adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, December 31, 2005

DARK-SKINNED WOMAN

I

She walks my dreams,
the dark-skinned woman.
She walks in grace

and I must follow.
Oh, for some it will be
breasts, for others blondes;

I have loved them all
and regret none. Yet,
she walks in grace.

II

Fitted dress, stockings:
other girls didn’t
board a school bus

as though headed
to a night club. Sophisticated
lady-in-training,

might I see you now
among the showy
Sunday morning hats?

III

Blame it on Michelle,
ma belle, Uhura herself
boldly going where I

could all too readily imagine.
Hey, I was a teenager
with my own mission

and it had better not take
me five years to seek out
some new worlds.

IV

Brown girl with brown baby
and San Juan street ways
that would never be mine,

how came this mariposa
to my garden? I had
no nets to hold you.

Your smile was the sun;
your eyes told the secrets
of Caribbean depths.

V

Did I but seek
you, the woman
who walks my dreams?

You walk in grace,
my dark-skinned woman,
and the grace of God

walks with you
and His grace follows me.
Yes, all my days.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

I admit, I've always had a bit of a 'thing' for black women. In part, I'm addressing that fact seriously here and in part I'm poking a little fun at myself.

Maybe I should have this kind of protection:
When Chihuahuas Attack!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

FORGE

I have held a destiny
forged in the smithies
of the heart, written
our love in hammer
and smoke and sinew.
I have bent myself double
with the labor. I have
burnt myself hollow.

So I’ve tempered fate;
so I’ve dreamed a future
dancing on my hearths.
And all the while
you grow like a rose
from the hand of God.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

I should've been in bed but this poem wouldn't let me sleep.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

a quote:

"The President needs to come up with an exit strategy to get his head out of his ass." ~ Bill Maher

Quite a few interesting pictures of post-Katrina New Orleans here, taken by that bass-playing goddess, Greta Brinkman.

Merry Christmas to All my Friends

The picture is of the tree-lighting ceremony at the Christmas Concert at Tuskegee University -- the choir had just come on stage in a candlelight procession (singing Do You Hear What I Hear).

I've finally found a little time to work on editing my recording of the concert! It's sounding pretty good. A couple more pictures from that night are below:



Sunday, December 18, 2005

USED TO BE

Semi-famous
or used to be --
the kids around town
knew the name.

My name.
Who remembers it
now? Shades of highschool
anonymity,

invisibility,
nobody-ness --
Anyone care to buy
a used guitar?

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Your Christmas is Most Like: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

You can't really get into the Christmas spirit...
But it usually gets to you by the end of the holiday.

I kept aiming for your heart.
Did I shoot myself
in the foot?

Stephen Brooke ©2005

a quinzaine

(NO MORE) LOVE SONGS

No more love songs,
no more games;
embracing hell,
we shed our names.
Time only for
truth’s halogen glare;
no pretense now
that we care.

Time but enough
to rape each other:
suicides
who killed their lover.
No more love songs,
no more time;
and no regrets
for the crime.

Tomorrow’s dead,
tomorrow’s dead;
throw away
what’s left unsaid.
No more love songs.

Sell my heart,
buy my time;
have no regrets
for the crime.
Give away
my every song,
every word
that I got wrong.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Well, I suppose it is recognizable that this is a song rather than a poem (in the literary sense, though I consider all songs lyrics to be a form of poetry). Obviously not one of the folky things I write and perform these days...and I haven't time nor inclination to do the rock band again, at least at this point, so it will probably just sit sans riffs and tune...or rewrite (as it is still rough as a lyric).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Aunt Dotty passed away last night at age 83. I thank all who wished her well here.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Adding to the previous post, the hospital called around five to let us know my aunt had taken a turn for the worse and we went off to Perry (about 35 miles). Seems she has an abscess in her lung (she was a smoker most of her adult life and had mild emphysema, which may play a role) and a really bad infection. They've drained it, but Aunt Dotty is not doing well and may not make it through the night. If she does, obviously she will never be able to live on her own again.

We visited a while and the priest came to administer the sacraments so that's about all we can do for now. It's a matter of waiting and praying.

Today is my Aunt Dotty's birthday. Eighty-something...a few years younger than my mom, anyway! Unfortunately, she is spending this birthday in the hospital; I'm off to visit in a few minutes.

She was admitted with pneumonia, anemia, bleeding ulcers and God know's what else. Expected to get through, though she was placed in the ICU yesterday. I think that was more to keep her from trying to get up and do stuff on her own than because of her condition. She is not the most cooperative patient.

Anyway, we are pretty much the only family she haves (having never married) and definitely the closest, so I am back into something of the role I was filling for my dad. Not care-giver, per se, but the guy who takes responsibility for her affairs.

DRIFTING

Drifting into you, after
all these years: I, the cautious
one, fearful of who I am
and of who you think I am

or might become. Eyes closed,
I could have run to you. Eyes closed,
drifting into fitful night
I’ve often prayed I would not waken

and you, who never heard my words,
will not now deny me this
awakening nor this drifting,
my slow drifting into you.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

SANDS

Ever a seeker of that
perfect moment, that
unattainable moment,

I have opened gifts
of anticipation
to find, not disappointment,

but only the empty glass
of time and none to turn
it over. Surely the stars

will sift slowly, softly
down to fill my hands
before they slip away.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

obliquely inspired by the holiday season

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A couple or three folks who read here might already know that I'm shutting down my Yahoo writing group and probably cancelling plans for the magazine. Hey, the core at the Peripheral Vision group -- Bob, Beth, Sherrie (when she isn't busy on a novel), and myself all read each others' blogs anyway. I figure it's time for me to move on from the online groups thing, though I'll stay in a few select writing groups and (of course) all my music news ones.

I've been lowering my online presence for a while, anyway; I'm out and about more since I've ceased being a caregiver. I expect to perform more, attend more festivals, and hope to do more recording work. In general, get my butt in gear and out of this chair! :)

Once again going up to Tuskegee to take in the Golden Voices Choir in their traditional Christmas Concert ( on Dec 4). It's become a bit of a tradition for me, this being my fifth year. My friend Lynda Garcia will be accompanying the choir, as usual, and performing a solo piece on the keyboard.

I first met LG face-to-face there, four years ago, when I attended for the first time. We had corresponded for a while; we ran into each other online just a couple weeks after I went through my breakup with the woman I thought the 'love of my life' and I was hurting -- she was there as a friend then and is there as a friend now, and for that I am grateful.

I will be recording the concert this time, as I did last year. Not sure whether I'll be using the new Mac-based system or just my little Fostex portable recorder. I'm eager to try out the new equipment but maybe I'd better do that in the studio first!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

jpj
John Paul Jones


which member of led zeppelin are you?
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Hermit Card
You are the Hermit card. The Hermit has chosen a
solitary spiritual path. He shines light on his
inner self and, by this means, gains wisdom.
The Hermit's home is the natural world and it
is by being in tune with that world that he
learns the laws of nature and learn how they
operate within himself. His path is a lonely
one as he lives in silence and has for
companionship only his own internal rhythms.
But those crossing his path are touched by his
light and wisdom. Though often alone, he
manages nevertheless to instruct those who meet
him and guides those who chose to follow him on
a path towards enlightenment. Image from The
Aleister Crowley Tarot deck.
http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/thoth/


Which Tarot Card Are You?
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

RED TIDE

Where the fish form
a stinking silver mat
that bumps against
the shoreline, crabs feast,

not knowing – for crabs
are not knowing creatures –
that they too die, poisoned
by the rust-red sea.

I’ve seen it before;
I know the Gulf, grew up
on these sands. I know
I will see it again.

Nature’s cycle: the red tide
must come on a summer wind,
when phosphorescent waves
tumble into the night,

when monsoon and heat
sets a kettle boiling
out there. It’s been happening
since there were seas.

I’ve seen it before;
but have we now,
with our cities, our waste,
tipped this balance too far?

My eyes are full
of the acrid breeze,
the wheeling glutton gulls.
On the deserted beach

and out along the limestone
groin, more dead fish
rise and fall with the gentle
swells of summer.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

I don't do much of this sort of thing. Memories from my younger days, I suppose, have welled up in this one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One Thousand and One

One thousand and one things
to do today; one thousand
and one and not one of them

names the rising sun.
No, not one is worth
the baptism of dawn.

Bring me tomorrow in
a tall glass and I
shall toast the memories

that were my comrades;
all one thousand and one
and not one worth the keeping.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Okay, I have to get the depressing stuff out of system occasionally. Maybe by tomorrow I'll be jumping with Joy. Unless she has a date to jump with someone else.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A work in progress...

...that would be me. For a guy who used to be Mr Buffed -- I wrote training articles for body building mags, for Pete's sake -- I have fallen further and further out of shape over the past five years. This last year, as the load on my daily life got heavier, I hardly worked out at all.

But I've closed one book and opened another...and there I am on the first page, starting to get the old Steve (but not too old, ha ha) back. It's about time.

In other news, my niece Mary James wowed 'em at The Dixie last weekend at the inaugural Huntingdon Hoedown and will be back next month on the 17th. There is the scent of a recording contract in the air (I won't mention the name but it's the label started by a major country and bluegrass star). We'll see how that goes.

The government today announced that it is changing its emblem from an Eagle to a Condom because it more accurately reflects the government's political stance: A condom allows for inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you're actually being screwed.
(I've read this one a couple places lately; thought I'd pass it along as well)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

...the thing that lies behind all great careers, from Shakespeare's to Abraham Lincoln's, and as far back as there are books to read—the sense that life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat, and that the redeeming things are not "happiness and pleasure" but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, November 18, 2005

WAIT

Yeah, I’m patient, the guy who gets
to the center of the Tootsie-Roll Pop
without biting. Take your time;

I wait.

I wait for the chewy center
of us.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Once I was Bill Gates’ friend
But PC troubles never mend;
It seems that we are left to fend
Off bug and virus, without end!

And then I asked myself just why
I would persist and I would try.
Mac, you have become my guy;
You are the Apple of my eye!

SB

Friday, November 11, 2005

Now, here I'd always assumed my Brooke family ancestors were English but I've been doing some research and lo, they actually came from Ulster. I'm semi-Irish and never knew!

Oh, yeah, they were English transplants originally but they were established long enough to even have a clan tartan (over there to the left). It looks nice -- couldn't have designed a better one myself.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Some Thoughts on Religion

I hear a lot of criticism of 'organized religion' from people who have a wide range of personal beliefs. It seems a bit of an ingrained attitude in our culture. Even among those who belong to churches!

However, in a world where everything is organized -- government, business, even crime -- it seems to me that religion must also be organized to survive, and to be a force (preferably for good!) in society. It's no surprise that totalitarian governments want to control or destroy religion, and see it as a threat to their own authority. I suspect that 'Western Civilization' would be rather different if the Roman church hadn't asserted its independence early on and remained a counter-balance to secular power.

Of course, religions are made up of humans, with all their natural failings, so there is bound to be abuse. Heirarchies, once established, tend to perpetuate and defend their existence. Still...overall, I think organized religion has done far more good than evil, when it truly is an independent force. When it has become an arm of government, it's a whole 'nother bag of peanuts.

So, what is an independent-minded-but-religious individual to do? Join a church (or equivalent), knowing that there is strength in numbers and hoping to influence its direction? Or follow ones own path, separately? I myself have vacillated between these two choices for a long time. Ha, maybe that in itself is the best choice!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

NAME

I will give your name to a Bedouin tribe
so they may carry it into the desert,
write it on the sands for God to read.

An unbelieving wind sweeps clean my world.
I have felt its lies; I’ve whispered them
to the evening star, and watched her fade.

I will set your name upon some ship
that sails westward into faceless night;
there I’ll find you, written upon the waters.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

not particularly about anyone or anything. or maybe about everyone and everything.

WINE

The wine was bad. Not gone-sour bad
nor oxidized bad but simply cheap-swill bad.
I love good wine; I’ll tolerate bad wine.

My reflection floated in the glass.
Floating somewhere in the back of my mind
was the question whether I would be

educating yet another love
in the ways of the vine. God knows, there was
little else I could teach anyone.

She leaned over to kiss and refill me.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

again, not really about anyone in particular, just a scenario.

I want to thank all my friends who read here for the kind words and sympathy on the passing of my father. My life has revolved around his care so long I hardly know what to do with myself now!

But, as one door closes, another opens and it's time to move along in my life journey, time to refocus on my career, time to start performing more, time to travel, time for all the projects and plans I've left on the back burner.

Monday, October 31, 2005

ALL THINGS

Knowing it would come to this,
I labored. Knowing it
would end. As do all things,

as do all things. Five years:
they were yours and I
will not begrudge a minute.

Rest now and God speed.

In memory of my father, who passed away last night
Stephen Brooke ©2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tired of the same old Republicrat candidates? Then vote for Zod in 2008!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

THIS SONG

Only the finest all natural ingredients
Went into writing this song
Organically farmed, no dolphins were harmed
That just plain would be wrong
Only the most politically correct
Words are used in this song
Don’t be alarmed, we have disarmed
Can’t we all get along?

It’s a folk song for today
You can hear it in any café
Offense is not our way
So we’re careful what we say
It’s a folk song for the new age
Not a trace left of our rage
We smile and step on stage
And lock the door to our cage

Only simple pleasant thoughts
Will be found in this song
Won’t give you pause, won’t stick in your craws
And never seem too strong
Only the best of good intentions
Went into writing this song
It’s for a good cause, it breaks no laws
We want everyone to belong

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Maybe just a throwaway. It reminds me too much of some of my acquaintances' tedious attempts at humorous songs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

PRISON

Down flights of darkness
he dwells, the angry,
violent man.

I chiseled his cell
painstakingly,
casting aside

each cold splinter
of my soul
to leave only

uncaring rock.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

THE MODERN SYNTHESIS
some thoughts on Modernism, Post-Modernism and What Comes Next

We live in the Modern Era, a period of time that starts around 1910. I am speaking of broad cultural movements that span centuries; these 'modern times' certainly have some steam left in them.

Indeed, previous such eras have lasted, in general, over a hundred and fifty years. We have the Romantic Era -- which includes Romanticism, the Neo-Classical, and the proto-modernism of the late 19th Century -- lasting from somewhere around 1750 to about 1910.

Before that, came the Baroque (enveloping the so-called Enlightenment), which began circa 1580, give or take a decade, and the Rennaisance starting somewhere in the period between 1400 and 1420 -- ideas moved a little slower when we go further back, though the actual eras seem to last about the same length of time. I suspect the human lifespan, which has never varied that much from the biblical three score and ten, is a factor there.

So, similarly, there is the Gothic period of the late Middle Ages, lasting through the 13th and 14th Centuries, and before that the Romanesque (to use the name art historians would apply) starting almost at the turn of the first millenia.

Now, as I have implied, there are always movements within these eras. Often, these can be seen as a dialectic, e.g. the thesis of Classicism reacting with the antithesis of Romanticism within the Romantic Era and eventually resulting in a synthesis toward the middle of the 19th Century. Then comes the inevitable 'what next' question, the 'mannerism,' the searching for a new direction until the new Era is born.

It should be noted that, although the Classical and Romantic would seem to be worlds apart, they truly shared a common outlook. Neo-Classicism took a nostalgic and idealized view of antiquity; as with the Romantics, the Classicists prized sentiment.

Could one see Modernism and Post-Modernism similarly as the thesis-antithesis of the Modern Era? I would come to just such a conclusion. Naturally, there are such dialectics being worked out on a smaller scale constantly in the movement of the culture. The push and pull between abstraction and surrealism in Modernism is an example -- which perhaps reached its own synthesis in the Abstract Expressionist movement.

What is Post-Modernism? It is, among other things, another facet of the Modern, rather than a break with it. Most would date the beginning of the P-M period to around the early 60s; Pop Art and 'confessional' poetry are pretty much Post-Modern. The Beats might be seen as the last 'big thing' in Modernism or even as a transitional phase. The major difference is in the attitude taken toward the world, the environment, the cosmos for that matter.

It is implicit in Modernism that we are in control. We can understand and define the world. We can seek the perfection of ideas, expressed in austere architecture and theory-driven art. We are born as tabla rasa and can be what we wish. Psychoanalysis will free us of all our hang-ups.

Nope, says the Post-Modern world. It's all too complex to ever truly understand. We carry a billion years of hereditary baggage around with us. Our attempts to control fate are laughable. So let's laugh! Or cry or whatever; the thing is to recognize that there are other roads to reaching a personal understanding of life.

Here we are then with about fifty years of Modernism and a similar amount of Post-Modernism. Have we reached the point of synthesis? Have we already gone by it without noticing?

The one defining characteristic of the Modern -- like the sentimentalism of the Romantic -- is its embrace of the conceptual. In this respect, it is more truly 'classical' than the Neo-Classists of two centuries ago and harks back more to the attitudes of the Rennaisance. This will likewise be a trait of whatever synthesis, whatever Modern nexus, is developing.

Post-Modernism has sometimes tried to throw the Modernist out with the bath water, but the ideas survive. Indeed, they underlie what P-M has accomplished, even while trying to break with its past. Have we gone as far as we can in turning Modernism topsy-turvy in search of new insight? I suspect so; the time is here for rebuilding.

Nothing more than some simple thoughts on a complex subject that I decided to jot down. Notes, perhaps, toward a more ambitious essay down the line. Occasionally I have to let my inner art historian out to play.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Went off to Thomasville this past Sunday to see a production of Guys and Dolls put on by the TOSAC theater group there. My friend/musical partner Karen is involved with them -- she served as assistant director and stage manager for this show -- so I was able to get a free ticket (and be at the post-show cast party). A pretty decent performance; being close to the big college town of Tallahassee helps with the talent pool!

Speaking of college towns, I'll be off to Tuskegee again on the 30th of this month to do a recording job. Dr Wayne Barr, the head of the music department, has asked me to record his organ recital for the second year in a row. It's nice to know that your work is good enough to get repeat business, even though it always sounds lacking to my ears. And, killing two little birdies with one stone, it gives me a chance to see my friend Lynda who also teaches up there. Nothing like being paid to go visit a girl, is there?

Today is my mom's birthday. 87 and going strong. That most certainly calls for a chocolate cake and a bottle of good wine, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

"The Celts boast. And why should we not boast? Read Celtic mythology; every Celtic hero tale is boastful. We have to stand up and announce how strong we are because poetry in the 20th century was looked down on with derision; a poet was an effeminate, weak creature who should have a real job. Standing up and banging a staff was the ancient pagan way of the poet announcing himself. So boasting in my book is totally honest."
~ Donovan (in an interview about his new book, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, marking his 40th year in the music business)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

THE PLAY

The drama in nine acts
plays again, on stages
from Fenway to barrio streets.

Each performance differs:
each actor finds his lines
written in the red stitching

of a fast ball conversation.
Give me the signs, again,
and I’ll remember summer.

I’ll remember the nights,
the high flies swarming up
into webs of light;

I’ll return to the crowded
bleachers, lukewarm beer,
and long forgotten rookies

of every hot afternoon.
The play’s the thing, you know;
it always has been.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Well, the playoffs are here and Steve's muse turns toward baseball -- the only team sport to which I pay any attention. I like the dramatic element of the game; it holds my interest because I can actually see the individuals interacting.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some thoughts forwarded to me by a friend with too much time on her hands:

I had amnesia once -- or twice.

I went to San Francisco. I found someone's heart. Now what?

Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.

If the world were a logical place, men would be the ones to ride horses side-saddle.

What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?

They told me I was gullible ... and I believed them.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto a freeway.

Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

One nice thing about egotists: They don't talk about other people.

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.

Why do people say "close proximity"? Is there a "far proximity?"

My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.

What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?

How can there be self-help "groups"?

Is there another word for synonym?

What's another word for thesaurus?

What rhymes with orange?

Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all"?

The speed of time is one-second per second.

Is it possible to be totally partial?

Is Marx's tomb a communist plot?

If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.

It's not an optical illusion. It just looks like one.

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

They asked me if I had a problem being ignorant and apathetic. I told them, "I don't know and I don't care!"

Life is like a roll of toilet paper... the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.

WIP

Work in progress:
building blocks stacked,
each an inch

closer to heaven.
We never finish
piling B atop A

and One on Three
before toppling each other’s
unsteady towers.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Watched most of Scorsese's Dylan documentary earlier this week. Interesting, yeah, but I'd say that anyone interested in Bob's musical career during that period (mid 60s) would do better to start with the concert documentary made during the period, Don't Look Back, and make your own conclusions about his artistry without all the commentary.

Had a couple gigs on the weekend. The first turned out to be kind of lousy. Not one of those legendary gigs from hell -- more like a gig from purgatory. Though it was certainly hot enough on a steel stage under the mid-day sun to feel pretty close to hell. The sound system (or maybe the sound man) left much to be desired too. But we got through it without too much trouble and were almost in tune with each other.

Sunday was much nicer. Can't blame the sound man there for any problems in that I was doing double duty and running my own PA. I even did some recording of the performance; what with it being a Humane Society show there is quite a bit of barking in the background!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

WIN OR LOSE
a blues

by Stephen Brooke ©2005

Playin’ at your table,
never let me choose;
I have nothin’ to wager,
nothin’ but these blues.
Toss the dice and tell me
if I win or lose.

Because tomorrow is a story,
a story I know so well.
Yes, tomorrow is a story,
a story I know too well.

Feelin’ just like Muddy,
like I can’t be satisfied;
nothin’ seems to help me,
nothin’ that I’ve tried.
I’m playin’ double or nothin’
and lettin’ it all ride.

Because tomorrow is a story,
a story I know so well.
Oh, tomorrow is a story,
a story I know too well.

Got my troubles, baby,
but trouble’s nothin’ new;
things are never easy
no matter what I do.
But I’m not blamin’ life;
I’m sure not blamin’ you.

Because tomorrow is a story,
a story I know so well.
Yes, tomorrow is a story,
a story I know too well.

Playin’ at your table,
never let me choose;
I have nothin’ to wager,
nothin’ but these blues.
Toss the dice and tell me now
if I win or lose,

When tomorrow is a story,
a story I know so well.
Oh yes, tomorrow is a story,
a story I know too well.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Two show announcements for this weekend:

Barwick Heritage Day Festival

Held in Barwick's Central Park from 9 am to 5 pm, Sat Sept 24, the Barwick Heritage Day Festival will feature laser tag, a petting zoo, donkey rides, arts and crafts, face painting, and good family fun!


There will be a skateboarding demonstration and LIVE ENTERTAINMENT all day.

FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

Come hear Shadows on the Swanee play a set. Not sure when we go on, so just plan to spend the day!

For further info and vendor info call (229)735-2311

Shaggy Chic

Join us at the Shaggy Chic Thomasville Humane Society fashion show and fund raiser on Sunday September 25 at the Pebble Hill Plantation. Performances by Shadows on the Swanee, Stephen Brooke, and special guest Hananel Mavity. The fashion show starts at 2:00 but we'll be starting the music around 1:30 so be sure to show up early!

Donation is $12 and tickets are available at the Thomasville Humane Society and at the Pebble Hill Plantation. PHB is located on Thomasville Road (US 319) -- call 226-2344 for more info. There will be refreshments and door prizes!

All proceeds benefit the Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society of Thomasville GA.

Friday, September 16, 2005

SHADOW

The shadow you cast
has outlasted
the memory of our sun.
It shone on your face.

We made the dawn
our lover, then;
we slept in the cool arms
of a summer past.

Night and all
its distant stars
tell me I once dreamed;
and dreams must slip away.

Would I were
a pine, binding
rock-rooted earth to sky.
I yearn toward heaven.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

TRAINS

Word after word: toy trains of words
that go around and around
have carried me. Shall I wave
to the painted metal people

I created and placed just so?
Each fixed smile, each plastic facade,
becomes a landmark, reassurance
for the secret passenger,

the hobo who seeks empty boxcars;
I could sleep here forever, lulled
by the songs that I have woven
of a transformer’s muted hum.

Word after word: the shiny stock
that should be bound for distant towns
encompasses my days’ horizons;
I no longer count the passing.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Seeds

I have saved your every word;
kept each for planting in my fields.

Now, they lie fallow; these seeds will sleep.
But in its season, all that passed

between us will be trained upon
an arbor framed of verse, a vine

gravid with our ripened fruit.
I will bottle you like wine.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

Some little announcements: first, y'all be sure to drop by and read the September edition of Carolina Potpourri. Sherrie's done a great job, once again. And some of you submit some material!

Second, I have new product up at my Cafe Press shop. I've neglected it far too much. More merchandise will be showing up. Count on it!

Third, just thought I'd mention that I have a couple shows coming up in two weeks, both up in Georgia. The Barwick Festival, held of course, in Barwick on Saturday the 24th and a benefit for the Thomasville Humane Society at the Pebble Hill Plantation on Sunday the 25th. Anyone who reads this and is anywhere near the area, came by. Especially Barwick...they won't be asking for money there. :D

Oh, realized I didn't make it clear that those were music shows, not art. I'll be playing ~S

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Prophecy, Fulfilled

Beside me in the dark, you said
you couldn’t see us together

in the long run. If ever you
should have lied, it was then.

Then, when I began to leave.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A GOOD THING

This is a good thing;
no, really it is.
Now my horizons
sing to me.
Now you are free
of my necessity.

This is a good thing
and tomorrow
will tell you all
I could not,
every story
whose ending I forgot.

Look in any mirror;
it is a sky
where our reflections
must take wing.
Kiss me and know
that this is a good thing.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Monday, September 05, 2005

Mexican restaurant tanka

margaritas~
between sips you say
lets just be friends

we dance
on Cinco de Mayo

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Sideshow #3

The small illusions
I conjure are harmless –
a shiny word
plucked from the air,
an omelet of rhymes
stirred up in my hat.

Applause and pennies
thrown from the hands
of children, claim
this puppet show,
where metaphor
trades jabs with meaning.

Please go next door
for the dancing
girls, gents.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

I think this is number three...the first two are in Pieces of the Moon...someday I'll go through this stack of unedited poems and make sure!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Well, the Polka cancelled on me for this weekend. Don't blame her one bit with gas the way it is. I still may be heading for White Springs tomorrow night though; I have some work in the morning and I'll see how the gas situation is while I'm out and about.

I wasn't all that anxious to go scalloping anyway. I've dabbled at being vegetarian over the years and one of these times it will probably stick. Gave up hunting and fishing years ago. Didn't seem compatible with my journey.

So what should I trot out at the mike? I haven't done Rainbow Connection yet in public; maybe I'll try that...and the Colorado Trail, maybe. I feel like yodeling!

Ray Nagin, The Mayor of New Orleans has something to say...

Lucky Lad?

Steve is a Winner! I entered a giveaway at one of the message boards I visit and won this microphone from Front End Audio. Thanks, Warren!

It may not be as good (time will tell) as my Audio-Technica 4049s but rather nice, none the less, and could prove useful, maybe as an acoustic guitar mike, on percussion, etc.

Well, the big Labor Day weekend is almost upon us and no one wants to drive with the gas situation. That's going to hurt a resort town like this which depends on visitors, especially on the big holidays. I'll probably get out some. Plan to go scalloping -- the one good thing is that there will probably be fewer people in the water competing for them. I'm hoping that the storms haven't had much impact on the flats here.

My friend/musical partner Karen Polka still intends (last I heard) to come down and try her luck with the scallops too. Then, most likely, up to White Springs on Saturday night for the open mike at the Stephen Foster Park. We'll see if the gas thing keeps folks away from there too!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

TWO CINQUAINS

Please don’t
make me happy.
I’ve been happy before
and don’t think I could live through that
again.


Somehow,
I wrapped you up
in tissue paper dreams
only to put you away and
forget.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

company~
brush cat hair
from the chairs

Monday, August 29, 2005

Here's the brand-new, no-frills fire pit I put in my back yard. I can hear them snickering at DIY Channel but, hey, it will do the job. Drop by and we'll toast some marshmallows. Or a whole pig...it's a big'n!


In the mean time, they've started the demolition of the motel across the street. A landmark and eye-sore in Steinhatchee since the 40s, to be replaced with a dozen condos. I guess I won't be able to go jump off the dock on hot summer days anymore. Here's a pic from my front yard.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Visit the Museum of Bad Album Covers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Scrub Country Poem

Carry me on the voice of crows;
I’ll live the harsh music of your days,
hold the cicada heart of the evening,
the humming dusk, close to me.

Carry me to the pine-top sun;
a corvine shadow, I seek my name,
no more than a whispered sigh
of Spanish moss, a campfire song.

No more than the afternoon rain,
conversing with palmetto fronds –
Carry me on the voice of rivers;
I’ll wear the heat of distant skies.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

I rarely write poems about places and even less the part of Florida where I live. If this really is about a place!

George Bush is out jogging one morning and notices a little girl on the corner with a box. Curious, he runs over to the little girl, Hannah, and says, "What's in the box, kid?"

Little Hannah says, "Kittens, they're brand new kittens."

George Bush laughs and says, "What kind of kittens are they?"

"Republicans," says Little Hannah. "Oh that's cute," he says and goes on his way.

A few days later, George Bush is running with his buddy Dick Cheney and he spies Little Hannah with her box just ahead. George Bush says to Dick, "You gotta check this out," and they both jog over to little Hannah.

George Bush says, "Look in the box, Dick, now isn't that cute?

Look at those little kittens. Hey, kid, tell my friend Dick what kind of kittens they are." Little Hannah replies, "They're Democrats."

"Whoa!" George Bush says, "I came by here the other day and you said they were Republicans. What's up?"

"Well," Little Hannah explains, "their eyes are open now."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

When roses read and violets blew,
I rose from bed, blue over you.
Stormy, whether old or knew
your reign, now thoroughly through,
away passed as the mourning do.

more playing.

Dogs got God’s togs –
hair here, hair there –
to wear anywhere,
unaware.

Pay me no mind. I'm just playing with my words again.

SONG OF THE NIGHT

I’ll pretend you’re someone else,
You can do the same;
We’ll make love and tell each other
Yesterday’s to blame.
Blinded and adrift in you,
I may speak a name;
Light me then a thousand candles
From a single flame.

Pray for me a thousand prayers,
End each with your kiss;
Let me fall into the night,
Curse me with more bliss.
Such inchoate offerings
Some choose to dismiss;
Yet I must believe in love’s
Every artifice.

Rise tomorrow, like the sun,
Like the morning star;
Hold me so I can’t let go,
Hold all that we are.
Let your song be of the night,
Of a land afar;
Lift your voice up to the dawn,
To the morning star.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Obviously not a 'song' in any pop sense...yet strictly metered and singable.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

ANOTHER

Just another bomber.
Another kid off to Paradise
on wings of flame.

Does anyone bother,
now, to read the details?

We shrug and go on,
not understanding.
Not able to understand

and relieved
that we never will.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

On Bukowski’s Birthday

Not Brautigan – the other guy
who starts with B. Yeah, Bukowski,
that’s right. I get them mixed up.

Used to like his stuff. Liked both,
to be honest. Plain speech poets.
I don’t do that much, now,

my inner Beat has lost his cool.
I think it stepped in front of Sexton’s
speeding Cougar. Or was that

a mirrored tiger, in a coat
of many colors? Psychedelic,
man. Let me hide this stash

of words and we’ll head to the party.
Wouldn’t do to take them along;
you know? No one there is a user.

No one there smokes this shit.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Monday, August 15, 2005

Every now'n'agin, I try to write about depression. Thus, yesterday's poem. I don't think I've ever done more than just nibble around the edges of that cookie...but if I can't capture at least a bit of something that is so integral a part of who I have been, how can I hope to deal with the other biggies? Love and Faith and all that...after all, I'm a Serious Poet, here! :D

Speaking of depression, I was reading a couple days ago about how Abe Lincoln seems to have suffered from it pretty seriously (that's what got me started on the poem). Also, that he was a well read and fairly prolific, if mediocre, poet. Some of Lincoln's poems can be read at The Hypertexts -- go to the Esoterica section. Among them (and rather popular in his day) is a humorous bit of doggerel about a gay couple.

Not that they would have been called a 'gay couple' 150 years ago. 'Confirmed bachelors,' more likely. Like Lincoln's predecessor in the White House, James Buchanan. Very much a confirmed bachelor and likely our only gay president.

I've meandered a bit, haven't I?

Some thoughts~

A good poet must be a good actor, able to throw himself into his roles, able to become his roles.

Everything depends on viewpoint and interpretation. Everything is subjective, an alternate view of the 'truth.'

How does one know a pinata is empty without whacking it a few times?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

TORMENT

Now, there is nothing –
no hope, no love –

only the pit
and the demons within.

They clamor my name.
Each night they call;

call me to join them
and it would be easy

to trade one torment
for this other.

For God hates those
who hate themselves;

the blood grows sour,
the body offers

no salvation.
I fall asleep,

praying the morrow
to die stillborn.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Saturday, August 13, 2005

LET THEM

All of yesterday’s
unfulfilled prophecies
turned up at my door.

Let them knock. Let them ring.

I’m not opening up.
Tomorrow’s news has gone to bed
And I must do the same.

Let them cry, remember me?

Memory is such
a fragile box. It cracks, it leaks
its dark pools of denial.

Let them flow away, fading

into imagination’s
desert lands. There they shall
become the drink of prophets.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

READING

You, who thought life had no meaning:
when did you learn that it was simply
spoken in a foreign language?

The lessons have their cost. Each teacher
must be paid, a penny a word,
a dime for each vine-ripened phrase

They pick for you. And then you may
open your book, reading from
the empty pages. Reading psalms

that bring the students to your feet.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

baby~
AM and PM
BM

stephen brooke ©2005

a silly senryu -- nothing new for me

Thursday, August 11, 2005


In my ongoing quest to sample wine from every state in the union (I'm on a mission from Bacchus) I recently added Missouri and Minnesota. Alas, I had to skip over Massachusetts and Maine -- maybe later!

Aww...they just bulldozed down all the lovely mature trees (cedars and sabals) in front of the old motel across the street. What a waste! I guess the building itself is next. It's been standing there since the late '40s.

And what will replace it? Looks like townhouses or something of that sort. There's a lot of that going on here lately. Steinhatchee is transforming from the sleepy fishing spot it was when I moved here into full-fledged resort area. That will be good for business, I reckon...shoot, this was what I was expecting (and hoping for) when I moved here! Took a little longer than I thought, though.

At any rate, this will make this property I'm on more valuable, whether for me to do business or to sell it off. Can't complain about that, can I?

Can complain, however, about the noise this is going to create the next few months. This will not be conducive to the recording process. Looks like I'll have to do sessions only in the still of the night. If them darn barred owls would shut up!

My page at music.download is finally up-n-runnin'. Took quite a while longer than the 'two to five days' they said it would...and I only put up one song! That's just to hold the space, really. Anyway, the link is over there to the left of this post. Or go to: http://www.download.com/stephenbrooke

I'll have more up there eventually. In the meantime, I still have music up at the MySpace pages. For now.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Went up to White Springs last night. Big crowd...of performers. We were limited to two songs each so I didn’t attempt the song I’d been working up last week, The Rainbow Connection (yeah, Kermit’s song). They ought to do like most open mikes and make it first come, first served. If you sign up first, you get to do your three songs and if you’re late, too darn bad! (Steve grumbles under his breath here.)

My three songs usually take less time than a lot of people’s two songs, though. I keep ‘em short and don’t run on endlessly about nothing between pieces. Either some performers have no sense about the need to keep things moving or they’re just plain selfish.

Or maybe it’s just my own roots showing and I should mellow out a little. But I still think most songs shouldn’t go more’n two-and-a-half minutes. I start to yawn after that.

Heard about a song contest coming up while I was there – entries due the end of this month. The theme has to be ‘springs.’ Water springs, that is, not the seasons nor the kind that absorb shocks. It’s sponsored by a little festival at the Rainbow Springs State Park down south of me a way. I think I’ll try to get something together.

CLICHE

Rain is my favorite cliche.
And night – night is good.

It rained last night.
I believe a slow train

passed by, too.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese? ~Charles de Gaulle

People tend to give me odd looks when I tell them one of my heroes is Charles de Gaulle. Okay, they give me odd looks anyway. I guess we're not supposed to like the French much these days but then it seems that CdG didn't either!

Anyway, our view of le grand Charles (or Big Chuck) has been filtered through some decidedly pro-British and pro-US views over the years. Look at many of the English-language movies and books about WW2 -- de Gaulle is portrayed as obstructionist, arrogant, ineffective...as are, too often, the French people as a whole. News for you: more Frenchmen died fighting against Germany than British. Without Free France and de Gaulle's obstinance in refusing to accept defeat by the Nazis, not only would the war have been much more difficult...it might never have been won.

And when or if it had, France might well have been a Stalinist nation without CdG's leadership. The Resistance was riddled with communist cells. A very different post-war Europe! His insistence upon the recognition of his wartime government in exile and its treatment as an equal partner had much to do with the stable (by French standards) post-war situation. And, ultimately, we have his handling of Algeria where he managed to extricate France honorably from a decidedly nasty civil war. Yeah, he made some blunders and certainly some unfortunate remarks along the way. Who doesn't?

Of course, de Gaulle is considered a conservative (and I guess I'm a liberal of sorts). A rather moderate one, however -- he certainly was never the right-wing reactionary his enemies liked to paint him as. Hey, he was not really very far from his wartime compatriot, Eisenhower, and waaaaaay to the left of our Mr Bush. Maybe actually serving in the military would have benefited the latter...nah, probably not.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Plans

It will be you
or it will be me.

One of us,
sooner or later,

will meet that someone
with whom we'd rather

spend our time
and this slightly-

more-than-friendship
will become

slightly less.
Anyway,

have any plans
for tomorrow?

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Saturday, July 30, 2005

STRONGER

Y’know that Nietzsche quote,
the one that goes, what does
not kill me makes me stronger?
Crap, my friend, complete
crap. It wears you down;

each wound weakens a little
more until what didn’t
kill you right away
gets you in the end.
There is no armor; there is

no choice. If we can walk

away from love unhurt –
even love that is faded
like memories of childhood –
we lack a heart. Lack what
makes us, us. I’ll hold

the injured bird of my pain
and heal it; until the day
it can fly away,
I’ll hold it to my heart
for it is in healing,

not pain, that we grow stronger.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

CAMPFIRE

The stars were the lights
of a Las Vegas casino,
filling the desert night
with promise.

Should I have thrown
my last silver dollar down,
anted once again,
knowing I'd already lost?

And each star had
a shining name,
too far away
for us to read.

The world sagged
like a toasted marshmallow;
I had no chocolate
for s'mores.

Look, there are angels--
angels with fiery wings.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

bits and pieces of this came to me as I was falling asleep a couple nights ago -- not an uncommon occurence -- and it coalesced into these verses this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Had me an unexpected visitor last night -- a little possum found its way in through the cat door. Too dumb to figure out how to get back out so I had to open the front door and shoo it. Wish I'd thought to take a picture first!

I don't think a full-grown possum would fit through the cat's entry. It used to be a little wider but I had me a small raccoon come through a couple years back and nailed up some boards to prevent that. Since then, I've only had to worry about visiting kitties coming in for a free meal.

Y'know, I really oughtn't leave food out at night. I can fill their bowls in the morning; they're always waiting anyway. But then, I wouldn't get to enjoy all the wildlife!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Syrah, the rewrite~ as I noted (here and elsewhere), the poem needed more. So a couple lines have inserted themselves in the middle, providing a bridge between what were essentially two different lines of thought -- the jump was just a little too abrupt in the first version. It remains much the same, otherwise.

SYRAH

There is a bottle of Syrah,
breathing out its deep-red dreams
in the dark of the spare bedroom.
We should use it or it will spoil;

the wine, that is, though you are welcome
to the room as well. You know
that, right? Just chase the cats off the bed.
It would be good to have you here

a while, to share the evening, the wine.
I’ve never asked for more than this;
I have not sought you as a lover
nor seen you as a lover. Oh, maybe

in my own secret deep-red dreams
I have breathed you out, allowing
the bouquet to linger, fragile
as tomorrow morning's goodbyes.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Saturday, July 23, 2005

GOOD INTENTIONS

I know those good intentions
that line your road to hell;
you tarted up your hatred
and sent her out to sell
her body to the lusters
after a virgin whore.
They close their eyes and claim
they’ve not seen her before.

I know those good intentions,
I know you pray each night
and give thanks to your god
for telling you what’s right.
Tomorrow is an apple
that hangs in paradise;
Adam takes a bite
and Abel pays the price.

I know those good intentions –
they line your road to hell.
We’ve traveled it too often,
we know our way too well
to still mistake the flames
for the rising sun.
Forgive our good intentions,
Lord, when journey’s done.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Thursday, July 21, 2005

friends quinzaine~

I'm cultivating new friends.
Should I plant them all
in neat rows?

A little secret, known mostly by those who drop by Janis Ian's message board (the friendliest musician's MB I've ever found) occasionally: the Two-millionth visitor to Ms Ian's site will receive 'one of everything.' There are only a couple thousand to go -- of course, I intend to win but if by some fluke I don't, here's your opportunity. Take a pic (hit the print screen button and save it) to prove you're #2000000.

SYRAH

There is a bottle of Syrah,
breathing out its deep-red dreams
in the dark of the spare bedroom.
We should use it or it will spoil;

the wine, that is, though you are welcome
to the room as well. You know
that, right? Just chase the cats off the bed.
I did not seek you as a lover

nor see you as a lover. Oh, maybe
in my own secret deep-red dreams
I have breathed you out, allowing
the bouquet to linger, fragile

as tomorrow morning's goodbyes.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

QUOTES ON POETRY~

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
-- T.S. Eliot

“A poem should not mean
But be.”
-- Archibald MacLeish

“A poet's autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote.”
-- Yevgeny Yentushenko

“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”
-- Percy Byshe Shelley (1792-1822)

“Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.” -- Gustav Flaubert

"Poetry is what gets lost in translation."
-- Robert Frost

“A poet must leave traces of his passage, not proof.”
-- Rene Char

“A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.”
-- Jean Cocteau, French writer

"As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree' -- probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on."
-- Woody Allen

“A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.”
-- E.M. Forster

"A poem is never finished, only abandoned."
-- Paul Valery (1871-1945)

"Poetry is many things to many people. For me, poetry is an epistemological bridge over the chasm that separates an individual and a truth. Poetry is a a nomadic destination, always only an inspiration away. Poetry is exploratory, probing intuitions and conditions. Poetry is also the shell the inspiration leaves behind as an identity navigational device."
-- Albert Emerson Unaterra (1952-2002), American writer

"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite."
-- Paul Dirac (1902-1984)

“A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.”
-- Wallace Stevens

“To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.”
-- Robert Frost, American poet

“Poetry is ordinary language raised to the nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.”
-- Paul Engle

“The poem... is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see - it is, rather, a light by which we may see - and what we see is life.”
-- Robert Penn Warren, American poet

“You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick.... You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps... so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.”
-- Dylan Thomas, Irish poet

"When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."
-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-63), 35th US President

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”
-- G.K. Chesterton

"A vein of poetry exists in the hearts of all men."
-- Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), British historian, essayist

"The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one."
-- John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

"The one man who should never attempt an explanation of a poem is its author. If the poem can be improved by it's author's explanations it never should have been published, and if the poem cannot be improved by its author's explanations the explanations are scarcely worth reading."
-- Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982), American poet

a little announcement, for anyone who might care: I have changed the name and URL of my store at LULU from 'Stephen Brooke' to 'Insolent Lad' in order to widen its scope a bit and bring it into line with my other sites. That's where I have my chapbook, Pieces of the Moon (which one can also get directly from me, naturally).

The new address: http://www.lulu.com/insolentlad

It will take a while to track down all the links I've posted (lots of links being key to driving traffic) and change them. In the mean time, why don't y'all stop by and buy? :D

Saturday, July 16, 2005

My favorite summer drink:

Sometimes known as an orange fizz, sometimes called a nursery fizz, I like to think of it as sort of a non-alcohol mimosa (a shamosa?)...half orange juice, half ginger ale (usually diet Canada Dry, sometimes the cranberry version), and ice. Better than either ingredient by itself, refreshing, reasonably good for me.

Of course, there's always iced tea in the fridge too but, despite spending most of my life in the South, I just can't abide sweet tea. Even with lemon. Shoot, if I wanted lemonade I'd make it.

Speaking of drinks, I just bought a brand-new aloha shirt to add to my sizeable collection, covered with little martini glasses. Cooool! (and cheap...even cooler!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

You are a Black Coffee

At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Still no dial tone -- phones have been out since the big wind. It's a good thing I have a cable connection these days or I'd really be cut off, especially since I haven't bought me one of them new-fangled cell doohickeys yet. And, being proud of my cheap-skate reputation, probably won't.

Finally buckled down and designed the packaging for my friend Lynda's CD. Naturally, I need to phone her and get some particulars -- her computer has been broken for YEARS now so emailing is not an option. I wouldn't be surprised if she got more impact from Dennis there in Tuskegee than I did.

Tomorrow is the birthday of my friend and sometime musical partner, Karen Polka. I suppose I have to attend the party. And take a gift. My afore mentioned reputation won't help me there...have to buy something. Probably at the Wal-mart on my way up to Thomasville. Gee, you'd think just my presence (not presents) would be enough, wouldn't you?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Well, the water did come up higher this afternoon. The field across the road from me is quite flooded. If the batteries weren't dead (as usual) in my digital camera, I'd post a pic. This means it would be much worse downtown (if one can legitimately speak of 'downtown Steinhatchee') in that I'm a couple or four miles up the river.

But Dennis is waving goodbye. Waving the trees, that is. Time to grill some chicken, pour a glass of Pinot Grigio, and relax.

DAMP

My bodhran is limp from the rain,
Its sound is thoroughly bad;
Instead of a sturdy thud,
My drumming is weak and sad.

Whatever can one do
When goat skin chooses to sag?
Playing a flabby bodhran
In this constant rain is a drag.

It's the same with everything else:
My guitar's too damp to tune it
And my allergies have me stopped up--
Don't ask for a song, I can't croon it!

Perhaps I would do better
To move to a different clime,
But how do the Irish play bodhran
In a land where it rains all the time?

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Still a-rainin' and a-blowin' here. The river only spilled over this morning down on some low sections of road near the mouth. I suppose it could be over its banks again at high tide this afternoon.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Violet's Polka

Someone has too much time on his hands.

Still looks pretty good here in Steinhatchee, Dennis-wise, as the storm continues tracking toward the western panhandle area. A couple of small outer rain bands passed through yesterday evening and it's been fairly quiet since. But now (about 10:30 AM) the wind is starting to pick up and radar shows major storm bands just south of us -- reckon we'll be feeling some weather shortly.

Wouldn't be surprised if there was some flooding tonight. High tide will be in the wee hours, the same time we're likely to get the most wind and storm surge. It shouldn't be major, though; the river might go over its banks...or it might not. Certainly nothing like what would happen if a major storm came ashore here. We got a taste of that with the so-called 'storm of the century' in March of '93. Ah, that was fun. I had four foot of water in the place I was staying then and pretty much lost everything I owned. Fortunately, I now live atop a hill and need only worry about my trailer blowing away or an oak tree falling on it.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Heard on the Weather Channel this morning: People are closing up their businesses and leaving the Keys.

I wonder if they left them under the mat or up on the transom?

Looks like Hurricane Dennis won't be too much of a menace to us on the penninsula if it keeps to its projected path. None the less, I've canceled my travel plans for this weekend and am sticking close to home, just in case. The storm could always veer a bit east when it gets up into the Gulf...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

HALF-FULL

I drank from the half-full glass
until it was empty, utterly
empty, and my asking
no longer refilled it.

No, not half-way, not even
a quarter -- whatever pitcher
held our future had been carried
to some other table

where some other couple
drank deeply and thanked
a tired waitress.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Monday, July 04, 2005

Things I learned this weekend...

1) Smoked oysters stirred into garlic and onion spaghetti sauce and simmered a few minutes makes for a surprisingly tasty pasta dish.

2) If pug dogs are claimed as musicians, certain state officials will allow them into buildings usually off limits to individuals of the canine persuasion. (thanks Wendy)

3) Pug dogs make very undependable musicians.

4) Never trust a clear blue summer sky in Florida and wander off for 15 minutes. Everything will be soaked with rain when one returns.

5) The making of peach lemonade is a carefully guarded secret in Morven GA.

6) No matter how large ones van is, there is never enough room for all the junk one wants to take along.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Off for a weekend of camping and goofing off. See y'all next week. Be careful on the roads if you travel!


Last week, my niece Mary James did a couple songs at the Bluebird Cafe (in Nashville for those who don't know 'bout the Bluebird). One can see a video of the evening at Eye Centric -- it does require registration but that's all. Her brother Frank and his girlfriend Julie (the three are know collectively as Jamestown) are backing her up.

The archived show is from June 20 and their set starts at about 39 minutes in, if you want to skip the lesser talents!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

another tetractys~

You're
not the
first to tell
me it is fate.
Just the latest to be disappointed.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

As if I didn't have enough of an online presence already, I decided to get a spot at My Space. Not the regular profile-and-blog space, but one of the musician pages. Hey, more exposure never hurts (unless one forgets the sun block).

For the moment (might be a long moment) I posted a really, really old song from the days when tape recorders roamed the earth. The one person out there who reads this blog and has a copy of the CD is excused from listening. :D

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

MORNING SYMPHONY

Cardinal, tit mouse, mocking bird--
my morning symphony tunes up.

Enter traffic, molto vivace,
in hurried flight to the city.

How soon will mowers and chain saws
join a raucous crescendo?

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Sort of in the sijo form, though without much of a 'twist.'

Monday, June 27, 2005

Well, here I am on the 15 day DL (aw, c'mon coach, let me hit) and spending way too much time online. I suppose I ought to work on that long-promised e-mag. More likely, I'll take a day or two to sort out these stacks of papers in my office! Then, back to the fascinating field of home repair.

Speaking of which...after years (yes, years) of indecision, I've decided that I'm not going to find a better spot to move to at anything like an acceptable price. Thus, the flurry of building and repairing here. Oh, sure, if someone made a really nice offer for the place I'd get out. But it's not a bad central location for travel and I am right on the highway which helps with doing business. I do intend to build a new studio building here. Thing is, I don't know whether it will be the art studio or the recording studio or a combination thereof. Right now, the two share a room built onto the side of my trailer and that is not really satisfactory.

On a different subject: very disappointed with the Gators for losing the College World Series finals in two straight games. Not that I'm a particular UF fan or anything (a Florida Atlantic Owl here), just would have liked to see a better showing and better games.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

CLOWN CAR

ups, downs,
rides with clowns;
car’s too small.
‘nother pratfall?
therapy, pills,
fever and chills–
doing time
for the climb.

so it goes.
everyone knows
life’s not fair;
don’t much care.
why should you?
tell it true;
tell it, man.
who else can?

tell the crowd;
make it loud.
check your paint,
your restraint,
honk your horn;
it’s why we’re born,
who we are–
we ride the car.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

This sort of started as a poem about depression...then went its own merry little way. I suppose it's a metaphor for performing or something like that. Shucks, if I knew what the poems were actually about I wouldn't need to write them.

SCALLOPS

'Sposed to be a much better season this year.

Last summer was very disappointing. I just do the wade in the water bit, myself, and grab the little fellers by hand. I've done the long-handled dip net thing from a boat and, yeah, you can get more scallops faster out in the slightly deeper water but it's too fast and business-like for me. Not to mention, more expensive. Shoot, might as well buy 'em already shucked out.

boxes (not a very good title, is it?)

inclusion
confusion
need these
boxes
me here
you there
and those...
nowhere.

time travel
unravel
no place
like home
you there
me here
no future
no fear

delusion
intrusion
no one
inside
me here
you there
our boxes
unaware

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Looks like something I would have written in college, many, many years ago -- lots of bad rock lyrics which mercifully no one remembers now. Actually, just trying to not get in a rut here. My 'normal' stuff comes all too easily for me and tends to become overly facile (and boring).

Ha, maybe I'm trying to get out of my box.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

You can call me the unlucky lad for now. Yesterday, as I was working on replacing a floor, I caught my toe on a piece of loose 2 X 4 as I was hopping down between the floor joice to the ground and twisted my knee (the right one) pretty badly. Hey, if I wasn't a flexible yoga-doin' guy, it might have been worse.

(Can you believe that I can't find the word 'joice' in any of my dictionaries or spell checker? I've been using it all my life, being around construction. I'm pretty sure I'm spelling it right!)

Anyway, it's mighty sore and I'll be on my feet as little as possible the next couple days. I suppose (hope?) that it's strained tendons. Nothing new for me...I'm pretty accident prone. I do know that complete recovery could be weeks, even months. Oh well!

Now excuse me, I need some more ibuprofen.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

from a forum I frequent infrequently:

King Arthur and the Witch:

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighbouring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question?

What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.

Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer. But the price would be high, as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.

The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.

He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.

Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus: What a woman really wants is to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared. And so it was, the neighbouring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.

The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened.

The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.

Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day....or night?

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?

What would YOU do? What Lancelot chose is below. BUT....make YOUR choice before you scroll down.

~

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself. Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life. Now....what is the moral to this story?

The moral is this: if you don't let a woman have her own way....things are going to get ugly!

some rough lines that came to me while I was out doing a mowing job this morning -- whether a WIP or just a couple throwaway verses, I don't know...

You can cozy up to the soundman,
Make the bartender your friend,
But there's one and only one
You can count on in the end.
No, it's not the manager,
the waitress who thinks you're cute;
At the first sign of trouble,
They're all gonna scoot!

The bouncer! The bouncer!
The bouncer is the guy!
He's the one who's there
When beer bottles fly!
Compliment his muscles,
Give him a free tee-shirt,
(Extra-extra-large)
And never treat him like dirt!

some truth to this, and some personal experience...in the 'old days' I'd be working out in the gym with the same guys I saw bouncing in the evening...the fellow you give a spot in the morning may give you a hand that night.

If
I wrote
a love song
only for you
would you complain that I sang it off-key?

Miss Sherrie's poetic style-of-the-month, a tetractys.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Well, I was right...there was a song in that quinzaine I posted last week...

THE PERSONALS

chorus 1
I saw your picture in the personals,
Right there on Yahoo.
Said you’re looking for a man;
‘Bout anyone would do!
I thought you told me you were mine
And our love was true;
So what are you doing in the personals,
Looking for someone new?

verse 1
That picture of you looks so familiar –
Wasn’t I by your side?
You cropped me right out of the photo;
Darling, that hurts my pride.
And here’s another little thing
That leaves me mystified:
Why are you listing yourself as a widow
And telling folks I died?

repeat chorus 1

verse 2
You look real nice there on the screen,
Have a winning smile;
Wondered what you’re looking for
And read through your profile.
I see you’d like a guy who’s loaded,
Maybe has a private isle;
Why can’t you just be happy with
A trailer park lifestyle?

chorus 2
I saw your picture in the personals,
Right there on Yahoo;
You ask what I was doing there,
What I was planning to do.
Maybe I was only curious,
Maybe just browsing through,
Or maybe I was in the personals
Looking for someone new!

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Patience, part two....

Didn't strike me when I was writing it -- I was concerned with getting my 3 stanzas with 3 lines of 3 stresses -- but 'Patience' is very close to being a sijo in form, right down to the twist in the last part. I could change the line breaks and pass it off as one with little or no other editing.

two for the price of one (okay, I was too impatient to go through two separate entries)

PATIENCE

Patience is a virtue
only for those with time
to wait. Time to waste?

I never had the patience
of a fisherman,
equipped with bait and hope;

No, I'd rather throw
that stick of dynamite
and eat well tonight.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

I wouldn't really throw dynamite in a pond...but I can be mighty impatient at times!

PERSONAL QUINZAINE

She tells me that she loves me.
Why's she still in the
personals?

Stephen Brooke ©2005

Something I wondered about a former girlfriend for quite some time. 'Course when we broke up, it was all much clearer...hey, maybe this should grow into a song...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Why?

Why do men's hearts beat quicker, why do they go weak in the knees, get dry throats and think irrationally when a woman wears leather clothing?



BECAUSE SHE SMELLS LIKE A NEW TRUCK!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I put up a couple fairly high-quality mp3s online a few days ago for a possible client to check out. Thought I might as well share them. One is a choir and the other a pianist, neither of which I will name here. Be warned -- they're pretty big files.

http://insolentlad.com/music/swinglow05.mp3 (choral)

http://insolentlad.com/music/lynrags05.mp3 (piano)

Monday, June 13, 2005

All-righty! Communicom finally came and replaced my cable run and some of the hardware out on the pole so I have reliable (I hope, I hope, I hope!) high-speed internet again. No more hour-long up-and-down loads over a dial-up connection. Maybe I'll go ahead and network this place now.

Hey, and the television reception is way better too!

BOW

What bow has set me to this futile flight,
Has sent me arcing to your armored heart?
Dare I trace the journey of that dart
To some willful archer of the night,

Some jokester god who, laughing, took his aim
At a mark no man might penetrate,
Leaving me to curse both love and fate?
No, I will myself take all the blame

And know I was a fool, as are men all,
For we choose to fly and, spent, must fall.

Stephen Brooke ©2005

a bit of pastiche, done purely as an exercise -- have to keep my chops up

Saturday, June 11, 2005

There's a little essay on reading (and publishing) poetry on line here at the site of Poetry Magazine -- thoughts that might be interesting to some of you.

I was a little surprised and amused in reading their submission standards that PM considers any poem that has appeared online to be 'published' and will not accept it. Considering that most of what I put up is first draft stuff, I don't think of it as publishing so much as documentation. I would not hesitate to submit poems that have been posted at a Yahoo group or Authors Den as unpublished work; if it were accepted by an online mag, that's a different kettle of iambs.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Well, looks like I'll have an exciting weekend of watching it rain as the Tropical Storm Arlene heads up this way. It looks like she'll stay west of us, so there shouldn't be much wind, but all the precipitation is out on this side of the system.

Starting to get myself together to record the new album. The last one, the EP, was supposed to have a quick follow-up but here it is more than a year later. The title, at least tentatively, is Deadman Bay. For those who don't know, DB is the body of water directly to the left of me (that would be the west) as I type this. That's where the Steinhatchee River meets the Gulf of Mexico. And yes, Steinhatchee River is redundant in that 'hatchee' mean 'river' but so it goes.

Anyway, Deadman Bay is one of the songs I've chosen for this one. I have a list of fifteen titles and will probably stick with them. I am going to try to keep a running diary of the recording sessions and all that at my new-ish Xanga blog. I am hoping to get someone other than myself to play on this one! But just in case I can't, I'm learning the mandolin. :)

SQUAD

One by one, these dreams
take their turn at the wall.
Fire,
fire,
fire
comes the inexorable command.

No mourners here; only
forgotten seekers of dawn.
Fall,
fall,
fall,
and let the earth take you.

Who are you? it asks.
Who are you?

Stephen Brooke ©2005