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Lee Penn Sky | Lean into the Letter

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Rock: Americana Folk: Folk-Rock Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Lean into the Letter

by Lee Penn Sky

Americana and Folk songs inspired by the discovery of long lost letters from a relative who survived the Holocaust, locating and traveling to meet this newly found family in Israel and the conflicts which that land and history engender.
Genre: Rock: Americana
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  Song Share Time Download
1. One in a Million
4:54 album only
2. Dead Sea Is at a Boil
3:13 album only
3. Jumped from the Train
4:39 album only
4. Solomon
3:42 album only
5. Not Your Carpenter
4:41 album only
6. Hallelujah
4:31 album only
7. Jesse
4:27 album only
8. Walk Away from My Garden
4:12 album only
9. Seabird
5:03 album only
10. Worry About Gomorrah
3:46 album only
11. Lean into the Letter
4:09 album only
12. A Penny Saved
4:48 album only


Album Notes
Dear Great Grandma Sadie,
We found the letters in your purse that had been there for all these years, the letters written to you by your nephew Jakob Nistel. Letters no one knew were there…letters describing how he escaped the Nazis and survived the Holocaust though his and your entire family perished at their hands. In the letters, he tells you he emigrated to Israel and began a new family in a new land. His words spoke of his anger, pain, and loneliness, and of his deep faith and love. Though you both are gone I want you to know we went to Israel and found his family. I put my arms around them. I roamed through that land and visited the historic and holy places with a head full of difficult, confusing, and wonderful thoughts. Let me tell you about them.

Dead Sea is at a boil- I climbed up to Harrod's mountain top. I took up my pretense and I let it drop, wide eyed at the product of the toil. Below the Dead Sea is at a boil. High above the lowest place on earth, close to where the three are giving birth, salted heart leaves no root in soil. Below the Dead Sea is at a boil. I'm stuck up on Masada waiting for the Messiah. Silva's waiting with the nails and boards. I guess I'll fall upon my sword. High above the jets patrol the border, giving a semblance of order. On the banks we face to where we’re loyal. Below the Dead Sea is at a boil. Still stuck up on Masada, still awaiting the Messiah. Silva's waiting with the nails and boards. I guess I'll fall upon my sword. Crossing the Jordan brings no relief; it both holds and breaks an uneasy peace…so hold tightly to this mortal coil. Below the Dead Sea is at a boil.
Lean into the Letter- His ghost was found in an envelope, hidden in a drawer some 60 years. It was left long to be forgotten, sent across an ocean of his tears. It gave life to the worst of man, to worry at my mind and heart. It gave breath to the faith in man, to the puzzle of what we are not. If you lean into that letter, if you put your back into every word, if you will lean into the letter, 6 million voices can be heard. And through those pages I have come to understand- though on that paper ashes reek- there is the need to be a better man. It guides me to the salt against the sweet. He sank into the earth. He sank under the water. His body did emerge. His heart, it was martyred. And I have seen him live again. The cloth is still on the loom. I have held the daughters of his sons. They are the blossom rooted in the ruin.
Hallelujah-I've been where the prophets roamed. I put my head to the stone. When I kneel down to pray, the apple and the serpent wait. I've walked on the painful road, and I don't believe what I'm told, when just through the Damascus gate lies the birth of love and hate. I've been where Jesus rose, Hallelujah, and to the Golden Dome- Hallelujah- I've been to the Temple walls where we will rise and fall. And on that holy ground, the faithful will be bound. Those yards of thirsty earth, they drink deep from what is worst. The soldiers keep the peace. They hold doors for those who weep; but for those tools of war there'd be fire at the temple doors.
A penny saved- A penny saved is a penny earned, unless you don't have two to rub together. And it's a hard lesson to be learned, not to count on anything lucky. Give an inch and I'll take a mile, because I need to get away. Man I'd take 10,000 miles. There's no way I'm going to stay. And oh I'm dying, by inches. Oh I'm dying, but ain't we all. I'd take candy from a stranger, because I need something sweet in my life. It'd be worth all the danger, just to step outside of me. And if you save me a little coffee, I'd come down out of bed. I'd take this blanket off me, shake the dust out of my head. If silence is so golden, then I guess I just shouldn't speak…but I've never been good at controlling my mouth or my feet. But I'm pretty good at tilting at windmills. And it’s gotten me this far. I've been known to chase a will-o-wisp or two, right out in front of cars.
Solomon- I touched the hand of Solomon. I went looking for some wisdom. When he told me to part the one, I was exiled from the kingdom. I don't want to be parted. I don't want to live as two. I don't want to be parted, but for the love of you. I went walking with the child of Sheba. Man, he tore down the temple wall. I stood with Daniel in the lion's den, but God only heard his call. I am the Red Sea parted. I’ll steal the breath of pursuit; leave you stranded on the farthest shore, naked, alone and mute.
One in a million- I came to you like a stone in the river. So deep I couldn't see the light. I was starving and fresh from the slaughter. You were the reason to put up a fight. You were a flower in the desert; I'll try hard to spread your seeds. There will be fire on the hillside- it will burn off all the weeds. I made it through the storm, with faith and a number on my arm. I was one of the millions. I am one in a million. I will keep building. I came to you like a prayer at nighttime, when I could not see left nor right. I knew that healing would not be in this lifetime, but I could live with clearer sight. You were a tree and you gave me shade, to cool a burned and withered heart. And I will not shrink from this specter. I will not fail to do my part.
Worry about Gomorrah- I will not go amongst the lepers. I cannot save their souls. I am not Jesus Christ… man, I'm not even whole. I cannot worry about Gomorrah. Who am I to be assigning fault? I'm just struggling to be a standup guy, and not turn into a pillar of salt. I cannot raise you up, so don't count on me. How could you ever think I could make the blind see? I blow my trumpet with all my might, but wall it still surrounds. The stones of Jericho, they're holding tight, so pay no heed to the sound. And I will not argue with the angels about the goodness of all of man. You cannot argue that you're righteous from an island made of sand.
Jesse- Jesse, I think you fill yourself up with pain, but it wasn't always that way. You're drinking it doesn't help you none. I recall when it begun. You signaled for the chute, but you never got your 8 seconds did you? Jesse, I think you let yourself slip. The strength is gone from your grip, but you still wear your hat and boots. But none of us are fooled. You had a pretty good run. You came close sometimes, but when she rolled on you, man it broke your pride. You never did come home. You just pushed it all away. When everything that you loved came crashing down that day. Jesse, you never got back on that horse. The doubt it only made it worse. That day you broke all your dreams, is that what turned you mean? Jesse, I see you out there mending fence, trying to get it all to make sense. At the altar you were thrown, the day she didn't show. You signaled for the chute, but you never got your 8 seconds did you?
Jump from the train- They came for us in the morning, put my kin into the cars. Root up the flower of a people, and you wipe them from the stars. They put a number on our arms, like cattle and a brand. They thought they'd own our future, but a few would make a stand. I jumped from the train. Weren't going to let those bastards take my choice from me- I rose above the pain when I jumped from the train. It was happening in Warsaw, and in the underground in France. They hid us out in Belgium, giving some of us a chance. We rose up in Treblinka, and 70 of us made our escape; and though we died fighting in Sobibor, our resistance made them close the gates. We stood those fuckers up in Nuremberg. We brought the darkness into day. A few crept to the shadows, but we'd never let them stay. We got Eichmann in Buenos Aires, We brought the Butcher back to Lyon. They thought they'd own our future, but we rose with the dawn.
Seabird- As far away as the sunrise is to sunset, that's as close as our lives seem to have come. Forever echoing the same breath, a heart that beats again after it's done. And it has been a lonely place. This distance between the West and East. Though I've been to both horizons. I can never bring the two to peace. I will die and I will live. I will take and I will give. Maybe I am an iceberg out on the ocean. Maybe I'm a wave upon a silent sea. Maybe you are a seabird, or a boat with slipping oars…but I know it's not because of me. One day we will both slip into the dark waters. I still don't know who will go first, alone upon the surface or down in the murk…I still don't know which would be worse. Maybe it is a misplaced obligation, this drive to weld the two halves. Though I've been upon the mountain, I am not Moses and you are not the Golden Calf. When the sun stops rising as it will one day, the sunset finally catching its own tail, will I finally know you and will I know myself? Will I have succeeded or have failed?
Not your carpenter- Man I said love your fellow man I said, but if you pick and choose, I am not your king. I'm not responsible for what you lose. You adopt my name, whenever you have the need. A deed in words is just no good; it's worth even less when it's in greed. I am not your carpenter, my hands too torn to move the stone. Just let me lie. Leave me alone. Won't you leave me in this desert, to dry up and blow away? I don't want to get caught up in your business; I don't want to have to stay awake. I have never held a gun. I have never been to your shores. The meek that will inherit this earth, well, they don't need to settle scores. You dress me up in gold, just to prove that you are just. I lay no claim to Jerusalem- just leave me there to turn to dust. If you cannot turn you cheek, if you go throwing stones, then do not call me Lord. Leave me alone. Man I said love your fellow man I said.
Walk away from my garden- I woke up today to the news: the Prince of Rain had taken the noose. The Emerald City is draped in black. The fog of grey is beaten back. And this I just cannot believe. The inner child is on his knees. Alone in orbit around this sun, clothed in fabric woven from everyone. Walk away from my garden. Go inside and bolt the door. Walk away from my garden. Songs can't take root here anymore. Brought us light in the black of day. Give us words on which to pray. Intransigence or the length of tooth, or was it the impotent moods of youth? The unshod speak of being stronger. They'll say you should have held out longer. I am barefoot from this day. Never again through the garden's gate.

Sadie, I want to tell you how much I appreciate and thank the people who helped me create this letter to you and Jakob. I extend my deepest gratitude to my family who shared my literal and figurative travels; to the Nistel family who met us with open arms; to Dave, Daniel, Joe and Chrystalina for lending their time and talents; to Troy for his ongoing friendship and long musical partnership; and especially to Brandon for truly understanding and embracing my vision…for making it his own. I could never have completed this journey without him and his herculean effort. I most appreciate the friendship we have developed along the way. This is a memorial to all who were lost in the Holocaust. May everyone have the hard joy of finding a survivor. I will never forget.
With love,
Your great grandson, Lee



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