adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, April 25, 2009

FOR ANY who might be interested, here is 'Mean' Mary's performance schedule at the Florida Folk Festival:

Fri May 22 -- 1:00 PM -- Song and Story Tent
Sat May 23 -- 5:30 PM -- Under the Oaks
Sun May 24 -- 7:30 PM -- Old Marble Stage

Looks like she'll be able to sleep late -- always nice if you've been up all night playing in the campground!

Friday, April 24, 2009

SHALLOW

I too can be a shallow poet,
To say that I am sad and show it
And how each love has left a scar;
Oh, I'll make certain that you know it!

I'll tell of mountains spied afar,
the night I wished upon a star;
It's all part of the shallow poet.
For such cliches are what we are

And our use of them never ends,
Our very thought on them depends!
So let me post another verse
For all my shallow poet friends

(Whose work is, by and large, much worse).
A shallow poet's rarely terse,
Still each and every poem ends...
But then so does the universe.

Yes, I can be a shallow poet
If I don't think deep thoughts and blow it!

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WHAT WITH it being Earth Day and all that, I thought I'd post a pic of my 'washing machine' --

Who needs one of those big boxes that uses too much water and electricity? This requires nothing but 'lad power' and a tub of water to operate. A lot cheaper to buy too.

I've been using it about a year now and it does just fine. I think I actually get my laundry cleaner with it! Naturally, I use a 'solar' clothes dryer as well. Forget electric dryers; they're a waste of space and energy.

I gave myself some birthday presents yesterday. A big heavy-duty set of pruning shears -- spent the day lopping off branches and sprucing up the place. Also more block-out curtains to help quiet the house/studio a little more. Every bit of attenuation helps.

So, I should get onto recording, right? Well, after I pick up all the branches lying on the ground, perhaps I shall...my intention was to do a simple 'folk' album but the more time I spend on it, the more I feel like making it more polished and produced. After all, I'm not much of a player and that will show if I keep it simple! One way or another, I will have at least one song finished and posted online soon -- my song about the Florida Folk Festival. Want to have it out there before the festival occurs at the end of May.

And then, fifteen more...chose 'em all some time back, though there may end up being a change or two. Okay, back to work. More later!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I HAD HOPED to get over to Marianna this weekend for the art festival but obligations here at home prevented that. So it goes. What free time was available on Fri and Sat went into the yard and garden.

The heavy and persistent rains we've experienced over the past few weeks pretty much ruined my attempts at flowerbeds, washing away seedlings. I've set out and salvaged what I could now -- at least I should get some veggies. And the rains certainly should have helped all the trees I got in the ground last month and gave them a good start before the dry season takes hold.

Which it will. Before we know it, the love bugs will be out on all the roads. I can hardly wait...

The birthday is coming up on Tuesday. I'll be older than last year but not as old as next. Yesterday was my sister Jeanne's birthday. Won't say how old she is but we could have sung a famous Beatle's song for her.

I guess it's okay to put on some age. At least I still have all my hair. Which is getting pretty long again. Hey, if you got it, flaunt it, right? I have the fixings for my birthday dinner ready. Of course, I have to do the fixing myself. My old favorite, eggplant lasagna. Used to be Stroganoff on the big day but now I'm vegetarian. Mostly.

If the eggplant in the garden do well, I may be eating this a lot later this year!

The wild privet bushes are blooming. Very fragrant. The bees love them. Looks like lots of fruit this year. The wild black cherries are really covered with little greenies. Something for the birds -- they're far too small for humans to fool with them. They -- and the privet -- grow wild everywhere around here. Not a bad looking tree at all. Between the two, one could do a pretty nice, maintenance-free (and free) landscaping job.

No peaches this year, however. My little (well, it was like 8 ft high) seedling tree died. I think it was just too close to the big live oak. Oaks do sort of poison the ground below them (as do some other trees, such as Eucalyptus). The new peach trees are not large enough to bear this year and probably not next. I'll get some pears, though. Always get more pears than I know what to do with. I do intend to set out another pear tree or two next year. Another low maintenance and nice looking addition.

If I could afford it, I'd have some of the oaks removed. They're too big for me to tackle so I guess I'll have to live with them for a while. Ha, they may well outlast me.

The magazine is somewhat on hold. I do hope to get out a 'summer edition.' With any luck, while it's still summer. So I'm still open to any submissions -- reviews, stories, poetry, art, essays, etc. I'll admit, I've been letting it take a back seat to the music lately, and to my duties as a caregiver. I need to transfer the 'peripheralvisionmag.com' domain too. Yahoo jacked up their prices to a ridiculous level. Maybe I'll switch it over to GoDaddy. No sense in letting the domain(s) go and I'll still host them at Yahoo, via my Insolent Lad site. At least for now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WOUNDED

Our love was a wounded animal,
Seeking a place to die.

There were no darkened forest depths,
No den where it might hide;

Only the cruel sun of passion
In a sky of despair.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

In a sijo-like form, though certainly not a sijo in any traditional sense.

Monday, April 13, 2009

GOING TO THE SPRINGS

Going to the springs,
gonna float down the river;
Clear and cold,
it'll make you shiver.
Kids are diving
from rope swings;
The air is sweet
and the water sings.

We're going to the springs.
oh, we're going to the springs!
It's about the very best
place I know!
We're going to the springs,
yes, we're going to the springs!
Hope springs eternal
while the springs still flow!

Relax in the shade
of a big gum tree;
There is always plenty
of wildlife to see.
At Manatee Springs
the sea cows float by,
But at Weekiwatchee
a mermaid caught my eye!

Blue Springs, White Springs
any color will do;
And if you want them all
there's Rainbow Springs, too!
Wherever they rise,
south or north,
The world drinks
and life springs forth.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Maybe three years ago, I started writing a song about the springs of Florida, intending it for a competition (at the Springs Fest). It never got very far.

But what lyrics and ideas I had finally came together -- after a fashion -- and this is the somewhat mediocre result. I've been stuck indoors with another heavy storm front passing through today so I'm getting some writing done, for better or worse.

I KNOW

I think what you think
But I say it out loud;
I say what you say
But in front of a crowd.

I want what you want
But I do what it takes;
I do what you do
But don't hide my mistakes.

I feel what you feel
But I know what it means;
I know what you know
But it's not what it seems.

I know who I am --
I am who you are;
From here to there
Is not very far.
A broken mirror
Multiplies
Its images
And all its lies.

I need what you need
But I see my bonds;
I see what you see
But I look beyond.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

A little nod to my art-punk roots. I may or may not bother to finish working up music right now -- giving it a rest might lead to less generic results.

LOSS

It takes a long time when we lose someone. And we don't really want to lose them completely, after all. We do want to hold those memories and there is a different pain in knowing they will fade.

I still sometimes think of my first 'girlfriend,' who passed away when we were both eight. The face is no longer there but, fifty years later, I remember Martha's voice, I remember eating lunch with her on the back steps of the auditorium, I remember getting on the bus one morning and hearing that she was gone.

She will never fade away entirely, I know. Other people have and that's to be expected. Old friends, even old lovers...lost only to time but gone, just as surely.

Yes, life goes on. In a sense, every loss is also a gain, for we take away the memories and lessons that make us who we are, that make up life. The more life we have in us, the more alive we become, the more alive we are and will remain.

I'm certainly more alive now than when I was young. I feared the world then. I feared loss and, therefore, also feared gain. Now I know that the only thing I can truly lose is myself.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

POSITIVITY

I'm a very positive person. Positive that something will go wrong.

It always does, you know. But things go right, too, and it all ends up how it will end up. Life may be a bowl of cherries but the whipped cream is optional.

I'm not a particularly important person. No one is, compared to the universe and, perhaps, an infinity that lies beyond it. I am as important as anything else in that universe, however; it would not be complete without me.

Nor would infinity be quite as infinite. We don't want any under-sized infinities, do we?

I was once young and stupid. That's no crime but it felt like one at the time. Now I'm old and stupid but I don't feel guilty about it.

After all, by now I've done enough other things in my life to feel guilty about. And I'm positive I'll do more of them.

If I were a magnet, I'd attract negative people. That may explain much of what has happened in my life.

Maybe if I was more negative I'd attract positive people. But I'm not sure I'd like them.

I wake up with a positive attitude. Sometimes that slips a bit by bedtime.

But there's always tomorrow.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

MEAN MARY -- here's Mary's 'booking video' that she put together for her press kit. Now she has her 'new' solo act together, she's actively seeking bookings.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I guess there are some kids playing basketball on television or something...don't know, don't watch it, bores me. The important news, however, is that the Braves won the opening game of the baseball season!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

WILD GUAVAS

Along the abandoned railroad tracks
where the palmetto had been cleared
away and not yet reclaimed its domain,
its scrub country birthright, we came
to gather wild guavas. My brother and I
brought buckets and bags and a twenty-two
to plink at the empty cans we found --
we always found cans, mostly beer
but sometimes soda. Either works
for target practice. But the guavas,
that's why we came: sweet and tart,
full of worms but free and the worms
didn't matter once they were cooked
down with plenty of sugar. I know
about the guava jelly and the paste
found at stores or those roadside stands
for the tourists but there's nothing
better than homemade guava preserves
topping a bowl of vanilla icecream.
That's how Florida tasted to me.
We gathered as many as we could find,
as many as we could carry home;
there Mom took charge and filled the house
with their aroma, simmering in
the big dented stock pot and even
outdoors we'd catch that perfume sifting
through the open jalousie windows.
It's been too many years since I picked
a wild guava, a long time since I was
a boy with a bag and a rifle and an eye
out for snakes and I don't know
if they grow there anymore.
But they did; they did, back then.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

When the phrase Wild Guavas suggested itself to me, I thought it would become a song (and perhaps it will someday) but instead it grew into this rather prosy poem (which could have been formatted as a prose poem but I chose to break it up into rough tetrameter).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

BEING STUCK at home this weekend, I'm spending a little time on my recording projects. It's been far too damp to run microphones lately but I am working up midi arrangements. Even on acoustic songs I often like to start this way (though I hate working to a 'click track' and have steadfastly refused to ever practice guitar to a metronome). The danger is that I get carried away with all the interesting sounds one can use so I try to keep it very simple; after all, most or all of the midi will probably not make it to the finished product.

Someday, though, I will certainly do that synth-based new-agey album that's in me. I'll probably talk more about this at the Peanut Road blog in a while.

* * *

I noted elsewhere that my list of authors a few days back was rather thick with relatively conservative and, often, catholic men. I'm not quite sure what that says about me...I'm certainly not conservative by today's definition. Perhaps they weren't either, actually! I prefer to think of myself as an extreme moderate. :)

But I suppose I am decidedly old fashioned in a number of ways. And, I am pretty much Catholic, at least in my way of looking at the world. That's ingrained -- I've no doubt that my affinity for the symbols and metaphors of the mystic tradition have their origin there. That mystic tradition goes way back, you know...well before Francis of Assisi and the rest of medieval Europe was influenced by the ideas and poetry of the Sufis. Who, in turn, owed not only to a long Mid-Eastern tradition (which impacted Christianity from the start) but also drew from the Taoist mysticism of T'ang Dynasty China. I think continuity is a good thing.

Though, of course, it must be counterbalanced by new ways of looking at things, new metaphors, new insights. Balance, both within and without, should be the goal. Enough meandering...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

IT SEEMS unlikely that I'll find my way down to the Dunnellon (lovely town, by the way) area this weekend for the Will McLean Festival. Alas, that's two years in a row. Those who make it there, have fun!

I am hoping to make it to a more local festival in a couple weeks, the Marianna Arts Festival and BBQ Cook-Off on April 17 and18. The entertainment schedule is not yet posted but some folks I know will be there, the band Swiftwater, flutist Jonny Lipford, and (according to her site) Veronika Jackson.

And, of course, I will, one way or another, make it to the 'big one,' the Florida Folk Festival towards the end of May. This would be my ninth consecutive year, which isn't a lot compared to some folks, but I don't plan to mess up the record now. As mentioned before, my niece 'Mean Mary' James is playing this year, as a solo act (husband Johnny will probably be along to photograph). She's been working on possibly doing a John Hartford-like rhythm thing with her feet to make up for Frank not being there to play with her. I reckon at the festival she could find a slew of musicians who would be willing to fill in or play some percussion, however.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

SALESMAN

He takes the bible from one motel
And leaves it at the next;
Says it's his way of spreading the Word.
Plays the radio while he drives,
Remembers half the lyrics
To every country song he's heard.

His father was a traveling salesman,
It seems that he's the same;
Town to town, keeps selling his song.
All the words he put together
He now believes himself,
He's been telling his stories so long.

Every road has a different story to tell,
But by now he knows them all too well.
Every road has another story to tell,
But in every town he brings the same one to sell.

Eating moon pies with a fork,
Another roadside stop;
Checks his old, misfolded map.
Thinks he needs a new one soon,
Reclines the driver seat;
Just enough time to take a nap.

He knows by now tomorrow's just
Another destination,
But reckons it's as good as any.
On the way from here to there,
Does it even matter
Whether it's one year or twenty?

Stephen Brooke ©2009

A song, of course. The 'salesman' here is a metaphor and need not apply literally to a traveling salesman. Though it could and actually did when I sat down and started putting this together. My poems/songs rarely end up being about the same thing as when they started out. It could refer to an entertainer and that aspect was certainly in my mind but we're all sort of traveling salesmen too...my, how profound. :)

I kind of threw together some little bits of imagery I'd been hoarding for a while. I think they work well enough here. If the meter seems a bit odd, that's because it IS a song with some held syllables and so on. I have a tendency to write my songs far too strictly metered at times!