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Suburban Rebel

by Turtle Zwadlo

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1.
Everything in the garden grows higher than her head Lilac and sunflowers, wisteria gone mad Beans climbing strings, berries in baskets She’s at peace with the bees, if not the yellow jackets Naming the butterflies that visit every day It’s her place to escape her front yard interstate She used to sit on the porch at night watching the old road Making up tales about the drivers and destinations unknown Now lights shine through her windows, shadows travel the walls. There’s no sleeping in the bedroom so she moved it down the hall Throwing stones from the steps she can hit the inside lane It’s not going anywhere, her front yard interstate The view from atop her lonely hill was nothing short of majestic How she loved a sunrise that would give faith to a skeptic The glare off of a windshield holds no inspiration And she’ll never be alone again with her concrete and steel companion Nothing she could do, except move away Now she spends her days with a front yard interstate Yes, she took the money. It was the least they could do For bringing in the big machines, leaving her landscape ruined She’s never going to spend it, that would be wrong She’ll just leave it for the kids living in Vermont Trying to find some peace, inside her paradise lost Trying harder not to breathe too much diesel exhaust Sitting in her garden she can make believe The world is not rushing by just below her feet No longer cares who they are, why they’re in a hurry The butterflies and the bees tell the better story If she had to do it all again she would not hesitate To tell them where they could put that front yard interstate If she had to do it all again she would not hesitate To tell them where they could stick that front yard interstate
2.
Butch got the message And it’s keeping her vexed What he does now is anyone’s guess She gives him just enough grief Gets him moving his questioning feet Far enough away from just enough trouble With the truth in one hand; a gun in the other There’s a fat Tom Sellek singing Judas Priest covers The walls are plastered with old vinyl records I see your framed Hendrix and raise you a Johnny Cash It’s an odd oasis in a universe that’s fading fast An odd oasis where the world ends at last Butch got the message But we’re not waiting here long Our approximate deadline is coming fast and strong The bronze bell diver’s watch has stopped The caged bird doesn’t see the clock There’s still enough light and it’s a good enough offer To risk a look inside the coffers There’s a fat Tom Sellek singing Judas Priest covers The walls are plastered with old vinyl records I see your framed Richards and raise you a Johnny Cash It’s an odd oasis in a universe that’s fading fast An odd oasis where the world ends at last Butch got the message He replied “No answer” Still living with his wing tip dancer Calling the bluff of our royal flush omen With kaleidoscope vision of a neon shaman Close enough to god, far enough gone To wade knee deep into the storm Now the lights are going down in a decrescendo The theme song plays from Art Deco radios I see your framed Dylan and raise you one John Prine It’s an odd oasis here at the end of the line An odd oasis here at the end of the line An odd oasis and now we’re out of time
3.
When it turns into a panic there is safety in the numbers Finding comfort in the chaos and in the din At first they never notice, then it just gets awkward As claustrophobia starts to settle in Then it’s too many people and too much damage Out on the street the hassle never ends Gotta get out of this city, go someplace quiet But people still scream any place that they’re in When it turns into a panic I do what I’ve practiced Tell myself this time won’t end ending bad Up here on Raven’s Roost, high above the valley Back myself slowly away from the edge Such a vast distance and so much beauty There’d be enough time to both cry and make amends Gotta get back to the city, there’s unfinished business In the morning calling anyone still listed as a friend When it turns into a panic in the middle of my own kitchen Dizzy from memory breaking free from the maze The small amount of dishes standing lonely in the drainer Reminds me how much there was left to say Table so tiny, still too many chairs Cushions show barely any wear at all Not that I can’t live without you; I didn’t want to have to Sometimes it slams me straight into the wall Sometimes it slams me straight into the wall When it turns into a panic you’re still the one I hope for With your secret ways of calming me down Go to the closet, put on your sweater Find some shoes; shuffle round this town Obey the signals at every street corner It’s nice having someone telling me what to do When it turns into a panic I start praying for directions But I don’t believe in god until I do I don’t believe in god Until I do I know too many people don’t have enough friends Acquaintances only pass the time When it turns into a panic they can’t comprehend How it hurts to know how much it hurts to be missing you How it hurts to know how much it hurts to be missing you How it hurts to know how much it hurts How it hurts to know how much it hurts How it hurts to know how much it hurts To be missing you
4.
They’ll say Frankie went and got drunk again She’ll have to tell them it’s not true She used to hand out reasons for why he drank Now he doesn’t need an excuse It was no surprise that he went and got the gun But the boy who’d cried wolf had suddenly grown up Mary wondered how she missed it Lying there listening to their song Maybe she took his love for granted Maybe they’d been at this too long Now she could make out in fine detail Her blood pooling around her dying hope Now she noticed for the first time How the kitchen floor was sloped Funny how it’s the little things That add up to make up a life Funny what you find to think about On the last long drive There’s a load of clothes in the laundry It’ll sit too long and start to mold The kids will be coming home from school They’ll have to be stopped and be told Will Frankie make it up to them by getting a cat If he does will it disappear just like the rest There go the upstairs neighbors With their cursing and stomping around Down below it’s deathly quiet Even with an ear to the ground Frankie’s gonna worry over shining his shoes Most of the rest of the day But he never seems to be bothered By how badly his pants have frayed Funny how it’s the little things That add up to make up a life Funny what you find to think about On the last long drive Mary saved a box of letters It’s hidden underneath the bed It’s been years since it’s been opened Some things are better left unsaid She knows the saying “God is Love” Is all the more true in reverse All of the secrets of the universe Trapped in three little words Funny how it’s the little things That add up to make up a life Funny what you find to think about On the last long drive Frankie, oh Frankie Who is that pounding on our door Can’t you get up to get it My legs don’t want to work anymore Easy now to see in hindsight All the foreshadowing Thirty years later and gunshots And chaos And love lost To the cycle Of violence With it’s breaking Promise All the wailing Of sirens And praying To Jesus And a drunkard’s Penance Somehow became the same old things That made up the end of this life Funny what you find to think about On the last long drive On the last long drive On the last long drive
5.
Grandmother’s gondola swing Lilly white; deepest green Rhythmic squeaks All purpose grease Hypnotic in the August heat Grandfather’s garden collage String beans; summer squash A four door Dodge In the two car garage A chain link fence frames the mirage Living in the shadow of the steeple Open the doors. See all the people Sings the hymns Confessing her sins Prays for a seat at the table Mrs. Never Speaks Hoping someone sees She wants to shout Nothing comes out So she suffers silently A husband, a house, then kids Suburban dream sequence Learns to forget Growing regret For this perfectly hollow existence With a man who’s unavailable emotionally Like they raised their kids to be She cooks and cleans They watch t.v. She cries all alone when she’s lonely Mrs. Never Speaks Hoping someone sees She wants to shout Nothing comes out So she suffers silently Did they do dysfunctional wrong? Where is the idyllic bloody bond? Filled with shame Invisible pain (Because) They don’t even know her at all Mrs. Never Speaks Hoping someone sees She wants to shout Nothing comes out So she suffers silently She wants to shout Nothing comes out She Cries all alone when she’s lonely
6.
Leslie decided to end the fight A leap of faith, a chance to survive Letting go of doubt held for so long Coming to believe every life has a song Authentic voice longing to be heard Above the noise soaring like a bird When Leslie left for the war We all wondered what it was for No one wonders anymore Since Les came back from the war Come up from the catacombs no need to hide Make a stand leave the lies behind Life is not a game to be played in the dark Shine the light waiting in your heart When Leslie left for the war We all wondered what it was for No one wonders anymore Since Les came back from the war Les came back from the war Too many people living in their camouflage Make believe normalcy reflecting the mirage Speak your truth, shatter the illusion Reveal a life beautifully human When Les came back from the war We all cheered, the whole crowd roared There’s no wondering anymore When Les came back from the war We all cheered, the whole crowd roared No one wonders anymore (Since) Les showed up for the war Les showed up for the war Les went and won the goddamn war
7.
Not Jesus 04:01
Not Jesus has a tale to tell He wants you to listen well Lessons earned from generations come before him In this world of fear and strife If he can change just one life Not Jesus is not not an answer Not Jesus slept like a baby at night The kind that cries til morning light Caught between the stress and the strain of being a savior The weight of the cross kept him down Upon his head a thorny crown Til he laid them down and learned what it means to suffer His burden cast upon the ground The old guard wailed and thrashed about Set upon the masses to execute their warfare Empathy a fleeting whim Compassion become the cardinal sin They’re scared of the scarcity manufactured They wanted him to begin again Not Jesus wondered where will it end How would he win when the people need their martyrs? Under the weight on bended knee Unanswered faith failed to speak Left on his own Not Jesus took back his power Enough is enough, not one more Truth cannot be ignored He was not put here to use for our amusement Not for him to carry the load That frees us all from the weight of our own We only mean to bury him with that baggage Dismantle this hierarchy Build the Beloved Community Peace and Love together born of a dream Peace and Love together Peace and Love together Peace and Love together born of a dream Not Jesus has a tale to tell We should all listen well Lessons earned from generations come before us
8.
Bones 04:51
Suffer obesity up the stairs Wheezing obscenities, nobody cares A hard rubber mallet and a carton of smokes Ordinary items of regular folks Nothing to see here, move along Move along Move along Altered reality in a box Missing society, check the locks Never an issue getting inside Really quite easy for a man of your size Surprise, surprise bring the hammer down You bring it down Bring it down They question mortality you give them the test Subjective morality doing your best Turn up the volume, finish the show Everything hinges on who gets the rose When it all over, that’s a heavy load A heavy load, a heavy load A heavy load, that’s a heavy load When it’s all over That’s a heavy load You thought, you thought you had a way with it Look at you now, looking innocent Half the last laugh was a flip of the script Trash bin vultures found your secret You thought, you thought you got away with it Look at you now, looking innocent Well half the last laugh was a flip of the script When trash bin vultures found your secret Because they take all the meat But leave the bones Leave the bones, leave the bones Leave the bones, they leave the bones Oh they take all the meat Leave the bones
9.
Tapestry 03:42
Whenever someone says “Do you remember when?” I just smile and nod Try a little laugh Tailor my response Refrain from using names I don’t recall Though I know the face I cannot pinpoint time or place A tapestry in the sun color has begun to fade Learning little truths Is like finding four dollars In the pocket of a coat I haven’t worn in two years It’s a nice surprise Hardly worth the time I’m gonna keep them But I will call them mine Something just for me for awhile A tapestry on the wall will fray and fall away You said “I will be right here To keep you off the ledge” Thats before we knew I wasn’t coming back... The twilight of our years Hand in hand on different paths I see the ocean not each water drop Here from the shoreline I only see the top Watching all these waves spill their grains of sand Why not melt them down? Turn them into glass Replace the tapestry with a window pane Fill our pockets full of stones Waiting for The Day Fill our pockets full of stones Waiting for The Day To smash the pane away Smash it away To smash the pain away
10.
Peter the disciple by the roadside selling bibles From the back of a creepy white van Deep in Mississippi; this is where he should be Spread the message far across the land A pop-up for the sunshine, “FREE” painted on a sign Made with his own shaking hand The good book might be missing from your personal collection And there’s plenty in the back of Peter’s van When the truck stop told him to leave he set up across the street Sinners love to drive the interstate Watching heathens come and go, ready for to save a soul The good lord told him just to sit and wait He’s got a creepy white van and the doors are open wide All he wants from you is a look inside If you do he will show you paradise But it’s not gonna be what you had in mind Bought himself a folding chair, a second one for you to share Books to read if you believe in signs The way may be mysterious but Peter is experienced All his favorite parts he has memorized Calling on the curious to take the scripture serious Salvation’s hanging on the line When you’re feeling good and lost, in need of savior and a flock Seek the van; Peter will provide He’s got a creepy white van and the doors are open wide All he wants from you is a look inside If you do he will show you paradise But it’s not gonna be what you had in mind The sinking feeling in your chest is the devil breathing down your neck Armageddon process on the rise If you need further proof, it’s in the van, there’s your truth You’ll believe what you see with your own eyes He’s got a creepy white van and the doors are open wide All he wants from you is a look inside If you do he will show you paradise But it’s not gonna be what you had in mind No. It’s not gonna be what you had in mind Peter the disciple by the roadside selling bibles From the back of a creepy white van

about

Suburban Rebel out now! An album full of stories about using your voice, the pain of being silenced, and what happens when we stop listening to others. Written, recorded, and produced by me in my humble home studio.

For fans of Josh Ritter, Patterson Hood, and other storytellers setting their narratives to music.

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released February 11, 2022

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Turtle Zwadlo Crozet, Virginia

Turtle Zwadlo is a singer-songwriter whose narrative style songs are infused with rock and folk elements, often focusing on social issues. The new release, Cold Comfort: Tales From Whitelandia continues Turtle's DIY experiment and is entirely self produced. ... more

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