If Our Cities Became Piles of Rubble

from by Jon S. Patton

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For my wife, Lexa, who loves bears and who I would totally survive the end of the world with, even though it's not really her type of song so I didn't know if she'd like it.

I was feeling a little out of sorts and emotionally connected to what I was writing otherwise this month even when the results were fun. It was a little early in the month to get like that! So I resolved, on the way home from work on Monday 2/8, to just write whatever ridiculous thing I could think of and just have fun on the writing part.

So here's a story about two people who survive the big one. They move out to the mountains, perform geological miracles, experiment with evolution, meet some bears and wolves, give language and writing to humans, and when they die they're worshiped as gods by people who eventually figure out how to do these things themselves, and it starts all over.

Again, experimenting a little with ignoring classic rhyme schemes, in this case nearly going to free verse. The rhymes are primarily incidental, but there is are long delayed rhymes between certain parts of the paired verses, and the last line of each verse, of course. I would have thought this was a problem for memorization, but I had actually memorized most of the times by the time I finished tracking the vocals, except a few places where the words changed in the moment.


If our cities became piles of rubble
because people couldn't learn to live in peace
when the soot descended and the sky opened
we'll stand in the street and blink in the sun
and see ourselves for the first time in weeks
If we're the sole survivors

And you and I would move to the mountains
We'd find the biggest oak you've ever seen
We'd cut it down with our bare hands
and build a better house than all those rich folks
whose bank accounts went south
when the world was broken and shattered
And you and I will face it together

And in the autumn when we get hungry
after the frost destroys our apple trees
We would change the course of a mountain stream
reshape the land and send it down to the sea
And stand in the delta and tell our stream to grow
until it became a mighty river

And when the salmon came to our river
We'd breed them as big as they were on Pangea
And the bears would come before they hibernate
and we'd tell the bears this is our river now
and you'll have to find a new one to fish in
And that's how we'd get through the winter

You and I will face it together

And when we finally encounter other people
We'll still speak English and still know how to write
But the words will have changed after all those years
Except names like California
So we'll draw alphabets in the dirt
And teach them to write and remember

And at night when the wolf packs howled
I'd become the moon's own silver light
I'd howl back at the wolves standing on the hills
And they'd look up at me and wonder
like people did once and we'd understand
The howling tongue of each other

And you and I will face it together

And one day we too will crumble
We'll bury each other and mark our own graves
And they'll be a sacred place for millennia
They'll tell stories as if we were gods
til one day they realize we were just people
like them
It seem nothing lasts forever

But as long as we face it together



from The Howling Tongue of Each Other, released March 11, 2016




baltimericana Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimericana is a place for me (Jon Patton) to stash my solo projects and collaborations with friends. I'm a writer, musician, and (unfortunately) day job schlub from Baltimore and the founder of Baltimore-based folk rock band Midway Fair (midwayfair.org). Be sure to also check out Joe Scala (joescala.wordpress.com), who produced the Baltimericana EP. ... more

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