adventures in dysthymia

Friday, February 27, 2009

SERIOUS

I am a very serious fellow,
I think deep thoughts all day,
About why things are as they are
And if they'll stay that way.

But when I try to write them down,
Each nuanced contemplation,
I end up with these same cliches --
I end in desperation!

I've had no luck when I have tried
To write insightful verse,
And should I chance to fall in love,
It goes from bad to worse.

Not eloquent nor elegant
Nor even very witty,
My poems are not me at all --
It truly is a pity.

But I remain a serious fellow,
As serious as can be,
So here's another bunch of words
Arrayed as poetry.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CHICKS

In Spring, the mailman brings chickens.
They were ordered weeks ago, following
much study of the Sears catalog.
This one's a good layer, said Dad.
Lets get at least fifty. Mom nodded;
she would be the one to fill out
the order blank, torn from the middle
of the thick catalog, write out a check
that wouldn't break a farmer's budget.
Dad and Mike have repaired the coop
(which shares a roof with the outhouse)
and now we wait. And wait! I cleaned
up the feeder and water tank myself;
Mom says we will place marbles in the water
so the chicks drink. They're pretty stupid
and need something shiny to catch
their attention. A bit like my brother.
They'll come while I'm at school,
probably, after the bus carries me
around the long gravel loop, past farm houses,
past the budding apple orchards and over
that final hill. A couple of cardboard boxes
with holes in the top so they can breathe,
soft peeping from the darkened interior.
The carrier here knows all about baby chicks
in the mail. He's been at it for a lot of Springs.
I've been helping plant the garden and Dad
says I can be responsible for feeding
the chicks when they come. We ordered
weeks ago and now the weather
is getting warmer so it's safe for them
to travel by mail. They'll come soon --
in Spring the mailman brings chickens.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

The mailman doesn't bring chickens anymore but he did drop off some trees and blueberry plants this morning. Which is what brought this memory (suitably altered with my recently renewed poetic license) and this poem along.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PORTS

Morning was full of sun, as hot and golden
as Madras curry, the sky as deep as oceans,
and the ocean as deep as eternity.

The wind wrote messages across the sails,
wrote with the wings of seabirds, dipped in salt,
of harbor just beyond my world's edge.

Every port will have its name, its face,
as familiar as yesterday, as full
of promise as the dawn -- the wharfs, the taverns,

the women of the darkened, winding ways.
Ah, the women -- their names and faces fade,
fade like the ebb tide on those distant shores

called home. Will I find the arms of either
at voyage's end? They are the dreams of star-filled
watches and songs half-heard upon the night.

And night is deeper than oceans, deeper yet,
and blacker than the pepper of Malabar,
spread before the buyers in the market.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

This may be part -- or the start -- of a longer piece. Will see. Essentially, pentameter.

Monday, February 23, 2009

IT'S OFFICIAL: Mean Mary James will be performing at this year's Florida Folk Festival, May 22-24, 2009! Frank's not along this time -- Mary will be doing a solo act, playing, as usual, a slew of different instruments. Maybe at the same time! Be there if you can; I intend to attend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some feature of the crucified face may lurk in every mirror. Maybe the face died and faded away so that God could be everyman.
Who knows? We might see it tonight in the labyrinths of sleep and remember nothing in the morning. ~Jorge Luis Borges

I've been rereading Borges lately. Perhaps my favorite Modern poet or, at least, my recent favorite (despite his sometimes not-so-admirable political leanings). This was a quote from his 1960 book of essays/stories/prose poems (take your pick), El hacedor (The Maker). Borges speaks a language of symbol, of rich metaphor, in which I would love to converse.

There are some quite excellent poets posting online, in blogs and elsewhere. It did take a while to discover them! I read through a horrendous amount of 'personal' drivel in Yahoo groups and such over the past few years. Most of the best (in my humble opinion) poets I've come across seem to come from somewhat of an Imagist approach. Which, of course, is perfectly fine.

But I need to occasionally read someone like Borges to remind me of the other side of the poetic coin, of the power inherent in words. I love words, you know. :)

Sat Feb 21: just an afterthought...one of the good things about Borges (and Neruda and other Spanish language poets) is that I know enough Espanol to read and comprehend (within reason!) the originals. I'll probably never have that with any other languages -- I know I'll never understand enough of the nuances of French to fully appreciate the Symbolists.

Once again I've gone MIA and ignored writing to my friends (or commenting on their blogs). At this point, being a caregiver has become pretty much a 24/7 job so I'll probably not have as much online time as once. Some things may simply have to give way. That may include the magazine; will see how it goes.

The last couple poems I posted were pretty lightweight. (I was a lightweight when I boxed but I wasn't pretty.) So don't take them seriously! Anyone who has read much of me knows I like to throw in these throwaways occasionally. As opposed to throwing away the throwaways.

Recording: not much headway there, alas. Simply too much else requires my time for now. I've been working on the house and yard, however. Put in a peach tree a couple days ago and have more plants on the way (I like to order from Vernon Barnes of McMinnville TN, when I can -- if time permitted, I would have loved to drive up there). Pecans, peaches, figs and so on. The last time I ordered lots of trees (two years ago) we had an extreme drought and a lot of them didn't make it. Let's hope for sufficient rain and moderate heat for this Spring!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GREED

Greed is good
when we're greedy for love,
greedy for peace.
Greed is good
when greed is for green fields,
for birds in the sky
and fish in the sea.
Greed is good
when greed is for knowledge
and for understanding.
Greed is good
when we are greedy for the happiness
in children's eyes.
I am greedy, greedy for all these things.
Greed is good.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

BOWL

Kittens are cute and so are puppies
But here I am with a bowl of guppies.

Pets are fun but I do wish
I'd something other than these fish.

I've watched and watched and I have found
That all they do is swim around.

They're very small and always wet;
They're quite impossible to pet.

Could I have something with four feet
Or even two, like a parakeet?

A loving creature that wants to play,
That I could care for every day?

Yet here I am, I guess it's fate
That I am stuck with a bowl of bait.

And now I must go feed my guppies
But I do wish they were kittens or puppies!

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Uh-oh, I'm channeling my inner Henry Gibson again.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

BABYLON BLUES

I wish the city lights would leave me alone
Oh, I wish those city lights would leave me alone
I sit by the river, thinking 'bout my home
And wonder why I ever chose to roam

Had a home once, now it's all gone
Had a home long ago, now it's all gone
Lost and forgotten, waiting for the dawn
Here I am, an exile in Babylon

I was dreaming about the things that could be
Dreaming about all the things that could be
Nothing's changed as far as I can see
Nothing's ever gonna change for me

Went and followed when I heard my dreams call
Went and followed when I heard my dreams call
Never knew my dreams would only make me fall
Dreams should come true or we shouldn't dream at all

Today has cast its shadow on tomorrow
Today has cast its shadow on tomorrow
And no one but a fool would hope to borrow
Against a future that promises nothing but sorrow

I wish the city lights would leave me alone
Oh, I wish those city lights would leave me alone
I sit by the river, thinking 'bout my home
And wonder why I ever chose to roam

Stephen Brooke ©2009

The 16-bar blues (a la Careless Love, perhaps the oldest blues song in captivity). Again, a few old fragments in my notes wrote themselves into a song (the music, too) pretty quickly.

Friday, February 06, 2009

SOLDIER OF FORTUNE

I.
I'll craft you a war of carnelian
and spilt promise,
strung upon the golden
hair of children.

Wear it when the wind
has carried my name
away, carried it from even
the ear of God.

II.
The towered clouds once bowed
to you and me;
we were a king and a queen
upon love's throne.

And there was rain that night
and the truth
of summer's heat was told
by distant lightning.

III.
In the bazaar, priests bargain
for misplaced souls,
the cut-rate remainders
no one will read.

Bid me up a little,
won't you? The stacks
of heaven and hell are full
of such already.

IV.
The trees were thick with stars
and tomorrow
when the breeze filled night
with your song.

My heart's become no more
than shadow against
the sky; an urgent wind
has scattered me.

V.
The ink of regret is dark
as the new wine;
drink deeply its promises,
the taste of someday.

I'll craft you a book of moonstone
and desert wind
that only your sleeping eyes
shall ever read.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

One of those poems I could explain in part but never fully -- but if we only write what we know and understand, I believe we will be unable to move forward. Loosely metered, for those who care about such, as is much of my stuff.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

FIRST, the story: a few years ago (five? six?) I was playing around with the idea of an alphabet book based around food. I turned out a bit of silly verse for some of the letters but lost concentra...oh, look, something shiny! Hmm? Oh, yeah, anyway I figured the stuff I'd written wasn't particularly child-oriented (except for large children such as myself) and I knew I'd never be ambitious enough to illustrate it, so the whole project went into a folder with other notes. I did look at it occasionally, even added a little.

I also cannibalized some of it for an also-unfinished song. That may be completed some other day; however, I did more-or-less finish my frivolous little alphabet book today so....

AN EDIBLE ALPHABET

A
My sister drank
Apple cider.
Now it's inside her.

B
Butter Beans
taste better
buttered.

C
It's quite a job
to eat Corn
on the cob.

D
Do not
eat my last
Donut.

E
An Eclair!
Please share?

F
Many Figs go
into bars
but none of them
drink.

G
Grapes are fruit
and so are
Grapefruit.

H
Some relish
Hot dogs.
Others prefer mustard.

I
Ice cream!
But not too loud.

J
You may plant
Jelly beans in a row
but they won't grow.

K
Kumquats
come sour
or sweet.
How come?

L
Why does
Lasagna
Always get
on ya?

M
Monkeys go for
Mangos.
Would a man go for
Mangos?

N
A Napoleon may
someday
be my Waterloo.

O
An Orange
is orange
but starts out green.
So does a tangerine.

P
Pasta,
present
or future --
I'll always eat
Pasta.

Q
Someone put Quiche
on my dish.
I wish
they hadn't.

R
I know
Rutabagas are roots
but what's a baga?

S
I yam not a yam.
I yam a Sweet potato.

T
Don't turn up
your nose
at Turnips.

U
Upside-down cake
is not a mistake.
Usually.

V
Vinegar is wine
past its prime.

W
There are many things
worse than Wurst.

X
I like
eXtra servings
of everything.

Y
A Mongol
eats Yogurt
in his yurt.

Z
Zucchini
is squash,
but greeny.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Just silliness, and subject to change!

HONESTY

I'm stingy, stubborn, and I stink;
I smoke cigars and I drink.
I reckon I'm quite a catch,
So where can I find my match?

Watch the tube in my underwear,
All day in an easy chair.
Just lounge around the house;
Who would be a proper spouse?

Honesty's the best policy
Everyone's been telling me;
I am an open book
So why does no one look?

There's stubble on my cheek,
Though I shave 'most every week;
And I'm far from being rich
But I could scratch your itch.

I admit being scared of knives
On account of my three ex-wives;
So why do much cooking here
When Kentucky Fried is near?

Honesty's the best policy
Everyone's been telling me;
I am an open book
So why does no one look?

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Okay, a total throwaway, skit-like little song. I'll try being profound tomorrow. Oh, and, of course, the real Steve is handsome, debonair and shaves most days! :D

Monday, February 02, 2009

AS USUAL, I did not watch the game yesterday. Hmm....I'm not sure if I've ever watched the Super Bowl. Sure don't remember doing so!

Indeed, I've avoided football altogether for years. Never enjoyed it and doubt I ever will.

But the Super Bowl is, like the ground hog, a harbinger of Spring. And of Spring Training -- just days until pitchers and catchers report. I'm sure anyone who has read me for long knows I'm a baseball person. Don't really care what teams win, just enjoy the drama and story of a good game.

Has there ever been any decent football poetry? I don't recall ever hearing (nor hearing of) any football poetry at all, though I've no doubt that someone has written it. Baseball is, I would say, naturally more poetic.

And I'm not talking just Casey at the Bat. The game has inspired Japanese Haiku masters. Neruda was a baseball fan.

And, of course, any game played on a warm Summer evening has something going for it.