Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ON THIS HALLOWEEN, a few mentions of this and that and the other thing:

Today is one year since I moved in at Peanut Road. I might have hoped to have gotten more done here in that time, but I'm okay with things as they are. Taking care of my mom and my business (such as it is) has taken up more of my time than expected.

Speaking of business, this may not really qualify but Peripheral Vision Magazine is now open for submissions for the spring issue. Poetry, art, fiction, reviews, what have you. No 'theme' for this first issue -- just getting it out will be enough!

With the noise Google has been making about integrating Orkut and Blogger and their various other services, I decided to go get me an Orkut page of my own. It's easy if you already have a Google mail account. Not much there at this point that really makes the place attractive (to me) but maybe eventually, so I'm going to be ready. I've read that non-members can't see the pages -- don't know if that's so, but if the link don't work, that's why.

Well, only about a week till I'll be heading over to White Springs for the Florida Folk Festival. I hope to be there midday on Thursday with Mary and Frank and hang for a while. Of course, I'll have to leave and go off to Tuskegee on Friday to record Lynda Garcia's recital. Definitely getting back over there before the weekend is over! Anyway, for those who might be interested, here is Mean Mary James' YouTube page with five videos at the moment. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Elvis sang it's now or never,
but it's already too late.
Julie sang cry me a river;
is it time to open the gate?

Van waited at the gates of dawn,
but all I see is black.
BB told us the thrill is gone;
can I ever get it back?

John and Paul sang love me do,
and though you don't love me,
Elvis sang I will be true
and so I'll always be.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

purely a bit of silliness!
PERIPHERAL VISION magazine is almost ready for its start-up. I'll be posting submission standards and such at the site within the next day or two. Took a while to write up just what I wanted to say, plus set up mailboxes, work out my 'look' and so on. Still a work-in-progress, of course.

I'm hoping to get the premiere issue out in the Spring sometime. Maybe at the equinox? That very much depends on the number and quality of submissions and how much time I have! I will be looking for not only stories and poetry but also artwork, reviews, essays...and I wouldn't mind a semi-permanent columnist or three if anyone out there is interested.

God speaks to each of us;
alas, that old devil
is right there whispering
in our other ear.

Who is wise enough
to always know which is which?
Who can say: God told me this
or God said to do that?

You can ask the priest
and he'll have his answers.
you might ask your mother;
she'll have hers as well.

You-know-who whispers
in their ears too. Even mom's.
Ask your heart; if it
is good, it will know.

It will know the truth,
no matter how many the lies
come whispering to our ear.
It knows the voice of God.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

THIS DUTCH BOY must be pretty sick by now (he'd be pretty old too, but let's not cloud the issue with that). This is the cover of a little booklet I came across in my grandfather's belongings, a promotional give-away from Dutch Boy Paints. My grandfather, Louis Page (my mom's father) was a traveling hardware salesman at the time this was published, 1928.

It seems odd now that they were touting the fact that their paint contained lead! And to kids, no less.

Grandaddy Page later settled down in his own hardware store in Columbus OH and lived to the pretty decent age of 89, despite smoking cigars every day and enjoying his Scotch of an evening. He was also a bit of a poet -- I'll have to organize his writing some day and perhaps post some -- and a darned good piano player.

I may have to take up cigar smoking again, too (already have the Scotch part covered).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I've hit a bit of a creative lull here; it won't last but right now I'm spending most of my free time winterizing the house, setting up the studio and so on. Hey, the better organized I get the place, the more easily I can create down the line, right?

Maybe I can get onto those illustrations I talked about in the 360 blog. Maybe I can get back to working on the song about that woodpecker! (I think my inspiration flew off and is hiding in the swamps with him.)

Another rainy day at Peanut Road. Any precipitation is welcome, of course. Time to get back to work...more later.

Monday, October 22, 2007

THE PIANO RECITAL by Lynda Garcia is back on for Nov 9, so it looks like I won't be camping at White Springs for the Fla Folk Festival after all. Maybe I'll be able to stay on Sat night; anyway, I will almost certainly drive over for the day on Sat Nov 10.

Let's face it, although I enjoy the festival and have gone every year since 2001 (when my former girlfriend introduced me to the event), the recording work is more important to me. My friend Lynda is more important to me. And I'm a sucker for classical music, anyway. It's what I listen to most of the time. Shoot, I even dabble in writing it.

So, off to Tuskegee on Friday the 9th -- the recital is 6PM and free, if anyone is interested. It will be in the University Chapel (which is actually a large concert hall that sometimes does double duty for religious services), as usual.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I PROMISED pictures, didn't I? Well, we had a problem with the Minolta so those pictures will never appear here. So, I stepped outside with the cheapo digital and snapped a couple shots just for the heck of it.

Here's the frequently mentioned firepit. The yard around it needs to be lowered and leveled; once that's done there will probably be a second row of rocks. Or I guess they're stones, now, since they're being used to build something. I won't post pics of the piles of brush and limbs waiting to be burned.

And here's the Lovely Lisa, napping on the porch. I'll try to get Captain Bones some other time. I think she's finally beginning to tolerate his presence. I don't think she's very tolerant of me interrupting her nap, however.

Monday, October 15, 2007

THE BEARD is a week old now. I think I'll keep (or I would have shaved before church yesterday). It comes in for too gray on the chin but maybe that will just make me look distinguished...

Anyway, it's nice not to have to spend time shaving. I reckon I'll keep it at least through the folk festival in November. I won't need to take a shaver along then!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Who am I but you?
Spark from the same spark,
we burn with one light.

In our hearts is the dawn
and the setting sun;
the wheeling stars and moon.

Be a bird and a cage;
sing until I come
to your forgotten doors.

Entering, I free you;
and in the ache of your leaving,
you bind my heart like a wound.

Who are you but I?
Standing at the roots
of time, I speak your name.

Stephen Brooke ©2007
The tentative performance schedules for the Florida Folk Festival (Nov 9, 10, 11) are out. I don't know when they'll show up on the festival site but here is when and where Mean Mary and Frank should be playing:

Sat...1130AM...Under the Oaks
Sun....100PM...Seminole Camp
See y'all there, I hope!

All my poems are religious.
All my poems are political.
All my poems are about sex.
All my poems are about death.

But then, that's life.

All my poems are about me.
All my poems are about you, too.
Yes, my poems are about us
and the universe and God and infinity.

Even the short ones.

All my poems are humorous.
All my poems are serious.
All my poems are about love.
All my poems are about depression.

Same thing, pretty much.

All my poems are about the same thing.
All my poems are about nothing.
All my poems make people go 'huh?'
All my poems eventually end.

Stephen Brooke ©2007
HERE IS WHY I don't have a cell phone. One reason, anyway. If you have to have one, folks, get a headset so you don't have to hold the thing next to your brain.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


All his tools are here now.

The hammers and screwdrivers,
the table saw that nearly
took my finger once.

See? Here's the scar.

There is rust: the rust
of long years' illness
and two more since his death.

They've mourned long enough.

And so, I will clean them,
shelve them, make them ready.
Who else would do it --

do this one last chore?

Stephen Brooke ©2007
RIGHT BRAIN or left brain? Here is a cute little test to find out -- just decide which way the dancer is twirling!

I have to admit, if I would look away a second she would sure enough seem to have changed direction. But I mostly saw clockwise, i.e the supposed 'right brain' response.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Pre-owned dreams here, barely used;
Why pay more for new?
We always keep a few on hand
Just for folks like you!
Not too worn, never abused:
We know where they've been.
If they don't fit, we understand;
You can trade them in.

Couldn't we entice
You with something nice;
Fixed up just like new,
Wouldn't that suffice?
There's no better price,
Used just once or twice;
Let one carry you
Into paradise!

Buy your dreams here, all marked down,
guaranteed by me;
I patch them up, make them shine,
test them personally!
We have the finest illusions in town,
With tried and trusted themes.
Why bother with your own design?
Who needs brand-new dreams?

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Again, a song lyric more than a poem...but the sort of song I probably wouldn't bother working up these days. Oh well!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

POETRY and surfing: I'd never thought of it before, but writing a poem is a lot like surfing. You sit out there and wait. And wait. Sometimes that wave never comes; sometimes it's not worth the ride (nor the write) and you kick out early, paddle back out to try again. That next wave may be just a little too dangerous -- it could kill me (or embarrass me badly).

Just the right one comes along...and it's a ride. What one does with a wave -- or an idea -- is what it's about, turning that raw material, that raw power, into a work of art, a moment of beauty. Hey, I think I need to go surfing!


I was online, looking up something else entirely, when I came upon the French text of 'The Prayer of St Francis.' This is probably the original and fairly modern version of the prayer, as there is no evidence that Francis of Assisi wrote it nor, indeed, that it existed before the 20th Century. Anyway, I thought I'd give it a go as translator; it's a pretty simple bit of French (ideal for a guy who has only bit of French) and the intent was more to go for the poetic truth than strict translation. I have in the past, fooled around with translating from Spanish and French, mostly folk songs for my own use. Figured I could shake off a little rust...hmmm, it might take a good scrubbing with a wire brush and a shot of Derusto...


make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hate, let me bring love.
Where there is hurt, let me bring pardon.
Where there is strife, let me bring accord.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is shadow, let me bring Your light.
Where there is grief, let me bring joy.

Oh Master,
let me not so seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in losing ourselves that we are found.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are reborn to life eternal.


trans. s. brooke ©2007

Not surprisingly, considering the relatively straightforward text, it's not a great deal different from other translations out there. Just a teensy more of my own voice in it.

Anyway, I was actually looking for versions of the Canticle of the Sun when I was sidetracked by the Prayer. St Francis has always held a special place for me; I wasn't surprised to find the parallels between his Christian mysticism and the Sufi tradition (which in turn may owe a debt to yet earlier T'ang Dynasty Taoist-tinged philosophy and poetry).

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Sittin' on the porch with a glass of ice water,
flickin' at the bugs with a tattered flyswatter,
watchin' the ceiling fan turn.
My dog and I are dozin' in the shade;
man, I tell you we've got it made
and there's ice cream in the churn.

Sittin' on the porch with my fishin' pole,
'Bout to head off to my favorite hole;
all the work is done.
Soon it's goin' to be September;
when summer's gone, I'll still remember
these golden days of sun.

The last days of summer are fadin' away;
seems like it was yesterday
I was watchin' the fireflies play
tag with the stars on a night in May.
Crops will be ready any day --
fields of cotton, fields of hay;
wish those summer days could stay
but the last days of August are fadin' away.

Sittin' on the porch on a soft summer night,
my girl's beside me and I feel alright,
strummin' my guitar.
Coolin' down, a bit of breeze;
ask to kiss here and she agrees --
wished it on a star.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

A song (obviously?) -- not sure just where and how often I would repeat that refrain. Twice, at least, I reckon. Should have finished this a couple months ago, eh? Oh well, better late than never and October isn't a bad time to be looking back to the summer.
This week is my mom's birthday. 89 and still going strong. Considering that my dad made it to 91, I reckon I may have some pretty good genes for longevity. Nothing like picking the right parents!

Lately I've been doing some fairly extensive revamping of the website. The Insolent Lad, that is. The fact that I've been adding new material there, such as pages for the Artists and Vagrants Studio and my literary magazine (it's coming , really!) led me to get off my duff and get to work. Well, actually I had to get onto my duff in front of the computer, didn't I?

Also, of course, having my name and website address on a television show made me realize that I needed to spruce things up there. Not that I expect hordes of avid fans to suddenly type in my URL.

I'm experimenting with options for Peripheral Vision Magazine, in terms of how to publish each issue. I do hope to make them available in PDF format, but the current issue should also be directly accessible at the site, without having to open an Adobe Reader. I always hate having to do that in my browser. It's slow and sometimes crashes the whole thing. But then, I'm on dial-up so those using high-speed may not mind. I'll keep messing with it -- and be ready to send submissions soon!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

CAFE AMERICANA aired the show with me as guest on Tuesday night and will repeat tonight. I've seen it now on DVD; unfortunately, all the 'fun' parts (like me on banjolele) didn't make the final cut. I probably seem much more sober than I actually am. There are some nice clips of Mary on the Panama Beach on the same program.

Incidentally, thought I'd mention that Mary James (and Frank and the rest of us) is no relation to my friend Jenny James of the duo (with husband Ron Gilbert) Roseville Fair. Btw, Jenny and Ron need themselves a much better website! I met the couple when we were all semi-regulars at a coffeehouse in northern Tampa. A defunct venue now, as so many are. Missed hanging with them at their camp at Willfest this year. Had an emergency and had to leave early! Maybe next time.

Been doing some cooking today. Baked my patented low-fat oatmeal scones. Applesauce is the key ingredient. Also made hummus. Must have hummus on hand; more often than not, I use black beans rather than garbanzos. Just prefer the flavor, though both are good! I try to stick with vegetarian fare, when possible. Or lacto-vegetarian, if you will. Not for any health reasons, particularly, it's just my take on having a certain reverence for life.

I unravel threads torn from my sanity,
weaving garments pleasing to your vanity;
now the monk's black cowl conceals a motley jester,
hides a heart of holiest profanity.
In pretense of prayer, I seem oblivious
to your whispered words, depraved, lascivious;
deep within my soul the leering ape ancestor
howls and mocks this pretense of humanity.

When a muted love speaks its ambivalence,
let me don the garb of gaudy eloquence;
choose some torn and tailored suit of my despair,
yet another patch upon my reticence.
These remain my secrets, these remain my lies;
these are sins I must keep hidden from your eyes.
Which of my fine empty rags shall next I wear,
best to clothe the silence, feigning innocence?

As unravel threads, my ill-stitched seams will fray;
I come ever to you in such disarray,
all my nakedness veiled in false modesty
tracing steps of my own decadent ballet.
For each lover will become the one in time
and, together, name the price paid for this crime;
then in penitent's robes, seeking amnesty,
shall I doff the tangled threads of yesterday.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

this'n took a while...