The Cover of Hunter

by Liam Betson

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for: W.G. (1922-1998)
J.P.B. (1958-1980)
J.W. (1946-1980)
K.A. (1927)
“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”
Liam Betson: Voice, 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: Bass guitar
All songs written by Liam Betson
Recorded between July 2012 and February 2013
Produced and mastered by Kevin McMahon
Photography by Dimitri Karakostas
Released by Double Double Whammy, 2014


released July 22, 2014


tags: folk


all rights reserved


Liam the Younger

Liam Betson is a North American songwriter.

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Track Name: I Can't Tell If You're Looking at Me
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.
Track Name: Pocket Knife
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.
Track Name: The Lace Collar
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?

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.
Track Name: Featureless Interior
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—
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.
Track Name: Tie My Hands
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.
Track Name: Cop Car
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.
Track Name: The Primordial Will
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.
Track Name: X
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.
Track Name: Made from Tin
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.
Track Name: Rapture in Heat
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.