Now Try Coughing

by Interbellum

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released August 16, 2016

Karl Mattar - vocals, guitar
Fadi Tabbal - guitar
Elie Abdelnour - bass
Pascal Semerdjian - drums

Songs by Karl Mattar
Music by Interbellum
Guest vocals by Julia Sabra (1, 2)
Recorded on cassette by Fadi Tabbal at Tunefork Studios, Lebanon
Mastered by Lopazz at
Artwork by Tala Safié



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Interbellum Beirut, Lebanon

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Track Name: Brian Wilson
It's a hell of a wail but nothing stirs the stones of Rome.
And the football field is sponsored by the funeral home.
The gears are greased with folly, the sun it rises and the Widow falls. And still the shadows stretch across the walls.

Yet when the restless gavel of dread lit,
its sudden frankness broke through the slanting sticks of sunlight and the coils of smoke.
And all was clear and crisp, inked colors glistening with glaring grief. I poked the air in disbelief.

Now say goodbye to the future.
It's coming down with a fever.
And though there's no harm in hoping,
there ain't much sense in it either!

Ah, the conspiracy of meaning!
The spirit of the beehive!
The belief it will amount to something
that makes us flip to the b-sides!

And when the little lad delivered a letter with 5 orange pips,
he watched the lost years struggle on our lips.
And I took to my heels but trouble travels on a quarter horse.
Look for me in the weather reports...

For truth is wrapping around me
like Spanish moss on a cedar elm.
And I've been told it's addictive,
but mostly it's overwhelming!

And so I try to remember
to let it unravel lightly,
and tip the balance in favor of breathing
ever so slightly.

The four angels are wavering
with each spread of newspaper.
"There's been a crash in the Alps, dear"
and "the plague has crossed the equator!"

And Brian Wilson is singing
Through the speakers' distortion:
I am a rock in a landslide
I am a cork on the ocean.
Track Name: Dead Actors
she looked across the sunny sky

sharp-nosed sharks coming from every angle

she sat down crying next to him

hands clasped over her ankles.

you said “when people die on screen

while the rest of the audience is grieving

I always watch the dead man’s chest

to catch the actor breathing”

and when the sky went dark and still
she filled the barks with verses
well I never liked the country much
the crickets make me nervous
the lights came on with no warning
some shitty shameless fraud of a morning
I cursed the ragged frame that I was born in

on the way back home I had the strangest thoughts

somebody ought to punch my brain in
there were dots and dashes in the wind
and it was raining

and so I walked under the front porch roofs
fitting questions to tractable answers

then cones of light beamed down on me

just automatic motion sensors!

so where's that giddy gutless knave
who made me join the circus?
I'll put the sucker in his grave
just show me where the hearse is!
the empty silos stack rain
bombs plummet out of black planes
onto town squares and slow lanes...

That faulty neon light it flashed
upon my face like lightning
I threw the key out in the trash
and slowly reeled the kite in
haven't you learned from Lee Mavers?
spurn the stunned fool who wavers
and hit him hard on the leg he favors
Track Name: Wrinkles
Driving through the city with death sitting on my lap,
marionette strings tugging,
wild thoughts caught in Chinese finger traps.
My sticky eyelids sank against the stark fluorescent lights,
and I felt like shit so I took that shadow dancing in the aisles
of a liquor store!

And the morning news said:
"Arab shoots a clerk, walks out, forgets the booze!"
I think I'm running out of juice.

Well, eureka! What's the difference!
Top or bottom? Love or theft?
Aren't you sick of the compulsions
and the crude claims of the flesh?
Fix that tether around your ankle!
Drink your cup down to the dregs!
And with your bloody blind eyes blazing tell me

What did you expect to find in sand and foam?
Was it a sense of self, a shelter, or a home?
You just found yourself alone!

So now I know I'll only ever go back to that place
with a derringer in my boots, a .45 strapped to my waist.
And the kid who used to pick off vulgar petals in the shade,
he got fastened to a carousel hand glued to a grenade.

He thought he could step off of the tracks,
but we get all kind of wrinkles when the varnish cracks.
And it cracks!
Track Name: Billy The Kid
the caryatid's yielded, crushed and split by the harshest of winters
watch her claw and scratch as her last match burns her fingers
a broken umbrella beside her, ribs splayed like a spider in a pool of raspberry cider that flows to the gutter
and on our next segment: "Salvation Still Stagnant: a priest with pauses so pregnant his pupils all stutter"

this city is senseless
with its slow deadly wink and all it entails
we're hopeful atlantes with feet of clay
behind that hatch
is a pain that scratches your eyeballs with rusty nails
38 scraps of flesh in a fireworks display

and I can't see how things could be any different
lick the back of Jenny I'm sealed and ready for shipment
for after all, swallowed up in the squall, we're so impossibly small and sadly amusing
butterfly wings on my back and teeth ready to crack, you'd have to wind me up just to get me moving!

how does it happen
the flesh is sad and i've read every book
I won't look out for flashers when I cross the road
I'll bow to the sisters
the way a pawn bows to a rook
but someday the blisters will have to explode

but I swear somebody stands at the doll's end
with needles and sunscreen in each of his hands
so empty the rose of your cheeks in hollow wineglasses
and row through the days of the week with batting eyelashes

the world's illuminated
when i see through the eyes of billy the kid
it's true and it's fated the patterns persist
so drop both your gauntlets
keep fletching arrows and watch the cars skid
past the houses once haunted now covered in mist
Track Name: Somersaults
blaster guns
aimed at the sun
crossed eyes and dotted Tees
two-tire swings
deflated water-wings
lightening strikes our stubborn knees

sawdust sprinkling
through cracks in the ceiling
but our toes still point to hell
the summer melts and stretches
holding our hearts from the edges
we shake our savings down the well

and pulling at a transparent rope
twisting a tenner like a telescope
the future gilded by rays of hope

but the yarn still spins
the three witches grin
the mirrors blush and blur
and all at once
I sling my guns
and look at the brew I stir

then I sit in silence
peel back my eyelids
looking around for me
licking shadows
through holes in hand-drawn windows
lodged in the mud of memory

and the pictures pour out from the vaults
eyeballs doing somersaults
and the squeans and spurls spin and waltz
Track Name: Double Back
Lungs rattling like greasy paper bags.
Voice raspy and fag-rough. Drag. Cough. Drag again.
The same words absolving all revolving doors:
"I'd rather be a headache than a bore"

Kid, you should be more hesitant.
I heard you broke your arm trying to punch out the president.

When Napoleon's bride tried to get on his good side,
(her hands like claws and her knees twisted like old thorn trees on the riverside) she said:

"Hello darkness, grand old friend!
I'm finally learning, this candle's burning on both ends."

You know the beast never did stand a chance with belle.
They cleared the nape of his neck
and ran the scissors through the silk in his lapel.
The executioner harrumphed to break the ice
"you boys always look up once and never twice"

So King of Nails, don't you cry
The plank is full of them - and that's good!
You've been fearing the sky will topple over, half-hoping it would

"Dear diary," reads the vellum, "this is interbellum!
I'll only write with a goose quill dipped in venom!"
Jack burns his flag, packs both of his bags
Mother sags and sews bills into the seams of his denims!

The prophetess kicks her laundry hamper,
muttering truths that have lost their temper.
Lives flash in the roiling swells of a highball,
same old names spelled out in lightbulbs.
Gumps guard the great doorway with retractable syringes,
dirt on their foreheads, peddling hinges and locks
When diamond dogs lead you into a cul-de-sac,
just kick the rubble and double back.
Track Name: Marble Jaws
On a brighter note, the hole won't fit the key.
Still his swivels row this boat that floats upon her sea.
"Will I see you tomorrow? Mrs…?"
"Will you love me tonight?"
The witches are in stitches at the sight.

It gives one reason to pause
Beyond the natural laws, the truth isn't truth until it's
chewed and spit by the marble jaws
First you're trapped within and then you're left without.
One-second emotion, endless doubt.

It hasn't rained in years. You pop a quarter in the mirror
and rub your back against the fog.
This itch it took you by surprise. Hand over your eyes,
you shake the tree of wooden clogs.

Grandma blankly laughs, "I swear I was born today."
But the muscles remember and the photographs betray.
Even the best of wines is best before 9 days have run out.
I second that emotion: endless doubt.

But where are your wounds, my son? Where are your bruises?
Every time you bet, somewhere somebody loses.
And any way you spin the spokes,
this cigarette won't suck back smoke.
So hand over your eyes, let me watch the sun explode!

Sweep me under the rug.
Put my head on a jug.
Glue my legs to my skirt.
Stitch me into the patchwork.
Track Name: Twitch
moonlit and senseless
words falling from my lips
I felt her belly swell with laughter
and my heart knocking at the ribs

but the flag is always at half-mast
there's an unreachable itch
you squint in search of a secret meaning
but the truth makes your eyelids twitch

a sting derisive and rotary
twitch - the latent clutches of memory
twitch - refrigerator magnet poetry
no way to spell your way out

something sewed our lips shut
before we had a chance to speak
I saw it stamping wrinkles in our brows
and fretting channels in our cheeks

Well it's true the illusion of reality
- just to be in the moment -
is such an extravagance
and mine is always broken

so we watch the continents drifting
feel the wind as it's shifting
think of all that we're missing