Friday, January 28, 2011


Windows open
to the soft dusk,
I listen. Spring comes,
calling 'Chuck-Will's-Widow'
across the fields.

I heard this song
in the hollows
of my childhood.
I knew it as the voice
of first love,

tenuous, tender.
It is the song
of years past;
the light of fireflies
is in it.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

The obligatory 'spring poem.' It is feeling rather spring-like here at the moment. A little too early to expect it to last, though.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I stopped to put a half a tank of gas in the truck a few days ago and was shocked by how the price had risen. I've been very much out of the loop on that, not having gassed up since July! I hardly drive anywhere these days, just up to Graceville for groceries at the Piggly-Wiggly every ten days or so -- a three mile drive.

For a good bit of the summer and autumn I was definitely burning more gas in the lawnmower than in the truck. That's something that will be starting up again fairly soon.

Actually, if there were not the need to get to the Pig and back as quickly as possible, I'd walk or ride the bike. Though I'd be a bit leery of biking on Peanut Road -- it's very busy at times, lots of trucking, and no bike paths or sidewalk areas. Obviously not a place to roller blade, either, something I used to enjoy.

It's been getting nice enough to get some yard work done. Got me a new 36 inch bow saw and have been pruning and sawing. I do need to get a professional in here, however, to remove my largest oak tree. It overhangs the house and is a disaster just waiting to happen. I'd have way more open yard space for garden or whatever if it were gone.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

WITHIN a month, I should be 'spring cleaning' and moving myself back into the rooms I've closed off during the coldest part of winter. That will include, probably, removing the drop ceiling I installed in the music room. It has not held up well and I would just as soon have the look of those open rafters. That does mean a certain amount of construction work on the upper walls...well, we'll see if time and money permits any of that.

Because a much more important concern is totally 'child-proofing' the place. The need for that was made obvious to me today when I walked into my mom's bedroom and found her with a mouthful of safety pins, chewing away. She simply cannot be trusted not to put small objects into her mouth now so I'll have to keep everything out of her reach. That may not be so easy in the office and studio areas and I can't just close and lock a door, as I need to be able to keep an eye on her. Not to mention, allowing air flow in hot weather.

But right now, another serious cold spell is just ending, the second one this winter with temps dropping into the low 20s. Maybe the last? I'm hoping so. In a month, I should not only be working indoors but perhaps starting on garden as well. Or at least, planting a few flats in preparation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Before the bedtime story
came rosary.
One decade only, each night
as we were small
and would have fallen asleep
before we finished
the whole sixty-six
(or sixty-seven, if you
were one of those people)
prayers. Mom recited
the first half of each,
we -- my brother and I,
pajama-clad supplicants --
completing, moving our hands
to the next bead,
anticipating the Glory Be
that would mark the end
of one recitation
and the start of another.
Both were religious experiences.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

The whole poem exists pretty much so I can use the punch line. Once stated, there was probably no sense in writing more -- I prefer to leave anything else implied. I suppose the bedtime routine of prayer and book are a bit entwined in my mind...or would I have worshiped books anyway? :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

For the past five days or so, WRWA radio (the Troy State University station) in Dothan has been off the air due to a fire at their transmission site. Or, according to their website, broadcasting at very low power -- it comes to the same thing at this distance (around 30 miles) . This is the only public broadcasting station I can normally pick up here over the air (I have dial-up internet so don't listen to radio via internet) and my only source of broadcast classical music. Not to mention the various weekend music shows, such as Prairie Home Companion.

This would be no more than a minor irritation for me, as a listener, but it is one of the ways I have of keeping my mother entertained through the day. That makes it more of an inconvenience -- let's hope they're back on the air soon. In the mean time, I keep running through the CD collection. Maybe I should set the old Mac Mini up as a music server and let it play random music...yeah, when I have the time...

* * *

More cold weather coming! Maybe not quite as bad as the arctic spell last month, but close to it. I take some solace in the thought that this is statistically about the coldest time of year and it should -- statistically -- get warmer from here on. Here's hoping we don't get snow in February like last year.

At least winter didn't linger much last year. Spring weather (and summer as well) rolled in pretty quickly. I don't mind heat as long as there is also rain -- it could reach 90 every day and I wouldn't complain.

* * *

I haven't been sending out any writing since I had some stuff accepted by Scarlet Literary Magazine more than a year ago. I suppose it will publish someday -- looks like the plan now is to go online rather than print. Anyway, I did decide to enter some poems in The Southeast Review's competition this year. SER is the literary publication of Florida State University and therefore semi-local.

I'm not really big on contests, even though I've done rather well in them in the past. And I hate reading fees, naturally, being an impoverished poet. The three pieces I've chosen are, however, printed out and in an envelope ready to mail, along with my check. So we'll see how it goes.

I do know the gentleman (an instructor at FSU) who is judging writes in practically the antithesis of my own style. Very wordy, by my standards. Whether that matters, who knows?

* * *

I was reading that a lot of folks are opting to retire and collect their Social Security benefits at 62 recently. With the economy and unemployment as it is, this does make sense -- many of these people probably could not get a job as things are. This is a good thing, actually, as it removes them from the job market and leaves more for the other seekers of employment.

In just over a year, I'll be eligible to take early retirement as well. It's almost certain that I will; after all, I've not taken in much money the last ten years as I spent a great deal of my time as an unpaid caregiver for, successively, my father and mother. Whether Mom will still be with me in a year, who can say? If she is, the extra SS money would be welcome. If she isn't, I'd probably find it difficult to get much of a decent job with my lack of a recent employment record.

Of course, I will continue with the not-well-paying creative work. Indeed, I would eventually be able to devote much more of my time to it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Martial Arts

When everything
is said and done,
there is no arguing
with a gun.

A karate chop
or a kick to the gullet
may be effective
but it won't stop a bullet.

So, go to your dojo
and take a lesson
But I've got a black belt
in Smith and Wesson.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

sometimes I just go from bad to verse...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Life's the tale we tell ourselves,
a song we force to rhyme --
jumbled, empty metaphors,
lines in ragged time.

The truth we shape to our own needs
is no more, no less, real
than any other lie believed,
tenet we might steal.

Act upon your faith or simply
act, it's much the same:
what matter if the rose is known
by another name?

Stephen Brooke ©2011

More along the line of three connected thoughts than one continuous idea. And, as such, there could always be more added someday. Anyway, each of these stanzas more or less could stand on its own as a little poem, Rubaiyat-style.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The idea of this parody came to me as I was playing (around with) some music. Nothing particularly clever here, just a thought that found its way to my typing fingers, and probably not worth extending further than the two verses and chorus. But you never know about that...

MARY JAMES (to the tune of 'Jesse James')

Mary James is a gal that plays the banjo fast,
She really should be seen;
She tears through Cripple Creek and doesn't miss a beat,
That's why they call that girl 'Mean.'

Mean Mary has five strings and she does wondrous things
With them, don't you know;
Remember that name 'cause she is headed for fame,
She's Mean Mary James, she plays banjo.

It is her brother Frank that plays guitar with her
And he is just as good;
He know when to play and he knows when to pray
For Mary can be mean, it's understood!

Mean Mary has five strings and she does wondrous things
With them, don't you know;
Remember that name 'cause she is headed for fame,
She's Mean Mary James, she plays banjo.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Btw, Mean Mary James has a lot more gigs coming up here in Florida this year, including once again the Florida Folk Festival in May. She'll be swinging through Central and South FL next month for several performance dates.