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American Thicket

by Eliot Cardinaux

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  • American Thicket CD
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Thicket 09:29
These audacious blossoms are a figment of forced observation, the exhaust for which they feel affection nothing greater than your childhood – you never flew off through the windshield and Black Friday was never as important as it seemed. What difference does it make if birds come cunningly, like trumpets through a wall of angry light, if the mountains are indeed just shaking out an itch? There never were any Indians in Columbus’ America. Such an unenthusiastic landscape, to its credit went your daily limp: the harvest was arbitrary – what did you expect to find? This tiny country is a thing of the past, that seed just the parachute of the first world whose dance meant little more than distraction, whose layers of years peering out of houses were so quick to leave your sight, no wonder that sickle never touched the ground, the ground to whose shoulders you still attribute your seasonal fatigue. Now, when you’re feeling over-sweetly moved by the quiet hum of passing traffic, there’s always an uncertain anxiety, and tassels growing listless in the breeze to keep you feeling like you’re tied to a reality, or at least longing to be held in check. At least there’s movement in uncertainty – it befits you to feel a certain shock at your own audacity, or maybe your humility is beaming toward the surface. Maybe you should have thought twice, before creating the conditions for advice. If you depart before we have a chance to say goodbye, at least you know that there’s nothing in teaching that should ever resemble someone’s pride being shattered. If you want to know, this has been a pleasant encounter for me, and I hope one day these over-sweet sentiments are just coming to a close when we meet again, somewhere outside of here.
I’ve ruined all my life but I’ve got nothing to show for it – teach me how to ask a question, any question. Build and rebuild the same bridges and you will not be privy, even to yourself. Join again the harkening of the screeching crow and you will not be led to it – what gangsters are you with, what crows?
Angel 07:05
A carpet once laid late at the feet of an angel. It was bashful and red. The angel had wings so she carried it into the late night sky. The angel fell asleep, and the carpet wrapped around her to keep her warm. Slowly it began to glow and became the sunrise. Clouds covered it, and the angel slept deeper and dreamed – and in her dream the sun grew close. While the angel slept it rained and brought the angel and carpet both back to earth. The angel woke laying on the floor on a tattered carpet. Bits of dust had gathered on it, and she looked up and saw the stars. The carpet asked, “can we just sit here for a while?” And the angel smiled a cherishable smile and said, “no, let’s fly.”
The hum of summer, arched brow of the transparent bridge, half-finished to heaven; I learn again what I know of knowledge, leaning against the mystery. I find it open, this door to the desert from the myths. It’s not the water smoking in the east; the sun is not a thing like this, an idea that drinks itself from the borders. Calm like a Moorish song, I watch an old dance. The flowers growing up, the sky with clouds flowing at a faster pace than me. This bridge is my road – two musics, of land and of sky, mount a horse that left me on my way from the forest. The bridge is where a stranger once stumbled upon himself in the music of the stranger and learned again what he knew of knowledge on which a mystery now leans.
Interlude 03:57
missing places never been dissolving footstep mathematics bringing leaf sheets edges on a wild calendar for sleeping through into wide open suns past wingbeats moments that are all you can do to keep the dragonfly propeller out of your matted words exhaust from this fortune’s fumes eradicate witnesses to this here calliope cashing in but don’t look down it’s the first to instate the feeling that secrets with a life of their own don’t own the heart or the tendrils of this radioactive forest speaking smooth apologies for riding into the night without consent as if I were camouflaged and dancing in a circle of horns forever stars in a burning pattern around the song-range of snow your radioactive eyes acknowledging the edge of a thing like a wall strewn with lovelettering glancing over your shoulder for the thieves of paradise
Radio Dues 07:58
Seven summers, bad luck in the ripples, hairline returns… If you had read my faults in the book of breathing, felt me teaching through my fall, the water’s surface would have so eluded you, Narcissus… I cannot follow footprints that have all been washed away; walk out, Narcissus from the water’s edge – these are your new eyes, here your blues guitar, dust has a way of scattering upon the breeze. And so our thoughts ascend the dizzying heights that rise up out of deep primordial roots, and rearing like great vultures, often we pretend to stare, surrounded by a lashing flood, our eyes agape, at cities toppling at our apathetic feet. In the silence you’ve made nothing stirs but her bones and the flame in your heart is a shadow; and something perverse and perversely cunning, tugs at your heart, and everything in you, to claim that it is real. The backdrop and the muffled shouts, All scraping at sunlight, In a muscle of determination… He entered that city like spit. Like so many asleep. He was a punk called rose. He used to pick the feathers off of chickens – He would rub it in, O he would rub it in, A scent into Oh-high-oh. He was camouflaged by superstition And drowned the rest of the time By his own ammunition… SIT DOWN. And reminisce. O blackboard of roses and cardboard of wasted years, he was a punk called rose…


"It doesn't do to look too hard into this mystery, which is as far from being simple as it is from being safe. We don't know enough about ourselves. I think it's better to know that you don't know, that way you can grow with the mystery as the mystery grows in you. But these days, of course, everybody knows everything, that's why so many people are lost."
–James Baldwin
If Beale Street Could Talk

“My poems are meeting places."
–Thomas Tranströmer

"This sentiment is what I am all about. These poems are not meant to be heard alone. These poems tell stories, and stories are an art that comprises listeners. Listeners do not sit at home on their own. They sit around campfires, dinner tables, bottles of wine. They sit with others, and in listening to others' stories, the stories change. In telling these stories, I hope for the listeners to change them. How? In telling their own as they listen. Why? Because America needs to hear them."
–Eliot Cardinaux


Eliot Cardinaux – voice, piano
Mat Maneri – viola
Thomas Morgan – bass
Flin van Hemmen – drums, percussion, cymbals

Track List:

1. Thicket
2. Questions (to the Thought)
3. Omnipotent Dreamer
4. Angel
5. The Stranger’s Song
6. Interlude
7. Conspiring Psychic
8. Radio Dues

Recorded by Tom Tedesco at Tedesco Studios, Paramus, NJ, April 13th, 2014.
Mixed by Eivind Opsvik at Brooklyn Underground.
Mastered by Nate Wood.
Photography by Michelle Arcila.
Design by Espen Friberg.
Released on Loyal Label.


In the piece “The Stranger’s Song,” the line “…half-finished to heaven…” refers loosely to a poem by Thomas Tranströmer, entitled “The Half-Finished Heaven,” from The Great Enigma. The line “…where a stranger once stumbled upon himself in the music of the stranger…” was paraphrased from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “There is no name for us, when the stranger stumbles upon himself in the stranger,” from The Stranger’s Bed.

In the piece “Conspiring Psychic,” the line “thieves of paradise” was taken from a book by Yusef Komunyakaa of the same name.

All poems by Eliot Cardinaux.
Music on tracks 2 and 3 composed by Eliot Cardinaux.
Music on tracks 1 and 4–8, improvised by Eliot Cardinaux, Mat Maneri, Thomas Morgan and Flin van Hemmen.
All Rights Reserved, 2015.

Special thanks to Jade Wollin, Robert, Heleen, Annie and Emilie Cardinaux, Michael Tillyer, Isaac Luxon, Ryan Blotnick, Daniel Levine, Monica Frisell, to Eivind and Michelle, and to the band.

This music is dedicated to my family, blood or no.


released July 8, 2016


all rights reserved



Eliot Cardinaux Boston, Massachusetts

Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1984, Eliot Cardinaux is a poet and pianist now living in Northampton, Massachusetts. He is the founder of The Bodily Press through which he has released the works of others, as well as several of his own chapbooks & CDs.

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