March of Crows: Jersey City

by Shayfer James

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50% of all sales will go to support "York Street Project, Jersey City", an organization committed to empowering women in need. Learn more about them at:

"March of Crows" is an interdisciplinary collaborative project devised by singer-songwriter Shayfer James. The first "March Of Crows" is collaboration between Shayfer, 16 visual artists, 3 Poets, a director, a Choreographer a lighting designer, and videographer. All based out of Jersey City.

The process begins with visual art. Shayfer has written 16 songs using the work of local artists as prompt. The task was to not only communicate the art through words, but also by incorporating different styles and textures to capture the life of the work.


released April 6, 2016

Written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered by Shayfer James

Visual Artists:
Robert Piersanti, Kayt Hester, John T Ruddy, Thomas John Carlson,Panda Suwann, Bryan Elkins, Alicia Ruth, Joe Velez. Andrea McKenna, Tiffany DiGiacomo, Alex Pergament, Luca Cusolito, Christine Johanns, Eric Indin, Ceallaigh Pender

Other Artists:
Meagan Woods (Choreographer/Danceer), Erin Ripton (Poet), Bill Rood (Poet), Ben Figueroa (Poet), Mason Beggs (Director),
Lance Michel (Lighting Designer), Tracey Noelle Luz (Filmmaker), Chris Lees (Filmer/Photographer)

Special thanks to:
Amy Elise at Grace Church and Cathedral Arts Live, Art House, Meghann Plunkett, Linda DeSarno, Tony Fortuna, Peter Horn, and all the folks who have supported this project



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Track Name: Them Screechin Wheels - Inspired by the art of Luca Cusolito
That train is coming back
Oh, them screechin’ wheels
They’ll have our children
Picking thistle from the killing fields

The sky is blurry black
And up on Jackson Hill
A soldier wipes his bloody
nose with hundred dollar bills

That train is chewing track
It’s moving at full tilt
They’ll have us
buried in the basement
of the house we build

We’ve gotta push them back
We’re gonna take their tongues
We’ll have them squeal
beneath the heels
of our forgotten sons
Track Name: Rotgut Ritual - Inspired by the art of Bryan Elkins
Padlocked parachute
Bird fall backward
Rain Hell
Stolen plot holes
Dug from boneyards
Who did you tell?
Who did you tell?

Bedside savior
Rotgut Ritual
Farewell, farewell
Rain Hell
Fear found Jesus
Waiting tables
Who did you tell?
Who did you tell?
Rain Hell
Track Name: Ferryman - Inspired by the at of Robert Piersanti
oe met Daisy on the day of the dead
When he woke up drunk
And handcuffed to a dirty double bed
She said Joe you should be wary of
The women you pretend to love
And she wrapped a plastic bag
Around his head
Joe met daisy on the day of the dead

Oh, your time is coming fast
And the Ferryman only deals in cash
Oh, your time is coming fast
And the Ferryman only deals in,
the Ferryman only deals in cash

Ben met Gary at a back room game of pool
When he caught him petting heavy
With a boy from Baton Rouge
He said Ben you should have learned by now
I'm not a fan of fucking around
Then he beat him with a bottle and a cue
Ben met Gary at a back room game of pool

John met Katie at the end of Crescent pier
Even though they had been married
For some 37 years
She said John you thought
I didn’t know about your other wife
You gotta go
Then Katie, she went fishing with his ears
John met Katie at the end of Crescent pier

Jane met Ginger over dinner in July
Ginger said that she'd forgive her
For the secrets and the lies
They drank toast for days to come
Then the devil spoke with ginger's tongue
I hope you like champagne with cyanide
Jane met ginger over dinner in July
Track Name: Luxuria - Inspired by the art of John T. Ruddy
Darling, Invite me in
Let me taste the ink upon your skin
I have wanted you for too long

Darling, kiss me to the death
Haloed heathen, heavy breath
I have wanted you for too long

Don’t tell me this is wrong
I already know
So pour yourself some wine
And let me watch you
Sip it slow

Make a martyr out of me
Whisper immortality
I have wanted you for too long
©2016. Shayfer James. All Rights Reserved.

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Track Name: Shadow of a God - Inspired by the art of Alicia Ruth
Kept lady
Tread lightly
Dark Matter Debutante
Her fingers
Her teeth are grinding salt

She’s waging a one woman war
Swinging from the shadow of a god

The planets
Are falling
Into her open mouth
Her scales
Become feathers
To lift her
Up and Out
Track Name: Johnny Avant Garde - Inspired by the art of Kayt Hester
There was a fellow
Who showed up once a week
At that brothel down on 9th and Erie street
The ladies called him Johnny Avant-garde
Cause he’d pay them each a grand
To watch them play a hand of cards
They didn’t know his name and they never asked
But he always brought his cat and wore a mask
He tore the filters from his Camel cigarettes
But he never touched the girls, or placed a bet

See the brothel it was called the “Golden Door”
Cause they had everything you wanted there and more
The madam opened shop in ‘81
To feed her hungry veins and her bastard of a son
That boy left home when he was seventeen
He left a note that read “dear mama, please get clean"
Every day she hoped that he might come around
But she never put that dirty needle down

The Door was known for legendary girls
And the clients came from all around the world
Some of the requests were rather odd
But none of them so strange as Johnny Avant-garde
One Tuesday he came in about half past eight
And he told the girls he’d like to raise the stakes
He would play against the madam for a sum
He’d give her half a million dollars if she won
But the catch was if she drew a losing hand
She’d give the deed, the keys, and business to the man She agreed without flutter of an eye
Just think of all the junk a half-a-mill could buy
So the ladies gathered round to watch them play
It wasn’t long before she gave the place away
But Johnny was an honorable man
So he handed her a letter with a plan
He would give her back the brothel plus the cash
If she handed him her needles and her stash
And he’d lock her in her bedroom for a week
Until that dragon had forgotten how to speak

So the madam she agreed to seven days
and Johnny sent the other girls along with pay
Then he sat outside the bedroom with his cat
In the hall he’d tried for decades
to remember and forget
See the madam only knew him for the mask
But this was the boy she’d beaten in the past
Through the door he heard her
Scream and scratch the walls
And he thought “life it makes an addict of us all”

Now he made sure she was fed and had a bath
After all this wasn’t rehab prison camp
On the seventh day he bought a fancy dress
A gift for going through all that horrible distress
He dreamed he'd open up that door and show his face
She would smile and they would finally embrace
But he turned that rusty key and went inside
And Johnny found his mamma dear had died

No one heard from Johnny after that
But he left behind the mask, the keys, and cat
But the ladies kept his mama’s dream alive
And every week a hundred other Johns arrive
Track Name: Ophelia - Inspired by the art of Ceallaigh Pender
Ophelia’s forgotten how to dance
Ophelia’s reminded she should smile
Veil is just a clever word for mask
Ophelia remembers how to hide

Sing a down down, oh

Ophelia’s forgotten how to love
Ophelia’s reminded not to scream
Promises are clever ways to bluff
Ophelia remembers how to dream

Sing a down down, oh

Ophelia’s forgotten how to sleep
Ophelia’s reminded not to grieve
Have and hold are clever words for keep
Ophelia remembers how to leave

Sing a down down, oh
Track Name: Obscure Destination - Inspired by the art of Panda Suwann
My eyes are open once again
I think of you upon return
To where I am from where I’ve been
Before I lose what I have learned

I have navigated endless ages
Looking for you
I have peeled the poetry from pages
Looking for you
Looking for you

I am forgetting how it felt
To be alone, to be awake
With every turn, I’m something else
And you are out of reach again

When I’ve forgotten all
When I cannot recall
There is an obscure destination
That will remind me
Track Name: Happy There Were Horses - Inspired by the art of Eric Indin
I fell in love at parade
On the day of devastation
With a gal who said I’d answer
For my choices
When she was a little girl
Her father read her Revelations
And she told him she was happy
There'd be horses

Red was for the flowers she received
White was for the dress she’d never buy
Black was for the lies that she believed
And grey was how she liked her evening sky

The pavement cracked and all around us
People screamed and buildings crumbled
We saw airplanes and birds
Come tumbling from above
I could hear my heartbeat loud
Above the sirens and the thunder

And she said
“Isn’t this the perfect day for love?”
We drew each other chalk outlines
She believed and I pretended
That seven mighty horns would
echo through the air
We fell asleep beside a statue
Of the world before it ended
And I woke beside the smile
Of her despair

She was happy there were horses
She was happy there were horses
Track Name: Must We? - Inspired by the art of Tiffany DiGiacomo
You say you have to leave me
You've done all you can
The bells are clattering on sixth street
But you're not a holy man
What have I done to lose you
But be the creature that I am
Where will you go
How will I find you?

Must we
Must we say?

Should I believe in something?
After you've gone
Will I grow old and good for nothing
but hoping for too long?
What can I say to keep you
From moving on
Where will you go
How will I find you?

What have the days done to you
To make you leave behind such wreckage?
What have the days done to you
To make you run with stuttered step?
Track Name: There Will Be Peace - Inspired by the art of Christine Johanns
Everything we hold
We’ve stolen
Every step we take
Your sacred ground
We feed our greedy fire
With broken arrows
We lock you in our church
and burn it down

There will peace
When we’ve tired ourselves out
There will be peace
There will be peace
When we’ve killed ourselves off
There will be peace
There will be peace
When all the vaults are empty
There will be peace

Everything you love
We squander
Everything you build
We take away
We help ourselves
To broken dreams
We buried all your blue
in Black and Grey

We will pay for what we’ve done
There will be peace
When we are gone
Track Name: Young Moon Over Atlantis - Inspired by the art of Joe Velez
I’ve heard it told
The gods take those they favor most
Before the day gets dark
Before the storm erodes
A hurt-less heart

Your legs are tired, the water is cold
You are treading slow, but not alone
There's a young moon over Atlantis
Come home, Come home
Come home, Come home

I’ve heard it told
That there is glory for the ghosts
Who gather early
Before the tragedy
I know you’re weak
And ready for a steady sleep
Without that heavy stone
without that heavy stone

You shall be released
You shall be released
There’s a young moon over Atlantis
Come home, come home
Track Name: Don't Need A Man - Inspired by the art of Thomas John Carlson
Oh, lady lady
Someone hid your love away
Oh, lady lady
You’ll find it when your good and ready
Oh, lady lady
You’re gonna feel that way again
Ain’t no hurry lady
I only hope that until then

You wrap yourself in tapestry
Tell yourself you’re beautiful (wonderful)
You don’t need a man for that
You don’t need a man at all

Oh, lady lady
You’ve got everything you need
Oh, lady lady
But you don’t need to hear it from me
Oh, lady lady
The writing’s on the wall my friend
Oh, lady lady
So until I see you again

One morning you’re gonna rise
And that smile is gonna shine
Track Name: Liesure of Lions - Inspired by the art of Tatiana Lopez
I’ve severed my hand for a thorn
I’ve pleaded for love at the leisure of lions
I don’t feel alone any more
There’s a ghost at the door
It will leave me in time

I’m not wise
In the ways the like
I’ll find my way
I’ll find my way
I’m not fine
In the way that I was
I’ll find my way
I’ll find my way

I’ve come to this crossroads before
I’ve witnessed the difference
in ravens and crows
I don’t feel afraid any more
There’s a ghost at the door
I’ll be glad when it goes
Track Name: Learning To Be Lost - Inspired by the art of Andrea Mckenna
I am satisfied
Sleeping peacefully
An iron ghost
With owl eyes

I am a plagiarized
Of wreckage
A shattered vessel
In sheep’s clothes

Be patient with me
I am learning to be lost
But don’t be gentle
Never gentle
Be mindful of me
I will sink at any cost
But don’t be gentle
Never be gentle

I have abandoned hope
To the fury of
A taciturn-coat
Mercenary maelstrom

It is not safe to float
And I will anchor
In the aftermath
Of no one

You can tell
By my
Panic-less face
I am accustomed to this
Track Name: Choose Your Channel - Inspired by the art of Alex Pergament
Take your time
love me less
While I feign forgetfulness
I am a fool
You are Ms. Taken

Choose your channel
Mourn your dead
I’ll unhinge my hunted head
I am a fool
I will be waiting

Find what you need
Your freedom
Your reverie
Find what you need
Your freedom
Your reverie

Take your time
Mourn me less
I’ll unhinge forgetfulness
I am a fool
You have been waiting
Track Name: Ben Figueroa - Whistle (Poem)
Imagine you
Imagine you bi-polar
Imagine you depressed
Imagine you chronically ill
Imagine you are me.

Imagine you bi-polar, depressed, and chronically ill.

Imagine no one likes you
no one said that,
but you just can’t stop thinking it
can’t help feel it, every time they look at you
when anybody looks at you
they just keep looking at you…
Imagine how much you’d hate yourself.

Imagine losing your mother.
Imagine losing your mother to Alzheimer’s.

Imagine how your murderer of a mind twists that to hurt you.

Imagine your mother welcoming Alzheimer's
to erase the torture of having birthed you.
Imagine her
Imagine her all consuming disappointment
when after she’d gone through all the trouble of forgetting you,
you still come to visit her in the nursing home.
Imagine her stroke.
Imagine her feeding tube.
Imagine her knotted limbs.
Imagine her dying.
Imagine her dying.
Imagine her dying just to stop you from visiting.

A slow twist of the knife. Your devil brain can turn anything bitter.

Imagine your daughter,
oh your sweet daughter,
just Imagine her.

magine your daughter saying "I love you"
Imagine you saying "I love you too"
Imagine the whole time you're thinking "God, you have low standards kid".
Imagine you meaning that.
Imagine You meaning that.
Imagine you meaning That.
Imagine the shame in that.

Imagine dying.
Imagine dying.
Imagine dying.

Imagine you doing this to yourself all day.
Every. Day.

Imagine the weeping hole your soul becomes.
Imagine the mewling railyard cats that come licking at the torn edges of you,
Imagine the children,
there are children sprouting from the mud,
from the cesspool of your insecurities,
their skin pale,
bellies swollen with all your swallowed emotion.

They wear my daughter's face like a premonition,
my mother's sagging breasts and stroke twisted arms like terrifying armor,
they speak in my love's voice,
and sing a truth, whose words I've come to know by heart,
"There is a ledge somewhere that fits your feet like a warm pair of slippers.
There is a blade in your mother’s kitchen cupboard thirsty for you.
There is a breeze that prays to be your last breath. Do not dissssssappoint them.”

The S drawn out like the whistle of a steam engine.
Imagine you floating
Imagine you floating off
Imagine you floating off into darkness like a wisp of smoke, a wisp.

Can you imagine it?
Can you see it?
Can you see the bottom of this?
Can you see how far down we are now?
How little hope there is here?

Imagine something going wrong.

You've missed the bus,
argued with your coworker,
made your partner angry.

Imagine what that feels like.
Imagine what that feels like here.


Where you can’t but hate yourself, and the cats won't stop tonguing the wide open of you, and the children, the children with their judgment, their razor truth, with their crying, the trains, the trains never coming in, but still the constant whistle, the whistle like it's just before that hill, back and throbbing almost ready to come tumbling round the bend, never showing up, that whistle always showing out, it sings "Do not dissssssappoint them.”
Track Name: Erin Ripton - Green Girl (Poem)
To my dear Green girl,

All is sacrificed

In the brutal fight

At your core.

I am damned

Strapped to guilt

At my gut.

See I was buried

on the other side of graves

Where bones level

In my waste.

Now sadness

ripples down with dawn.

My Soul, too weak

Dies before its frame.

You, a willing seed

from my green grace

Were Saved

from the floors

Of my heart.

I abandon you

at the coastline

before my shadow

sunk in


This kind of darkness

Has no end.

We all do


To brave

love again,

But not all



And extend

with the tides.
Track Name: Bill Rood - Luxuria (Poem)
There are different ways to kill yourself
and there are so many selves to kill.
We are the life we lived
and the one we didn't.
And the person we were.
And the person we wanted to be.
I've had time,
so much time to contemplate this.

You see, I was a woman who had no patience for this world
for the effort of rising to dawn's promise of a distant light.
What was my life worth
when singular devotion offered so much more?

But I knew nothing of this world
this frail fragile faulted world
this perfectly imperfect human world.

I died for faith in humanity's salvation
yet never allowed myself to be human.
I rushed to die for my savior
but never felt alive until I endured death.
And a martyrs tortured death is so much agony so little victory.
The pain was something I had never known.
My body, tangled in twisted muscles, screamed for it to end
bracing for an awful pain that came again and again
I was dying but so alive.
And I had so much patience for that pain.

When the pain climaxed in an awful silencing every sense died
Not a feeling ever again
No touch upon my skin
No light
No sound
I only felt a brooding patient ache
For what might have been
And time, so much time

Such a Nothing I knew.
Until your voice.
A voice I thought at first was my own
speaking my own desire.

Was your prayer brought to me
or was my prayer answered by you?

I understand this less than you:
tonight somehow I am here
more you than me,
but this is birth and not a return
as I've never truly lived before.

I had such patience for my pain
until you called to me.
And now
I savor only this moment
to take one sip
before I give in
to loose all my religion
in finding you finding me.
Darling, please, let me die again.
One more time.
But this time
I do not die for death,
I die for life.
I die this time for me.