Five Goodbyes

Instrumentation: Tenor and piano OR mezzo-soprano, tenor and piano
Year Composed: 2012
Commissioned By: Matt Chittick

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A song cycle in five movements, originally written for tenor and piano and also re-worked for tenor, mezzo-soprano, and piano. Texts by poet Katie Fedosenko all deal with the various emotions associated with the end of a relationship.


OWEN: Do you come here often?

EDITH: If I leave this note in the couch cheeks will you find it?

OWEN: When we met I made accidental jokes funny only to me

EDITH: I drank black Gibraltar gazing intently at the foot traffic

OWEN: You ate your sorrows staring past my face onto white walls

OWEN: My heart swelled out of frame refused to play this game

EDITH: Now I see you in every shade of grey shade of gray shade of grei shade of grae


I’m compelled to tell you measurements of how much and why.
My dissolved offering
breaks in instead of
bursting out.

Our shifting feet
stir it so that
the right lumps are left.

Breaking this
fast cracks the
soft shell.

Griddle burns me yet
again, always too hot
to touch.

The bluest blueberry
breaks in your pancake
dying the white skin.

Purple hands give away,
speaking in empty

Only granules of
sugar remain on the
kitchen floor.


We laughed the same
sang the same

We were marinated
in the same
water, like

You were deliciously

You fed me
fleshy flecks
but I was

Arm from hip,
words from mouth
Cut off
cold turkey.

Hunger strike
leaves me
wanting and


the degrades of intimacy
increase exponentially
as the afternoon sun faces
and a look from across the room jades
causing uncertain reverence
laced with bitter ambivalence
questioning the relevance
of our forced small talk
as your eyes stalk
searching for what was lost
friend turned stranger at cost
like a phantom limb
my composure is all akimb-
Oh the paradigm shifts the contents
toggled from on to off
all that remains is a rattled cough
a reminder of a season past
the soliloquy of a dismembered cast


This is the season of sighing
in open palms,
weeping pine needles and
weaving alms.

This is the forecast of
our inevitable fall,
of sweating sap and
stopping calls.

This is the departure
of blooming fruit,
shedding seeds and
sun for suits.

This is the return of
the South-East wind,
stealing dead leaves for
deep waste bins.

This is the severing
of roots intertwined
an occasion to
abandon a choke-hold bind.

This is the white house
turning grey,
the mould growing
night and day.

This is our autumn
a muddied quarter to bear
on calendars too proud
to recognize lost shares.