Category Archives: GODHEADSCOPE

Welcome, music

In the interest of living a less-divided creative life, I’ll now provide updates and information related to my musical work — including the GODHEADSCOPE and Cindervoice projects — via matthewsrosin.com and associated social media.

My writing and musical lives have never been alien from each other in practice, as the “Poetry/Lyrics” feature on this blog attests. Now, all of my creative output will be represented in one place.

To celebrate, here’s “Dusk On Glass,” from GODHEADSCOPE’s 2007 album, A City Out of Sight.

The Screaming Mound

Do not speak falsely. 

Brutal honesty: 
far better a crime 

than your silence 
denies. 

Your tongue 
presses 

the bottom of your mouth. 

Words wait. 

Tongues are cut out. 

Tongues rise high— 
lash the ground. 

Place your tongue atop 
the screaming mound.

About the poem:

“The Screaming Mound” contains some of the most jarring imagery I’ve ever employed in a lyrical context. The issue at the poem’s core  —  complicity in atrocity through silence — demanded a strident metaphor.

But sadly, I no longer remember what prompted the poem.

I think this is because the poem itself chooses a kind of silence and complicity. By operating exclusively through metaphor — however striking — without so much as an epigraph to clarify the poem’s real-world context and origin, the pain of the particular is silenced.

So, too, is memory.

Medusa In the Cistern

How long
can you hold your breath?

Two minutes?
Two thousand years?

The city sits upon your neck:

snakes, so still,
suspended

upside down
in drinking water,

saliva now a nutrient

feeding grand machines;
modern industry

rushing
past your memory.

Quaint, unthreatening
fragment of nostalgia
that you are.

Frozen,
beheaded

as you are.

About the poem:

In early 2007, I saw the pilot episode of a now-cancelled American documentary series, Cities of the Underworld. The series led viewers through the subterranean environments that exist beneath various cities and other locations.

That first episode focused on the world beneath Istanbul, Turkey — including the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı), built during the 6th century by Byzantine Emperor Justinian. There, in one corner of the cistern, two giant Medusa heads rest, recycled as bases for two columns.

The image of Medusa, submerged in a cistern while time, myth, and civilization passed her by, struck a chord in me. “Medusa In the Cistern” followed.

The poem transformed rhythmically when set to music. The words became a rapid incantation, repeated several times, mirroring the rush of civilization above ground. This is not at all how I would read the text aloud as a poem. But as lyrics in a musical context, I can’t imagine the words any other way.

Solidarity

Open up
your ruined house.

Fear not for God.
The poem is my pocket:

the fiber fragment
folded tight,

tucked into a secret
always moving.

Behind the seam,
this inner lining,

I smuggle hope
beyond debris.

My fingers pinch
the promise firm.

I press tomorrow—
shelter—in your palm.

We breathe aloud,
breathe into rubble.

We breathe aloud:
our ruin now a temple.

About the poem:

“Solidarity” was used as lyrics on track #2 of Patience, part of my GODHEADSCOPE musical project.

The poem was inspired by a passage from Czesław Miłosz’s essay, “Ruins and Poetry.” Miłosz describes poetry as having been the “main genre of underground literature” in Poland during World War II, because it could be “contained on a single page” and “circulated in manuscript form or in clandestine publications, transmitted orally or sung.”

The passage stirred an image of scraps of paper, folded and hidden, smuggled from one place to another, binding person to person, lamenting the fallen world and imagining a new one.

Here’s how it translated into music: