adventures in dysthymia

Thursday, November 25, 2010

DRUG

Work is my drug.
It helps me forget,
as all good drugs do.

That's really what you
want from that fix,
not happiness but

forgetfulness. Maybe,
just for a moment,
to leave the pain elsewhere.

Lose your self. That's
the thing, isn't it?
Work is my drug.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Most of my structured poetry is more accentual than it is metrical -- which I think is perhaps more natural for English-language poems anyway. Two accents to the line here but there is a trimeter in each line as well. So call it what you will.

Okay, all poetry is structured in some sense or it wouldn't be poetry. Even if the only structure is line breaks or such. Repeated elements, says Annie Finch are what make a poem a poem.

Yes, I do lose myself in work as another might in drugs. I like my routine, which is why, on this holiday (the official beginning of my bah, humbug season), this bit of a thought came to me. Well, you all can have your four-day weekend but I expect you to be back at work, bright and early, come Monday morning!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ROPE

God is the elephant and we
the blind men, understanding
in part but never comprehending
the whole. What part do I hold?

It doesn't matter. It is still
a part of God, even if it feels
like a piece of rope.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

My original thought was to have at least another line or two going on about how a rope can lift one, hold one, etc. Then I realized that the word rope has all those connotations anyway so there's no need to say anything else -- less is more, as usually is true in poetry.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CONTINUING to catalog and format all my poetry, I'm closing in on somewhere around six hundred poems. Added to over two hundred songs -- allowing for some overlap -- that puts me around eight hundred total. My life's work, I guess, as 'author,' though there are a handful of short stories, one bad young adult novel and a partial fantasy novel. The latter could actually stand on its own as novella (and definitely needs rewritten, expanded, and then continued. Someday.). Oh, and all those articles I wrote for bodybuilding magazines way back when...that seems like another lifetime now.

I'm not including the short-form poetry in the total. Haiku, cinquaines, etc, etc. There are quite a few and, on reading through the collection, I am quite underwhelmed by them. I do think many should be expanded into some other form. I'm definitely not a haikuist!

The one short form I do feel I've done well with is the quinzaine. It just suits my way of thinking -- more French than Japanese, I suppose. It also lends itself well to sufi-like questions. The tanka I've written are a mixed batch, a few perhaps OK. I do like my sijo attempts, for the most part, but don't include them among the short form poems.

I will eventually have another chapbook out. Now and again I complete an illustration for it. This will (almost certainly) be a collection of my fantasy-oriented stuff. I'm really held back more by the need to create art than anything else. Just can't get myself settled down and working on illustrations these days.

And, after all, I should also be working on recording some songs. Also hard to get going on these days. Oh well. I have opened an account at SoundClick to put some of my music up. Nothing but one old 'classical' piece there right now.

Speaking of classical music (or whatever one would call these supposedly serious pieces I've written now and again), I've been looking for a notation program that suits me. I mostly write in a sequencing program (PG Music's Power Tracks) but it won't print out particularly useful notation. Does lead sheets well enough, though.

I suppose if I'm serious I should go for the pricey full versions of Sibelius or Finale. Sibelius is nice if one is working with Pro Tools for recording, as they somewhat integrate (both come from Avid). Indeed, there is a light version of Sibelius included in Pro Tools, I understand. I do have a less-featured version of Finale, and have also played around with the open-source free programs, Denemo and MuscScore. They're all decent enough. None of them are very good about importing midi from my sequences so I might as well just enter the notes one-by-one.

And if I'm going to do that, it also might be just as well to work with LilyPond, another free program that works sort of like html for music, i.e. it's text based. Denemo is actually a graphic interface for LilyPond. Oh well, it's not like I have time to fool with any of it right now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The gals all loved Eric Dane's beard
And cried when it just disappeared.
But when he stopped shaving
They started behaving;
In fact, some of them even cheered!

Yes, a silly limerick about an actor, who plays a popular character (Dr Mark Sloan) on a popular television show (Gray's Anatomy). I've sort of 'discovered' the show since they started airing weekend reruns of the older programs, though I've occasionally watched new episodes the last year or so. Mainly because there was nothing I cared for on other network tv (which is all I get now, with a rooftop antenna) in the same time slot.

Not CSI...never warmed to the show. GA is a bit silly at times and hardly favorite programming, but it does have reasonably compelling characters. There are only a handful of shows that I do tend to watch regularly. The Big Bang Theory, which is the only comedy that does much for me. Most of it's stablemates at CBS are, despite their apparent popularity, decidedly tawdry in my view. It says something about this country when Two and a Half Men remains one of the most popular shows on the air.

But I'm not going to lament the moral decline of America or anything like that. Mostly because I don't think they've declined, we're just more open about it. That doesn't mean I'm open TO it, however.

What else do I watch? My new favorite is Castle, which is certainly the most witty show on network television. I don't know how much of the audience actually gets all the wit and in-jokes -- I'm certain that I miss some! It's considerably better than the similar (sort of) The Mentalist (which can be entertaining enough). The 'parent,' concept-wise, of both shows, Bones, remains pretty good, thanks to its characters. And the weird science, which easily beats CSI and its ilk.

Ah, but now I have a movie channel of sorts, since THIS is being broadcast from Panama City. So if there's an old Pam Grier movie on, you know what's going to be on my screen. I do have my priorities!

Monday, November 15, 2010

On the subject of tankas (see previous post), here's a tanka-like sequence I wrote ten years ago about working alone at nights. It is, I think, an OK poem but not really very much in the spirit of true tanka. Nor would I bother these days with the strict syllable count I employed here (again, see previous post).

Janitor

a poetic sequence in tanka form

I vacuum this hall
in long swaths, not back and forth
as in the small rooms.
Burnt tuna smell fills the air;
I've sucked up another roach.

Dusting high and low,
my mind wanders here and there,
dreaming many dreams.
I may think I've missed something
but go back to find it done.

I find disorder
or papers in neat stacks by
pictures of children.
I never see these people
but know each one by his desk.

It's a moment's work
to clean dirty coffee cups,
left our once again.
But if I do it this time,
they will always forget them.

Each basket's emptied
into my can and replaced
to hold tomorrow.
Sometimes, an open drink spills;
then I have to rinse it out.

Take care not to bang
into furniture with mop
or vacuum cleaner.
I already get the blame
for enough things around here.

A note will be left
on this desk or that, asking
please do or please don't.
I try to remember who
wants what but usually can't.

Late at night, no one
hears me if I sing at work
or talk to myself.
My voice is good company
in the hours after midnight.

All the doors are locked
when I arrive; I keep them
locked until I finish.
I make my round carefully,
locking myself out again.

Stephen Brooke ©2000

anything
you can imagine
exists

as do all things
you can not imagine

SB ©2010

a thought in tanka form, sorta

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TWO more poems:

first, a new one, hot off the word processor...

Days

One day, these days,
is very much like
another. Sunday
or Tuesday has
the same sunrise,
the same routines
and need-to-be-dones.
And they do
need to be done,
oh yes. Today,
tomorrow, next week.
I'll be there; just
don't ask me what
day it is.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Nothing special, by any means, just a bit of musing on the way my days all seem to run together now. And here's an older piece, mostly just because it was the last one I was editing.

Mistakes

Love is never an illusion --
a mistake, at times, but real.
A mistake. What a mistake
it can be. But we learn.

Isn't that the old cliche?
Learn from each mistake and end
wiser, sadder, more prepared
for the next attempt at love.

Stephen Brooke ©2001

Ha, I'm not sure we ever are prepared.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AT SIXTY

I still have my hair
at sixty. That's not my doing,
of course, not my
conscious doing, anyway.

None the less, it's
a point of pride.

Lost some weight lately --
not that I was ever fat,
exactly, but now I can
wear the same waist size

I did in high school.
A little more proud

of that one, certainly.
Too bad I don't have
the body-builder muscles
anymore. But I can

get them back, you know.
It's not too late.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

A new piece. Nothing very ambitious, just a quickie.

Coinage

I stamped your image
on coins of base metal,
hoping to buy love
from the blind woman.

Whose picture is that?

No one. No one at all.
I only dreamed you,
some lonely night,
a summer night
of the soft moon.

Dreams buy nothing here.

Dream is my currency,
the bright and worthless
coinage of my life.
The sightless
turn them in their hands.

Whose picture is that?

Hers. Always hers.

Dreams buy nothing here.

I know that.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

Another oldie. I'll continue to post one occasionally...and maybe write some new stuff eventually.

Monday, November 08, 2010

ANOTHER oldie, revisited:

Weather

Graphite slabs of storm
rumbled their way from the south.
We breathed in the cool electricity
of our love. In nervous cages,
the doves fell silent;
your dogs huddled at our bare feet.
Did I kiss you then? I think
so. Or was it only
insistent rain making love
to the roof?

You filled those afternoons,
now further from me,
and poured them into
the softness of the night.
What stars burnt through, as we
wore each other's words!
Now, I slip into someone
else's. The fit of yours
grew loose; they fell
from me at season's end.

What storms divide us
when summer sings anew?
Your gift of clouds
lifts white hands to beg
my time. I have none.
Only the rains of memory
remain with me, climbing
a sullen southern sky.
Do you wear the weather
well, this year?

Stephen Brooke ©2003

AS I CONTINUE to organize the old poetry, here's a revised blank verse piece from a while back:

Passion

There must be passion: passion enough to leave
us trembling, leave us weary with delight.
Not need. Not friendship. These, too, can be love;
lives can be built on such, and happiness.

Am I so wrong in seeking more? Are you
then wrong to feel that something must be missing?
Two lonely fools are we and nothing more,
unready to accept less than our dreams.

Now we will press each memory of our love
between the pages of what might have been,
to find one day, breathe in the faded scent
of almost, of our something less than passion.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

Not anything special, I know -- maybe a bit boring even. It is not written about anyone or any time in particular, not 'personal' poetry but more of a story-telling poem, a portrait of sorts.

* * *

Had a not so good night with Mom. It was one of those times when she gets it into her head that someone has told her to go somewhere and do something. Exactly who and what is always rather vague. I think television is often the culprit on these occasions.

Anyway, I had to keep getting up and corralling her and getting her back into bed. Eventually she settled down and fell asleep, in the 'wee hours.' Steve is a bit sleep-deprived at the moment. Mom has been very much out of it lately, her short-term memory gets ever worse. She has to be told over and over that she is in her own home, that I am her son, etc. It does not look like a good winter for us.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

HAVING GOTTEN most of the four-hundred-plus poems organized that I already had (in some form) on my computer, it has come to the time when I get into the ones lying about the place on scraps of paper. Another couple hundred, I would guess, with the bulk of them coming from the years 2000 to 2003. And at least some of them rather poor, it seems, from first glance through the stack.

So there will be rewriting, most certainly. A job for those dismal winter days. Here's a little one I've gussied up for presentation:

Peg

I hammered myself
into you,
a square peg, snug
in your round hole.

We seemed to fit
together so well
unless one looked
closely and saw

I was broken.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

Roughly metered -- I'm not sure if it was meant to be when originally written! Like a great deal of the stuff from that time, it's depressingly lost-love-ish.

* * *

So, yesterday was largely a disappointment to all the liberal folks out there. But not a particularly unexpected one. Now we most likely can look forward to a couple years of grid-lock.

I'm not surprised that people are fed up. Too bad they can't figure out just what they're fed up with. The Tea Party followers are, perhaps, not really all that different from those like me who gave up on the Republicrats and went to the Green Party. Same frustrations, different solutions.

Maybe this is a good opportunity to get some of them to go Green, eh?

Anyway, those who have followed my writing here at all would know I'm very much an economic determinist and don't think the vagaries of politics have much to do with the flow of history. They're the eddies in the river.