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Coyote Moon, Peregrine Sky

by shelleyobrien

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    Artwork by Shelley O'Brien

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bring your ear close to me little girl slow and stay those pounding feet a symphony a song a little pearl what you are is what you wish to be raise your eyes and see me little girl you can wear this bright embrace see the sky go like a tilt-a-whirl what this is, is your own shining face reach your hands down deep into the dirt feel my heart as your own beats i made you and you are making me isn’t that how we really meet there could be no bigger love there could be no bigger love there could be no bigger love there could be no bigger love
ran due south on tracks you made lay my head on dirty shoulders this mayhem maker is your new urban lore i howl and roar, fur taker your geometry a well-laid plan grid lock, i have the keys to these city races with charges as the prize i eat fowl/foul and rise, game keeper i live in the moon i rule the ravine will you shoot me down? i straddle the worlds seen and unseen will you shoot me down? fly by night in a canoe months of stores, of stars of plenty you keep going faster, you captives in lockdown i’m lost and found, hobo master this beautiful song’s full of terrible things this beautiful song’s full of terrible things this beautiful song’s full of terrible things this beautiful song’s full of terrible things
i thought you knew me i’m a songbird high in a tetris game bricks close out all the light i’m blinded by money while the real green sea boils over you thought you were free but you’re just a ghost of you you’re haunting yourself through and through with these handfuls of dirt come the towers of pride how you harvest the dreams from the sky and the cloud-lands above bereft of their love, cry i’m all sung out too much window pane/pain i reflection of what i want so i hit it again you’re in there somewhere oh such a pale disguise living a life without being alive turn out the lights! let the stars steer me right take me far from the city night, far from the city night
we fly west we slip between northern showers southern beams she’s got fox gloves i’ve got double halo dreams and we ride, hidden only children see us there reach up to our coats to stroke our russet hair in plain sight we dare to love and love to dare and we hide, forbidden we’re going to the end of the line two forest brides oak trees hold their hearts and pine now i’m your’s and you’re mine and the choir sings “YAY!” rolling back to bollywood as only foxes on an east-bound trolley could dance loose from the rails, it’ll do you good we’re alive, smitten bangles sarees jasmine nights the 506 twice made it right into the woods! then back to city lights we arrive, heaven
meet me in the lost land, fox bride where the bird houses drift and rainbows collide traffic don’t stop it spills down every side but our love is loud, our love is wide meet me in the hinterland, dear ones raindrops on our coats set alight by the bright sun hands and eyes eager, hoping and intertwined all hearts beating to life in the same time meet me in the lost land, fox bride nothing is so precious when there’s nothing to hide when the world closes in, don’t forget the green inside our love is loud, our love is wide
Hazel May 03:35
you came like a hurricane tore me down, carved me deeper flooded me, dismantled days i won’t forget you, hazel may showed me how the tears can fall can fill us up, can make us better sadness can live, she’ll be ok within the joy, if you just let her i stood with you, i didn’t run saw through the rain, til you were done still my heart was swept away oh my darling hazel may i take delight down in the deep where traffic slows and songbirds sleep where you’ve gone i couldn’t say i won’t forget you, hazel may oh my darling, oh my darling oh my darling Hazel May
come close, further be watch me fly ‘round these glass trees feed, feed my hunger games why do you think you know my name on your spectacle screen is a peregrine sky come out from behind, claim your own high i’m one, i’m mean with the concrete you’re a satellite, we will never meet we’re both slaves to numbers games i want to survive you want fame i’m the true queen you serf/surf/serve bay street i fly you scurry underneath
fly like a day fairy, to the apiary to the middle, to the middle of the sweet past all the hives and dives to the so alive to the place where you’re complete colours churned from flowers turn to love your heart your heart is a golden holiday, honey maker and i for one wouldn’t want it any other way, honey maker go through the portal til you’re immortal right in the middle, in the middle of the sweet better than the best, better than the rest you’re nothing nothing but complete, ooh ooh ooh ooh
northwind, you’re turning me down northwind, you’re turning me down waiting for her to come ‘round but she don’t come ‘round winter, you’re burying me winter, you’re burying me waiting for the love to be found in this northwind in this absence in this cold whistling heart with no substance what’s to be gained? what is the cost for what’s lost?
you are my brightest lights so wild and smart oh city-ful of lights make a child of my heart you are my roads true straight as arrows oh city-ful of truth make a child of my marrow and we run, searching for the sun falling for the sky, you and i you are my glass brigade reflecting all you’ve made oh city strong and brave make a child of my heart


I began this project on a tropical mid-January morning in Kauai. I had just read in one of the brochures that Hawaii, and specifically Kauai, being the most easterly of the islands, was settled in 400AD by Polynesians traveling 4000 km from the Marquesas Islands. They rode in 60 ft dug out canoes for months and months, at sea, navigating by the stars, the waves, the clues of the seascape around them. As a geographer by training, I was confounded.

How could that kind of travel be humanly possible? How could a vast ocean provide such clear signals to navigate these wayfarers to this extremely isolated island chain? That was sitting with me when I started writing about our city friends, the coyotes. Truly amazing animals that have also traveled great lengths to live in our land of plenty. It’s said they follow the lightly populated railways leading south, and sleep on the shoulders of highways, where they are safe from discovery as they travel. The mythology of the coyote runs deep throughout North America, and I resonated with the trickster, the wily mayhem-maker who knows way more than we give credit for. The being who sleeps in the moon, and howls at this land of plenty: geese, chihuahua, they aren’t picky. This being has made a home of concrete, and in my song anyway, he and she know when it’s time to load the dug out canoe, navigate by the stars, and head boldly for more hospitable climes.

Now, looking at the trajectory from the first pen scratch in Hawaii, there was a clear progression for me. The first part of the project I looked very critically at our relationship to nature in the the city, from the peregrine webcams to the coyote shenanigans. Our ego and fossil-fueled lives lead us to a land of hand-held, eyes-glazed distraction, and that distraction keeps all nature - our friends in the city, and our own natures - “safely” at bay.

If we are brave, and if we make time, we can settle down and touch the earth. We laugh at the Toronto Peacock that escapes from High Park, but we laugh because, man! We can relate to wanting to be free. We ARE nature. So as the songs wrote themselves, they became more and more about creating spaces of enchantment, gratitude and love. Transcending the distraction is the work of all of us, but we all have it in us to do. This city is full of love, and that is the lesson I took with me from this project.

Nature is Love, after all. And connection. Eyes met on a rainy day walk in the forest of High Park. A magical streetcar ride with your girlfriend to buy saree fabric in little india. The tune of songbirds weaving in and out of my recording sessions next to the park. And a community of people who, for better and worse, both rub against nature, and relish in the great riches it offers up to us, in this WILD city with a COYOTE MOON and PEREGRINE SKY.


released June 16, 2015

Made possible by the kind support of the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council


all rights reserved



shelleyobrien Toronto, Ontario

Since the release of her debut album in 2009 and her sophomore record Vivarium (2011), Shelley O’Brien has taken her electric ukulele and her haiku lyrics to festivals in Helsinki, Melbourne, Tokyo and Rome, and has toured in Iceland, Holland, Japan and Germany.

O'Brien's elemental and lush third album, Turn The Dark, delves into the inner workings of the human heart.
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