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The cover image for Wreckrium is one I culled from a Facebook feed of my friend Dieta Duncan.  It was an image that a friend of hers had taken out a backdoor on a ridge in Tennessee during a lightning storm.  I took it and squared it and thought I would try to recreate something with a similar feel.  You can see the wonderful ghostlyness of it. Then I thought why not just ask if i could use it.  I didn’t know, it could be a famous photo, or one taken by a famous photographer.  I contacted Dieta and she said she would contact her friend. The next day she got back to me and said that her friend said to “go with God” concerning the photograph.  Well I translated that to either mean it’s o.k. to use it, or that she would rather see me dead.  I opted to believe the first.  Then I researched the photographer, who’s name was Melonie Cannon, only to find out that she just appeared in a duet with Willie Nelson (To All the Girls…), and that her father was heavy weight record producer Buddy Cannon, who just finished producing Alison Krauss’ upcoming offering, Windy City.  Even before i knew all of this I was already contemplating wether it was wise to use an image that was so much better than the album. Then I thought, hey, you only live a bunch of times!

Someone kindly suggested that it might be better served if it had an image of my face on the cover.  “That would be false advertisement”, I responded.  My face is not what’s on the inside.  A big lightning bolt in a pissed of sky is way more accurate as to what you’re getting for your money.

Together Torn Apart

There was a scratch at the door somewhat hollow

Godforsaken at the hearth was he now

Cricket’s chirped down the empty lanes of his life

He produced from his coat a bottle and a knife


It’s hard to stay together torn apart

If a black pine can pass the years why not my heart

The past is just the paint to blush the new

You next to me next to you

They once whispered each other’s name in passing

Her dress printed with birds unmoving

They both wore similar pre-historic cowboy boots

The fields shown pale, the dying color of their roots

Let’s stay together wasn’t spoken or denied

It hung the way starlight never need to be implied

Into the zinc white light of morning far

Going two long directions in one car

A rumor’s like a lion with a roar like chain

It’s the base of a story that might excite rain

Abashed and unworthy a biblical definition of man

The eyes closed sound and feeling of the ceiling fan

Written by: Patrick Brayer  (12-06-16)

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Bad Dream

I am having a bad dream

Maybe the worst that you’ve ever seen

Worried and withered and tantamount

To the corners that the forgotten haunt

For I am having a bad dream

I left you at the station like an iris in the dew

I wanted to tell you and I finally do

And each day, the error of my ways

Touching our glasses like old sun rays

For I am having a bad dream


Like a row of cotton, the plow being your pout

My feelings for you rise without a doubt

You can’t photograph what you can’t shout

A man isn’t a man without a certain doubt

For I am having a bad dream

Clouds the color of molten chain

Imitating the cold, the pond pounding rain

Holding hands under the table in sin

Holding off satin, until this song begins

For I am having a bad dream


Confederate colors in your new make up

Cheeks the color of leaves I forgot to rake up

Bars of music play bars of time

Like a jukebox on a dolly down a steep incline

For I am having a bad dream

If you jump from your car that’s suicide

If you jump from my life, there’s nothing left to hide

Human nature just whistles what it’s all about

For there would be no bones in our body without certain doubt

When love frees a convict in a bad dream

Written by: Patrick Brayer  (02-17-15)

Pictured below is the pre-purple Spanish house on Date Street in Fontana that we moved to in 1958.  My grandfather was living in it with a man named John Skovich, whom we in turn bought it from.  It included 2 1/2 acres of fruit trees, rustic out buildings and a working egg ranch.  At one point I remember coming home from school and my dad had painted the house lavender.  My father was artistic without being an artist.  He was the real deal.  I do what i imagine an artist does.  My dad didn’t know what an artist was but yet he was one.  Hence, the real deal.  I loved my parents and I appreciate what they laid before my feet.  Instead of a place to hide myself, the leisure time to find myself.  My mother was sensible with a background in music, theater, and a degree in business.  My dad had a degree in business from Loyola University with a side degree in “off the wall-ism”.  I see all that in my songs when i get the chance to stand back.  My grandfather later lived with us in the small house behind, pictured on the left.  At one point the Fontana Fire Department burned it down for practice.  The lot is now an elementary school, but it still looks as pictured below in my mind. This lavenderisation just wasn’t enough for my dad.  He later applied a polka dot theme to his El Camino camper shell, as well as to his dune buggy.  Not so much as to say “i’m an artist”, but more to let people know, “here I am!” He would have polka dotted Carnegie Hall if someone would have left it in our sideyard.  The song eludes to my father’s hometown of Marshfield, Wisconsin, our catholic upbringing, his paint-bare dodge with donut scented seats, quotation shaped Spanish tiles, and my parents last resting place, Green Acres, in Bloomington, CA.

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Little Lavender Spanish House

Who are you my friend my father foe

The quotient of what we both don’t know

Gravel in the driveway / sorrow stained dodge without paint

Knights of Columbus / one drink and then faint

Little lavender Spanish house I say

Quotation-like tiles never fade away

The color of dried blood / requiem of a breeze

The world is all locks, and the land is all keys

Halleluiah Marshfield boy without farm nor a crew

You’re family turns on you like a hard fought screw

You had no dreams that you ever spoke

We were Catholic Church / donut shop folk

Our house was like a mission / cast upon a lone egg ranch

I watched it all unfold from beneath a fig tree branch

We had chickens and turkeys and desert heat

Now there’s someone I’m dying for you now to meet

I look like my mother would

But I drink like my father could

I remember the barn and the pine plank wooden smell

The heart only rose when the mind only fell

My father painted that house lavender in a buzz

The artist, he had no idea he was

Even in the dark it was purple / crow’s wing dresses in tow

Pretty Bloomington tombstones all in a row

It’s all in the graveyard now / the house it is leveled clear

Children in a playground / where I buried my fear

But whenever I want to / I just close my tired eyes

I conjure a house only I can realize

Little lavender Spanish house I say

Quotation-like tiles never fade away

Written by: Patrick Brayer  (05-02-16)


(early Fontana / Miller Park)

My Heart’s Grenade

It’s better not to promise in a world that’s tainted

You saw her yourself and you fondly fainted

Ghost town colored clothes and insurrection

Pink champagne and harp string affection

I got to get simple in insect denial

At Palmetto Park our love is on trial

In the hopeful gray of morning shade

She pulled the pin on my heart’s grenade

We offer what we offer and we stand in the clearing

Life’s not a vehicle that even needs steering

Don’t call it progressive and then start a fire

The blackberry bramble / is the first barbwire

I’m at the end of my rope / a haystack crossfire sound

Pulling myself up and setting me down

At the times that we shared and the pittance it cost

Mystery has a free hand until something is lost


Fontucky White was the name of the speed that we did

The trailer park shallows was the place that we hid

And when we emerged as king and queen of this said town

There’s no hope left when a square is found to be round

Flesh is a certain signature that rises above

It laughs in our face when we call it love

It was combat the way her desire would parade

And pull the pin on my heart’s grenade

Written by: Patrick Brayer   (05-09-16)

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(photo: Patrick Brayer)

Nobody Dies Alone

His father taught him about clearance

Being dust on a rocky road

And the certain things in life

You just have to be nude to know

If we’re in this all together

Show the pleasure to the pain

A moon like lit enamel

Chomp dogs on a rattling chain

Someone that lives forever

Is someone you just can’t phone

Life is a crowd and daunting

But nobody dies alone / nobody dies alone

Come home heedless wages

A thunderous shot of sin

We’re just gambling with actors here

The real thing lies within

Within the arc-welding of desire

Swish of sundress in day’s light

A circling of birds catch the cat’s eye

At the even wrong end of a kite

One might die in crimson

Left just a remark of bone

When we free-fall we only realize

That nobody dies alone / nobody dies alone

Hate to see the night in rags

Hate to take a job from a ghost

A strip mall of sullen starlight

Diamonds on a whipping post

I’m writing like there’s no tomorrow

Yet that’s all that’s left of me

Nightmarish tones of bliss

As practicality

Tijuana or Fontana

Wash rocks with rain water moan

A sky of surgical steel

But nobody dies alone / nobody dies alone

Written by: Patrick Brayer (11-27-15)

Pictured below is a recent drawing by my old Fontana friend Richard Taelour.  It’s a girl with a branding iron, which got me to thinking of the old honky tonk on E street in San Bernardino by the same name.  Richard is perhaps the greatest musician to ever surface from our home town.  He simply humbles everyone with ears.  Some people make it look easy, but Richard makes it seem like you’re not ever going to live long enough to be as good as him.  It’s guys like him that made me find my own way, cuz i certainly wasn’t going to beat him at his game.  We had talked about doing a co-write of this branding iron idea but it all just came out quickly one day.  But i do hope that we can collaborate on a new version just to say we did it.  Life ends, songs don’t.  Richard’s life has been a amazing panorama that stretches all the way from being homeless to being courted by Clive Davis and Arista Records.

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Branding Iron Girl

A prairie of time / couldn’t hold me in line

The winds sometimes vicious as pride

She rubs a mood ring on the porch / as I still hold a torch

For that Branding Iron Girl

I was soon to realize / that nothing soon dies

Just staggering flowers of desire

A gazelle in the grass / of the motel looking glass

For that Branding Iron Girl

Hope hold eternal / until found infernal

I hear halleluiahs in the distance not here

I loved her in Banning / but I left her out standing

And she loved me like the headlights love the deer

From the bottle what I learned / was never get burned

Build a dam and the fire don’t care

There’s just no elation / on the wrong side of creation

Let’s all throw our hats in the air

For the branding iron way / of a beautiful day

And I will introduce you when the time is right

For I’m not really sure / if my intentions are pure

Pure gold or just pure light

In the tread-mark of a whisper / you call me mister

But I feel much younger than you do

onto the opacity of the moon’s wall / Dragnets of sun-fall

a ballad etched in blue

 eyes like pistol grips of pearl / the branding iron girl

twisting a finger in along lost curl

A stomp and a swoon / and she’ll meet you in June

In her branding iron world

 Written by: Patrick Brayer  (03-21-16)

The song Riot of Hands and Shadows I will dedicate to my long time friend Pat Cloud and his grandmother Almeda Sterner.  I stumbled across this image in my archive and I thought Pat should have a copy, so i scanned it and it just happened to be on my desk as i was beginning to write the song.  I had no intention of writing about her, but i would just be writing about what came to my mind and i kept glancing down and there she was staring at me, so i spontaneously put her imagery into the song.  I shared the lyric with Cloud and he wrote back and said that he felt there were things alluded to in the song that there was no way i could know concerning her life.  That’s one of the main reasons I gravitate towards songwriting, besides the massive wealth, is the fact that often what I write is much smarter than i am.  If i wrote only what i know, how boring would that be? Almeda is seen here holding Pat’s recording Higher Power (Flying Fish Records 1983).  He is perhaps the most noted musician that there is for bringing bebop jazz to the cornfield banjo.  Somewhere on this site there is an entire blog entry on him called, The Five String Trane.

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(photo: Patrick Brayer)

A Riot of Hands and Shadows

It’s a riot of hands and shadows / Just a cinder of creation’s breath

From validity comes experience / And not a beat of action death

Grandma holds an album in huge glasses / Owens valley openly attests

Where readiness and symbolism / That not a rock pile could undress

Brick edifices / Music with spear like notes

A bear employs a berry bush / Crab hands rise up like quotes

Eyes just like diamonds / Being thrown from a cave

In a glass pack rapture / In the sullen tension does behave

A bowling bag full of tension / I speak to the dead when I rehearse

Then there’s grandma with the album / And she is gone in song and verse

A man came to the door / He had a clipboard but all alone

He wore the shirt of the late Kim Fowley / Eyebrows like Hank Williams tombstone

Now I’m free from glamorous ghosts / Cry from this drink to that

Let’s make a ceiling with our hearts / Loosen the hold and have a chat

Spell walker married to the half moon / Locked in time to the rhyme of matter

The hiss of the wind in the wheat / Going backwards up the ladder

Delicate darkness / Vision raked across forty trees

Our hearts in a glistening showcase / Breastbones like accordions breath

Until it’s a riot of hands and shadows / Just a cinder of creation’s breath

From validity comes experience / And not a beat of action death

Written by: Patrick Brayer  (10-02-16)


(Bill Bergan / Patrick Brayer / Jeff Morning / Fontana 1971)

Let’s See What a Song Can Do

Sometimes life sinks / into shadows dank

Got no money in the golden bank

When you think you lost it all / it’s not true

Have I got a song for you.

We stand and take / our little turn

Polishing life / before it starts to burn

Is that the sun fading / or a big straw hat

Wondering what a song could do / with all that

We loose many things / That will never be found

We cling to hope / like it was fresh ground

Eyes brown as bourbon / clear as the will to give

There are more words in a song than reasons to live

a writer’s life is / saved by the page

as sure as it can be ended with age

The grinding sea, a star’s blood, and love

These are the ingredients of what a song’s made of

We tried stronger jails to confine the thieves

We tried doctors we tried lawyers we tried Indian chiefs

We thought they were shamans but they were just a t.v. crew

Now let’s see what a song can do

Let’s see what a song can do

To right some wrongs / repaint the sky blue

Let’s tap our toe to what’s written down

A Wyatt Earp lyric coming to town

 Raindrops falling / like the old soft shoe

Close our eyes / let’s see what a song can do

Written by: Patrick Brayer  (09-15-16)


Long Live Okie Adams (When He Died)

Long live Okie Adams when he died

Hot rod and banjos forever implied

Who has an answer when it’s a parable crime

It won’t be water but rather fire this time

The flame’s own boarding school light on doom

He inlayed a figure on a sawdust moon

Like my grandpa always asked, “what is that that won’t forget”

Every memory as silver as an overhead jet

A sun lit the way the dark smoke denied

Long live Okie Adams when he died

Okie Adams of dropped down axle fame

When you’ve done everything and you stake your claim

We’ll still talk about you beyond a lasting breath

Bandages are often hidden letters to death

Flame-cut ends on a Deuce axle in the corner

Are those red shoes on the foot of the mourner?

The books that I write in, muddle in rows

Angels trading out harp shapes for banjos

A congregation of exits aside

Long live Okie Adams when he died

Un-split wishbones and a stock spring support the axle

Workshop caught on fire all so factual

Last words murmured secret on the lips

Of a five-string claw hammer Cole’s Eclipse

The heart is an oracle often left untried

Long live Okie Adams when he died

Written by: Patrick Brayer   (09-29-16)


When You’re Done You Leave

Do you want to walk with us / to a land beyond its means

The moment feeds a golden dog / The way the silence feeds a dream

There’s a burning sun in our house tonight / It is fit for no one new

When the maker hits its mark / Come with me, whether I’m coming with you

Ice cream socials, blossoming trees

Many masks that we achieve

And all that life demands of us

that when you’re done you leave

Hard fought, wishful thinking / What’s not real will finally fade

One moment never duplicates / Summer lawns upon the jade

Day to day turnstile / Pick a ticket flash a smile

Walk an entire lifetime / Seems you only go a mile

I’m coming down from fever

Rivulets of sweat like tears

Dirt parking lot and tavern

Neon shining through our beers

Hell of a steeltown night / Town painted red as blood

Roses mocking us in shadows / Then etch our names in mud

Pull the van around the alleyway / Got your suitcase in my hand

Just me and you against nowhere / But first we need to learn to stand

Don’t treat me like the fool

That left fingerprints on your door

I’ve been in all directions

Ridden elevators before

In the way long craven universe / Up or down the hidden ladder

A cloud cold cocks a frosty moon / Until what kind of heart that breaks don’t matter

Nor if you’re happy or if you grieve / Just that when you’re done you leave

Written by Patrick Brayer  (09-07-16)

My West Virginian uncle Ron Hardman came to live with us in Fontana, California for a while.  He was on the run from a marriage unraveling and we put him up in our chicken strewn backyard in a trailer. We bought it from our neighbors the Hesters across the street and plopped it down on the foundation of my Slovenian grandfather’s old house that had burned to the ground.  The first thing my uncle did when i met him was to make me a West Virginia hotdog, which although it was just a glorified chili dog, was blissful and exotic at the time.  I’d often spend evenings with him playing cards in his trailer.  It was ramshackle but it had real wood paneling.  He had a great impact on me which i can still feel today if not aptly describe.  It was said that he had a fiddle in the trunk of his car.  It was rumored, I heard later, that it was a Stradivarius that he had acquired in Italy during the war. Although i never saw him get it out, just the thought of it inspired me to take the instrument up a few years later after hearing that he died in a car accident.  I still can picture my mom crying on the wall phone in our kitchen upon getting word.  The song plastered below is based on the image I got from a story my cousin Peggy told me about Ron’s funeral.  How it was raining terrible there in Parkersburg, West Virginia and that the grave was high up on a hill and my grandmother couldn’t get up to it, so they brought her up to her son’s grave on the tailgate of a pick up truck.  If i was a painter i would paint that image.  I sometimes even forget myself that a song can be as vivid as a Rembrandt.


Buried Treasure

My grandmother in coalmine black

Rode on the tailgate of a truck pointing back

Up the rain slickened hilltop / To the graveside of her son

Here lies young Ron Hardman when his day is done

The diggers where gone / And the ground was still

thirsty for a body / like a widow pops a pill

Umbrellas and hankies / someone lit a cigarette

In choreographed cloud response / gospel without a net

Light as a feather

That day in West Virginia they done buried treasure

The last thing he saw was the wreckage of his own car

The fiddle in his trunk splintered near and far

Jesus’ cross set to martini toothpicks lay

No song was good enough that day

A barge blows its nose with a shiver

on the Little Kanawha River

“You don’t die when you go.” he would say

“You’re only hidden away.”

There are more steps than thought or heard

You remain for as long as you are conjured

For you and I are born in the mind

We’re just living while we’re waiting in line

Light as a feather

That day in West Virginia they buried treasure

They all wore black as they are want to do

Dark rain soaked roses just for you

On comes a peg leg casket / silence gaining loud

Under the privacy of the smudge of cloud

Like filthy wool we feel

Like everything we dreamt was real

Some people stay with you / as prideful charm

Nothing more green than golden grace they go arm in arm

Life never goes on / like it used to in your place

As patient as stone and grandmother’s lace

The Avery house still stands/ the sun still burns

Happy bones and bells across ferns

Light as a feather

That day in West Virginia they buried treasure

Written by: Patrick Brayer  04-30-16


(Hank Snow by Leon Kagarise)

I Can’t Afford to Fail

We’re in it on our own.

The music rises, the fire flows

I hear an old rendition of

The path we almost chose

Like the hammer’s unaware of the nail

I can’t afford to fail

 Sin makes a man recluse

The plot of a long lost theory

Until I’ve spent all of my Johnny Cash

Feeling the bank grow weary

Until this ghost is thrown from jail

I can’t afford to fail

Dark circles around the eyes

Dreams now kept from sleep

Throw on a silken robe

Seems our origins run deep

Like a love sonnet lost in the mail

I can’t afford to fail

In hunting vest over hill or dale

I belly up to the rail

Over exposed snowy and pale.

Until I can’t afford to fail

Colton, Muscoy, San Berdoo

Palm fronds break into a voice

I just want to toast to you

Yet you whisper in my ear with noise

Like eating wedding cake under water

Into the likes of thin air

It’s a party without people

A motel stone affair

Since the stars won’t go my bail

I can’t afford to fail

Written by: Patrick Brayer (01-11-16)

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Send Her a Fool (to replace me)

Locked in time and the iron stubble of mine

Until I kneelt I felt just fine

Words are just fixtures that let loose the mixtures

The phone rings there’s a fool on the line

You can’t write me in flight without fingerprints of light.

Innocent hair and waxen despair

Arms lit by the hoof shaped light of a moon so white

Me and a fool we both don’t care

I’ll send a fool to replace me

Swallow my pride and lock you inside

Many a man / has let go of her hand

With a diamond along for the ride

Once I felt love wore a delicate glove

A black kiss in a heart shaped garden

The cadence of the clouds seem to picture out loud

A fool versed in mainstream pardon

I’ll find someone new that didn’t yet happen to you

Award a fool to replace me

It might be a new hill / with a rosemary chill

Someone too cruel to face me

Southern girl afloat / like an unsung note

After crying all Saturday night

a red clay mess / on her white Easter dress

Send a fool to set things right

The winds only yield / make a whirlpool of the fields

The steelmill kissed in black

Let’s all just swerve from what we deserve

He can have her until I take her back

Written by: Patrick Brayer  (03-28-16)

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(June Carter by Leon Kagarise)

I Love You (But in a Good Way)


Your lipstick / a black nightstick when you came

Woe begotten / you just kicked on in my name

We meet / and part the maddening crowd

Hold each other / like a love letter held out loud

What’s a moment? / but a tiny drop that’s dried

a time soaked tear / that the centuries have cried

Love is a blindfold culled from roses

Yet another problem that it’s power poses

Crush us with the bliss / storm us in it’s day

I love you, but in a good way

The smoke of fools / the years clear out now

Like a bandana / printed with birds wipes a brow

A moment with you / beg steal and then borrow back

White knuckle sorrow in a lowly shack

Nothing better than / to make the world go away

Except you and me / and a generous string of days

Nothing more to compete with, than the neon in your hair

A concrete block tavern / the swamp cooler’s air

Written by: Patrick Brayer