Sunday, February 20, 2011

After mentioning 'Nihil Crocodile' in the last post, I thought to dig out this old bit of poem that's never been posted here before:

The Critic

As I drifted down the muddy stream
of consciousness, a Nihil Crocodile
surfaced by my flimsy boat of dream
and, asking me if we might talk a while,
pontificated, shedding bogus tears,
on books and music and the latest style.
Ad nauseam, he criticized his peers;
we floated on, mile after murky mile.

“I admit to hating all things new;
it is my job,” he told me, “as a critic.
Though truly, I dislike the old stuff too–
so I don’t bother being analytic.”
He dove then, stating as if well-intentioned,
“I hope my words have proven catalytic.”
But had he smaller teeth I would have mentioned
he came off as no more than parasitic.

Stephen Brooke ©2002

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Carmen Carmela is a 'traditional' (i.e. of anonymous origin and in the public domain) Spanish song. The various English translations, however, are copyrighted. Now, if I found one I particularly liked that might not matter to me but I can't say any version has impressed me.

So, naturally, I decided to do my own translation. This is not overly close to a direct word-for-word translation of the original though I think it reasonably true. And the language is, well, my sort of language so it sounds right to me when I sing it!

The song consists of a chorus and two verses:

Carmen Carmela

Carmen Carmela, light of my world,
Without your sunshine, I cannot live.
Wonderful sunrise, dawning of promise,
fill all my days with the love you give.

The fading light of the sunset
leaves only dark skies at the end of the day.
Without your sun in my heavens
my life is empty, every hope fades away.

Precious treasure of my heart,
ever be with me, be my light from above.
There is no beauty in gardens,
no bloom as lovely, as the sun of your love.

translation by Stephen Brooke © 2011

* * *

A tad of news -- I mentioned a post or so back the idea of a magazine someday or something literary anyway and I threw out the 'arachis' name. Well...I decided I might as well actually grab the name as a domain as a little extra incentive to get myself going. Eventually, at least.

Also, I've kind of moved past that silly 'Nihil Crocodile' name I've been using for publishing so I'm jettisoning it in favor of The Arachis Press. That will be when I get it online in a day or two. Arachis, as I'm sure I mentioned before, is the genus name for the peanut and I am, as you may know, situated on Peanut Road. Arachis is also a seed, in Greek, so I'm planting a seed here, I hope! If or when I attempt a magazine again it can probably share the domain with the publishing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The premiere (online) issue of Scarlet Literary Magazine is out and contains a couple of my pieces. SLM has a 'romantic' slant (even a bit Goth-y) and not my normal sort of thing, but I did have a few pieces on hand -- mostly older stuff -- that fitted there. This issue is supposed to be about Death and Eternity and all that weighty stuff.

Yes, I know, I need to send more stuff out to other outlets. And there is a fairly distinct possibility that I will attempt another literary mag myself eventually but other duties have priority at this time. Still, I have plans for Arachis Literary Review (or something like that) in the back of my mind. :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sugar Sand

The beaches here are white, as white
as the beaches of my childhood.

I've traveled far to find these sands:
there's no return to childhood's shore.

The sweet sugar sand has washed away
into the Gulf of Memory.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A little sijo-like piece -- the phrase 'sugar sand' (describing the fine white sand found on many Gulf beaches) came to my mind and I decided to write something using it. The first thought was a song and there may still be one eventually.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's been slow here on Peanut Road lately. Yeah, even slower than usual. My days are filled with my caregiver duties and tinkering around the house. And getting on line occasionally, of course.

At least it looks like spring is on the way. Lots of bulbs have sprouted, buds are showing on the peach trees, the camellias have started blooming. When I went to cut off the dead the Madagascar Periwinkles I noted that there were bits of green leaf starting to show down at ground level and that some of the stalks seemed to be alive under their dry exteriors, so perhaps they can weather it well enough here to be perennials, as in more tropical climes. I'm going to have a lot of them this year and, yes, they can be a quite invasive species but they may fill in some of those spots where I haven't been able to get other plants to take.

I've got some flats of seeds starting too. Zinnias are poking their little green heads out of the potting soil. Home-made potting soil, by the way, utilizing my own compost. I'm composting everything these days. Not having the best of luck getting the disposable diapers to decompose, though. May work better in dry hot weather, when the sun can help break down the paper before they go into the compost pile proper.

Been practicing the music a little, though there will be no opportunity in the near future to play anywhere. I guess it's mostly just entertainment for Mom -- she does seem to enjoy it though who knows why! Working up some of the old public domain stuff I've had in my files for ages. Some of the sheets the songs are written out on show signs of having gone the Storm of the Century flood back in '93. Time I got them typed out and into the computer.

In other musical news, I finally got out the banjitar (6 string banjo) and reworked it a bit. I've groused before about its shortcomings, primarily the fact that the strings are too close together and that the scale is too short (at 24") for the lowest string(s) to sound very good. Therefore, I re-cut the bridge and nut to make it into a 5 string banjo. Eventually, I'll probably replace them but I wanted to see how various changes work out first.

I really do like the wider string spacing. It's what they call 'Crowe spacing' at the bridge now, 1 and 3/4". Perfect for me -- if I ever get a true 5 string banjo, I'd use that. I played around with both a high and a low fifth string installed. Each has its good points but I think I'm going to go with the low string, essentially making the instrument sort of a 5 string tenor banjo. If I feel really ambitious some day -- not to mention having the time -- I may redo the headstock and install mandolin tuners for an 8 string tenor. I find that I like the tenor banjo sound, both for jazzy stuff and for Celtic.

Or it might end up with nylon strings. Speaking of which, I should go get the string trimmer-mower prepped for the season!

Saturday, February 05, 2011


Valentine was a martyr but not
a martyr for love, unless one counts
love of God, which has its own perks
but isn't quite the same. I do

not doubt that he knew earthly love
as well, no matter quite how holy
a saint he might have been. I do
not doubt that he was human as I.

Valentine never shared a box
of chocolates but I'm sure he would
have enjoyed it. I could see
him chewing a nougat as he composed

serious letters of hope, despite
prison walls about him, death
ahead. The season of his feast day
and his letter writing made

of him a saint of paper hearts,
a saint of lovers and of every
martyr with an empty mailbox.
Valentine would write each of them

a message of hope, if he could.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

For several years now, I've turned out a Valentine's Day poem -- usually a bit of light romantic pastiche. 'Romantic' in the broad sense, not the Romantic era; the actual style has tended more to Cavalier imitations. At any rate, I decided to try something somewhat different this time, something more modern, accentual but not strictly metered and, obviously, not rhymed. Composed quite rapidly and certainly open to revision!