Cynthia G. Mason

The Single "What Forgiveness Will Allow" (2015)
We could just go over we could spare another hour with the street lights coming on with the illusion that it's later It could take a turn for the better we could watch the whole holiday blow over we'll catch her shifting in her sleep to clutch that plastic party favor we can talk about it now it still comes up I don't know how when you start to look for more than what forgiveness will allow we could just keep going until we're sure of where we're heading could be a fever coming on could just be the temperature keeps dropping could take a turn while you're shifting next year we could just say that we're not going just a state away from sleep just a breath away from stalling we can talk about it now it still comes up I don't know how when you start to look for more than what forgiveness will allow you could keep looking but all told there’s so much more now to withhold that grip is getting stronger in this coming cold it won’t hold any longer we could just go over catch the lights across the river some will flicker off and on with the codes that they deliver could take a turn toward forever long, long before the night is over it'll be a fitful, fractured sleep but we'll call it one last favor we can talk about it now it still comes up I don't know how when you start to look for more than what forgiveness will allow

From Cinematic Turn (2015)

Telltale Song You came along early morning a telltale song a thousand ways to get it wrong from that first cry the cut of cloth the lullaby you drew a crowd late morning and we both vowed a thousand times as if to hear it out loud in that first light could keep up our morale all night there are doubts that can only be under lock and key in the heart’s armory anyone who is quick to deny it is lying and there’s trouble within and there’s trouble without but on love we don’t harbor a single doubt we won’t take The Drive Tuesday morning we’ll do 25 a thousand horns serenading us as we arrive and then you’ll wake the care in each new call we make we couldn’t tell day from evening as the sun fell it seemed a thousand hours ago everyone wishing us well and now here we are from dawning day to evening star

Cinematic Turn Once when they couldn’t predict if the city would survive you were still a turnpike counties away the elders still alive our mothers younger than we are now they still knew everything as children we took pains to memorize all the songs they didn’t sing once when we couldn’t see it yet long before that corner’s decline back when we would still pledge our allegiance before you bound your fate to mine the flight path the dog-eared atlas torn eerily the same in places it was a dozen years before I’d ever heard your name once when we’d still never recognize one another on the street we’d covered the grid of the city by then all the ways we didn’t meet each movement every other whim can lead you to the same few places like a cinematic turn shot by shot frame by frame

18th Street You knew you’d look up that address then pack up your life in a flash September it once was a question now heat and the cool autumn clash a hush can fall leave you unsteady who will speak for that window won’t last you thought it out little by little but now it’s got to be clever and fast now you’re heading out on the words and an angle that you couldn’t consider before there were keys and coins and the liquor store boxes a decade caught ceiling to floor you were going gone before you got to the door you knew you’d recall only later a handful of words left unsaid and the version you’d tell with the punch line was the only one left in your head

One More Trip Back East Sons will gather round sit for every breath start for any sound any harbinger of death you will flinch then fret over what went wrong he split to forget but now it won’t be long I think you both know he got here just in time to let her go so he won’t come unwound and you won’t kneel to pray but that history is bound to still get in the way by fire by flood by beast a peaceful passing is rare one more trip back East is more than he can bear but I think you both know he got here just in time to let her go we will sense our kin and town in the twists and turns we take on the way up and way down in the roots of each mistake we’re in this diner booth coffee is getting cold trading stories from our youth all the ones he never told and I think you both know he got here just in time to let her go

Fragments and Figments It was time to give into the things I gave up we turned it over and over the fruit on the vine every storm and drought’s end the neglect and its power the reasons for that there were so many then now I can’t think of one so I’m making my way to where the greener things grew to where the damage was done I’ve got a hand in the dirt I’ve got an eye on the sun there’s a way to dig into the things I left out and never fully recover hindsight’s appeal is it looks different now every weed turns to flower the deadlines I set they were menacing then I couldn’t meet one so I’m looking at what met an unnatural end and how the work came undone I’ve got a hand in the dirt I’ve got an eye on the sun now I’m kicking at fragments and holding up figments it’s late but I’ve only begun hands in the dirt eyes on the sun in the end I could see there were things I put off for what felt like forever and time marching on with her arrogant stride left a half-painted marker the values and weights immutable then now I’m lifting each one I’m taking it all I’m going to start up again I’m going to get something done


From Quitter’s Claim (2007)

like a lifer out for good just as the drive was meant to hold up some illusion of intent well i was swayed and i held to my place like a lifer out for good but good was hinging on concessions that i made now i’ll put my right hand up on the dashboard i’ll put a semblance of an oath together here if by chance i should aggravate the luck that leaves me baffled i’ll just keep my cash and my superstitions near i left that old stretch and i left that inclination i left the vague idea that we’d be off somewhere when i got out of place that event lost its effect it was just an anecdote not the thing that drove me there

evergreen evergreen you’ll stay evergreen you’ll break for the winter it won’t be today but it will work its way out like a splinter the property hangs for things you can’t plan will witnesses pick the wrong man oh call an ambulance before the fade make this innocence a fair trade there’s been upheaval since they left but you stayed every other day you’re put on the spot and it hits you put things away you break evergreen into bits the company wants a crack at the plan but you’re moving as fast as you can

breaks the drill i was steering but it was telling still employing those adolescent brakes and you knew the drill i was nearing but it was telling still expecting some adolescent breaks and you knew the drill but you brought me still so what’s next will i rise to the occasion who’s next if i’m the student of evasion who’s in line for the occasion there were greeting cards full of flattery and pity you were the picture of restraint in secluded corners clear across the city i’d pore over each complaint but i’m a bad detective the obvious seems tricky and you can’t be objective when it’s me

fits & starts i keep threatening to disconnect my name from the subject but i’m doing that less and less because i made all the arrangements now i’m following through i guess but there’s only progress in fits and starts and there are some problems with each direction those in the know discreetly take each lead apart so i’ll look harder for the information another hour billed another gone and when the hand hits five i’ll have until dawn a chart to regulate the sleep-deprived and what an hour is worth before it’s five the way it’s designed there isn’t much room for invention there were things i could find there were things that they forgot to mention things that they failed to mention why exaggerate for effect when i could tear through the subject so i’m following through i guess because i made all the arrangements because i’m learning to work with less and there’s always progress in fits and starts though there are some problems with each direction when they stop threatening to take each lead apart i won’t be wasteful with the information

thrown when i thought here goes nothing and threw you caught what you could that was all a reflex would do but now what’s the burden to you is it what you received or is it what you can’t do i must have sent you something more than once and with an amateur’s aim here if you just look at the numbers no one is crying wolf but it comes off the same what began as an innocuous test ended at best as an imposition just one catch can escalate when you’re altruistic into more than what you thought that you bargained for and it might be a way to commiserate it might be better off up in the air when i thought here goes nothing and threw you dodged what you could that was all a reflex would do but now what’s the burden to you is it what you received or is it what you can’t do just one catch can escalate when you’re absent-minded turn to more than what you thought that you bargained for

claim you left that apartment cursing and crazed we swept and we packed up souvenirs from the children you raised it was the passage that you wouldn’t claim we weren’t observant but you mistook it for shame all of the sifting and the sorting each clipping you saved it was unnerving but it was just the thing that we craved a glimpse of what you might have thought fleshing out the glimpse that you gave we welcomed the labor with a sterile embrace we felt like intruders laying claim to the things in your place all of the sifting and the sorting each photo you saved were we deserving and was it just the thing that you craved a glimpse of what the camera caught fleshing out the glimpse that we gave

to & fro we hung a pendulum weighted with steam the ideas will come we’re devising a scheme and there’s a swing to it we’ll work off the swing with a gain in momentum this one’s bound to sting we made light of the gravity poking and prodding the thing then we fueled it until we corrupted it hell-bent on making it swing we hung this pendulum now it’s blowing off steam the ideas still come but we’re revising our theme now there’s a sting to it we’ll work out the sting what we hung as an emblem broke out of its swing

nerve at the drop of a hint at the drop of a hat we’re both taken with it and it takes some nerve to pull it off could the option be enough at the drop of a hint at the drop of a hat how we emulate it sure all the fuss is fair enough let the novelty wear off let it wear off but we’re more giddy than daring the fallout is a rain of replicas each one close but still askew i think the difference is glaring but i’ll leave it up to you at the drop of a hint at the drop of a hat we’re embroiled in it how will we know when we’ve done enough when any miss could shut it off

the way the morning came sunday struck pins and needles then awaking to your name that was some dumb luck the way the morning came every minute was a track star with no skill for running late the promised pause that never came every detail and disorder every feeble human trait i would give each one a name even if i knocked the clock off let you stir even if i doctored pages from the calendar time would be the same it could be illinois or texas i couldn’t keep the order straight but i fit the landscape in a frame and i got what the allure was i myself could hardly wait i’d be there when the hour came so when you go the ways we mark it will differ though time will be the same

quit while you’re misled we’re making deals to make it so just one more heartbreak and it’s come to this i don’t know how a shake of hands and it’s a go for now would you believe i didn’t know that bit of business it eluded me somehow i’ll act insulted just for show just for now there were other avenues and some appealing arguments with more persuasive hooks better ones than mine if lightning were striking twice if black cats were crossing then even i’d relent i’d take it as a sign so where’s the deal to make it so just one more letter and the great deluge becomes a drought but it takes some heartbreak that i know and i’m worse without with such arbitrary means the end is pending cooped up waiting for the planets to align if lightning is striking twice if black cats are crossing then even i’ll relent i’ll take it as a sign

From Cynthia G. Mason (2000)

measure for recognition fighting for the crown spitting venom and not worth the journey down you’d wage a war to take what you deserve you’d plant it deep until you hit a nerve the discipline the rhetoric the irony the life you picked i’m going to switch all the rails and complicate the rift i wouldn’t want to win a battle on these terms the stakes are low all too familiar and your rationale absurd you like to watch me as i wrestle with my failures and on occasion you applaud when mine surpass yours when the measure of every success is dependent on every single error that you found in the very best of your most feared competitor i’m going to switch all the rails

’95 we chose to document every great struggle with very little care we bled ink designs for permanence this one joined their forces and this one cut her hair you’d think that after four years the gestures would be bolder they hoped that after four years you’d have bid your farewell to her try to pass for sincere all of our failed attempts to honor the dead and a euphemism to cheapen what’s not easily said they chose to propagate every great story with very little care every movement must be financed this one needed plenty the crash gave it flair you’d think that after four years you’d be the proper soldier they hoped that after four years you’d have bid your farewell to her out where someone might hear all of your failed attempts to honor the dead when the end comes in the middle shocked and disappointed the living left with little but all of these failed attempts and a euphemism we’ll carry on until we’re spent

2 cents turned to billions a strategy was practical each decision based in fear two cents turned to billions and predictions were unclear tuning out the mindless chatter whiting out the brightest color tired of forcing two and two together that’s where it stood i objected to anything but a visceral reaction ditched the rest because i could a strategy was practical and practical was clear two cents turned to billions each conviction fell to fear lacking the required fervor holding out for something better tired of forcing two and two together punctuated by the extreme you said it is you said it was punctuated by the extreme you said i am you said i was standing on my principles but was that where i stood

subtle things i’m settling a hope and i’m writing down directions inviting you to look because it’s easier to humor your sense of obligation than to borrow what you took these certainties i’ve kept but i can count them on my fingers i used to borrow what you took from me these subtleties you’ve missed when you should have paid attention but you were taught to overlook these things all of these things it was a flashlight in the waning moonlight you were torn by your instincts and the threat of a fluke you should have run with what you took far away from all of these things but instead you scribble down a note it’s in response to my directions and i’m tempted to overlook this time but pride can be a senseless backdrop to your sense of obligation and you’ve been ready to respond for some time to all of these things

critic waiting around for the critic we curtsy and we bow before the critic we don’t converse we just remove our skin convinced that it’s a test thumbing through all of our little distractions they become our anesthesia and i’m anesthetized so much of the time just waiting for my critic i’m tagging it down i’m marking it all down i’m pushing it down over to you this is just a sample of my first impressions i’m begging you for a handful of your first impressions what are you waiting for who are you waiting for anyway someone to map out what you made i’m setting the table hand you a plate of my requests you can swallow down what you like best and you can spit out the rest we’re so addicted to the critic we scramble to share before the critic so quick to please we rearrange our notes prepared to glaze and fire eager to mold to satisfaction this becomes our anesthesia and i’m anesthetized so much of the time just waiting for a reaction

for a living with no right to demonize with no way to misconstrue what you said to find fault in what you have to do for employment for a talent you’ve been resilient and you expect a guarantee to get you through i’m going to take my own advice or at least i’ll toss it around if i thought the silence would suffice my mouth so full of tact i wouldn’t even utter a sound but i’m dumbfounded by how you found it stepped up to the challenge so willingly with no room for compromise and the grand plans in disrepair it’s uncertain if it was honest or taken on a dare will the talent bring employment you’ve been resilient ripe for rewards and you think it’s only fair but i’m dumbfounded by how you found it blurred your intentions so willingly

wit’s end i’m at the bottom of my wit again adamant about staying stocked up with you blasting in and running down stranded on that side of town we’re locking out not giving in half impressed with what it’s been and half compelled to put it down so put it down they came in volumes with their low projections and barely time to trade them in again so try to be selective when you rid yourself of now for then you can rig your own betrayal i’ll watch you rig it i’m at the bottom of my wit again i’ll admit i’m cracking up with you blasting in and running down stranded on that side of town we’re locking up we’re pulling in with evidence of where we’ve been with evidence we’re backing down