The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Several years ago, I met a woman I rather liked online and attempted a long-distance relationship. It was probably not the best idea; what with the physical distance between us and the demands of being a caregiver, I could see it was unworkable and called it off. It was, in fact, the only relationship in my life that I ended on my own — I much more used to being dumped.

Perhaps with good reason, as I tend to be self-absorbed and distant at times. But that is beside the point.

Might I have fallen in love with her? Maybe I did, maybe I only wanted to, but either way, I could not allow it. It would have been a disservice to both of us, as proven by the increasing demands of my duties in the following years. But we remained online friends, even if our interactions grew fewer.

Until a few weeks ago when she simply ‘un-friended’ me on Facebook. Why? I’ve no idea. Perhaps just clearing the clutter and I was no longer relevant to her life. It did hurt a teensy to lose her so unceremoniously, but so it goes.

And life goes on and I go on. But I do hate losing a friend.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


I am about to have my fifth book of poetry published, or sixth if one counts ‘Awful Alvin,’ the little collection of poems for children. On September First, ‘Fields of Summer’ will see its official release. As always, it will be showing up here and there in both print and ebook form before that date.

Aside from, perhaps, the children’s book, none of these are ‘chapbooks’ — not in the strict sense. They are a bit too long, though still fairly short books. How long should a true chapbook be? Some say as many as fifty pages, some say no more than thirty. At 36 pages, ‘Alvin’ might make the cut.

As might my very first collection, ‘Pieces of the Moon,’ at 48 pages. Barely — the others are all longer and ‘Fields of Summer’ will be the largest poetry book yet, at 98 pages. I would be unlikely to do a collection larger than that, unless it were a book that pulled together two or more collections inside one cover, or a ‘best of.’

Originally, chapbooks were published because of the lesser cost. This was especially true for poets who self-published or very small independent presses. Indeed, until recently, more than a few little poetry books were actually printed and assembled by the poet. Improved printers, and then computers, made this feasible. I first put out ‘Pieces of the Moon’ that way, using a laser printer, but a couple years later went to the print-on-demand approach and set up Arachis Press (though it was called Nihil Crocodile Press for a while).

No great advantage comes from putting out a really small book, a true chapbook, now. There is not much in the way of savings; indeed, one sixty page book would be somewhat more economical than two thirty page books. Of course, at times, the material might be suited to a more limited number of pages. The content is always the most important consideration. A book should be as long as it needs to be.

I could see Arachis Press publishing chapbooks but I would rather see longer collections. Not that we have been publishing anyone’s poetry lately but we are always open to the idea of doing so. But that should be something I talk about at the publishing blog!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Voice From a Dream

A violin piece composed and performed by my niece, 'Mean Mary' James, and filmed in Northern Ireland during her recent tour. 'Voice From a Dream' is on her new album, SWEET.

Friday, July 22, 2016

What Lasts?

Every song is also a poem.

Pop music is the poetry of the people, some of it good, most of it forgettable. But it speaks for a time and for a place as much as the poems written for the pages of literary journals. Maybe more than those do.

Most of those serious poems will also be forgotten, forgotten as surely as the latest pop drivel. This is inevitable.

I know better than to take myself too seriously. Maybe I shall write something good, something enduring. Chances are, none of it will last. Not the poems, not the songs, not the stories.

But who knows? One keeps on. One must.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Altar, a poem


The altar is stripped, the vestments folded
and put away. Your chalice has
been shrouded, housed in gold, to await
our sacrament. Shall I be priest

again? Shall I speak once again
to heaven? All that is made flesh
seeks consecration, yearns to join
as one. A moment — we know god

one moment and the moment slips
into eternity. The altar
is bare, the nave grown dark, and you
are but a statue, standing in shadow.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

It is inevitable that my Catholic upbringing occasionally shows up in my poetry.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Song and Story

I received proof copies of both the paperback version of DONZALO’S DESTINY and the print edition of the upcoming poetry book release, FIELDS OF SUMMER, in today’s mail. Both look fine, both have been approved, and both should show up at retailers ‘everywhere’ in anywhere from a month to two months.

This works with the revised release date of September 1 for FIELDS. I shall upload the ebook versions next month and, ideally, they should show up at online sellers at around the same time. I should mention that all these editions become available directly from Arachis Press almost immediately — one can purchase both print books right now at our shop at our distributor:

That distributor is the ‘print on demand’ company, Lulu. We have found them to be the best solution for small press distribution. Despite being a POD provider, they are not exactly our printer — that is farmed out to various companies, both in the US and abroad. Nor are they a publisher, though they will act as such for those who request it. We have our own publishing company and our books bear our own ISBN numbers. But Lulu does act as distributor, sending both our print and digital books to retailers and providing a storefront solution for Arachis Press to sell directly.

In the mean time, I am plugging away at the next contemporary Florida novel, WAVES. Not plugging very hard, I must admit, as other things have been getting in the way. But I’ll get it done and move onto something else, probably another fantasy. I am also getting myself ready to record soon, the first project probably being a couple songs for the Best Florida Song competition at the Will McLean Festival. Yes, I shall give it another shot. BTW, the niece, ‘Mean Mary’ James, has pretty much committed to performing at the festival next spring — but probably not the Florida Folk Festival. :(

Wind, a poem


Wind was a god, creating, destroying, moving
upon the water. Each moonlit ripple held
its universes, impermanent reflections
appearing, dissipating, into night.

What infinite worlds shine and die before us,
what bits and pieces of reality?
All fades; dark seas of entropy lie calm
once more and what could be has been. Remember

the wind. Remember what you can, and sleep.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

This started out as a very, very different poem, of which only a few words remain.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Dualist Metaphor

I occasionally refer to myself as a Zoroastrian. I am not in the formal sense, in the go-to-Zoroastrian-temple sense, but I do consider the concept of all-powerful evil pitted infinitely against all-powerful good (or god) to be the most satisfying religious metaphor. It answers most of the questions about evil, pain, and so on that arise from Abrahamic monotheism.

Admittedly, ‘evil’ is not the best word to use here. I prefer ‘non-being’ or ‘the void,’ and see evil as a twisting of that which is. It is that part of being that strives to be no more (another metaphor, there). Whatever terms we use — and all terms must fall short — the idea is still there: the duality of being and non-being, existence and the void.

Having accepted this basic premise, I have no problem finding useful teachings in any and all religions. I certainly do not reject the wisdom of those who have gone before. Even when they get things very wrong, we may learn from them.

Metaphor — I used that term a couple times here. All our understanding of the universe is ultimately through the metaphors we create. Even the ‘truths’ of science are metaphors, words, symbols. It is we who give structure to reality, sort it out, name it.

And so I choose this metaphor to give myself and my world structure. Sometimes, that structure shakes a bit, sometimes it threatens to come down around me. But it is stronger than any other I have built.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Cautious Man, a poem

Cautious Man

Call me Cautious Man.
My super-power is to see
the flaws in every plan,
what can and will go wrong.

I flew over you, once,
enumerating the dangers,
and traveled on, traveled
to my solitary fortress,

thankful that I had escaped.
Cautious Man’s adventures
are like that. I’d advise
against buying the comic.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Up, up, and away. Very far away!