2009 - 2011 found levi the poet on tour for 8 to 10 months out of the year. two days before thanksgiving '11, levi released a follow up - the monologues ep - through come&live! records. the album consisted of only five tracks but boasted a lengthy 41 minutes of poetry. "kaleidoscope" and "memories" became fan favorites and, as levi's writing matured, so did his interest in narrative. truth exists within a narrative. this was an invitation to engage in a greater story. monologues asked questions. it recalled life on the road and what it was like to "live the dream" away from loved ones at home. it told the story of a woman who wondered whether she would ever see beauty or color. it looked hard at love and abuse and loss and life. its final track became an artistic retelling of luke's biblical gospel, an ode to the ultimate storyteller.
Dancing With The Goblins I’ve missed you since you’ve been gone. I must confess, I am such a mess and these days just seem so long. I’ve been smoking way too much again now that you are gone, and I struggle with porn a little bit more as the loneliness wears on…
I can lie to myself all day long until I believe the corruption is tried and true, but just because I can appease my conscience doesn’t mean that my failures don’t affect you. And I know if you didn’t want honesty you wouldn’t be with me, but now that you know everything, am I everything you always wanted me to be?
Cause this city is laid out like a massive machine and up above the clouds I can see everything. When I look at her, and she looks at me – that glow of city streetlights… (I am crystal clean.)
I could have sat inside that coffee shop all day long and watched Grandma Death walk back and forth from the park to the Jack in the Box to the park to the Jack in the Box to the park to the Jack in the Box to the park to the broken down, boarded up shop and laugh (as long as I was laughing with you…) Well you are bundled up so tight and I can see that look (of wonderment) in your eyes as I take your hand and we step outside into that beautiful, cloudy Seattle sky and wonder where the sun went. I want to sit on the step outside your green apartment and try to explain what happens to my heart (when I see the city) it’s like a clean start AND I WANT TO DANCE WITH THE GOBLINS! and I want to dance with you… and I wanna remember what it was like on the nights that we missed each other again, like our love was new! (Like our love was real!) Like there was emotion in your voice when you told me you loved me and “I love you” was something that I could feel. And you’d kiss me like you meant that you’d miss me while you were gone, and I’d sing our favorite song… I’D BE THE VOICE IN YOUR DREAMS!
“Don’t stop calling, you’re the reason I love losing sleep.”
This city is laid out like a massive machine and it’s synched up so perfectly with all of my circuitry. I am not a complicated human being: I just want to be loved, and I just want you to love me! I JUST WANT TO FALL ASLEEP TO THE SOUND OF YOU BREATHING! (That melody is sweeter than their “Colly Strings”) But the static on the phone lines is getting worse and worse… (and I can’t hear either, no I can’t hear anything!)
This city is full of so many broken dreams and so many beautiful memories - - - 1,465 miles from Albuquerque to Salt Lake to Oregon to Seattle to Vivace’s Coffee (to the park by your place) 23 hours and 9 minutes on the interstate and if I start driving now I can make it in a day…
This city’s laid out like a broken machine (ALLY! ALLY!) Are you coming home for me? I’m sorry I haven’t written – it’s been a while since I’ve dreamed… It’s been a while since I’ve acted on my hopes for anything. (But I miss your kiss) and my favorite thing is when I can still taste the nicotine on your lips… could you tell me that you’re crazy about me and act like you mean it?
This city breaks me down like a massive machine and if there is no hope for me, then forget it, I’ll just leave! I’m hitting the road, I miss you so much when talk on the phone but my letters are so sparse, I just wanted you to know: NO MATTER HOW FAR I CHASE MY DREAMS, MY DREAM WILL ALWAYS BE YOU AND ME. (and I swear we’ll make a memory out of this solemn scene.) Would you have never loved at all or lost but loved completely?
WELL I LOVE YOU COMPLETELY! (and you love me enough to let me go)
Oh Captain, My Captain Step out the front door, friends! Toss up my keys! From here on out we’re gonna do as we please! Just outside this substantially thickening window is a world Full of opportunities for me and you… and you and me. (But I fell into that same flawed fantasy that detaching myself from mommy’s bedtime stories and daddy singing me to sleep would be the key to setting me free.) Oh, you want out so bad now, baby girl, But just you wait and see how much you miss mom and dad once you finally get the chance to leave! I want to go home to my own bed tonight and sleep cuddle with my puppy (I miss my puppy!) I want to make believe that she is a girl sleeping next to me…like I used to when I was lonely… like I was lucky enough to have somebody there to keep me company when I woke up in the morning and hold me (but now I’m…)
Buried in the arms of someone else and missing mother’s. I miss the weathered hands of my dad while holding tightly to my lovers. And I call this: Free.
EIGHTEEN BABY! YOU WANT TO SEE MY I.D.? I’LL BUY MY OWN CIGARETTES! In fact, two packs please. Two packs for the two years I already ran myself broke, (O!) and two more for the two more I’m gonna count on these to cope. I’ll take two packs for the two days that I’m planning on being away, Smoke ‘em both the first so on the second I can give my lungs a break (or, at least that’s the plan anyway… oh my god! You’ve got a two-for-one on the 27’s?) You know, I think I’ll take two more just in case on that second day, when I wake, I decide to smoke all eight… OH! a captain and coke would go so nicely right now cause I’ve been drinkin a little to try to forget about the fact that I’ve been drinkin a little to try to forget about the fact that I’ve been drinkin a little to try to forget about the fact that I drank quite a bit, and actually forgot about the fact that I am down.
Funny how perspectives change so quickly when you’re the one with your head beneath the toilet seat, wearing that crown on your feet… and as I lift up my head from that bathroom sink I sink into the mirror and scream: “YOU DON’T KNOW ME!!!” and Paul said it perfectly, “I am the worst of these” but every now and then I swear I think I got that guy beat. I used to be such a fan of abstract poetry! But that quiet, clouded, kind of confusing painting went from diluted grayscale to vibrant honesty pretty quickly, and in fact, I’m a little sickly, and in fact I’m a little scared sometimes that this is all in vain, with a million of me running all over eternity it’s no wonder my hope has such a bad name! But I know, no matter how large a hypocrite, or how small my faith, WHEN YOU STARTED TO TALK ABOUT PERFECTION THE WAY YOU TALKED ABOUT MY PAIN You became the seed inside that gave root to change!
And I pray every day that there is power in prayer, and I hope with all my heart that my heart will find you there, and if you’re really bigger than my skepticism then how dare I compare the high I prescribe with the beauty you prepare?
I AM A SKELETON IN A LITTLE FRAGILE SKIN!
Fatigue My God is only as big as I let him be and I am not gonna limit my God with my disbelief. My God has always, always been there for me and I am not gonna limit my God with uncertainty. I DON'T HAVE MUCH! (but it might amount to a mustard seed). I beg for miracles and then I breathe. I scream for signs and wonders and then my heart keeps its beat. But you've got to go through the fire to be refined - yeah! There's a huge sense of helplessness in a hopeless time... Well, I am yours and you are mine, and we are one in a kind. So sang the birds and the bees when I was not strong enough to sing anything; if you care and provide for the least of these, then how much more will you look over me? I don't have much, but it might amount to a mustard seed, and I've seen you move mountains and command the winds and waves of the seas on a whim so much smaller than me, singing: “God is bigger than the air I breathe; the world will leave. And God will save the day, and all with sing my glorious. “
Rainy Weather I love this rainy weather; it fills up my hollow bones just right. I love this rainy weather; the dripping sings me to sleep when I can't sleep at night. I love this rainy weather; it fills up my hollow bones just right. I love this rainy weather; I wish I could cry the way I see God cry...
CHRIST! the last time I saw you cry was Tuesday of last week, and I wasn't sure why, but the skies just kind of opened up and I sat there beneath it in a puddle of mud next to the memory of my favorite swing set, as a kid, and wondered if it was my fault that you were sad that day... and I wondered what I did. Jesus, the last time I saw you cry was in a dream I had late last night, and I held you tight against my bosom, and you wept until I was drenched and I said, "I'm so sorry, God! I'll never do that again!"
But the other day I met a girl who talked about love like she actually believed it was real. This child and I, we shared brief conversation about a few things that we thought we could feel. "Well, I don't mean to shatter your naiveté, darling, but you've so much yet to see, little girl..." And she shook her head and smiled like I was the one that was the child - she said, "Mister! Open up your eyes and I will show you the world!" I say, "People talk a whole lot about having a vice, well I've got three: insecurity, depression, and this growing anxiety..." She said, "Look, I don't mean to cut you off at the seams or one-up you or anything, but I drank way too much soda-pop as a child, and now I'm addicted to caffeine. Hehe. I mean, no, no, mister! I mean, you know that's not what I mean! I mean, at least you maintained your honesty!" "Little girl! You don't even know what I mean!" But the blind were born blind so that one day they could see, and unless you become as a child: unless you become like me, you're making excuses for yourself, Levi! You're holding onto reasons to stay angry!
So what did I used to write about in sixth grade when I sat against that fence and watched the world slip away? ...how me and my imaginary girl sat beneath that weeping willow tree and watched God's teardrops drip from the branches reaching out to me till we were anything but lonely... I love this rainy weather, it reminds me of being younger, back when I didn't worry... but I worry more than ever now, (and I can't stop pacing these hallways...)
And my biggest secret is that I don't have any secrets left, and I'd like at least one to hold onto so that I can still seem sexy and mysterious to you... I WANT TO BE EXCITED ABOUT CONCERTS AGAIN! I want to beg and scrape for the nickels and dimes and tell my parents that I'm gonna be fine; and no I'm not gonna jump in the pit... when everyone knows I'M GONNA JUMP IN THE PIT!!! (And no, mom, there is nothing violent about The Chariot.)
But next to the memory of my favorite swing set as a kid is a ghost of me, sitting next to me, wondering what he did. And as he lets the sand filter through his hands, it clumps in the puddle of tears he's sitting in, and we whisper in unison, "God I must've bummed you out again..."
I love this rainy weather, it reminds me of so many beautiful memories, and just like you said to me, "The times that I cry are the times that I feel the most. So if I find another secret to hide, you will never know. I want to feel like I can't maintain control and if I let it all out I'm gonna have to bear my soul... all I want is a hand to hold onto..." (no, no)
"ALL I WANT IS FOR YOU TO HEAL MY DAD'S BACK! WHY IS THAT SO HARD FOR YOU TO DO!" I HATE THIS RAINY WEATHER! (it reminds me of being a kid when I would trust without question) and aren't there so many questions? Why are there so many questions? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!
Pretty In Pornography (Original Version) When she finds the magazines underneath her husband's side of the bed, she'll stand naked in front of the mirror for hours (... well what did you expect?). "Bang dumb blondes, sexy singles and busty brunettes..." I must not be as beautiful as the advertising says...
Miss, I saw your poster recently... I read your ad in one of Playboy's latest magazines, actually... I've fed every need that I believed photography could feed me. If you can believe me... I hate it. You are worth so much more than my brief moment of orgasm when I allow my mind to deceive me. I'd like to be an open book and it's hard to admit how I take advantage of the desires God gave me. But I don't want to sugarcoat this - I feel hopeless, trapped in brokenness - like I lost before I ever started racing. And I know as well as anybody, this is a difficult topic to be facing, and a difficult confession for me to be making but I'm stating that when God started the molding, shaping and creating - you were not designed to be the objects that men look at while masturbating.
Baby, never forget that you were made for relating and I'm sick of failing to realize exactly what it is that I'm saying... I apologize. It was never my intent to ruin lives, compromise, or feed these eyes something other than what was designed. I apologize. It was never my desire to downsize or objectify the beauty God designed to be wrapped tight until its proper time...
Sometimes, though... I feed my indecency. Kind of slide that magazine across the counter and do it quietly: shy my face away so that no one else can see... "Will that be all for you today, sir?"
"Yes ma'am, I'd like to pay to become the opposite of what I want to be."
I wish I'd have waited, dedicated to see the experience God had planned for me from the beginning. I am not patient enough to not give in to every sin forbidden to the hearts of men... since when am I patient enough to not give in? I just apologized five minutes ago! God! come on! what's going on? I'm sick of this! SOMEBODY PUT SOME CLOTHES ON - YOU'RE BETTER THAN THIS! God's most beautiful creation and I'm sitting here euphoric like I have the right to destroy it just cause I don't have enough dedication to build a relationship with the one who can free me, so I resort to suffocation of my very foundations while claiming that I'm striving to meet the expectations of purity?
Jesus keep reassuring me, I'm yearning to be the entity that you desire me to be. Jesus keep reassuring her, the one in the centerfold, the picture I'll remember until I grow old. She is human; she is human, she is bought and sold to a million empty souls feeling so hopeless that they'll try anything to fill the hole.
I apologize. Please believe it's true. I never meant to hurt you.
Life In General BE THE CHANGE... said vipers! tigers! reassemble, rearrange! (I long to live as a lion so I violently tuff up my mane). Oh high king of heaven, my victory won!! (But I could still taste the soot in my lungs when that chorus was finally sung.) I called you so often, but you never came. I reached out to you! but you paid no attention, and as wisdom shouts out into the noisy streets I will cusp my ears tight in stubborn pretension. ("How terrible for you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans.")
BARREL LOADED!!! (to your brother...) Abel! run for cover! If you tilt, I tilt your world in my hands - take up my life with fraud and violence, and serpent I will meet your demands!
Bag lady, you know I heard you sing and (or rumor has it) you believed in me, and december's finally set me free (but Mary! I've forgotten just what it means to breathe). And as she held baby jesus so very closely (to her bosom, to her soul), I will cling tightly to my demons in the dark and imagine what it's like to be entirely whole.
Singers, did you feel the ground shake beneath you when your mustard seed fell deep in dark soil? But I called out "TORTURE!" amongst the scoffers (and though the ground is once more fertile) I recoil. As his mother's blood begins to boil, (and as we pollute god's lips with gin and oil), I've ne're witnessed such turmoil as when his heart reflected mine! (and, oh, on that note, my god died.)
Be the change! said mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, I come to you (the porno pauper) with understanding in my open hands and a tired knowledge in my eyes (if this beauty is so sacred, how does it sell so fast?) I still remember the first time I died (and oh so unknowingly gave it a second try). BUT LOVE IS PATIENT!!! LOVE IS KIND!!! and somewhere amongst this mishap I was allowed to survive.
Be the change, said angels, demons, reassemble, rearrange! I long to live as a lion so I study him studying me violently tuff up my mane.
The Bride If misery loves company (and isn’t that why you clung to me?) let’s all come together and we’ll a call it a church. Put a few people on pedestals and they can tell us why we hurt. And I will hold these people with such high esteem (o my god, if you fail, you fail the whole machine). Aren’t we all just wolves in sheep’s clothing? Shepherd, tend to your flock, but look out for the beast 'cause she’s a mean one, you see. She’s beautiful, she’s ugly, her lips taste like honey and she’s been eyeing you the way that she’s eyeing me.
But my costume is so clean! I finally tucked my claws inside these little feet and I’m standing so righteous and haughty! But I lost interest in your bride (that body) when I stopped recognizing the groom in the congregation. Ephesus! Where is that love? What it’s this uninviting, apprehensive sensation? And when did our relationship become exclusive? There is nothing new underneath that sun but I will not succumb to be recruited for the only army that shoots the wounded (I would rather be the wounded) - I AM THE WOUNDED! - SANCTUARY!
O, the church is a whore, but she’s still my mother (and I try to love her). God knows I love her! I am her.
Better to lose an arm or a leg (yeah)! Cast out anything that’s gonna cause you to fail again. If I wasn’t such a sucker for pain, I would’ve gouged out my eyes nine years ago, today. And no need to worry about me pointing out your flaws, I don’t have a speck in my eye, I’ve got a splintered log and I am not strong enough to cut it off (but I’m not trusting enough to hand someone else the saw). So it’s the blind disagreeing with the blind, about sight, and it’s the mute screaming at the deaf (with all his might) about wrong and right. “I’ve got a novel full of excuses about why I left the bride, and they’re all justified!” In broken penmanship and crooked lines: “I AM ENTIRELY BITTER INSIDE” and I need somebody wiser to differentiate between truths and lies. Pray my calloused heart beats steady. I’m pretty good at forgiving, but I’d like to start forgetting and I’m tired of the rats eating my harp strings. I miss the sound of her voice when she’d sing: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the things I’ve made it. It’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus.”
The church may be a whore but she has a lot to teach me, and if love keeps no record of wrongs then I want to love completely. We all are whores, we are all lovers, and I am gonna love her. I am her.
Werewolves When I was 6,6,6 years old I saw my first Goosebumps episode on Nickelodeon, and that stupid T.V. show made me so scared of werewolves that I was afraid to walk into the dark for months on end. I suppose nothing much has changed since then, except for now these monsters are personified within, and I go to sleep with them. And cuddle with them. And pretend that I’m 7,7, seven years old, once the fear had finally gone away, until I saw my father’s ghost inside my childhood home’s window panes, and some silent, shadowed matter followed me around the halls of my house when I was eight, so I’ve held onto the belief that there’s something dark lurking around my family to this day. I’ve used up all 999 lives so by the 10th time I die I’ll be right by your side, and we’ll both agree that we tried to land on out feet!
(Poor boy! I don’t even believe in demons!) I KNOW! I KNOW! Me neither, nobody believes in demons until they’ve seen them! And no I don’t smoke no ganga, and I'm not gonna smoke that ganga, because all of my friends already smoked enough ganga for two of my lifetimes and I fell apart while I watched them fall apart so I figure I’ve got enough falling apart in my system already…
And I’m scared for my family (and I’m scared the werewolves will keep attacking my dad). They’ve already bitten him up pretty bad, and the swelling’s spreading to my mom’s side of the bed… AND I’M THINKING HARD LATELY ABOUT GETTING SOME MEDS TO HELP CLEAR UP THIS DEPRESSION THAT’S CLOUDING MY HEAD! But those tiny little red and white and black and green and yellow and orange and blue pills scare me half to death.
When I was little, my mom hung and elephant on my wall and I had to pray to God that it wouldn’t eat me in my sleep! I’m a little older now and still learning what I think about my depressive tendencies but I know with all my heart that the same God that kept me alive then is the same one holds my hand when I’m weak, and gives me hugs when I weep. And I don’t want smoke to be the reason for my rock and roll, I don’t want substance to be the reason my body bleeds! “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it…” but if you’d hold onto me I promise I’ll do my best to keep on trying to believe! “PRONE TO WANDER, LORD I FEEL IT! Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, Seal it for your courts above.”
Ms. Lashe The other day I saw this teddy bear with a smile... do you still call me "Teddy Bear" from up there, 'cause I can still see you smiling... god, I would love to see that smile, and God, I am a little bit jealous of you, because I know you get to. I try to pray, every day, for her family, but sometimes (maybe even most of the time) I forget to. My little sister still cries so much sometimes when she thinks about how much she misses you. And I'm a little bit jealous of that too, you know? Cause I try so hard to lose all control and become as emotionally unstable as possible so that I can feel like I'm feeling release.
I remember the day I deleted your name from my phone. It was hard, and I tried so hard not to cry, but I kept on accidentally calling you too many times after you died cause I missed you, and in some unbelieving corner of my mind, I thought that you might be home.
And I cannot believe that this is happening. You know it's things like this that make me doubt God, but I know that you never did when I whispered him to you. My God, what am I supposed to do? I don't think you doubted him for a moment...
And if only we all had that faith, but I know so many of your friends that went straight to the bottle to take the pain away - AND AS I TAKE ANOTHER SWALLOW we are all collectively the same - I've got to keep myself inside this drunken state to make sure I remember your name when all other feeling floats away. The one thing that's haunting... the one thing that's haunting me are your daddy's eyes.
Do you remember standing outside of your sister's apartment? It was cold and it was nighttime and it was raining pretty hard: the perfect cliche for a first kiss in the dark! Flash back to me standing outside of your hospital door! Your daddy grabbed me by the shoulder - said, "Son, she loved you! and she missed you so much more than you know... and there's no going back now. Are you sure that you want this to be the last memory that you have of her?"
The one thing that's haunting... the one thing that's haunting is your daddy's smile, and the way that I still saw the pain in his eyes when I cried on his shoulder the same way that you used to cry on mine. Said, "I may not be strong enough to let you go, but I'm sure not so weak as to let you go without saying goodbye." Is this really goodbye? The one thing that's encouraging... the one thing that still gives me strength are your daddy's eyes, and the way that he maintained composure while the rest of us broke down and cried. How do you do that? He said, "Always remember her life."
So I will write my cheesy songs that you said you always liked, and I will live to radiate the life that poured out from your insides, and I will try to smile the way you smiled, you beautiful, beautiful, beautiful... beautiful child. And if ever I forget, I know that you loved me all the while... I saw a teddy bear the other day and it reminded me of you - o the end is heaven, and I know you are safe, and I can't wait to get to see you.
When I Go To Meet God When I go to meet God I'm gonna have to be honest... I'm gonna have to tell the truth: not a day went by that I didn't doubt you.
You always said, "Don't grow up too fast, you're just a boy", but it's better to be in the house of sorrow than the house of joy, and if I could have a heart like David, that resembles yours, then what are the odds Solomon's sadness might have creeped in somewhere to even the score?
Dear Dad, do you remember when I was always sad? You and mom called it my "depressed year," and I know it was pretty bad. What drives a child to want to give up everything he has? What makes a person think that? What makes a mother's son decide that death is better than tomorrow? Inside of each and every breath that I "borrowed" I held onto the sorrow and thought: "I'll never be able to repay Jesus with the way I live" and now I'm thinking so much that I've screwed everything up and I don't even know if you exist, so I may as well not exist.
So when I come to meet you I'm gonna have to be honest. I'm going to tell the truth: not one day has gone by that I haven't doubted you.
But I never told you both that I almost killed myself. I did. I almost drove my car right off that highway bridge, and as I picked up pace, prayed to God that he'd forgive me if I went through with it: this is not a life worth living, I've already ruined it! Mom, dad, sister, friends, family - if I never see you again I hope you live out your lives happily. Give my dog a kiss of the lips and all of my writings go to Isaac - man, the one's about me and you are not meant to be kept in private. Make them your own and write your songs to inspire the world the way I wish that I did...
Sister, you're beautiful, don't ever let them take that away. Don't let yourself become just another face with no name. Get to know Isaac better, you two can collaborate (your voice is more beautiful than his has ever been, anyway).
Mom, I'm sorry the last time we talked, we fought... I'm just so sick of pretending to be somebody I'm not. And years down the line when I am all but forgot, you were my last thought.
And to finish the note before I get up to go, dad, I'm sorry I kept all this pain inside - this will hurt you more than anyone else. When I breathe my last I will pray that you can forget your past in all of this and try not to blame yourself...
I tried to find a reason to stay alive! I love you all so much... goodbye.
God I'm coming to meet you now! I suppose this decision doesn't display much trust, but if you are real and really out there then make me feel like I'm talking to something more than the ceiling!
Dear mom, I'm getting better at writing happier things - I know you'll never understand it but I'm attached to the sadness and it rings true when I sing, and there's a little bit of healing inside all of our suffering, as I have a savior that took up my suffering for me. And as I drove down I-40 to collide with 25, I swear to God something forgotten came alive to me inside, and this little memory sparked a reason to risk life one more night: on christmas morning I don't want my sister to wake up without her brother by her side! TEAR ME TO PIECES, MY SWEET SUICIDE! For to die is gain, and to live is Christ so I will make you the apple of my eye...
When I come to meet You, I'm going to come complete, as You have completed me. I'm going to come whole and I am begging to come happy.