The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The Image and the Word

I create my images, whether in writing or in paint, brush stroke by brush stroke, word by word. They do not exist in my mind until I have created them so. I do not see them and then describe them or put them on canvas. I recognize that many — perhaps most — do not work this way.

Nabokov believed everyone thought in images. Reading his work, one can certainly see that he did. I need those words to fix what would be otherwise nebulous. I need to describe a scene to see it. I build it.

I slipped a little reference to that fact into my novel ‘Shaper,’ where our protagonist is asked to describe a suspect. He explains that he has to describe a man to himself to remember the details of his appearance. He needs to find the words that set the image in his mind. His explanation has little to do with the plot and we move on, but I can ‘see’ that suspect in my own mind still. He is made up of my words.

My poems almost always begin as a few words, a phrase, that catches my attention. They grow from that beginning. I have no firm idea about the meaning or the direction of the poem, nor do I sit down intending to ‘say something.’ That will be revealed by the words as I write. This is perhaps one reason I often write in form. Cadence and even rhyme help shape the pieces, help them find a direction.

And, of course, there is the sound of those words. I am very much one to read my stuff aloud to myself, not only the poetry but also the fiction. Dialog is spoken and so it must be heard if one is to know it is ‘right.’ (Though I am pretty good at hearing it in my head — along with those other voices!) I dislike clumsy prose and can see myself as the storyteller in the bazaar, speaking the finely-crafted lines of tradition.

Are the results worthwhile? That is for others to judge. I can only use my words to craft what I will.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Raindrops, a poem

Raindrops

I can not count the raindrops
but know they have a number;
they sang upon my rooftop
as I fell into slumber,
and each told me its name,
each whispered and was gone,
with all of night time's dreams
forgotten in the dawn.

Stephen Brooke ©2018


This is one of those pieces that I sat and looked at for some time, trying to decide whether I should add more. But there was really nothing to add.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Shadow of the Swell, a poem

The Shadow of the Swell

When a younger man, a time forever gone,
I'd drive through the night, long hours to find dawn,
stand by the Atlantic as the sun would rise,
watch the crashing surf beneath peach-tinted skies.

My heart beat in rhythm to the ocean's song,
rising with each wave, far-journeyed yet still strong,
loud as thunder's drums and subtle as the mist
that clung to its crest, by morning's breezes kissed.

Once I sought truths in the shadow of the swell;
time’s lost lambent song has held me in its spell.
Does the sea dance now on that remembered shore?
Shall I seek all that eluded me before?

I have journeyed long, to find and know this day,
whispering its secrets to the foam-flecked gray;
still I understand too little of the wind,
still it wordless murmurs of how I have sinned.

I live in the shadow that the swell once cast
when a younger man, a time forever past,
and each heartbeat is a wave upon the beach
I drive toward through the night and never reach.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

Yes, it is sort of about surfing. Other stuff too. And in pretty strict hexameter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thankful

My brother had a knife, one of the knives from the kitchen, from the drawer by the range. I believed he would use it.

So did my sister. He was capable of using it. He had these rages, usually expressed through fists and feet, but now he brandished those three inches of stainless steel. I don’t remember what set him off.

It would never be anything important. Not important to me nor to anyone else, nothing you’d think would make someone angry, nothing that should make anyone angry. We barricaded ourselves in the upstairs bedroom closet, held him back with a chair, until he calmed down or lost interest or something.

I remember my sister’s face, not his. She was five years older than me and not around so much. Maybe she didn’t know how he was, not really, not the way I did. She was trying to make sense of him, I could tell. I didn’t try anymore.

No point. He was broken and that was that. It was something I had to deal with. Our parents were gone too much of the time, both working, both grinding out a living for us. They didn’t see it. The two of us coexisted through school, surfed together — though he was an asshole in the water — and went our ways, in time. He even managed to hang onto the second wife. I still do not try to make sense of him.

It’s likely I didn’t pick up on things back then. That’s what was, nothing more, water under several bridges, and I have as little to do with him as practical these days. It’s not difficult. We live different lives in different states. There are no family Thanksgiving gatherings.

For that, I am thankful.

note: this is essentially true memory, but also the sort of thing that just might end up in fictionalized form in one of my stories, some day

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Worst, a song

The Worst
a song

I’m the best at being the worst,
it’s nice to be good at something!
Dead last when it comes to coming in first;
so nice to be good at something!

Go right ahead, give me a test,
I always succeed at failing!
You’ll find I’m worst at being the best,
No, I never fail at failing!

No, I’m no mediocrity,
no mediocrity for me!
What’s worth doing is worth doing badly,
and I’ll do it badly gladly!

Now being the best is over-rated,
though it’s better than nothing!
Yet shouldn’t I be congratulated?
Yes, it’s better than nothing!

If you check, you’ll see in the past,
I’ve truly been consistent!
I’ve always managed to come dead last;
no problem being consistent!

No, I’m no mediocrity,
no mediocrity for me!
What’s worth doing is worth doing badly
and I’ll do it badly gladly!

I’m the best at being the worst,
it’s nice to be good at something!
Dead last when it comes to coming in first;
so nice to be good at something!

Yes, it’s nice to be good at something!

Stephen Brooke ©2018

the 'worth doing badly' line is, of course, borrowed from Chesterton

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Free Poetry Books

I put up a new epub version of the free book of poems from the Donzalo’s Destiny novels, making the old link obsolete. So here’s a new link to the entire folder (which is unlikely to change or be deleted) containing both the ebook and text versions of my first three poetry collections (without the illustrations, obviously).

Nets, a poem

Nets

From their crescent boats, the poets cast
their fathers’ ancient and oft-mended nets
across the dark, into the deep, unknown,

unknowable, in hopes of tangling truth,
some blind supple swimming truth, in woven
words, a mesh of metaphor. Their fathers,

yes, their fathers’ fathers cast them so,
catching their own meanings. Those decay
upon the silvered shores. The moon is setting.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Jay-Birds, a poem

Between Hurricane Michael and weird cold front weather I've barely been on line the past month. Lots of material piled up! This is a bit of light verse for your amusement.