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Birdwatching on Garbage Island

by The Burning Hell

They’ve all been making plans for Nigel And by “they” I mean the ornithologists They live in houses made of bricks and glass Nigel lives alone at the edge of a cliff The bird-banders fill binders and books with his biography They note his habits and record his squawks on dictaphones Meanwhile Nigel wonders “why don’t they ever ask me? I could tell them there’s a difference Between being lonely and being alone.” The scientists published papers and secured some grants To repopulate Nigel’s future neighbourhood With a concrete caster named Carl they concocted a plan But they couldn’t have predicted Nigel’s commitment to bachelorhood Called to the concrete colony by a cassette Nigel noticed the other birds didn’t fly or flap around He remembered an old French peacock had told him “hell is other birds” He thought “well, this is just the kind of place I’d like to settle down!” Nigel, he felt badly for the dumb scientists Himself, he was no bird-brain, and his heart was huge So he chose a concrete mate and he built her a nest He figured it was what they wanted him to do Nigel did most of the talking, but he was used to that Usually they just sat there and stared out to sea When he died, they gathered, and Carl carved his tiny tombstone’s epitaph: Here lies Nigel the Gannet: alone but never lonely
I dream in oily fluorescent swirls, I speak in plastic My wardrobe is nylon and PVC, my band is elastic It’s hard to find decent drumsticks but we’ve got bird bones and bits of buckets And my drummer can hit she can really raise a ruckus What’s this crystalline crunching beneath my feet? It’s just hundreds of fragile skulls of penguins and parakeets Some died miles away and flotsamed here some expired through violence And when I say violence I mean I am the Bird Queen of Garbage Island What’s up with the duck with the plastic quack? 35 North 135 West Who’s the little girl with the map on her back? 42 North 155 West Ask the macaque, ask the leatherback: Polyethylene feathers and a high-vis vest I am the Bird Queen of Garbage Island Gannets and gulls, petrels, puffins and pelicans, Make me a temple of nets and fish skeletons Next take the buoys, bottles, dongles and ping pong balls Build a wall all along the horizon and ten times as tall I lost an eye to an albatross with mischief in his heart But I replaced it with this ball-bearing painted to look the part I’m a leader with a singular vision, or if you prefer, a cyclops tyrant All hail the Bird Queen of Garbage Island What’s up with the duck with the plastic quack? 35 North 135 West Who’s the little girl with the map on her back? 42 North 155 West Ask the macaque, ask the leatherback: Polyethylene feathers and a high-vis vest I am the Bird Queen of Garbage Island
Tragedy minus glory equals just another story Like the prisoners that stayed behind in Plato’s allegory Or the poor forgotten second-last passenger pigeon Anyone can fail but truly losing takes ambition I’m suspicious of ambitious folks, but I’ll race you to the bottom Where the clocks don’t tick or tock and you can smoke ‘em if you got ‘em Carpe-ing every diem’s no achievement, it’s exhausting If you need me I’ll be sitting over here, birdwatching I’ve read the The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective People I know I’m probably the liver, not Prometheus or the eagle But I’d rather be a giver than a taker or a faker everybody’s just another paycheque to the undertaker I have an allergy to strategy and inspirational quotations My reaction’s anaphylactic to vocations or to nations I’m digging moats and burning flags and bridges just as a precaution If you need me I’ll be sitting on this island, birdwatching There’s a flower in the compost and a beach below the pavement We’ll outlive the rich and famous if we remain aimless and patient We’re neither rising like a phoenix nor are we dying like the dodos So let’s leave the endless questing to the Sams and and to the Frodos Anthems are anathema, enough with rousing choruses And achieving is as torturous as tickling slow lorises The search for more and better gives us worse and fewer options So let’s quit while we’re behind, and do some birdwatching Entrepreneurship is capsizing and it will surely sink Jump and swim to Garbage Island and just sit and have a drink While everybody else is busy polishing their coffins We’ll be mixing cosmopolitans, and birdwatching
I wish I could take you shopping And watch you try new glasses on We could eat something in a food court At your favourite restaurant I could compliment your haircut And I could compliment your jokes You could invite me to Thanksgiving So you could finally meet my folks And you would warn me not to worry If your dad seemed unimpressed Because he’s always unimpressed He’s literally always unimpressed And after dinner at your parents We could sit out in the backyard Just you and me in plastic deck chairs Making names up for the stars That one up there could be called Carlos That other one could be called Steve And I could kiss you on your moustache And I could kiss you on your cheek And the stars would twinkle twankle In the black eyeballs of a bird Sitting silent on a fencepost Staring at us unobserved And all our lives would be contained In the vision of this gull He would fly into the future And we would turn to bones and skulls Now he visits us and numbers All the things we never did His unblinking eye shows us the details Of the lives we never lived Sitting here on Garbage Island There are no food courts, no Thanksgiving Though that’s no way to measure A fair standard of living So I wish I could take you shopping And watch you try new glasses on But you’ll have to settle for this fishnet And half a plastic leprechaun


We recorded this EP in St. John's at Jake Nicoll's studio in the very first days of 2019.

Nigel the Gannet
Bird Queen of Garbage Island

Twinkle Twankle


released April 15, 2019

Mathias Kom - songwriting, singing, guitaring
Ariel Sharratt - drumming, drum-machining, clarineting, singing
Darren Browne - bassing, bouzouki-ing, guitaring
Jake Nicoll - recording, producing, drumming, singing, synthing


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The Burning Hell

The Burning Hell is the ongoing musical project of songwriter Mathias Kom and multi-instrumentalists Ariel Sharratt and Jake Nicoll, often including additional comrades and collaborators.

Their densely populated genre-shifting songs are packed with an abundance of literary, historical, cultural, and pop-cultural forebears, heroes and villains, subjects and objects, stories and hooks.
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