Sleeping In Thunder • Lyrics


Lyrics: Michael Koep
Music: Monte Thompson
©2006-2012 Claytunes Music, BMI

Steer By The Stars

I don’t belong here-
It seems all wrong here-
In this bar with all the beer
The ladies— too lovely,
I feel like I’m lost at sea.

I don’t belong here-
I’d be better off at home
With my nose in a book
With a dazed and thoughtful look
Always staring out the window.

    But when I see her dancing
    Swirling like the stars
    Above my head--
    She sends everything that I think
    Down like sailing ships sink
    I think I'll steer by the stars.

I don’t belong here
At least that’s what I feel.
I guess I’ve been thinking too much
Of what has passed, or passing, or to come
Nobody here likes a thinker

Can't do the jig if the words are too big.

I don’t know how to move like that
So I’ll stay right where I’m at-
And keep a grip on my note pad
So that if I’m feeling bad
I’ll write the red and blue flash
That sweats across her frame
It’ll make her want to change her name.
To mine.

I should just let go
Bust out the oars and row
Get high – get free
Be Hamlet with a boom box
Singin’ Let It Be.

    And now I see her dancing
    Swirling like the stars
    Above my head
    She makes everything that I think
    Sailing ships that can't sink
    I think I'll steer by the stars.    

Fire Escape

All this time it has hung on the side
Rusted metal stairs,
Pull down latch ladders
The steel bolts and bars
Just in case the place goes up in flames.
I sometimes stand outside looking in
Pretending tongues of fire
Lick the window frame
Like a ravenous maw
Just in case the place goes up in flames.
I wonder if I’d go back in
To save the picture box.
Fight through the smoke
For the words I wrote
Just in case the place goes up in flames.
From out on the metal grate landing
I imagine my life devoured
The life I’d made just so.
But I’m outside safe.
Just in case the place goes up in flames.
Like a lifeline
Like a bottle of wine
Like a holy shrine
If it all goes down
I’ve got a way out.
Like a handful of pills
Like the walls we build
To obstruct our guilt
If it all goes down
I’ve got a way out.
Through the window I can see
The snapshot of my life,
A bursting bubble of black plastic
I trace my steps back in
And wait for the fire to start.

If You Were Dead

If you were dead,
I’d be able to breathe,
Breathe the air outside
If you were dead.
I’d drive to the city
And be a dancer
If you were dead.

If you were dead,
I’d open a corner shop,
And sell cups and dishes
If you were dead.
I’d set the world to rights
And make paper flowers,
If you were dead.

If you were dead,
I’d stay home all day
And make plans to leave
I’d commit my life
To something I’d never achieve,
I’d do the things you loved to do
The things I never wanted to,
I’d never lie again.

If you were dead
You memory- that
Ugly voice in side of me
If you were dead
You’d be silent
And I’d forget
If you were dead.

If you were dead
I’d see the things
The things you’ve made me do
If you were dead
I’d see that you are me
And I am you.
If you were dead.

The Slant of the Sun

There’s something about
A wing-snapped bird
Alone in the dust–
A black cat on the grass.

There’s something about
A grey eyed girl
Alone in the back–
Not a friend in the class.

There’s something about
The brown of booze
Before a broken man–
His brief case right beside.

There’s something about
A spider’s web
Across an open gate–
Mom calls the kids inside.

It’s the slant of the sun, I know.
The shifting of the Earth
In her wide, soft bed.
Come every September
She nods her head,
And the stars shake loose
And the shadows stretch out
And I notice that
There’s something about

Empty wheel chairs
Outside the sliding glass doors–
The laughter in the park.

There’s something about
A child’s eyes
The closet door ajar–
And it is getting dark.

There’s something about
The moon, the sea,
And the civilizations
Uncovered by the tide.

There’s something about
A will to carry on,
When a wing is cracked
And the cat is on the lawn.

Sleeping In Thunder

Can’t live like spring
No more.
It’s passed me by.
Can’t wear this ring
No more.
Never meant to lie.
I see the truth
Once more.
I’ve uncovered eyes.
Can’t live with you
No more.
When one half decides
The other half dies
And so I
Split in two
I’ve come between us.
I’ll make up
What I am today
I’ll be sleeping
In thunder
If I stay.
I’ll never dream
If I compromise.
We all have two
When one half denies
The other will rise.
And so I
Split in two
I’ve come between us.

I move to the mirror
And scream at the face-
And break.


What you miss in me,
before this biting of nails,
And the half moons of ash below my eyes:

is incineration.

The place where flesh and flame
Embrace like the sun and sea,
And resistance to her wanting fails:

is incineration.

The howling cry at moonrise
Reveals the delicious shame,
The priestly tone of all that’s holy:

is incineration.

I hear the nightingales
Ecstasy’s song of lies,
I hold my ears and try to tame:


Which way shall I turn me?
To ashes or to the skies?
I’m the bird that burns

The gentle Hyde in me
Hid away the Jeykll ale,
The fire red potion of my demise:


Dorian’s picture is to blame
Or Gollum’s whispered screams,
Where Smeagol and I will end our tale:

And begin again.

Everything Magic

I’m beginning to believe
That she’s not what she seems.
She’s got potions, charms and candle lit eyes.
Five stars she points to in the sky.

And more times than I can say
She’s called to me in my dreams.
And for reasons I can’t explain
Her magic makes me say:

You are my revelry, the brilliant confetti falling
Down around me.
You are my potpourri, the apples and cinnamon on the
Stove at three.
You are my rosary, the pearl-smooth prayer of my
Every need.
You are my vis-à-vis, the light through my shadow
That lets me see—
My everything. My magic everything.

The incense curls as ivy
Her touch tipped with flame.
She’s got me thinking a fool like me can fly—
On wax wings with the sun as my aim.

And more than once she’s said to me
That my dreams are what she dreams.
And for reasons she can’t explain,
Her spell is always the same:

You are my do re mi, the cello-tone notes making me smile
When you sing.
You are my filigree, vines of gold that glow when you
Walk with me.
You are my make believe, breathing low, asleep after my
Every fantasy.
You are my guarantee, that in the end I had a
Reason to be.
My everything. My magic everything.

I hear her voice
In the earth and sea.
In the fires at night
And the air I breathe.
What a fool I’ve been,
And a fool I’ll be—
How could I have not seen
That I have everything?

The Cons of Shade (a lullaby)

May the message of a little lily
Under wooden sidewalks on an afternoon
Wrapped with raindrops,
Speak to you.

Crowded under footsteps over
Lily’s head, watching passers-by
Curse the sky, Those grey clouds
Make them cry-

She’s reaching up.
Reaching up to you.
And she says:

When will you learn this life has just begun
I’m happy in the shade
But I’d like to see the sun.
I’ve got potato bugs- come for tea to see me
At least they dig the dark
‘Cause now it’s all we’ve got
We’ve got to learn, got to learn
To dig the dark.

Her neighbors are potato bugs
Sifting through the murk and mud
Loving the cool damp shadow, black
Deep down below.

Their lives are trapped in blindness
And they’re quick to remind us
That the dark is just a place
That we learn to outgrow.

They’re reaching up.
Reaching up–

Up To The Dark

Mother, you were always strong
Like the dark yellow light on Autumn afternoons,
Letting us see how black depression could be,
Then you’d warm us in your arms
With your eyes full of moon.

Mother, you said you’d be okay
Even as your defeated face, pale as bone,
Smiled between those blurry pills above the sink.
Where the doctors said for you to go
When you’re feeling alone.

Up to the dark
And down
Downward like a stone
In the sea–
One in the same
Waves in the middle
In the middle of me.

Mother, no one wants to know,
No one seems to care, they say it’s in your head.
Their eyes lit like lanterns on a stormy sea
The little blinking lights of ships
High on a crest, lost in a valley.

Mother, you worry that I 
Might be like you, caught beneath the waves,
Sinking day by day or rising up like a desert
Flower only to wilt when no one
Is around to save me. . .

The Remains

I didn’t write a letter to
The one we made missing.
I didn’t think it would read.
No ceremony for my conscience,
No sending a note and flowers downstream.
It was nothing. That’s what we said it should be.

My pacing felt like searching for
The one we made missing.
You stared into the rain.
You had said that I’d forget the
Waistline thin white bandage,
Eliminate what our choice left behind.
It was nothing. That’s what we said it should be.

And so it stays
The one we thought we lost
And so we pray
That the price of letting go
Is the cost of day to day
The remains.

No evidence left
Of the one we made missing.
No breath, no face, no name.
No cord to cut to set us free,
No little voice inside saying it’s okay,
Just the space for the words we needed to say.

And so it stays
The one we thought we lost
And so we pray
That the price of letting go
Is the cost of day to day
The remains.
The one we made missing,

Fifteen years and I’ll finally say goodbye.
Here’s my letter to the one we never named.
I’ll send it downstream or onto the air waves
A flower to mark your remains.

The Right Regret

I am the lips of
scowling old men
That sit upon grey benches beside the pier
Waiting for the day to come to an end.

I am the eyes of
A boy of thirteen
Watching her slip from her dress
As she toes the rushing stream.

I am the hands of
A pinning priest
Gripping the sheets in sleep
Wishing her flesh was mine to keep.

I am the ears of
The second monkey
Plugging out the seven deadlies.
But I’ve heard them well already.

I want to be the thing that screams are made of–
The place where the thrill began.
A living, breathing ecstasy.
But that crossroads deal is no less real
Don’t say no to the possibilities
But temptation will make me who I am.
A small price for immortality.
There are some things from which a man must flee.
They say the devil has better tunes.
And big bright red high-heeled boots.
I wish I knew the good of wishing
If wishing is all I can give you.
I’m the right regret.

What if the eyes of
The boy of thirteen
Missed her in the evergreens?
Would I ever know the pulse of this life?

What if the hands of
The priest in black
Broke those vows to let her in?
I would show these hands can’t sin.

And what if the ears
Believed all that slipped
From the scowling lips of old men,
Wondering why they didn’t give in.
Wondering if they’d do the same again.