The Speaking Strings

by Anaïs Bokanovsky and Fay Roberts

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Spoken word artist Fay Roberts and Celtic harpist Anaïs Bokanovsky have joined together to give you an album of solo and collaborative music and poetry, from old favourites to brand-new pieces written together, this is a mix of haunting music and beautiful words.


released December 24, 2015



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Allographic Press UK

Allographic aims to specialise in producing written and recorded publications of poetry, short stories, artwork, photography and music (sometimes all at once...). We plan for our publications to be available to buy online, at our live events, and in the shops, in a variety of media.

We also aim to provide services for writers and performers of poetry, music, and storytelling. Watch this space!
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Track Name: Misted
After the rains came
You were a whisper
Grey was a curtain
A promise of light to come.

After the rains came
Colours were muted
Less of a burden
Fingertips a drumroll against the windowpane
And in-between – silence.

After the rains came
Mirrors were gaps
Walls giving back
Ticks, as clocks’ clicked fingers
Filled the house.

After the rains came
Cushions filled to empty
And dust held court
In clasps of five
On secret surfaces.

After the rains came
I breathed in green
And breathed out blue
Like the gathering sky
Seen through the trees.

And the season… ended.
Track Name: Song To The Sea
A glance disarms my invention.
My tongue tangles itself, tripping me
to drown headlong in two eyes
like the sea at sunrise –
the exact colours of a long,
drawn-out, summer dawn in Orkney,

Brain neglected, I happily bob and sway,
shamelessly – well, nearly – adrift
in the sea of your regard.
That small shame,
that… crimson shame
threads through the blue
like spice – cutting those cool sensations
with hot, sharp intentions –
the edge to every catching breath,
striking deeper and deeper into my chest
with every push and cresting wave
and every tug and sighing release.

Oh, my love – for you I’d turn sailor,
learn to read the weather of your ways,
and ride the tides of your affections.
No longer shipwrecked,
I’d reconstruct your gifts –
those glances given, smiles bestowed,
and words exchanged…

Then, on that craft of sighs,
and hungry nights,
I’d traverse you ’til I lost
all sight of land,
and there, rocked on the belly
of the murmuring mystery,
I’d weave my net of words and music
and cast to catch the moonlight
glinting from your wavetops,
and bring it home with me.

Come, mermaid, and I’ll sing to you,
to tell you of a love
between the elements.
You’d see me true,
and shore to you –
holding, encircling,
delineating but never limiting,
smiling as again and again
you throw yourself into my arms,
and run your fingers down my cheek,
with a sigh like all the world’s hurt…
Track Name: Landscapes
As breath curls,
So curves the wind,
Catching echoes of the
Gulls’ cry,
An arc of wings,
A hitch of homesickness.

As hair curves,
So winds the road,
Catching mountains
In the crook of its arm,
A glance over the shoulder,
A farewell to the city.

As hands cup,
So folds the valley,
Catching the eye,
A stillness of distance,
A lullaby of encircling fingers
To the retreating home.

As the eye cradles visions,
The heart is led,
And we are becoming city and
History the road between,
A gap of words,
A crook of the finger,
Lifting us into legend.

My future has roots,
A spreading of limbs,
A deep draft of earth’s exhalations,
Drawn from bones, layers, compact.

Yours is yet unwritten,
A climbing, winding,
Crevasse-daring escapade,
A glory of trumpets
In high places.

What we have been, we are,
Taking the sea to new places,
Drifting into myth…
And, as the gulls cry,
My heart lifts to the scent
Of changing winds.
Track Name: Blackwaterside
One morning fair I took the air
Down by Blackwaterside
'Twas gazing all around me
The Irish that I spied

She was made of eyes,
A quick step,
A tumble of hair,
And we fell into each other.
Ribbons entwined in the dance.

’Twas in the first part of that night
We lay in sport and played,
When this young man arose and he gathered his clothes,
Saying, "Fare thee well today".

Intoxication drummed
In my blood,
Tugged words
Where the faith of
Fingertips should have sufficed.

That's not the promise that you gave to me
When first you lay on my breast,
You could make me believe with your lying tongue
That the sun rose in the west.

She looked at me with those
Deep-drowning eyes,
Melting me to the core,
And I was lost again.
This is not an excuse.
This is a prayer.

Go home, go home, to your father's garden
Go home and you weep your fill,
And think on your own misfortune
That you bought with your wanton will.

Other vows draw me,
Unwilling, with feet of clay,
Heart cleaved into
Stuttering meat,
Bones slivers, step broken.
Marching beats drive me now
I do not think I will ever dance again.

There's not one girl in this whole wide world
So easily led as I,
Sure the skies they will fall and the seas they run dry,
When they marry you and I.

As the sun touches the sea,
If you can hear me,
Follow the dancing path it lays
Across the waves
And it's there we'll be together.

One morning fair I took the air
Down by Blackwaterside
'Twas gazing all around me
The Irish that I spied.
Track Name: Fay Roberts - Silken
And we…
We heat the air between us,
You and I,
Like… sweet steam rising,

We are the source, the surge,
The urges crackling in palm
And throat and gut

We are eyes meeting –
Direct yet, somehow, shy,
Mindful of the layers –
We know what lies behind
We know all the whys

I feel you
I feel each sin
You yearn to commit
Drip down my skin
Froth at our fingertips

I watch your lips
And find I’m tasting mine
Brimming with sounds
I slip into our sentences together
Syllables to lick
And tumble over your contours,
Vowels that sigh,
Consonants to flick at your nerve-endings
And pauses that thrum against your flesh,

And we…?
Oh, we…
We are…
Eyes meet again,
We smile, reach out,
Touch, embrace…
But… safely,
Heads turned,
Mindful of those layers –
We know what lies behind,
We know all the whys.

And why not…
Track Name: Anaïs Bokanovsky - The Pensieve
It was right after the sea was full
No it wasn't yesterday when I ceased to look around
for stories to tell from this world of sight and sound
It was right after the sea was full

You remember that day when the whale cried?
I'll remember for a long time
No one saw it coming but we, and it was time
So with a few others we tried and tried

My songs travelled inward, dwelled in here
Obstinate as a child and my eyes were shut
My mind was here and near, told my own stories, but
that mind was full of wonders, couldn't take it any longer…

So I packed my bag with pen
and headed to the misty mountain
Where my mind is still
Where my mind is still and free
Track Name: Fay Roberts - The Breath of the Soul
The breath of the soul is flawed,
Scored by the indentations that caressed,
That brought it here, that made it what it is.

The sigh that is stone rolls, as it must,
Making tracks, as it goes, in the dust –
Black and white and, later, gold.

The essence of the stone
Is the groans heaved in its weaving,
The sweat poured,
The flesh and blood beaten against its surface,

The heart worn with each sharp stroke
Shaping the whole, bestowing grace,
Carving a face into this change of nature.

And when the last stroke is taken,
The stone rolls to the centre of the room,
Where all turns on its axis for a while;
A sweet and bitter while.
Until time passes and dust falls,
Changing its shape again, softening its shadow.

For perfection is in the making
And when the breath stops…

The sigh is still.

And all that is left of the stone
Are the tracks that it made
As it passed through the dust of a world
Which keeps on turning.
Track Name: Fay Roberts - Suo Gân
Huna blentyn ar fy mynwes
Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon;
Breichiau mam sy'n dynn amdanat,
Cariad mam sy dan fy mron;
Ni chaiff dim amharu'th gyntun,
Ni wna undyn â thi gam;
Huna'n dawel, annwyl blentyn,
Huna'n fwyn ar fron dy fam.

Huna'n dawel, heno, huna,
Huna'n fwyn, y tlws ei lun;
Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu,
Gwenu'n dirion yn dy hun?
Ai angylion fry sy'n gwenu,
Arnat ti yn gwenu'n llon,
Tithau'n gwenu'n ôl dan huno,
Huno'n dawel ar fy mron?

Sleep child on my bosom
Cosy and warm is this;
Mother's arms are tight around you,
Mother's love is within my breast;
Nothing will disturb your dozing,
No man will cross you;
Sleep quietly, dear child,
Sleep sweetly on your mother's breast.

Sleep quietly, tonight, sleep;
Sleep sweetly, such a pretty picture;
Why are you now smiling,
Smiling softly in your sleep?
Are angels above smiling,
Smiling joyfully on you,
You, smiling back in sleeping,
Sleeping quietly on my breast?
Track Name: Anaïs Bokanovsky - The Changeling
From sunrise to sundown, I do my master's will
I wait upon his table and I keep his goblet filled
I scrub I scour and I scrape until my body aches
Though some folks in this place they pity and treat me kind
I am alone, I don't belong, I have no friend, there is no end.

I have seen you through the veil
I know your face from before
I know you so well.
I'm longing to meet you, this spell will be broken
Can you find me to take me back home?

I was raised in this world, a land so beautiful
Though only one moon and a sun, for my aching soul
I left my home one day, where I didn't belong
I packed my harp and my books and bade them farewell
My parents treat me kind, always feed me well
but I am not from here; I recall everything

You've seen me through the veil
You know my face from before
You know me so well
I'm longing to meet you, this spell will be broken
I swear I'll find you, and take you back home

So my feet walked the paths of the world
Travelled to the forests and the hills and the seas
Looking for a new land, begging my eyes to see
But I knew I was blinded by this human world
So I plucked the strings and learned the songs
Til a man, one night, he told me a tale,

Said ‘A human boy was once claimed by the Fairy King
who sent away his fairy girl, and raised that changeling’
(That night when all became clear, I cried all my tears)

I thought of you as I sat among the trees
I knew I was blind but I did hear your voice

'If you want to find me you'll find your way
For now I'm in your dreams but I'll be real someday
Now that you know the truth, please
Come and save me
You don't need your eyes to see'

Wings grew from my shoulders behind
In the blink of an eye I was by your side
I saved you from this evil king
I took you under his eyes

I was meant to hate you for you took my place
But the look in your eyes told me I was blessed
To walk by your side and let you hold me
For a million years

He will walk with her, love
She'll tell him stories about a place
where music is heard
And people love him for who he is
People love them for who they are
People love you for who you are
They do
Track Name: Turn Again
We make no sense, it seems –
We are rushing to stand still.
You see, we’re not a circle after all,
We’re a spiral: beginning and end invisible.

We are helical, a maze of breaths.
The sigh that spoke your bones still calls,
And you and I are diacritics
In the mouth of the world.

Look – its breath shapes dunes
Its tongue in cloud shadows that talk of storms.
The fingers running through the standing grasses,
The palm of the wave clasping the foam of stones.
The farewell of galloping manes, a river rush.

And while rain tumbles down hillsides,
Its sisters make tributaries on my window,
And I miss home.

Listen – all the words that we make
To shape what we see
Are bricks, not the ocular grain of timber,
The purling verse of the woods in springtime…

We are but a part of it,
Dizzied in the turn of the dance,
Glimpsing our destination
In the salmon leap of sun from water,
The curve of fire shadows on your cheek,
And the way that mountains pull against the sky,
And take us with them.

And even all these – and even them?
They are only trills and glosses
On the age-old song
The world is singing of itself.

The same one that is new
In every note.