Dictionary Crimes

by Mumblin Deaf Ro

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released 14 September 2012

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Mumblin Deaf Ro Dublin, Ireland

Mumblin’ Deaf Ro is a Dublin-based songwriter who has released three albums to date. Ro's third album 'Dictionary Crimes' was released by Popical Island in September 2012. The album decsribes what it is like to be part of a family. It was selected as Irish album of the year by Nialler9 and the Irish Independent and was nominated for the Choice Music prize for album of the year. ... more

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Track Name: Cheer Up Charlie Brown
I never sleep the night before work starts
So I flick through the pigs on the calendar bought
As a joke gift for my wife who’s asleep
Exhausted by the children
Our little boys and me

I stand in our kitchen
Catching cold through my feet
And stare at the milk
In the fridge for ideas
Preoccupied with work
And the household depending on me

Cheer up Charlie Brown
Your family still loves you while you’re letting them down

It’s like long division
There’s a process to repeat
That’s how routine divides
The big things in life
And the remainders collect
As the lees of my school-night sleep

It takes emotional stamina
To match all these demands
And a reservoir of love in your life
As your debt grows in its sleep
And your mirror ages ‘round the eyes

Cheer up Charlie Brown
Your family still loves you while you’re letting them down

The house is asleep
The boys breathing easily
The universe creeps along cold but aligned
As I reread the opening page
All the Russians blend into
A confusing soup of names

But mostly I just sit here
With a picture of my Dad
And his leaky old watering can
Immersed in his garden
By nature a nurturing man

Cheer up Charlie Brown
Your family still loves you while you’re letting them down
Track Name: Sister Ill, Better Now
On the beach
With the waves in pleats
My sister ill, but better now,
Calling me a spoilsport
For staying and minding the coats
While she dips in and tries the cold

Still though
It’s good to see her outdoors again
A little thin but fit to swim
And browse among the rock pools
Wearing a candy stripe top
And looking like a lighthouse lost

Safe and almost carefree now
After the strangest time
Apart from the family overbite
Sharing a pact to worry
And take your side

She stays the night
Too tired to drive
My sister ill, but better now,
Colluding with my wife by
Cheating at Scrabble in turns
But for once I don’t contest her words

It’s just nice
Dictionary crimes aside
To talk so late about how great
Our parents looked at our age
Proud of my aubergine veins
And the blood that carries both of our names

Safe and almost carefree now
After the strangest time
Apart from the family overbite
Sharing a pact to worry
And take your side
Track Name: The Harm
Deep in the night
Deep in a man’s chest
The Harm is alive and it grows
To the sound of an old
Asthmatic accordion
That drifts through a window
Too high to close

A man medicated
Sleeps through the dose

The Harm is red like cod roe
Or white like a cauliflower rose
And works through the night
Deep in a man’s chest
Under rosaried knuckles
Latticed in hope
Tired and jaundiced
His eyes moved and spoke:

“Where to begin?
It’s hard, but, at the same time,
There is no rest like sleep
And no joy like relief

As I reflect on the comfort of family life
With its magic and chaos
In Brownian Motion
And of course the visitors
Who are so kind to come
And the children who climb and ask questions
And bring you a love as simple as potatoes”

There with the television blaring
An afternoon passes itself
As the Harm makes progress
Blind, dumb and determined
Quiet and violent
Acting alone

It works under principles
True but unknown

Beside the bed on a locker
A candle is lighting the prayers
To St John of Hospitals
“Provide for and pray for us”
St Albert of Science
“Remember and pray for us”
St Jude of ‘What next?’
“Tell us, what should we expect?”

“And so here I am
Having failed to defy
The actuarial bets on my life
I’m to set, I suppose,
Some kind of final example
Of how to suffer with grace and patience

But all men dying, howsoever devout
Hit the knot in the grain of the wood
Caused by doubt
And sleep with a fear unconfided”
Track Name: Cade Calf Call
In a gallery run by the State
For exhibiting paint
There’s a picture of a partridge
In off-white near the arctic

And so capturing the unease
That comes with filial grief
And all its heavy boredom
So restless and awkward

Feeling the kiss of the mother I miss
A love that’s now in exile

Sad and swallowing a cade calf call
Sorry and small
Strange but alright now

A painter young and untrained
So the panel explains
And sure enough the portrait
Stares like a lay saint

But something happened this boy
That he can make angels from oil
Yet clearly feel as I did
So lost and unguided

But you can’t advise a passionate mind
A fire lights its own way

Sad and swallowing a cade calf call
Sorry and small
Strange but alright now

From the weird little seats they provide
I make a plan to survive
Relying on horse sense
To tell what’s important

While looking into a choir
Painted in twelve feet by nine
A requiem altar
So serene and awesome

Human voices in rows and rows
Commend a new and bare soul

Sad and swallowing a cade calf call
Sorry and small
Strange but alright now
Track Name: Little Mite
Here where the guidebooks are wrong
Here where the side streets
Are thronged in a daze
Of either touring or trade
We came to hide

But capitals all seem alike
It’s not as though architects only design
Toys for empires

I explained on the phone
From our bed
Lying prone
That we’d come away to get close

The hangover wakes me on time
With you on the balcony
Sorting the drying
Ringing down tickets for
A cathedral tour

Where we fell behind from the group
And sat in a side chapel
Sharing a pew
Bought a candle from new
But ours didn’t light
Just like our Little Mite
Miscarried into the quiet

I say ‘Hi’ With a squeeze of your hand
The both of us feeling
As sensitive as
Two small peeled oranges
Just finding our way

The calendar gets a new date
There are things to unwish for
And plans to unmake
Two hearts feeling their weight

As the wind from the bay
Blows a bend in the rain
Soaking our intimate pain
Track Name: St Christopher's Water
The car is all quiet
We pass the sweets
The luggage in the boot
I can see the airport towers
My brother is leaving

He sits there calm
At the window
Next to my Mam
You can tell her heart weeps like
Oil on a beach

He’s no clue about clothes
Or living alone
No concept of how far money goes
How to fail and come home

Some lives churn along like buttermilk
Some like Stations of the Cross
There on the concourse
A family confides its own goodbyes

Better go then
Better start your change of life

A family gets close
Through all its shared little episodes and jokes
But its centre of gravity holds
Onto a mother coping

It’s time for him to board
Our words all sound together like a chord
Mam digs in the hand luggage for
St Christopher’s Water

A wave at the gate
Begins the mistake
With the presumption of good luck
Unprotected but safe

Some lives churn along like buttermilk
Some like Stations of the Cross
There on the concourse
A family confides its own goodbyes
Track Name: Being Bill Cosby
In my plot-driven life
With a Spiderman motorbike
I buy my own weight
In batteries
Just to keep my home at peace

The days of the week
Recur like a drum machine
But the boys bring a life [note change to line break]
And a circus of affection to the house
And bull’s-eye certainty
To how I hope to spend my life expectancy

Stooping to clean
Beans from a DVD
Try to explain
That we don’t stuff tuna in our trains

Get help from my wife
But I snap at her make her cry
Instantly wrong
But then tiredness has a temper of its own
And its range is close and deep
I wonder if it’s changing or just revealing me

Thought I’d be a mix
Of Bill Cosby and Atticus Finch
Turns out the kids are the ones
With the formative influence
They’re finally quiet
Sleeping with zips for eyes
When you work out that life
Is as simple and difficult as it looks
And has no steady state
A day can drag but a year can just evaporate
Track Name: 'The Birdcage'
Out after work
Visiting Mam
Who’s home for the last stage
Of palliative calm

We chat away
She tells me that I'm too rough
Shaving her itchy head
A practical love

So I help her out
Into a comfortable chair
She's thin as a boy now
And finished with stairs

So we're settling
Into the latest routine
Watching 'The Birdcage'
Then Scrabble till tea

Hoping the day
Can last till the night
Hoping the night
Can last on its own

Sitting with eyes
Red and resigned
Watching 'The Birdcage'

Months afterwards
While loading the boot
The grief overwhelmed me
Subduing my mood

It came unannounced
As suddenly as a sneeze
Unresolved sadness
Unwrapped and released

And though I accept
My share of life's randomness
My part in its pities
And all of its pains

I've been too long
Moping in my own gravy
With life in the background
Like a radio play

Hoping the day
Can last till the night
Hoping the night
Can last on its own

Sitting with eyes
Red and resigned
Watching 'The Birdcage'
Track Name: My New Broken Leg
The man who broke my leg
Has apologised again
So I’m spending my sick cert reading Middlemarch
Until my fibula connects

Enjoying life slowed down
To a pace I can absorb
The children poking fingers under my cast
And asking if it’s sore

Life gets serious
When you’ve more thoughts than brains
And you find that all the while you were lost
Real life never changed

I get to see what my life’s like
When I’m not around
The made-up rhymes and murder at meal times
With my wife acting out

The food she overcooked
That I then overate
My leg beside the love of my lifetime
Beauty and the break

Life gets serious
When you’ve more thoughts than brains
And you find that all the while you were lost
Real life never changed

I remember as a kid
When sick days were a gift
Time at home with my folks to myself
I mean, who knew couples kissed?

My new broken leg
Is a lesson I forget
That healing
Though it’s hidden
Is still happening
A fracture is a friend

Life gets serious
When you’ve more thoughts than brains
And you find that all the while you were lost
Real life never changed