants. You want to be loved but say that you don’t.

about

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THE COVER OF HUNTER
by LIAM BETSON
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“He is of medium height, healthy, is well proportioned. His hair is thick. His eyes are full of contempt. He has regular features. The expression on his face is severe, his voice powerful, yet muted. His whole being is over-shadowed by fright. His manner displays an extreme cold. Suspicious, sneaky, dark, naturally he knows how to appear impenetrable and retain his secret.”
--Paganel, “Portrait of Saint-Just”
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Liam Betson: vocals, guitar, chord organ
Ian Drennan: synthesizer, piano, saxophone
Ian Dykstra: drums
Julian Lynch: clarinet
Kevin McMahon: voice on Cop Car
Alex Steinberg: guitar
Patrick Stickles: guitar on X
Luka Usmiani:bBass guitar
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Recorded at Marcata between July 2012 and February 2013
Produced and mastered by Kevin McMahon
Photography by Dimitri Karakostas
All songs written by Liam Betson
Released by Double Double Whammy in 2014
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for: W.G. (1922-1998)
J.P.B. (1958-1980)
J.W. (1946-1980)
K.A. (1927)
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released July 22, 2014

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Liam the Younger

Liam Betson is a North American songwriter.

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