adventures in dysthymia

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Chriskwanzanukah to everyone! (as Shana Banana puts it)

Time to find out what Santa is bringing! I've already received TWO Lava Lamps. Should never have mentioned them! :D They'll look cool in the studio, except one is about 6 times the size of the other. I've bought myself a brand-new (well, slightly used actually) Presonus Fire-Pod interface for recording. A pretty substantial upgrade. Now I need a better room! (or rooms) Maybe in a better town -- kind of off the beaten path here.

Baked my 'traditional' Buche de Noel (Yule Log cake) earlier today. Later on, after I attend to my duties here (getting my dad fed and into bed) I'll head out to midnight mass. Tomorrow...food and presents! Two of my favorite things!

Y'all have a great holiday now, y'hear?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Letting some one else toot my horn for me...an article at Project Sanctuary. BTW, I recommend Ms Hartmann's online novel, In Serein. Better than many I've bought off the rack in bookstores.

The Finish Line...not sure where that one came from exactly. Well, from some part of me, of course, though I'm certainly the sort who will keep runnning the 'human race' till my legs fall off (metaphorically speaking). I suppose we all yearn to rest...eventually!

THE FINISH LINE

Sooner or later,
we all finish our race--
yes, every one of us,
each tortoise, each hare,
even you nice guys
who come in last.

Wreaths and medals
I have sought,
the kiss of a festival
queen, gowned and sashed,
the crowd's applause
rising to fill me,

and that's all good, isn't it?
But victories pass,
kisses are forgotten;
the finish line remains.
I shall rest a while
before crossing.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Monday, December 20, 2004

Women and Birds
a sijo

Dawn sang to me in the voices
of women and birds.

The robins will all fly south
to return some spring morn.

Does love ever again seek
the nest it once knew?

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Yes, the flocks of robins were passing through here on this cold (for Florida) morning and gave me the idea for this little piece. I hadn't attempted a sijo in a while but the form seemed suitable.

Friday, December 17, 2004

BELIEVE

As two negatives
become a positive,
could your lies and mine
somehow equal truth?

Say now that you love me,
say I'm the only one;
I'll down that cup of wine
and pour out one for you.

Maybe you'll believe me
and I'll find faith in you--
we'll never cross our line
and believe ourselves.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I was more than disappointed by the Sci-Fi channel's movie version of Ursula K. Leguin's Earthsea novels. Apparently, so was the author, though I think maybe the skin-color problem isn't as big an issue as she made it out to be. People do tend to see the characters they read about as they wish to, after all.

Anyway, some of my favorite books were turned into a meaningless Harry Potter-esque hodge-podge. (No offense intended to those of you who like the wiz-kid.) Where was the power and the depth of the stories, their shadow and light? Where the strength of their symbols? And what was with the sex (albeit fairly tame) elements? These were originally books for kids!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

RIP Darrel Lance Abbott aka Dimebag Darrel, gunned down onstage last night. Although I was never a particular fan of his music, I recognize the importance of his work with Pantera and elsewhere in shaping the 'metal' of today.

No soap-boxing here about guns, no questions about why or how...bad stuff happens in this world and we go on. But I mourn the loss of another life and another talent.

So we're going to have a Director of National Intelligence. Hmm....shouldn't the Secretary of Education have been taking care of that?

Friday, December 03, 2004

INVENTORY

You needn't have worried;
I just stepped out
to count the stars.

I thought I heard
them falling, falling,
falling all night

like summer rain.
Sleep, my love,
sleep on; I've taken

my inventory
and all is well
above and below.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

---A poem that references my tendency to sleepless nights. Usually, all isn't well but what the heck, I like happy endings.

Monday, November 29, 2004

CHRISTMAS CONCERT

Christmas is coming and so is the annual Tuskegee Golden Voices Christmas Concert. Free, as always, in the University Chapel at 6:30 PM (Central) on Sunday December 5. Everyone is invited to come and share in this tradition.

I'll be there, complete with headphones, mikes and digital recorder, getting the whole thing down for posterity...and a fee, of course. I reckon this is the highest profile recording job I've landed yet. Somehow these folks have gotten it in their minds that I'm a professional, ha ha.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

CROWNS

This throne is not mine--
I renounce it.
He who would be king
of your realm,
who desires all that you
desire of me,
is weak.

These chains are not mine--
I shed them.
Not even for you
will I wear them.
Not even for you
will I wear
my crown.

Only this heart is mine--
I give it
to you, wrapped up
in borrowed words.
Don't tear them;
they might be used
again.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

a quote:

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love"
Albert Einstein.

Friday, November 19, 2004

SPELL

I cast my spell,
I cast a net;
the magic of words
will snare you yet.

I sing my need
to the stars and moon;
the power of words
will bind you soon.

I sing my want
in words of fire;
their magic holds
my heart's desire.

I weave my spell
of night and day;
by the power of words
I'll have my way.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

A poem is a magical spell, isn't it? The power of words....

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

RESURRECTION

In the fading of my faith,
I ask how you became my church,
the true religion of my heart.

The hurt of you was all I had,
all I could hold close, believing
in your return, our resurrection.

I've not renounced this priesthood, no,
not yet; I'll watch the failing flame
of each candle lit to you.

I'll watch them fade, one by one,
and only then shall I turn from
your darkened altar, resurrected,

for all beginnings need an end.

Stephen Brooke ©2004


Friday, November 12, 2004

KNOWING THE BLUES

Maybe you don't know
what the blues can do;
maybe you don't know
how they fill your soul
with the cold, cold night.

If I sing the blues,
give me Billie's voice--
the night was in her soul,
oh yes, the darkest night
no neon could send packing.

No lover, no high can fill
a hole that deep, that empty.
No frantic empty hours
of dancing and drinking can warm
your desperate, deep-down chill.

You don't know the blues, kid,
haven't lived the blues.
Haven't heard the wind
sing them through the endless
hours of the night.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Thursday, November 11, 2004

This has got to be one of the best singles ads ever printed. It appeared in The Atlanta Journal.

SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good looking girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Kiss me and I'm yours. Call (404) 875-6420 and ask for Daisy.

Over 15,000 men found themselves talking to the Atlanta Humane Society about an 8-week old black Labrador Retriever.


In the last line of the 'Sail' poem I posted this morning, I was undecided whether to say 'restless' or 'reckless.' Makes a difference, doesn't it ? I may yet change...

Or maybe not. Next month, next year, I'll get around to the piece again for editing and rewriting and who knows what might happen.

On another subject, I've started a second blog, called The Cupbearer, which will be concerned more with spiritual issues. Nothing there yet to speak of.

SAIL

Traveler, I, seeking the words
that make tomorrow.

Explorer, voyager,
my Fountain of Truth

lies beyond this shrouded
horizon, just beyond

the mists, where the sea
plummets to eternity.

Sail with me; the edge
of the world beckons

to a restless soul.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

I win
I lose~
solitaire

does the next card
matter?

a tanka (more or less) by Stephen Brooke ©2004

Monday, November 08, 2004

Organized!

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to record Dr Wayne Barr playing the brand-new Rodgers Trillium 957 Organ in the Chapel at Tuskegee University. Sounds marvelous! Of course, Wayne's an excellent player too -- his Doctor of Musical Arts degree is in organ performance -- and he obviously enjoyed playing the instrument! Here's some info from the Rodgers website (Rodgers Organs belong to Roland these days). There's a lot more there if you happen to be a music geek.

Rodgers' Professional Grade TrilliumTM 957 Organ offers a true pipe organ quality console and cutting-edge, stereophonic sampled, imaged stereophonic pipe organ sound. With 112 total speaking stops available, the Trillium 957 is the highest value, best choice for many churches seeking a versatile, five division, three manual organ. The full technological and financial resources of the world's largest digital musical instrument company, Roland Corporation back each Trillium 957. Rodgers and Roland's industry leading music technologies insure you the finest quality, highest resolution stereophonic organ sound available with a long-term reliability you can trust for many future decades.

A unique feature of the Trillium 957 is the choice of three distinct Principal Choruses as your default Principal sound with the alternate choruses instantly available at any time from piston memory.

The Chapel has great acoustics which made my job easier. Now I have an hour and a half of music to edit! My recording/editing program of choice for some time now has been PG Music's Power Tracks but I've started working also with Adobe Audition. Costs more but I'm not sure it's any better! The concert was recorded on an ordinary enough little Fostex digital machine, using the built-in preamps (which seem quite accurate though not offering much gain) and a pair of Oktava MC319 large diaphragm condenser microphones. These Russian-made mikes are an excellent deal and work great for recording classical music (a great deal of Soviet-era recording was done with similar units). Here is a place that handles these mikes, checking them over for the quality-control problems typical of Russian products.

Gosh, did I just give away all my secrets?! :)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Beisbol

Down in Latin America, somewhere,
a kid eyes second base.

I don't know if he will take
that euphoric headlong rush,

but I wish I were there
to see it if he does.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

suffering baseball withdrawal pains! :D

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

BEYOND

Reasons:

not one of them
very good, but together...
ah, together they piled
onto me, pinned me down
until you passed
beyond my reach.

I loved you, I think,

I loved you but pride
and misunderstanding
took me by the arms,
led me away, saying,
'Look elsewhere. She doesn't
care.' Maybe I believed;

does it matter, now?

The night has grow still;
once I dreamed of you
beside me, of kissing
your ivory shoulder
by the light of a moon
that will never rise

again.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Monday, November 01, 2004

A reminder....

Please remember that, because of the high turnout expected at the polls this year,

DEMOCRATS will be voting on Tuesday, November 2nd,

REPUBLICANS will be voting on Wednesday, November 3rd.

Be sure to remind ALL your Republican friends!

Thanks.


another quote:

"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"
Albert Einstein


Sunday, October 31, 2004

ROLES

No, that's not me--
you've seen me only
on stage, mouthing
my crafted lines.

I learned those roles
long ago,
learned to meet
your demands,

my audience,
to fill you up
while I remain
empty.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Friday, October 29, 2004

Need a scary Jack O'Lantern for Halloween? Carve your pumpkin here!

another quote:

“The strong must learn to be lonely.” ~Henrik Ibsen

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Quote~

"Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith." ~Paul Tillich

DEGREES

It wouldn't hurt that much, would it,
if we parted now? Though love
should be unconditional,
total, all or nothing, we know
better. Love comes in degrees
and our flame never burnt so hot
as the fires of memory.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

STUMBLE

Let's face it-- we all fuck up.
Yeah, all men are sinners
or something like that.
The best we can hope
is to do as little damage
as possible, to choose
the least from a multitude
of evils. Oh, and I believe
in evil and in good and the choice
and the road between the two.

I believe we all stumble along it.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Monday, October 25, 2004

BOOK OF DAYS

My book of days you are,
the pages of my life,
limned in leaf of gold
and lapis lazuli.

In you, I'll read my matins,
my prayers at none and vespers.
In you, my sun shall rise;
you'll be my evening star.

My book of days you are,
my comings and my goings,
the planting and the harvest,
each sorrow, every joy.

And all the seasons pass,
I'll read anew the year;
my book you are until
I close my eyes and sleep.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Political Announcement :)

Although I've posted some things here that poked fun at our Prez, I don't really think Mr Bush is a bad guy (Mr Cheney is another story). Misguided, yes, dumb as mud, probably. But I even admire him some for turning his rather sorry early life around.

As to the other candidate...I would describe John Kerry as an artsy, intellectual, occasionally pretentious, liberal Catholic. And you know what? So am I.

You can probably guess which I'm voting for.

ELECTION 2004 -- the fishing poll

It seems that the 2004 election was so close that the Electoral College vote was tied, and that Congress couldn't break the deadlock, and that the Supreme Court decided they'd better not make the decision themselves. So they sent Bush and Kerry to a frozen lake in South Dakota to have an ice fishing contest. No one was allowed to accompany them, and they were on their honor to let the guy who caught the most fish in five days become president.

On the first day they went out in different directions. Kerry came back with ten fish. Bush caught none.

On the second day, Kerry caught twenty fish and again George W. came back empty handed.

When Kerry brought back 25 fish on day three and George W. still hadn't caught any, Bush got worried and telephoned Dick Cheney for advice.

"He's probably cheating," suggested the Vice President.

"I hadn't thought of that," said George W. "You're probably right. What do we do?"

Cheney suggested that instead of going fishing the next day, Bush follow Kerry to see what he was doing.

At the end of day 4, Bush called up Cheney and told him, "you were right, Dick, the bastard is cheating."

"What's he doing?" asked Cheney.

"He's cutting holes in the ice!"

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Migraine

I was struck with the first one in over three years yesterday evening, after getting back from my trip over to my sister's house in the Fla panhandle (may write about that later). I used to have 'em all the time, every 10 to 14 days, from as far back as I can remember. Even as a very little lad, I would be incapicitated by the pain and nausea, sometimes for days.

But a little over three years ago I started taking med for my depression and SAD. It helped those, of course, but even better it put an end to the migraines! When I looked into the literature, I found that this is sometimes a welcome side-effect. Believe me, I'm a much happier person in a whole lotta ways than I used to be.

Anyway, the traveling, lack of sleep, missing meals, missing meds, and (probably) eating foods with too many nitrites (or is that nitrates? Whichever, they do set off migraines) seems to have led to a reoccurance. Nothing to do but load up on the ibuprofen and lie down in the dark. And, of course, take my medication.

Which I'd better remember in the future! I take better care of myself when I'm traveling alone -- it's a hassle trying to accomodate a couple passengers, especially when they're your parents! :D

YAAAAY RED SOCKS!

Way to go....I still hope the Cardinals make the Series and beat you...but if they don't, be sure to whip them Astros! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Christmas Cards

Time for a bit of shameless self-promotion! Christmas cards and other products with my art are now available at my Cafe Press store. I've also opened up a shop at Lulu with some of my images available for download. There will be more stuff at both stores as I get my, uh, donkey into gear.

Thank you for your time...we now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I was watching The Fugitive yesterday evening on Turner movies. What a great movie! No, no, not that Harrison Ford vehicle; I mean the John Ford film from 1947 with Henry Fonda. Fabulous (if sometimes a bit overly dramatic) cinematography and Ford's direction was, as usual, storytelling at its best. The story itself, of course, was strong, taken from Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory.

Hey, I'm a sucker for these sorts of stories of redemption, I admit it. It's nice to be reminded that there is good in humanity.

Monday, October 11, 2004

LEAVES

Each day now carries
its message of change,
written on a falling leaf
or a frosted window.

Autumn speaks with the voice
of birds in fervent flight,
wings spread upon
the faith of October.

The wind-tossed leaf--
does it too yearn
to seek a land
of eternal summer?

We can follow
only a little way,
the leaves and I;
only a little way.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

can't allow Miss Sherrie to outdo me in melancholy autumn poems now, can I? :D

BLUEGRASS

Over the weekend I attended a bluegrass festival at the Pickers' Paradise Park up near Ocklocknee GA; the usual north Florida-south Georgia suspects were there. I have to admit they all kinda sound the same to me anyway...okay, I’m not really a big fan of bluegrass – I feel it over-emphasizes instrumental flash at the expense of the songs – but it was an okay way to spend a Saturday afternoon and evening. And the people involved are a friendly bunch; I ended up sitting late around the campfires and decided to throw a blanket on the ground and stay there overnight.

Ran into an acquaintance from the Florida folkie circles I more normally frequent, Carrie Hamby, who fronts the Tallahassee-based group Singing Biscuit (those who grew up in Indiana might know the origin of the name). Ms Hamby was playing bass with Fifth Gear. I don't know why so many bluegrass groups have women on them big ol' standup basses! I liked FG; they were certainly the most entertaining/energetic bunch to get on stage. Incidentally, their site is www.fifthgearbluegrass.com . I noted what sounded (to me) like a surf music influence in some of their songs -- sort of Dick Dale plays bluegrass.

But I still prefer Carrie's more folk-oriented group, which performs some of her originals. Incidentally, a cut of theirs was used on the Car Talk show on public radio a while back between segments. Might as well give her site too: www.singingbiscuit.com .

Friday, October 08, 2004

I just finalized what I see as a pretty prestigious recording job-- on Nov 7, I'll be traveling to Tuskegee to 'save for posterity' an organ concert by Dr Wayne Barr. Dr Barr is organist at the Tuskegee University chapel and director of the school's renowned Golden Voices choir. I've done a couple live recitals at the university prior to this of my friend Lynda Garcia, who teaches and accompanies the choir there. Ms Garcia has had a career as a concert pianist and is a former Miss Black Oklahoma.

Incidentally, the organ recital is free to the public, Four PM Sunday, Nov 7, in the chapel. If you find your way there, I'll be the guy in the back fussing with his equipment. :)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

About the song, 'Far Away,' I posted this morning-- I had a restless night, sore back, lots on my mind. Along about two in the morning a train of thought came rumbling through and so, for the next hour, I was up and down scribbling lyrics. Then, I actually slept...therapy? Or maybe I was just too sleepy by then to stay awake longer.

This morning, I spent some time hammering out the flow, revising, etc. The first two verses are just about what I wrote in the night; the refrain and third verse saw a lot of rewriting. Then I worked on the tune. That's not something I usually do after the lyrics are complete. Just happened that way this time. My big concern was that it didn't turn out sounding like a Johnny Cash song! Too bad I can't show where the beats fall here. Well, I probably could but it would be too much hassle! It might not seem to flow right if one has only the words as a guide.

Anyway, it's more or less a finished piece. Been playing and singing it this afternoon (in A) and who knows...maybe I'll trot it out in public before too long.

Far Away

a song

I hear the distant whistle
As I lie by your side;
I wish that I could board that train
And ride, ride, ride
Far away,
Far away.
I wish that I could ride far away.

I hear the wild geese passing
Through the midnight sky;
I wish that I could be with them
and fly, fly, fly
Far away,
Far away.
I wish that I could fly far away.

And I wish that I still loved you
The way that you love me,
But I know I must leave you soon
And be
Far away.

I hear your heart beat softly,
Hear you breathing low;
If only I could kiss your brow
And go, go, go
Far away,
Far away.
I wish that I could go far away.

Stephen Brooke ©2004


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I finally got around to setting up a storefront at Lulu. Only one item so far but one must start somewhere -- I'll be putting up more images for download and perhaps other product. At reasonable prices, of course! :D

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

WRINKLE

The story of our love must be
written very large and bold,
for I find as I grow old
I haven't always my glasses with me.

I loved your kisses, never doubt,
when we were passionate and young
but now be careful with that tongue
as my teeth tend to come out.

Forgive me, should I leave your embrace
because I need must run and tinkle;
though age gives love a brand new wrinkle,
I find yours still the fairest face.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Monday, October 04, 2004

Perhaps only a Floridian could truly appreciate it, but here is a special update on electronic voting! :D

FADE

I've shut the doors of night behind me;
I'll heed no more tomorrow's song.
I've heard another tune and long
To dance where dawn will never find me.

I seek that distant steady chime,
For life's elusive melody
Holds but regretful memory;
My evening star, fade this last time.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Friday, October 01, 2004

COLORS

The colors of Summer--
of grasshoppers and of rain
and of every rocket that climbed
the skies of July--
I gathered them for you
to burn in Autumn's bonfires.

Tomorrow, they are smoke
and ashes, hanging in the still air,
cold and colorless as the morning
of the first freeze.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

not particularly about anything, just an 'autumn poem.'

Shadows on the Swanee -- i. e. my friend/musical partner Karen and I -- will be performing at the Cracker Coffee House this Saturday night. That's in the Stephen Foster Park in White Springs FL. Admission is free...but you are bound to spend some money on the home baked goodies! The show runs from 7 to 9. Y'all come by if you're in the neighborhood!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

the latest quinzaine--

The truth was behind door three.
Aren't you glad you chose
cash instead?


Stephen Brooke ©2004

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

SILENCE

Talk to me, you say, but all
that's ever done is drive away
those I loved. Talk to me.

No, I'll keep it to myself
this time. I'll keep my silent way;
walk with me if you will.

Allow my kiss to speak for me.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Monday, September 27, 2004

Why God Created Children

To those of us who have children in our lives, whether they are our own, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or students...here is something to make you chuckle. Whenever your children are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God's omnipotence did not extend to His own children.

After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve.

And the first thing he said was "DON'T!"

"Don't what?" Adam replied.

"Don't eat the forbidden fruit." God said.

"Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit? Hey Eve...We have forbidden fruit!!!!!"

"No Way!"

"Yes way!"

"Do NOT eat the fruit!" said God.

"Why"

"Because I am your Father and I said so!" God replied, wondering why He hadn't stopped creation after making the elephants. A few minutes later, God saw His children having an apple break and He was ticked! "Didn't I tell you not to eat the fruit?" God asked.

"Uh huh," Adam replied.

"Then why did you?" said the Father.

"I don't know," said Eve.

"She started it!" Adam said.

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"DID NOT!"

Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own. Thus the pattern was set and it has never changed.

BUT THERE IS REASSURANCE IN THE STORY! If you have persistently and lovingly tried to give children wisdom and they haven't taken it, don't be hard on yourself. If God had trouble raising children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you?

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT!
1. You spend the first two years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next sixteen telling them to sit down and shut up.

2. Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your own children.

3. Mothers of teens now know why some animals eat their young.

4. Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

5. The main purpose of holding children's parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own.

6. We childproofed our homes, but they are still getting in.

ADVICE FOR THE DAY: Be nice to your kids. They will choose your nursing home one day.

AND FINALLY:

IF YOU HAVE A LOT OF TENSION AND YOU GET A HEADACHE, DO WHAT IT SAYS ON THE ASPIRIN BOTTLE:

"TAKE TWO ASPIRIN" AND "KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN"!!!!!

Well, we have our power back here in my 'Big Bend' home. Less than one day. That's definitely better than Frances -- we took the direct hit this time but Jeanne was diminished by the time she reached us. I've felt some impact from all five (don't forget Bonnie) storms that have hit Florida this summer...packed up to evacuate on three of 'em but never had to, thank God, as I would have not only myself but my aged parents (90 and 85 ) to move as well.

Ah, what fun to feel this mobile home rock in the wind and watch the large, old oaks wave back and forth overhead! Fortunately, no heavy branches made contact with the roof. I will again have to remove some from the yard, as I did after Frances. Chain saw time -- I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

An older poem ~ I just heard that the Donal and Mad Max of whom I wrote here died recently within two days of each other. I missed them...and will all the more now.


Dogs and Poetry

All-day suckers, she called them;
one for each of her boys–
Donal, Mad Max, sleek Arrakis–
to gnaw when the long
Florida rains kept them indoors.

We were dogs and poetry,
she and I, dogs and poetry,
and I overlooked our mismatch
even as I did those marrow bones
scattered across her living room floor.

I’ve chewed the bones of us
long enough for all the flavor
to mix in uncertain memory
with the pleasures of some other time,
as her dogs have become my poetry.

It has stopped raining;
I want to run in the yard.

Stephen Brooke ©2002, 2004

This poem took first place in the 2003 Poetry in the Park competition in Jacksonville FL. It is also in my chapbook, Pieces of the Moon, with my pen and ink illustrations.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

"President Bush went out touting his economic record in Ohio last week. Now this is a state that lost 225,000 jobs since Bush took office. You know, if Bush wants to tout his record, he should do it somewhere where the Bush economy has actually created jobs, like India, or Thailand, or China."
-- Jay Leno

"President Bush has unveiled his first campaign commercial, highlighting all of his accomplishments in office. That's why it's a 60-second spot."
-- Jay Leno

"President Bush says he has just one question for the American voters, 'Is the rich person you're working for better off now than they were four years ago?'"
-- Jay Leno

"The election is in full-swing. Republicans have taken out round-the-clock ads promoting George Bush. Don't we already have that? It's called Fox News."
-- Craig Kilborn

"Kerry is well on his way to reaching his magic number of 2,162. That's the total number of delegates he needs to win the Democratic nomination. See for President Bush it's different, his magic number is 5. That's the number of Supreme Court justices needed to win."
-- Jay Leno

"There was a scare in Washington when a man climbed over the White House wall and was arrested. This marks the first time a person has gotten into the White House unlawfully since President Bush."
-- David Letterman

Bush admitted that his prewar intelligence wasn't what it should have been. We knew that when we elected him!"
-- Jay Leno

"A new poll says that if the election were held today, John Kerry would beat President Bush by a double digit margin. The White House is so worried about this, they're now thinking of moving up the capture of Osama Bin Laden
to next month."
-- Jay Leno

"The White House is now backtracking from its prediction that 2.6 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. this year. They say they were off by roughly 2.6 million jobs."
-- Jay Leno

"In Louisiana, President Bush met with over 15,000 National Guard troops. Here's the weird part, nobody remembers seeing him there."
-- Craig Kilborn

"President Bush said he was 'troubled' by gay people getting married in San Francisco. He said on important issues like this the people should make the decision, not judges. Unless, of course, we're choosing a president -- then he prefers judges."
-- Jay Leno

"The White House has now released military documents that they say prove George Bush met his requirements for the National Guard. Big deal, we've got documents that prove Al Gore won the election."
-- Jay Leno

"There was an embarrassing moment in the White House earlier today. They were looking around while searching for George Bush's military records. They actually found some old Al Gore ballots."
-- David Letterman

"The big story now is that President Bush is coming under attack for his service in the National Guard. The commanding officers can't remember seeing Bush between May and October of '72. President Bush said, 'Remember me? I'm the drunk guy.'"
-- Jay Leno

"On 'Meet the Press' yesterday President Bush was asked what he would do if he lost the election and Bush said, 'Phhh, you mean like last time?'"
-- Jay Leno

"This week, both John Kerry and Wesley Clark are making campaign appearances with the guys who saved their lives in Vietnam. Meanwhile President Bush is campaigning with a guy that once took a math test for him."
-- Conan O'Brien

"President Bush released his new $2.4 trillion federal budget. It has two parts: smoke and mirrors."
-- Jay Leno

"It's weird watching President Bush struggle with excuses for why we went to war. As he struggles, it reminds us all what a terrific liar Bill Clinton really was."
-- Craig Kilborn

"As you know President Bush gave his State of the Union Address, interrupted 70 times by applause and 45 times by really big words."
-- Jay Leno

"President Bush said that American workers will need new skills to get the new jobs in the 21st century. Some of the skills they're going to need are Spanish, Chinese, and Korean, because that's where the jobs went."
-- Jay Leno

"Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has written a book about his years with the Bush Administration. He said that President Bush, while at cabinet meetings, is disengaged; he's uninformed; distracted; he's passive; and the Democrats are saying to themselves, "How can we possibly beat this guy?"
-- David Letterman

The new Prime Minister of Spain has called the war in Iraq a disaster, and plans to bring his troops home as soon as possible. In fact, President Bush is so upset at Spain that he is now threatening to close down the border between Spain and the U.S.
-- Jay Leno

"Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has unveiled a new color-code system to warn the public about different states of danger. Red is the highest state of alert, and it means that Dick Cheney is about to eat a mozzarella stick."
-- Conan O'Brien

"Dick Cheney finally responded today to demands that he reveal the details of the Enron meetings. This is what he said: he met with unnamed people, from unspecified companies, for an indeterminate amount of time at an undisclosed location. Thank God he cleared that up."
-- Jay Leno

"Plans are being discussed as to who will replace Dick Cheney if he has to resign for health reasons. It's not easy for President Bush, he can't just name a replacement. He would first have to be confirmed by the oil, gas and power companies."
-- Jay Leno

"President Bush spoke briefly to reporters before playing a round of golf in Crawford, Texas, earlier today. This raises the question: "Shouldn't the guy who is really running the country and who has had, like, 20 heart attacks be taking the vacation?"
-- Craig Kilborn

"President Bush played golf yesterday, and I understand Vice President Dick Cheney also got in a couple of strokes."
-- Jay Leno

"While speaking to conservationists this week, Dick Cheney made it clear that he plans to deal with the rising gas prices by drilling in our federal wildlife refuge in Alaska. Cheney tried to sway his opponents, saying, 'Trust me, there's enough oil up there to last us the rest of my natural life.'"
-- Tina Fey, on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

Back in 2000, a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true!"
-- James Carville

a tanka~

a memory
sleeps at my side
each night

I whisper your name
expecting no answer

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Friday, September 17, 2004

Note: Adult material~

LEFT, RIGHT?

I truly can not choose the breast,
right or left, that I like best.
There they rest,
side by side;
must I run a lengthy test
ere I decide?

That's within my abilities.
I'll start with a simple squeeze,
if you please,
and from there
I may take further liberties
as I compare.

I'll take my time, no need for haste,
and not until my tongue has traced
each nipple graced
with your sweet wine
shall I take a fuller taste
of the divine.

But in the end, I am resigned--
I never will make up my mind,
for I find
that I am loathe
to choose, as we lie intertwined;
I like them both!

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Yeah, half-erotic, half-comic. Pretty normal for me...I can't help making jokes while making love.

A voice of Florida folk music lost to cancer

(from the St Pete Times)

By BETSY BOLGER-PAULET, Times Staff Writer Published September 17, 2004

Ann Thomas, an icon among followers of a local folk style called Florida Music, died shortly after midnight Thursday (Sept. 16, 2004) at her home in Lake Wales.The 58-year-old professional storyteller and master librarian waged a two-year battle against lymphoma, working almost to the end.In 2002, Mrs. Thomas, along with her singer-songwriter husband and musical partner, Frank Thomas, received the Jillian Prescott Inaugural History Award under the category of Florida balladeers. Word of her passing spread fast. By 4 a.m., fans and friends were streaming into the Thomas' modest cracker home among the oaks and orange groves of rural Lake Wales."She had a big heart, and she always sang from her heart. With her husband, Ann Thomas will go down in the annals of Florida culture," Stetson Kennedy, author and civil rights activist, said of his longtime friend.Ron Litschauer, a singer-songwriter and music producer from West Palm Beach and a friend since the late 1980s, recorded the Thomas' last project, Just Another Day in the Life of a Florida Cracker. He called her "a poet, a teacher, a mentor to just about everybody in the Florida folk community. It is a huge loss."Mary Anne Dinella, a member of the Southwind musical group and Mrs. Thomas' friend since 1975, remembered her sense of humor."She had that kind of lovable irascibility. And very frank. If you didn't want to know the answer, then you didn't want to ask Ann," she said.Mrs. Thomas' voice was a fixture on WMNF-88.5 FM, where she introduced a weekly radio program with these words: "Welcome to Songs of Florida, with your hosts Frank and Ann Thomas."The Thomases recorded the radio show, which introduced many Florida songwriters to the world, for 11 years in their back yard in the Tiger Creek Forest east of Lake Wales as WMNF producers worked under the shelter of the live oak hammock.In January 2002, Mrs. Thomas gave her last stage performance with her husband at the Pinellas Folk Festival.Her career was her work as the children's librarian at the Lake Wales Public Library.Born in Coral Gables, Mrs. Thomas grew up in Lakeland and spent most of her life in Florida.Ann and Frank Thomas met in 1978 at Carl Allen's Catfish Restaurant in Lake Wales. They married and adopted a son.She co-hosted the Gazebo Stage annually at the Florida Folk Festival, a venue that showcases Florida songwriters."We like to slip up on a folk's blind side and educate them a little - about Florida," she once said. "It's about dedication, about promoting Florida music and trying to preserve parts of the state that haven't already been wiped out by theme parks, strip centers, outlet stores."Mrs. Thomas prepared her own memorial service, scheduled at 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Marion Nelson Funeral Home, 454 South Buckmoore Road, Lake Wales. Donations may be made to the Lake Wales Public Library Association Children's Services, 290 Cypress Garden Lane, Lake Wales.

I never really got to know Ann -- she was already retreating from the public eye by the time I met Frank a couple years ago. ~SB

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

What kind of thinker are you? To find out, go here.

A bit to my surprise, I came out as a "musical thinker." In fact, I took the quiz twice to make sure!

Monday, September 13, 2004

PICKLES

Two AM,
five pickles
in a Krystal carton.
That's four burgers--
one had doubles.

Not that it matters,
I don't eat them anyway.
No more chili, but maybe
a refill on coffee.
De-caf, this time;

It is Two AM,
after all
(I said that, didn't I?),
and I've already had enough
to make my hands shake

and I've read all the paper
and there won't be another
for two hours
or so.
I could drive out I-40

toward Lebanon
(they really do have cedars there)
and catch a few hours sleep
in the rest area.
Try to catch a few hours

with parking lot lights
shining in my van windows
and my mind full
of the night
and tomorrow.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

A reminiscence of late nights in Nashville

Friday, September 10, 2004

What happens if you play blues music backwards?
Your wife returns to you, your dog comes back to life, and you get out of prison.

What does it say on a blues singer's tombstone?
"I didn't wake up this morning..."
For a plethora of musician jokes, try this site

Thursday, September 09, 2004

A Press Release:

Four poems by Stephen Brooke have been selected to appear in the upcoming Issue V of Songs of Innocence.

S of I is a literary print magazine with an emphasis on the Romantic Movement and style, that has published highly regarded Formalist poets such as Annie Finch in the past. The next edition should appear in late Autumn.

For more info on the publication, one can write:
Michael Pendragon, Editor
Pendragonian Publications
P O Box 719, Radio City Station
New York, NY 10101-0719

It's not the most prestigious of mags but a publishing credit is a publishing credit, especially in an honest-to-goodness print magazine. The poems are older pieces, not particularly close to my current style.

~SB

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

ILLUSION

Magician, illusionist, what's up your sleeve?
You think you can fool me? You think I'll believe?
Magician, bedazzler, I know all the tricks;
I'm no simpleton, I'm no hick from the sticks.

I'll see through you yet, oh, I'll figure you out;
You want somthing from me-- of that I've no doubt!
Magician, concealer of rabbit and dove,
You won't fool me with the illusion called love.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

This is intended (obviously, I hope) quite tongue in cheek, though there are those who see ulterior motives in everything. It is also an exercise in triple meter.

The last bands of rain and wind from Frances are passing through this morning. She's someone else's problem now; fortunately, there was no real damage at our place, though a quite large oak limb is across the front lawn. I don't think I want to go through another storm like that here in a mobile home beneath old trees!

I watched 'Good Will Hunting' last night. Very good movie; maybe not great but very good and the sort that appeals to me. Enough so that I have a copy of the screen play...speaking of which, I think I will quote a few lines. This is from one of the scenes with Sean (Robin Williams) , the psychologist, speaking to Will (Ben Affleck -- who cowrote the script with Matt Damon on cross-country car trips) about his deceased wife (and falling in love with someone in general):

"People call these things imperfections, Will. It just who we are. And we get to choose who we're going to let into our own weird little worlds. You're not perfect. And let me save you the suspense-- this girl you met isn't, either. The question is whether you're perfect for each other."

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I make a poor yard-stick
but I've no other
to measure the universe:
it is bigger than me
and smaller than god.
~SB


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

My Companion ~ part 2

So, you have returned, my old companion.
I thought you long gone. Once you spoke
to me in the sleepless dark, offering rest.

Once I listened; yes, I listened all
too eagerly. I'll walk with you again,
a mile or two; then with polite regret,

turn aside. Your house is not mine
nor can I enter the room you keep ready.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A SONG FOR TOMORROW

Tomorrow is a song I wrote for you.
To whom should I now sing? The tune is lost;
it echoes in my deserts, empty places
between desire and the waning moon.

Bring me my guitar, a glass of wine,
and yesterday will find its melody.
I'll fill this night with stars a while, forgetting
I have no song, no music for tomorrow.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Two pieces in a row in iambic pentameter. It seems suitable to 'sad' poetry of this sort; a solid structure lends impact to what otherwise might come off as just more whiny words -- something we all read far too much of on line!

REASONS

We had our reasons, though not good ones, really--
they never are. You know the ones I mean;
you've whispered them each secret night and seek
no others now. Excuses hurt far less
that truths, our truths that failed to make us free.
I'll say no more but in the hidden book
of my heart all these things are written down.
Take it from its dusty shelf some day,
remembering again we had our reasons.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Sunday, August 29, 2004

moonlight
through half-closed blinds~
my prison bars

SB

Monday, August 23, 2004

A quote:

"Using the Internet is like walking down the street in New York City. Most of the time, you'll have no problems. But once in a while, somebody will steal your wallet, eavesdrop on your conversations, or abduct you and beat you senseless." ~Annalee Newitz

from her regular column at Alternet.com

WINDOWS

a sijo

This house we built together
has now grown very dark.

I can dwell in these rooms no longer
without your familiar light.

The windows are but painted scenes
I hung here long ago.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Sunday, August 22, 2004

DREAMER

When did you waken, dreamer?
Your memory sings nonsense
in each window I pass.

Dreamer, walk with me.
These streets are whispering
tunes you have not heard.

In the dark, my dreamer.
In the dark, they sing
of endless sleep and mirrors

that hold your memory.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

This is one of those poems that arose from words-- read what you will into it. It is not meaningless (it holds plenty of meaning for me) but it has no explicit message. "Walk with me" and see what you discover.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I have built my walls very high.
Would I break something
if I jump?
Just a little quinzaine. Haven't been very inspired to write lately, too busy with the music, etc.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

SHOW

Tonight holds the promise of storm; electric incense burns the breeze.

What voices murmur, basso, beyond the distant footlights of my horizon?

It is an old song, this tune that flickers in overture to the tempest.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

I do not consider this a 'true' sijo though it is in somewhat the form of one. The tone is not right, the 'twist' is not really there at the beginning of the third line. The lines do not flow properly either and could be divided as easily (or more easily) into three parts as into two. I worked on this idea most of the past week and finally decided it might be best in this format -- without at least some of the concept of a sijo as my pattern, I could find no direction for the poem.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The new act debuts tomorrow night. My friend Karen Polka and I have been practicing a while (not nearly enough, due to the fact that we live 95 miles apart) and will hit the Cracker Coffeehouse open mike in White Springs on Saturday evening. I'm an old regular there, of course, as a solo performer and, if there aren't many acts there, may be called upon to do a second set on my own. Karen and I -- who have named our duo 'Shadows on the Swanee -- do not have nearly enough material worked up to do more than one turn at the mike.

Actually, only three songs: Shenandoah, You Are My Sunshine, and Happy Together (yes, the old Turtles song). Not in my best keys, either; one must compromise. Sunshine, for instance, I prefer to sing high, in D, but I'll be doing it in A with Ms Polka singing harmony.

Ha, for a long time I could not sing that song. It was 'Sue's song' -- her family, and I, called her 'Sunshine.' I would literally get tears in my eyes when I tried to perform it. Especially in that the words seemed all too appropriate a while back: 'you have shattered all my dreams.' Oops, I've a little moisture in my eyes right now. Steve is far too sentimental.

Anyway, the moment of truth approaches. We'll see how things go and then next Saturday (Aug 14) we start our regular gig hosting an open mike in Thomasville GA. More on that later...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

River

This river marks my border;
its voice is umber depth
and whispers. Go no further,
it tells me. Here you end.

My lands encompass leagues
of day-- a pilgrim's realm,
a kingdom of the sun.
I covet those that lie

beyond the flood. I seek
those countries of the moon,
the silvered, silent stars,
the sea at river's end.

This river marks my border;
no, I shall not cross over
today. I have my realm,
my kingdom of the sun.

~Stephen Brooke ©2004

This poem, although it ended up as ( I think! ) a musing on mortality, grew out of memories of the river that flows near my friend Sherrie's home.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Starve
 
Your love is not enough--
dreams are my daily bread.
You fill me with yourself;
you quench my deepest thirsts

and yet, in time, I starve.
Starve as a drunkard does
who craves only his bottle.
Starve as the junkie, wasting,

forgetful of desire
that can sustain a life,
of appetite, of lust
for heaven's very stars.

Your love is not enough--
tomorrow I would hunger.

  ~Stephen Brooke ©2004

Some think that love is all they need to be happy. Maybe some are right, but I've been thinking some serious thoughts and I know it would never be enough for me. My work is what makes me happiest...and love? It is the drink to wash down that satisfying meal of accomplishment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Drapes and Paint
 
It's the same room-- I can tell.
The look has changed, the furniture moved
but I've paced off the familiar length,
measured the width, and know my cell.
Yes, yes, I know it too well,
windows, doors, that open only
onto empty mirrors and I
have no existence beyond this spell.
 
Or this room. I built it,  you know,
for others to decorate. They say,
"Here's something new," "Here's someone new."
But it's the same: they come, they go.
It's always the same. No room to grow,
no room except this room; now you
come carrying bags and say that all
is changed because you wish it so.
 
Drapes and paint won't do; you should
have brought a hammer if you understood.
 
Stephen Brooke ©2004
 
Been watchin' too much Home and Garden TV, I reckons...
 

Friday, July 16, 2004

deeper
 
such tides
such tides
carry me
 
on the breath
of the moon
 
I drown
in this sky
deeper than oceans
 
Stephen Brooke ©2004
 
Although in the form of a renga -- sort of -- I make no attempt to follow any strictures associated with Japanese poetry.
 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Hidden

I have lied to the moon,
telling her I have no love,
none kept hidden away.

I have lied to myself,
pretending I knew your heart
when I knew not my own.

I have lied to you and fear
now to seek the truth
your heart has hidden from the moon.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Lines kept coming to me after I went to bed last night...had to keep switching the lamp on and off until I was pretty much finished with this poem.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Jewels

I'll hang the moon from a silver chain
to wear beside your heart,
And fashion ear rings of the rain
that drip in subtle art
Against the midnight of your hair
and dawning of your skin--
A glowing, flushing morning fair
with hints of flame within.

I'll set the sun in a ring of gold
to place upon your hand
And kiss your fingers, making bold
but making no demand;
No, only asking for your love,
that you be mine and stay
Each night of gem-starred sky above,
each jeweled golden day.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ship

It is my ship, this poetry,
the ship I sail upon a sea
of words. I seek your unknown lands,
uncharted golden virgin sands
that swim along the edge of dream.
How often has some distant gleam
ensorcelled me? Mirage and mist--
the hidden realms of alchemist
or wizard lie a league beyond
horizons where tomorrow dawned.
Ah, yes, such vision fades and fails
yet new winds rise to fill the sails
of this, my ship, my poetry,
to voyage in discovery.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Alleluia

It is the time of hurting,
that harvest we always knew
must follow such a planting--
beneath the first full moon
of Spring, our crop was sown.
No matter, no matter; you must
hurt me as I will you,
for giving and forgiving
have their parts. Each dawn
whispers of the day
to come, our redemption.
Each dawn sings alleluia.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Typically, I slip into mystical/religious symbolism. I guess that's just part of my makeup.

Friday, June 25, 2004

I build ships
in the desert
waiting for rain

it is in your hands
if you open them

Stephen Brooke ©2004

A tanka...at least I'd call it one.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Twenty-Thousand

I don't mind that God created
time; only that He made
man aware of its steady step
down the road to oblivion.

Twenty-thousand days: is that
enough? Let's roll some dice, Lord,
double or nothing. What have I
got to lose, after all?

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Just figured out I would reach the twenty-thousand day mark next year and it started me poeticizing.

The Magician

Not one spell remains.
I have used all my magic
in the amusement of children
and idlers. They've filled my pockets
with pennies and applause,
not enough to ever buy
back a single enchantment.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Okay, so I've been depressed and introspective lately...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

State of the Union?

George W. Bush meets with the Queen of England. He asks her, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you can give to me?"

"Well," says the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people."

Bush frowns. "But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?"

The Queen takes a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy. You just ask them to answer an intelligence riddle."

The Queen pushes a button on her intercom. "Please send Tony Blair in here, would you?"

Tony Blair walks into the room. "Yes, your Highness?"

The Queen smiles. "Answer me this, please, Tony. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?"

Without pausing for a moment, Tony Blair answers, "That would be me."

"Yes! Very good," says the Queen.

Back at the White House, Bush asks to speak with vice president Dick Cheney. "Dick, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," says the vice president. "Let me get back to you on that one."

Dick Cheney goes to his advisors and asks every one, but none can give him an answer. Finally, he ends up in the men's room and recognizes Colin Powell's shoes in the next stall.

Dick shouts, "Colin! Can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it's not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"

Colin Powell yells back, "That's easy. It's me!"

Dick Cheney smiles. "Thanks!"

Cheney goes back to the Oval Office and to speak with Bush. "Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Colin Powell."

Bush gets up, stomps over to Dick Cheney, and angrily yells into his face, "No, you idiot! It's Tony Blair!"

Thursday, June 10, 2004

We wished upon the same star.
Will I receive all
you asked for?

~another quinzaine...this started as a senryu that came into my head as I was out mowing the lawn. It went something like this...

two dreamers~
each wishes upon
the others star

or maybe...

two dreamers
wish upon
each others star

Not sure which I prefer or if I prefer either! They both feel a tad trite. That is why it ended up morphing into the quinzaine form.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Vanilla

What flavors do you have?
Today was vanilla and so
was most of last week;
isn’t there something else
back there? Look in the bottom
of the freezer for me.
Any tooty-fruity or mocha?
No, no, not rocky road –
the way is hard enough
as it is. I’d rather
have another serving
of plain vanilla now.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

I had ice cream on my mind a couple days ago...in this weather that happens a lot! Only vanilla in the freezer and it got me to thinking and free-associating and all that poetic stuff.

Exile

Each night, lest memory fade,
I whisper your name three times --
my empty incantation,
long since grown meaningless.

This, the land of exile,
allows us no regret;
we have burnt our ships
in fear of the dark.

We are the fruit that falls
too soon and never ripens,
that holds its hard and lifeless
heart until all decays.

Each night, lest memory fade,
my mother whispers my name.
Does she remember the face
that once wore the word?

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Fantasy and free-association and symbols and all that. Trimeter, too.

Monday, June 07, 2004

PRAYER

She was my litany, her name
The only prayer my heart would speak;
The only heaven I could seek
Lay in her power to reclaim
This soul.
What toll
Is paid the ferryman to cross
His water, once more join the living?
In water lies the great forgiving,
The baptism to wash all dross
Away.
Why stay
Among these shades? They grow more dim,
More empty with each torment they
Inflict upon themselves. I pray,
I sing, to Love in hopeful hymn:
Deliver me,
Deliver me
From yesterday.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

More a playing with form than a piece actually about anyone specifically. No, it is definitely not about the former long-term GF, although I suppose I borrowed some of the ideas and feelings expressed from that part of my heart. And some from more recently.

Other news in the Lad's life: the art show on Saturday was so-so. Poorly organized, small crowds, but nice people. They'll learn...I hope! I passed out more business cards than at some very large shows. One never knows what may come from a bit of simple promotion like that. Some of my note cards sold, so my costs were partially defrayed. I may or may not try to do a show on Labor Day weekend in the same general area, but a little closer to Gainesville.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Trojan Quinzaine

Achilles sulked in his tent.
Should he have taken
more Zoloft?

Was our Greek hero manic-depressive? He certainly seems like it-- out happily hacking away at the Trojans one moment, moping in his tent the next.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Warts

Warts and all, they say,
warts and all-- that's what
I want you to see.
Not that guy who dons
shining armor each
day to hide himself.
Mine is rusty; I've
cast my shields aside.
Not the dream come true
that will fade in time,
for life is best lived
with eyes opened wide.
We might see tomorrow,
warts and all, can be
truly beautiful.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Another Florida Folk Festival has come and gone -- this was my fourth time to attend but the 52nd year for the festival. This is the grandmother of all folk festivals!

The first time I went up to White Springs, it was with my long-term GF, Sue. All else aside, I'll always be grateful to her for introducing me to the event and the folk scene in these parts. I found me a musical home and I'm not intending to move out.

The acts were pretty good -- a lot of familiar Florida faces, of course, favorites of mine such as Bettina Makley, Lucky Mud, Tampa Blue, and some many others. Some excellent headliners were there as well, like Spider John Koerner and the one and only Arlo Guthrie. His show was really great and I mean that!

Very hot and dry here over the weekend. It will wring one out pretty quickly. The Suwannee is WAY down. Good thing there was a plentiful supply of root beer floats and strawberry lemonade close at hand.

In other musical news...I and my friend Karen are working up a duo act we hope to trot out at an open mike or two before long. We've decided fairly certainly on the name 'Shadows on the Suwanee.' That's from the name of an old Johnny Burke song. And believe it or not, Miss Karen actually got me out on the dance floor at the festival...Steve does NOT dance. Much less, swing dance!

Monday, May 31, 2004

The Lad is back from his weekend of Florida Folk Festival frolicking. And he is plumb frolicked out. I'll try to write about it later -- I will say that Arlo Guthrie was fabulous -- but today I have errands to run and chores to catch up on and maybe a nap if I can fit it in. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Well, the Big Weekend is here, the 52nd Annual Florida Folk Festival, running Fri thru Sun, 12 stages/workshops/jam tents plus all the other displays and food vendors and craftsmen and old friends and new ones too, I hope. White Springs, home of the Stephen Foster state park wish hosts the festival, is only a little over an hour from my home, an easy enough daily drive. Were circumstances different, i.e. I didn't have my duties here, I would try to camp there with all the performers and volunteers.

Naturally, I would hope to be one of the former rather than the latter. I must apply for a performance slot next year. If I and my friend Karen ever get our act together we could also apply as a duo and maybe she could as a single. That gives three shots at acceptance right there! This will be her first trip there; she had just moved south a little over a year ago and didn't know this was held in her backyard.

But then, neither did I until my former LTR, Sue, introduced me to the folk scene. Wouldn't be surprised if I bumped into the Suester this weekend. Not too hard, I hope! But I'd rather be seeing some of the friends I've made over the past three years or so, the Makley family, Carl Wade and Barb Schaefer, ET Morris, the energetic (and pregnant, I hear) Shana Banana, and so many others. It's going to be a great weekend!

Bandages

Bandages-- that's what we are,
you know, the bandages on each other's
heart. And if we stop the bleeding
for a while, is that so bad?

Ah, but you will find, too soon,
all too soon, that I must stab
myself again and yet again.
There is no cure in your kisses--

only these moments of forgetting.
You will learn this and who, then,
will bandage my fresh wounds?

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Reach

All my dreams, stacked up,
never reach far enough.
The star atop the Christmas
tree, when I was small,

sang beyond my grasp.
My heart yearned to hold,
to keep it for myself--
so many other stars since,

so many elusive stars.
My arms and my dreams
have grown tired; I'll reach
so far no more...ha,

until tomorrow night
when more stars fill my skies.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Happy Meals

If only happiness came in paper
wrappers from McDonalds,
'Happy Meals' for our souls--
If only happiness was as easy
to find as the nearest drive-up
window with bags of hot
fast-food bliss and little
packages of ketchup.
But we never catch up, do we?
Happiness is the wild animal
our forebears pursued and speared
with the joy of their blood.
Roses on the snow,
Roses on the snow--
We no longer hunt that beast,
no longer wait, hidden
where it wanders, where it feeds.
We buy empty bags
and go to bed hungry.
Hungry.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

life is that itch
in the middle of our back
we can not reach
on our own~


A few minutes ago I wrote that as a response to a post in my writing group at Yahoo (link is to the right, drop by if you wish). It was just off the top of my head but, you know, it's true. I tried to scratch my own back for too many years.

Let's forget the fact that I'm limber AND have long arms and can physically reach anyplace on my body! It's a metaphor, folks! :D

Wanna know yer mob nickname? Go to:
http://www.rickmelfi.com/sopranos.html

Mine wuz the Hobo Clown...how'd dey know?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

some notes toward a song of the folkie persuasion--

Miles and Years

From here to there
Is the length of a road,
Miles and years,
Miles and years;

All we can carry
Is the weight of our load,
Miles and years
to go.


From dawn to dusk
Is the span of a day,
Miles and years,
Miles and years;

And birth to death
Measures our way,
Miles and years
to go.


From lover to lover,
From husband to wife,
Miles and years,
Miles and years;

From a man to a woman
Is the distance of life,
Miles and years,
Miles and years,
Miles and years
to go.


Stephen Brooke ©2004

Friday, May 21, 2004

Simpler

(a cinquain)

Next time
we fall in love,
why not with each other?
It would make everything so much
simpler.

Stuck in this holding pattern.
Is it time to land
somewhere else?

yeah, another quinzaine -SB

Thursday, May 20, 2004

This was posted at a message board I frequent and I had to share it--

Who's on First?

ABBOT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den, and I'm thinking about buying a computer.

ABBOT: Mac?

COSTELLO: No, the names Lou

ABBOT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOT: Mac?

COSTELLO: I told you, my names Lou

ABBOT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOT: Do you want a computer with windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look in the windows?

ABBOT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOT: Software for windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?

ABBOT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?

ABBOT: Yes.

COSTELLO: For my office?

ABBOT: Yes

COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOT: Office.

COSTELLO:.Yes, for my office!

ABBOT: I recommend office with windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office and it has windows! OK, lets just say, I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOT: word.

COSTELLO: what word?

ABBOT: word in office.

COSTELLO: the only word in office is office.

ABBOT: the word in office for windows.

COSTELLO: which word in office for windows?

ABBOT: the word you get when you click the blue w

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue w if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?

ABBOT: yes, you want real one.

COSTELLO: maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. what I watch is none of your business. just tell me what I need!

ABBOT: real one.

COSTELLO: if its a long movie I also want to see reel 2,3&4. can I watch them?

ABBOT: of course.

COSTELLO: great, with what?

ABBOT: real one.

COSTELLO; OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOT: you click the blue 1

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOT: the blue 1.

COSTELLO: is that different from the blue w?

ABBOT: the blue 1 is Realone and the blue w is word.

COSTELLO: what word?

ABBOT: the word in office for windows.

COSTELLO: but there's three words in office for windows!

ABBOT: no, just one. but its the most popular word in the world.

COSTELLO: it is?

ABBOT: yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other words out there.

COSTELLO: and that word is real one?

ABBOT: real one has nothing to do with word. real one isn't even part of office.

COSTELLO: stop! Don't start that again. what about financial book keeping you have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOT: money.

COSTELLO: that's right. What do you have?

ABBOT: money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOT: it comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: what's bundled to my computer?

ABBOT: money

COSTELLO: money comes with my computer?

ABBOT: yes. no extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOT: one copy

COSTELLO: isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy money.

COSTELLO: they can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOT: why not, they own it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Prefer

I grew tired, that's all;
tired of waiting, of trying
to guess. Only in novels
do lovers wait forever.

Neither of us would ask
that of the other. Should we
have? Might a word
or two have changed it all?

No, I would prefer
to believe it makes no difference.
I would prefer to think
we were not meant to be

and sleep in peace, tonight.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

This prosey little poem is not about nor addressed to anyone in particular; it was just a thought about how things sometimes go in this world. ~SB

I am only a semi-fan of the Braves, at best, but I had to stay up and watch them last night. Watch them lose, that is, as Randy Johnson pitched a perfect game. Wowzers, he was truly overpowering. Over the years, I've tended to follow more finesse-oriented pitchers (e.g. Maddux). I appreciate guys who may not have the physical gifts of a Johnson...but that was beautiful to watch.

Ha-ha, I wonder how many times Randy Johnson has been described as 'beautiful!'

Sunday, May 16, 2004

A pair of quinzaines:

I have all new lies for you.
Could you make some up
just for me?

* * *

My dreams are sinking balloons.
Should I have put in
more hot air?

Saturday, May 15, 2004

It's been a long time since I've done music as anything other than a single performer, playing my guitar and singing as a quasi-folk musician (the ubiquitous and much-dreaded singer-songwriter, I'm afraid). Once upon a time, I dabbled in the band scene, mostly as singer. Indeed, I sang long before I ever picked up a guitar and learned to play.

I've been wanting to get back into a group dynamic of some sort; if nothing else, it will free up the playing element. Lately, I've been jamming and sharing songs with a lady and we've decided to give performing a try. Some folk, some country, some soft pop -- an eclectic act that will go over well with the average crowd. Preferably, with a good bit of humor and plenty of opportunity for me to ham it up.

Now all we need -- besides lots of practice -- is a name!

I will still be on the lookout for other possibilities...bands, duos, folk-punk, alt-country, blues, whatever.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Mortgage

Yesterday grows longer and tomorrow
far too short. I've no more time to borrow
and soon all my debts will be past due;
Life's a mortgage none of us renew.

We move from these houses, leave behind
all our suit-cases, packed with a blind
eye to death's reality. There's no
luggage carried with us where we go.

What I have, I give to you my friends;
Share it, pass it on, before life ends.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

An exercise in rhyme, mostly, brought on by a few remarks in a writing group. I find this sort of thing almost too easy; facile language, facile thoughts.

Dogs and Cats
two quotes:

'One cat just leads to another.' Ernest Hemingway

'Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.' Groucho Marx

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Wheeee-hooooo! I've finally started painting again. I knew it would just be a matter of making a start. Now I won't feel that pang of guilt when I tell people I'm an artist!

I created a page for my haibun, Tuskegee, with some photos I snapped while I was there. The pic of Ms Garcia is from the university website -- mine didn't come out! It's at a Tripod site. Please excuse the pop-ups and such, they just get worse and worse there. Go to Peripheral Vision.

Hee, hee, I thought my new old van was breaking down on me already...was dead when I tried to crank it yesterday. I assumed a bad battery, at best, and put a charger on it to see what I could do.

Well....four AM and I need to get up for a moment, look out the window and see the overhead lights blazing away inside the van. If they'd been running for a week, it's no wonder the battery was drained! I'll get the charger turned back on and should be good as used in no time. But I'll take jumper cables with me, just in case...

I need to figure out all the buttons in that Chrysler so I know what turns on what. Now, I feel kinda dumb but a whole lot happier! :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Kneads

No machine for me:
I must feel the bread
in my hands, close
my eyes and caress it,
make love with just
the right force
and the right tenderness.
And yes, I need to knead
with the yeast of four hours
rising, the sweet essence,
rising about me, a promise
of the feast to come
as the kitchen cools,
later. I do not count
the minutes, do not
watch the clock, only
feel when the time is right
to let go, to let rest.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

Yeah, this is bread baking day at Steve's place

It's two in the morning, God.
Can't you talk to me
tomorrow?

It wasn't really two when I jotted down this quinzaine, just a little after eleven. and I saved it for morning in that I'd already turned off the PC for the night -- I rarely write at the keyboard, almost always a pencil and paper person.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Rock

This rock,
heavy, insensate,
has lodged where once
I kept a heart.
It is less the burden
than that damaged organ,
a trouble so long.
Now I need only carry
a rock.

Stephen Brooke ©2004

just some late night first-draft jottings. off to bed...

Friday, May 07, 2004

A quinzaine--

The actor became his role.
Should he find a new
part to play?

I was introduced to the quinzaine form a couple years ago (more or less) by my very good friend Sherrie. Since then I've become a bit of a quinzainiac. I find it much more suited to my personality than haiku and other short form poetry.

Oh, I decided to name the new van 'Pearl.' I have to name things. All my guitars have names. Except the newest one; just can't think of one that's appropriate but I know she will name herself someday.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Lad finally has wheels again! Some may know that The Shadow, my beloved Thunderbird, met an untimely end a few months ago when someone pulled right out in front of me on the highway. I guess Shadows are hard to see! And I am thankful that no one (not least, myself) was injured.

Well, I almost bought a new Bird. A new old one, that is, not one of the recent two-seaters. Not that I wouldn't like to have one! But instead, I found a nice mini-van...yeah, that's a bit of a change. It's a Chrysler Town and Country, full luxury version. It should be very nice for traveling as well as for transporting my father.

Explanation for those who don't know about that situation: I am in a care-giver role for my 90 year old dad, who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from dementia. As long as I can take care of him, he will NOT go to a nursing home. If he had, I doubt he would be alive now. Yeah, they do their best there but they can't give him the attention I can and there is always an increased risk of picking up infections in those institutions. This van will be a much better way to get him around than trying to get him in the front seat of my work truck.

It's purty...white with gold and silver trim and wheels. Very classy. I've long lusted for one of those classy white Les Paul electric guitars with the gold hardware. I guess this will have to fill that desire for now! :)

But it needs a name...