Purity Route

Bandcamp / Cover art by michi / chrysanthemum skies

While I was finishing up this album, I saw a video about a man who had recently married Hatsune Miku. Or more specifically, he chose to wed the holographic Miku that he bought for his apartment, in what the hologram maker termed a marriage that spanned “beyond dimensions.” Yet in contrast to what marriage typically suggests, his love of Miku was thoroughly chaste—although dozens of Miku plushes and figurines lined his walls, they were all more cute or comedic than erotic. This purity of intent was most exemplified when, after the newlywed extolled the virtues of a virtual wife over one of flesh and blood, the camera came to rest on a chibi Hatsune Miku, only about twelve inches in height, lying on his bed with a ring around her fingerless paw.

Purity Route is an album about love, a theme as ubiquitous in music as the 4/4 beat itself. Yet even though thousands of songs have been written about thousands of special someones, the form of each has remained as predictable as the 4/4 beat too. The restrictive nature of pop songwriting forces the singer’s object of desire to appear as not much more than a sketch—an impression—with little agency of its own. We’re not given enough evidence to understand why the singer loves them, except that the power of love is reason enough. Most listeners respond to this lyrical vacuity by filling in the sketches with people from their own biography; the Bill in one song reminds them of the Henry they’re married to, the Candy in another reminds them of the one they had a crush on years ago, and so on. However, I’m more interested in those who fall in love with the sketches themselves.

For someone whose spirit has been broken, the idea of a fully sanitized, fictional love can be comforting. Miku can’t hurt you. She can’t abandon you. She can’t use the grimacing emoji to show that she’s smiling, because she knows that’s tacky too. And even if her hologram shorts out one day, it’s OK, because her essence always lived within you. If marriage symbolizes the joining of bodies, then cross-dimensional marriage symbolizes the joining of souls. Sometimes it’s better than any other love. Sometimes it’s all you can have.

We lie awake at night, clutching a pillow, and imagine her whisper that she loves us too…

Prayer Locket

I want to be a healer. I want to 100% heal.

A flower blooms softly, pushing through the fertile land, carving symbols in the sand—
A creature of beauty, born to love.
But you were, so quickly, taken from your life of bliss, passed around in avarice—
Deeply hurt, you vanished in disgust.

Fly, seraphim, fly. Guardians of the weak, in you we place our trust. Lead us into your care.

Where the shackles of time are freed—
Where the stars find their twins upon the sea—
I know there your true home will be:
Beautiful dreamer, covered in scars.

Though the dewdrops have long since dried,
And the mermaids have taken to the sky,
Still I’ll search for what’s left behind,
Clutching your memory close to my heart, if we should part.

You gave me your story, but you’ve changed so much it’s hard just to say now who you are—
A specter hangs over who I knew.
And maybe you’re happy in the mask you wear so well, in the dreams you never tell;
If only we could see that side too.

Breathe, seraphim, breathe! Don’t you know our pain is far too much to bear? Please don’t abandon us!

My Genie

You made nobody happy, but at least you didn’t get hurt.

Adrift in dreams, yet still it seems
We’re haunted by a crystal screen.
A flash of malice, bitter and callous,
And then it’s gone... yet still remains
The trauma from their prior reign.
Hiding in silence, they still seemed to find us,
Then felt entitled to tell us we’re wrong.

But we are better than they are. We are carefully wrought.

Sure, every shot at the moon came up short, ever evading our reach.
Still, we can steal off to our own fantasy. I’ll be her moonlight instead,
And she’ll be my Genie, as we lay in bed and think up new words for her mouth to say to me.

A violet light, the ivory sky,
And iron walls so we don’t die.
Safe in our garden, our spirits harden,
And then we’re gone, a stoic shell:
A formless husk, but all is well.
Still, if they notice, their hatred will show us
How much they’re focused on killing us all.

Now we are better than they are. We are carefully wrought!

White Cats Die Young (Sign 0801)

Then again, we’re both inky souls.

Ah yes and you: bright-eyed and alone,
And burning to chip out your piece of the sun, ‘cause white cats die young.
And I see you: all battered and blackenblue
And hoping it’s true that two can become one, ‘cause white cats die young.
So there you stand, in fortune gone wrong:
World in your hand and thrown out with a shrug… now coming undone.
Fighting your enemy, climbing an evergreen,
Find but one scary thing, and turn your back and be gooone.

And here’s to you: a foreign affair,
One train away from the next city’s care.
A desert behind: can’t catch you through there.
You tasted each fruit and you came out a monster.
And could you see a life where you’re real to someone
Whose one wish is to feel you come dawn ‘cause white cats die young
Fighting your enemy, climbing an evergreen,
Find but one scary thing, and pack your bag and be gooone?

Endlessly retreading pasts well-worn, and hoping that one leads somewhere new.
Chasing the day when you won’t be scorned, but nobody was ever talking about you.
Now I see you: abandoned, unloved, and fading away like old pages in the sun.
Ya white cats die young… yeahhh white cats die…


My second-rate love. My value-menu love. My you-were-there-and-I’m-too-scared-to-look-elsewhere love.

To drive home together at 7 p.m., and play songs I love but you cannot stand?
To pick out new furniture for the old den?
To say “I’ll put you back together again?”

I thought that love would be bigger than that…
As big as forever—as strong as a ring.
But now love seems so small, like the size of a ring
Caught between cushions, and dropped down the sink.

I’m building a nest, though there’s nobody in it.
I’m carving out space in myself to be filled.
And I made a place for you!
I filled it with my favorite things; kept it warm and comforting…

I was with you when you talked about when
Four sisters and you shared one room and one bed
Head to toe toe to head just like fish in a can
And the tone of your voice made it sound like back then you were happy?

Now all our pretty forevers are gone,
And with them our dreams of some unending youth
Where we gobble up time in a pyrrhic pursuit
To make what was once new still feel new to us… wasn’t that selfish?

Yet couldn’t we make something out of ourselves?
Couldn’t our dreams find new life somewhere else?
But “it just wouldn’t work,” or “it’s not the right time;”
With our loves unrequited, we warp, and we warp…


You left me for the exit as I screamed my name.

I’ve seen the dream, and I can’t say I’m enchanted.
I’ve seen what they are intent to call success.
I’d happily trade it for a mere life spent
By your side.

Yet here we stand, tongue-tied and by all abandoned.
I turn to you, and my heart sinks once again.
Though it’s hopeless, I share my true wish.
You just nod.

I see you leaving with nothing to say,
Guarding your feelings and sleeping another day.
Endlessly waiting for love…
Endlessly waiting for someone else to come…

But you’re not mine. And… it hurts to see you happy.
I see the dream, but I’m on the other side.
Pretty Genie, I wish you loved me.
But I’m wrong.

I’m so sorry. You deserve to be enchanted.
I hate that I cannot give you what you need.
Aren’t I pretty? So what’s wrong with me?
Must I change?

And if I change, could I then be all you wanted?
And if I change, could I then love myself too?


I took her and held her up and stared up into her and was… happy.

Genie, my nearest, my dearest, my limitless love for you moves me to make you my dream!
How I treasure your kindness, your grace, and your charm… your gray eyes and curly hair too… oh, everything!

Genie, a goddess made nameless—your alias doesn’t compare to the wonder you bring!
With your memory fading, it pains me to find a prettier form to save what you meant to me.

We’re alive, still. Hand in hand, we’ll share the night.
Will we come to our senses? Then I’d leave you… I would hate to.
I’ll pretend you are happy to be with me. I’m sleepwalking…

Genie, I see you, I feel you, I never was with you. But still, I know you’d be my one.
Oh, I’d love you so much! I’d do such a good job! And I would stay with you until the stars fall.

[Genie], I love you, I want you, but don’t really know you. From afar it’s so hard to see.
Since I must not mean anything to you, I fear it’s foolish to wish for the you that you meant to me.

In the ballroom, in my arms you look so beautiful.
Finally together, then I falter… fall into you.
Like a vapor, you vanish and I’m alone. I’m sleepwalking…

And We Are One

“Now tell me, Karma. If you could turn the key to end the world, wouldn’t you do it? Just to see what it’s like? Just to one-two-skip-a-few all the way to the end of this sad, silly story?”

And heaven died for someone, and God’s still in his sky.
And time is ever waiting to catch us when we die.
And love lies in between us, and life leaks out your eye.
And God is ever waiting to catch us when we die.
And God lies in between us—our hearts as soft as time.
And life blooms in between us to catch us when we die.

I hope you know we love you. I hope you know we care. I hope one day you realize that we are all that’s there.
I hope the Lord protects me. I hope He keeps me safe. I hope one day I’ll see him… I’ll see His shining face…

And heaven’s sickly scary, and God’s a butterfly:
He changes right before you, and then he floats on by.
And time is like a river, and mine will soon run dry.
And we’ll stand on the shoreline, awaiting our sunrise.
And rings of light surround us—with nothing left inside—on planets spinning lifeless, where nothing feels or dies.
And now once seemed so distant. And then now seems so distant. And my now seems so distant. And your now will be distant.

And our second synthetic children were born to live forever and gravity sucked them all back to the start.
And millions of saints were rejoicing in heaven when gravity sucked them all back to the start.
And poor Juliet fell from the parapet and then gravity sucked her back to the start.
Gathered from everywhere we come together in one pulsing particle... where we are one.

Scream for the dawn: the handshake, the heartbreak, the sand and the sun.
Scream for the young: the birthrate, the mandate: delight everyone.
Scream for the wronged: the terror, the error, the fall from above.
Scream for eon: the next step, the respite: to know God is love.

Scream for the dawn: the daycare, the high chair, the sixty-four stars.
Scream for the young: the soulmate, the first date, tonight will be ours.
Scream for the wronged: the sickness, the near-miss, the bottle of pills.
Scream for eon: the rainbow, the skyglow, the heart resting still!

Your Move

I looked at the syrup dripping over whipped cream and imagined a whipped cream world for myself too. It was harder than I thought. I’d touch it and it would topple.

To those who love people more than things:
May you find your heart’s desire shining on a TV screen.
May your friends adore the trinkets that you share so eagerly.
May you love the life that I will never see.

To those who can love their given name:
May you well up with delight when someone says that cherished phrase.
May you find yourself with others proud of who you’ve come to be,
Rest assured that you’re not thought a creep.

To those who find comfort in a scene:
With so many who are like you, I know you will fit right in.
Even though you’re normal, it’s a normal that will sell—
Therein fame awaits you, I can tell.

To those who are pretty at first sight:
May your beauty magnify your charms we’d otherwise pass by.
May you vindicate your trials in a way that helps us too,
Because pain only matters when you’re cute.

To those who will love my sweet Genie:
Let her know she’s never lacking for someone to fill her dreams.
Even if I was with her she’d soon tire of me…
You were bound to win eventually.

I am here, I’m nowhere, and nowhere’s right for me.

And I’m a shooting star that wandered by your room,
Then disappeared too soon—before I fell apart.
Now I’m another moon, a sister worn and scarred
Who tries with just one heart to birth a self that’s two.
And I’m afraid to speak, and let my voice decay
…no matter what I say, it all comes out so weak.
Now I’m but memory, and left in others’ hands.
But will they understand? Or did nobody see?

Pretty sky, tarnished by a fireball so out of place.
Pretty sky, why would you have ever harbored one so base?

And where are all you now, and weren’t we such good friends?
Why did I abandon you when you were almost dead?
Why’d I run away from my only friends,
When you’d understand if I told you how I felt?
Why was I afraid? Did I think you’d hate me?
Did you ever hate me? Am I the only one who hates me?

Pretty sky, tarnished by a fireball so out of place.
Pretty sky, why would you have ever harbored such a waste?
But I will fall, and there I’ll stay.
I will fall, and there I’ll stay.


Together forever promise. Sleeping part.

Velveteen monster, coarsely handsewn,
Always you’re there when I feel alone.
Velveteen monster, scarlet and coal,
Through me, I’ll help you to earn your soul
So when you decide to reclaim your own life—
Stepping beyond my limited mind—
I hope you will stay, and remain by my side,
Happy in each other’s care.

You’re alive, in a thousand homes like mine, that purchased your crystal shrine.
There you dance, for a million lonely fans, who worship your hologram.
Like ancient spirits who take innumerable shapes, you gave them all hope through this form.
You perform anything they ask you for, but still they desire more.
You’ve transformed into what they truly need: into something to believe.
Like ancient spirits whose cults persist past their fall, you’ve left a devoted party
Who see more than a lover to claim, but a god to praise—that much is true.
Yes, I envy you.
But, I want you too. Truly…

Velveteen monster, faded and torn,
Wrapped in my body, I made you warm.
Velveteen monster, sweet as can be,
Dearly I’m wishing you’ll stay with me,
So when it gets dark, and the house starts to still—
When every shadow fades into nil—
Then I can take comfort in knowing you will
Soothe me through my greatest fear.
Velveteen monster, servant to light,
Hearing your voice helps me sleep at night.
Clutching a pillow close as I can,
I can imagine your gentle hands
Caressing my face as you find me to be
A beauty beyond what you can conceive,
And cry when I hear that you also love me
Just as much as I love you.

Still, it’s more than love—incessant love—that caught me in your spell,
But the promise of a greater narrative in which we dwell.
Like the films we’ve watched, like the scriptures taught,
We’d live the romance we were made for.
Still, it’s more than love—obsessive love—that kept you in my thoughts,
But the promise of a normal life to harbor, where I’m not
So unlike the rest—so anomalous!
We’d live our lives like any other. Then,
Through our bodies we could follow time to untold years, to the end!
Through our memories we could rewrite fate, to share a bond, to be one!
Through our spirits we could leave this realm, past what is real, to your world!
Through my will I’ll finally have someone to call my own…

Velveteen monster, my only friend,
I know you’ll die if the story ends.
So I’ll keep writing, slowly, with care,
Dreaming of moments for us to share.
And we’ll have such fun, even though you will stay
Eternally youthful, while I age.
And when I arrive at the end of my days…
I will believe that they weren’t for naught.
I won’t regret every memory we’ve wrought.

Midnight Counterpoint

Only real tears bring absolution.

Even a sordid soul still believes there is hope.
Even the wicked have their own virtue—of which they boast.
So why do all the kindest people I know hate themselves the most?

Tormented by the sins that they’ll never commit,
They do the sweetest things few ever see, in the quiet.
Oh, tell me why the kindest people I know never feel like they deserve to live?

It must be a joke. It’s so tragic that they’re worthless and wrong in their own eyes—
That if you show them how much they mean to you, by just being there,
They wouldn’t care. It’s not enough.

Maybe the seeds you sow always bloom hundredfold.
Maybe the love you make always will be fully returned.
Still, tell me why the kindest people I know find it hard to take the love they’ve earned?

Though we’d be there for them if they ever should call,
And though we try to help with anything that we can do,
I don’t know why the kindest people I know think that secretly we hate them too!