adventures in dysthymia

Friday, August 28, 2009

THREE SHORT POEMS in form:

I did a deed, indeed I did,
I did a deed, as I was bid;
I did the deed with all due speed
And once I did it, ran and hid!

* * *

I laugh out loud, allowed to laugh,
I laugh out loud, though it's a gaffe;
I laugh aloud for I am proud
That when I laugh it's not by half!

* * *

I lent a loan, alone I lent;
I lent a loan and it was spent.
I lent the loan and now I moan
For what I lent was my last cent.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Little pieces, essentially as an exercise. Don't ask the name of the form, I was kind of making it up. It's good to have restrictions at times, whether they be rhyme, rhythmic considerations, or a stricter form. It forces us to come up with words we might not have used otherwise which, in turns, leads our thoughts in new directions and toward new discoveries.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DOGGEREL and doings at Peanut Road:

I just finished reading a slender book by Calvin Trillin, 'Deadline Poet: My Life As a Doggerelist.' Trillin is long time columnist and political commentator with a humorous bent. Back in the late Eighties he began adding light verse to his regular columns, one piece per week of self-described doggerel on a (usually) political topic. This book covers the early years.

I'm not one to write reviews, normally, so I won't this time either, other than to say I enjoyed the read. Wit will always win me over. Calvin Trillin has written several other books, including novels -- I may need to look into those -- and continues to work as a columnist.

However, I will paste a sample of the verse here, a non-political (except peripherally) piece about not being chosen as Poet Laureate.

ON NOT MAKING THE CUT

They've named another poet laureate.
It's not me yet.

I do want to applaud him from the bench--
To be a mensch.

And yet I've been ignored so many times.
And my stuff rhymes!

Hey! Maybe that's my problem-- rhyme's a curse.
I'll try blank verse:

Listen, selectors, I'll make a great
poet laureate, and I'm not the kind
of guy who would get uppity if you asked
him to knock out eight or ten lines for
the First Lady's birthday or anything like
that. Think about it. Thanks.


* * *
Once again, I have wasp stings. Or, more accurately, hornets this time. They were apparently attracted to the sweet smell emanating from a bottle of laundry softener and I was paying no attention as I went out in the carport to do some loads of wash. Got me on the ankle. Dang, that hurt! In the process of fleeing them, I bashed the knee on the other leg into a crate and cut it open. That's only an annoyance, however bad it looks (and it looked pretty bad while bleeding profusely). The foot and ankle swelled up considerably and I've been hobbling and complaining for a couple days. It's getting better, as it always will.

But it's something that I can count on every summer since moving here, usually more than once. I could take antihistamines and relieve it some (not a lot) but I hate the way they knock me out. I only take a pill when my allergies are really acting up.

* * *
I went to Lulu, where I have a store (Insolent Lad Media), to look into offering art prints there -- something I'd intended to do for some time -- and found that they had discontinued that line of merchandise earlier this year. I'll probably do other projects there eventually, another book or something, but I guess Cafe Press will continue to be the only outlet for my posters and prints for the time being.

I've been working on getting new higher resolution scans of my paintings for this purpose. I know from past experience that it is best to offer these only on paper products. Tee shirts and such do not work well with anything other than blocks of solid color. New product should be up soon, available via my Emporium.

* * *
I had a pretty young lady visit me from the Water Management bureau yesterday, to check the water levels in my well. I wish the government would send such visitors more frequently -- a good use of my tax dollars, I'd say!

Friday, August 21, 2009

BAD DREAMS (OF YOU)

I've been having bad dreams
and you were in every one --
sometimes you had a knife,
sometime you carried a gun.
When I tried to hide
there was no place to run;
I've been dreaming about you
and it wasn't fun.

I dreamed I was in a tower,
tall and grim and gray,
with monkeys all around,
a little too eager to play.
There I was, your prisoner --
what could I do, you say?
I threw a bucket of water
and you melted away!

I saw you on a night mare,
one of riders four;
your buddies called you Pestilence --
I guess they knew the score.
I watched you rowing away
from a desert shore,
happy to be marooned
and see you never more!

I keep having these dreams
and don't know what to do;
why don't you go and haunt
someone else brand new?
I've had enough of this,
I thought that we were through;
Oh, I've been having bad dreams
and they're full of you!

Stephen Brooke ©2009

More light verse -- I seem to be full of it lately. Well, okay, I'm usually full of it, aren't I? I reckon this could be developed into a song, if I felt ambitious. Btw, no one in particular in mind here, no ex-gf or anyone like that!

KETTLE

The kettle calls, insistently,
incessantly, saying 'Do
you want that cup of tea or don't
you?" It's not a cheerful kettle.

It whistles no happy tune, no bird-like
song to brighten my morning. Only
that one shrill note until I pour
out its eager, boisterous contents.

But I, far too prone to wander
and wool-gather, need a loud
reminder that the water is
a-boil and that time, even breakfast

time, waits for no man. Not even
for distracted poets, seeking
words to finish one last line.
The kettle calls...

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

OPEN BOOK

My life is an open book
but most of the pages are blank;
you're bound to be dreadfully bored
if you bother to take a look.

Although a bit worn with age,
the covers are nicely done;
yet nothing at all's inside --
it's page after empty page.

But since you're leafing through it,
scribble something for me.
If you could leave a nice note
or witty saying, do it.

Please keep it interesting,
so the next who reads
may be entertained --
that's all I'm suggesting.

And if it's good, they might
not put me down so soon;
in fact, I just might curl
up with myself some night.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Essentially light verse, but with, of course, deep hidden messages! :p

Monday, August 17, 2009

WE SAIL, TONIGHT

The wind blows nor' nor' east, tonight,
Not fit for man nor beast, tonight.
The thin clouds fly 'cross a darkened sky,
The moon waned to its least, tonight.

Our ship is outward bound, tonight,
To sea without a sound, tonight.
The tide runs high, the hawsers sigh
And dark lies close around, tonight.

A sure wind fills the sail, tonight,
A cold wind tells a tale, tonight.
It whispers why men strive and die;
Each song we raise must fail, tonight.

To distant ports we are away, tonight,
Beyond horizons far and gray, tonight.
The sea birds cry, the dawn we spy,
As we sail into day, from night

Stephen Brooke ©2009

I've been messing with this poem a while -- typically, a few lines sat in my notes for months, until they finally 'spoke' to me. Could well be a song, with or without a refrain.

Friday, August 14, 2009

PRETTY KITTY

There was an itty-bitty pretty kitty
Who lived in an apartment in the city;
She looked out of her window every day
And told herself 'I ought to run away!'

For right across the street there was a park
She thought the perfect place to have a lark;
'If I go there I'm sure that I shall find
Trees to climb and rocks to hide behind!

'And there in wait I patiently would lie
Until a butterfly should flutter by.
Then I'd leap out and catch it in my paws!
Why? Oh, I'm a cat, so just because.'

It seems she truly had become quite bored
By all her kitten toys and she ignored
Enticement by stuffed mice and balls of yarn.
The pretty kitty didn't give a darn!

So, through an open door the kitty slipped
And down the flight of stairs she gaily skipped;
Well, cats may not exactly skip, it's true,
Still, she bounced off to see all that was new.

She planted both her itty-bitty feet
When she reached the busy, bustling street;
There she sat and watched the cars whiz by
And wondered whether she should even try.

'Oh no," she thought, 'I could end up quite flat
And that is no condition for a cat!'
But right across the road lay all that grass --
The kitty waited for the cars to pass

And made a wild dash for the other side.
It's fortunate the street was not too wide!
Though her little heart beat double-time
The sights spread out before her seemed sublime.

But as she set out to explore the park,
Suddenly a dog began to bark;
Then another and soon there were three
Joining in canine cacophony.

It was too much; she turned around and ran
Through the traffic, right in front of a van!
As fast as four legs can, she climbed the stairs,
Dashed through the door and hid behind the chairs.

'This is where I belong, right here at home!'
The kitty thought, and vowed to never roam.
'Why, here I'll find no terrible mishaps
Just hands to smooth my fur and pleasant naps.'

The itty-bitty pretty kitty purred
But later on that night she rose and stirred --
Gazed through the window, out into the dark
And planned her next excursion to the park.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

A bit of sustained silliness. Maybe I'll do something serious later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

IN PRINT

I just got word that some of my poetry (and possibly a short story as well) has been accepted for an upcoming issue (or issues) of Scarlet, a literary magazine. I haven't been sending out stuff for a while, after getting involved in attempting to edit and publish my own mag and taking on a lot of personal responsibilities. It's nice to get some work out out there again. Naturally, it doesn't pay except in copies, but that's how small literary publications mostly work.

I do wonder if it's smart to even attempt a printed magazine these days. Online seems to be not just the way of the future but most definitely the way of the present, but I think people still think of paper as being somehow more legitimate.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

two haiku-like pieces

hot dog
with everything~
I bark

angry wasp~
hand becomes
balloon animal

SB 09

IMPRACTICAL

I am enough of an impractical dreamer
to mistrust impractical dreamers.
Let them write their books and paint their paintings.
Let them sing love songs

but don't believe the words.
They'll sing them to another next week.
Don't ask them to lead
nor hire them to follow.

They'll take their own way,
not suffering those they see as fools.
Listen to them, yes; learn to see
the things that they have seen

but mistrust the impractical dreamers.
Mistrust me.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

I've taken to watching more television this summer, mostly because I'm sitting with my mom in the evening, trying to find programming that she can follow and keeps her interest. In the process, I became a bit hooked on So You Think You Can Dance.

Anyway, watched the finale last night and may or may not turn on the next season -- I'm not that enamored of the show. I was thinking, though, that I've been a fan of what is essentially a dance show since I was a kid. And that would be pro wrestling.

I always knew that it was, as they say, 'fake,' even back then. To be honest, that made (and makes) it more interesting to me. It's a performance and I've watched it as such. Being peripherally involved with the industry back in the 80s (mostly just hanging with some bush league rasslers) made me all the more aware of the work, the nuts-and-bolts, of putting on a good show in the ring.

It IS a form of dance. Partially choreographed, partially improvised, it tells a story through movement. Not that I don't appreciate the other side of the performance, the 'acting.' Some of the wrestlers shine at one aspect, some at the other. Hulk Hogan did great on the talking part, not so talented in the ring (though he had 'presence'). There are guys with great moves who come across as stiffs in front of a microphone, such as Shelton Benjamin (though he's not totally inept or he wouldn't be where he is). And there is the occasional 'star' who shines in both areas, like, oh, Chris Jericho.

But back to the dance -- I watch a pro wrestling match for the moves and love to see something new and innovative. I want to see action that reflects the personality of the performers and speaks of a real interaction between them. This is no different than a dance duet. And, of course, there's nothing worse than sloppy wrestling! I've seen some real duds, even on the top televised programs. Maybe they need a panel of judges to keep them on their toes.

Yeah, that's it...So You Think You Can Wrestle...I think I have a winner! Remember, network executives, you heard it here first.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PEANUT ROAD is a domain name I've owned a couple years. I'd never had any plans to obtain the domain but when Microsoft Live was giving away free domain names with free sites, I decided to claim it. In that it was free, I've never done a great deal with it, and built a simple four-page site that exists primarily to direct traffic to my other domains.

Now, ML is going to start charging for the domains. The sites -- such as they are -- remain free. At Fifteen Dollars a year, I don't know if it is worth it to me to renew. I could just let it lapse...it's a good name, I know, but I don't have that much need of it.

Or if I do keep the domain name (which belongs to me, not Microsoft), I could switch it to a cheaper registrar, as I did with my Yahoo domains when they raised the price to $35 a year. Go Daddy would cost me about half as much. And then, I suppose, direct it toward pages on my main site (or somewhere). Worth it? If I ever got anything going here on Peanut Road, maybe so. Right now, probably not. I do know that the Live sites essentially suck, so without the free domain I have little incentive to stay there.

* * *

I've been playing around at FaceBook and Multiply for a week or so now, and I still have my doubts about a web presence that many people can't see. That's why I've always preferred Blogger and MySpace. Steve has nothing to hide! On the other hand, maybe Steve should have something to hide...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

KEEPING IT PRIVET

When I moved here, I was told -- by someone who should have known better -- that the bush in my yard was a ti-ti. Now the ti-ti is an attractive small native tree of the area and does have a similar appearance, but grows mostly in marshy areas, not on higher ground (I'm on a bit of a ridge, which is why the well is over 300 ft deep!). Actually, the bush is a Japanese Privet (Ligustrum, if you must).

Privet has gone wild and become an invasive species all over the Florida Panhandle. It grows vigorously along all the roadsides around here. There are a lot of invasive plants in Florida -- down in the south where I grew up, we had Brazilian Pepper, Australian Pines, Melaleuca (which we called 'Cajeputs' when I was a kid) and now there is exotic fauna, as well, parrots and pythons and walking catfish (oh my!).

Not that it's all bad. I reckon the privet is here to stay and it does grow easily, so I'm not above planting more of it around my place. It certainly seems to do better than the stuff I've bought for this purpose, Siberian Elms and other trees. I really want a bit of a screen out front (Peanut Road is pretty busy, lots of log trucks, farm equipment etc going up and down it). There are some other plants that might do well and spread themselves -- I finally got some Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) growing this year and I know it can be invasive in more temperate climates. I do suspect that it's a little too hot here for that to happen.

There are also the Nandinas. They're good in the shady areas and will spread on their own. Very low maintenance and perhaps a good choice for some erosion control on my slopes. I've a planter box full of them, ready to set out in the Fall. In the mean time, I'll keep the privet and probably plant more of it in my 'problem areas.' Btw, the little fruits are mildly toxic, so don't eat 'em! (you still alive, Abby?)

Monday, August 03, 2009

CAYO HUESO

vs 1
Cayo Hueso, the Spaniards named it,
The isle as dry as a bone;
Sometimes dozing peacefully,
Sometimes by hurricanes blown.
They left it as they found it then,
'Neath a lonely sky,
Where the tropic sun still burns
And the frigate birds fly.

vs 2
But the British came, in time,
Then the United States,
And Yankee seamen built their port
Upon the Florida Straits.
It's where the Atlantic meets the Gulf,
And southward, Cuba lies;
The world lay right across the horizon,
Just beyond their eyes.

ref
We're sailing down to old Key West,
Down the mangrove coast;
Sailing down to harbor there
'Long side a smuggler's ghost.
I'll show you round my old Key West,
She is a gracious host;
So pour the rum and sailors all,
Let us raise a toast
To Cayo Hueso, (to Cayo Hueso!)
To old Key West.

vs 3
The pendent on an island necklace,
Gem of the Florida keys:
Gold and jade and amethyst,
Set in the turquoise seas.
Audubon had tarried there
And Papa Hemingway;
When I get back to old Key West
I'll be there to stay.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

A few fragmentary lines of this piece had sat in my notes for three years or so -- I'd had an idea of writing an 'historical' Florida song but wasn't exactly inspired. Considering the end result, perhaps I'm still not. It is pretty clumsy but I needed to get it out of my system (and my notes). Who knows whether it will have any further development? I know it's the sort of thing that I might be inclined to cannibalize for ideas later on.

Wed Evening: I thought I'd be putting this away for a while, maybe come back and see what I could do with it later, but I sat down this afternoon and in a few minutes managed to fix what I thought were the roughest spots (though it still needs work) and write out a little nautical-esque tune for it. So I'm half-way happy with it now!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

THE OLD SAMURAI

Every enemy
is dead, save time.

What need have I now
of this sword,

other than to fall
upon it?

Stephen Brooke ©2009