adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Box of Prayers

I've emptied out my box of prayers
in hope of finding one that still
might work. I never throw things out,
you see. No matter how well used,

how worn, into the box they go.
This one seems broken -- it rattles some --
but just might light up if I plug
it in. It may just need some juice.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A case of working on one thing and coming up with a phrase -- 'box of prayers' -- that suggests a completely different bit of poetry. Blank tetrameter on this little piece.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hitting

vs. 1
You never know what life might serve --
a fast ball when we wait on the curve.
Sometimes it's best to take what we get
and go for it with no regret.

vs. 2
Just take a chance, take a swing,
use your bat, see what it will bring.
Strike out or hit it out of the park
but don't let life be a question mark.

chorus
Don't let those missed opportunities
be your regrets as you grow older --
you can't steal second with your foot on first,
you can't get a hit with the bat on your shoulder.

vs. 3
Life's a game that deserves respect
so always hustle when you connect,
whether it looks like a foul or a hit
'cause it ain't nothin' till the ump calls it!

instrumental break

bridge
Your name is on the lineup card,
the game's not over so play it hard.

repeat chorus (and vs 1?)

Stephen Brooke ©2011

One of those rather simple and throwaway-able songs I turn out now and again. I suppose it's performable/recordable but it wouldn't be a high priority. Shoot, wouldn't be any kind of priority. The thoughts here are not very original and, I dare say, on the shallow side.

I DO NOT mistrust government. I mistrust human nature. Any institution in which people are involved can be misused, abused, corrupted. It is not the fault of the institution, per se; though some structures may more readily be subverted than others, all are ultimately corruptible.

This is true of more than just government, of course. All organizations -- businesses, religions, charities, even families -- have this same vulnerability. There will be those who abuse their power, those who subvert the system to their own ends, those who are irresponsible. There will be entrenched interests acting for their own good, while perceiving and believing it to be for the good of all. There will be those who see any thwarting of their personal desires as tyranny.

A perfect form of government will never exist -- not democracy, not monarchy, not the dictatorship of some earnest group of reformers. It can not exist for humans are not perfect. The best we can do is seek balance and keep an ever-vigilant eye on those in power.

And, perhaps, an even more vigilant eye on those who seek to be in power.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

MEAN MARY BLUES
(a parody of Mean Woman Blues)

I got a niece, mean as she can be
I got a niece, mean as she can be
I know that she's a whole lot meaner than me

Plays so fast her hands a blur
No one plays as mean as her!

I got a niece, mean as she can be
I know that she's a whole lot meaner than me

She dyes her hair Elvis Black
Makes her meaner, that's a fact!

I got a niece, mean as she can be
I know that she's a whole lot meaner than me

Got a banjo, a fiddle too
No telling what that kid'll do

I got a niece, mean as she can be
I know that she's a whole lot meaner than me

Stephen Brooke ©2011

No more than a little throw-away parody, written with my talented niece, Mean Mary, in mind.

The internet has been very frustrating lately. Extremely slow and erratic via dial up and various pages simply have not been working for me, like my Excite mail and Twitter. Sometimes I feel like moving even further into the boonies and getting a manual typewriter...or a quill pen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Dead Dog Blues

Feelin' blue this mornin', like I ain't barely half-alive
Feelin' awfully blue, like I ain't barely half-alive
'Cause last night my girlfriend done left me
and run over the dog on her way out the drive

I loved that old dog, kind of liked that woman too
Really loved that dog and I liked that woman too
Sure gonna miss him each time I remember
At least the one of them was true

Really down 'cause my dog is dead
Howlin' a mournful tune in my head
Got the dead dog blues
Got the dead dog blues

Buried him out back under the live oak tree
Buried my best friend under the live oak tree
When I said goodbye to that old hound dog
It felt like I was buryin' a part of me

Feelin' blue this mornin', lost too much yesterday
Feelin' mighty blue, lost two loves just yesterday
The one of them can't never come back
And the other had better stay away

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A somewhat silly and very rough blues lyric. Might develop it, sooner or later or never.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

These Hills

These hills are older than you and I.
They're older than our fathers and mothers
and their fathers and mothers and the tribes
that left their broken pots and arrowheads

in the caves and in the fields.
I've found them there in new-plowed soil
by the creek, like the grains of corn
left from long-ago failed harvests.

These hills were young when the world was young.
Their sandstone skeleton hardened an aeon
before the dinosaurs crossed over them.
They were mountains, then, sky-touched

heights, sheer cliffs of golden sunlight.
That sun's vigor we'll not know again.
These hills are old now, soft rounded remnants
crumbling into gentle oblivion.

These forest-covered hills of home,
these hills of abandoned orchard and field,
of secluded hollow and cave,
dream the dreams of ages past

and you and I and our sons and daughters
will be as the arrowheads in the field.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

This piece is not 'about' the Hocking Hills of southern Ohio but was inspired by them. As with many of my poems, it is roughly accentual -- not free verse.

Once again spellcheck does not like one of my (legitimate) words -- aeon, in this case, cyphers, a couple posts ago. Ha, it doesn't like spellcheck either, even though it spells it that way at the top of the page!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Come, Come, Come

Come, come, come!
Come to your people, Messiah!*
Come, come, come!
Redeem your people, Messiah!

Hear the words of worship
That we, your people, pray.
Hear the hymns of praise
That we sing on this day.

Come, come, come!
We wait for you, Messiah!
Come, come, come!
Come to your people, Messiah!

Lift our weary hearts;
Bring hope to we who yearn.
Free our burdened souls;
To you in faith we turn.

Come, come, come!
Come to your people, Messiah!
Come, come, come!
Redeem your people, Messiah!

We, your chosen people,
Have watched and waited long.
We remain your people,
For you have kept us strong.

Come, come, come!
We wait for you, Messiah!
Come, come, come!
Come to your people, Messiah!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

* if preferred, use 'O, Lord' rather than 'Messiah'

Yes, a hymn or 'worship' song. I've written a very few overtly religious songs in the past but this is the first of its particular kind. Not at all surprisingly, it is pretty much in the vein of a typical Catholic song for services.

The music for the chorus sections (Come etc.) was finished before I wrote much of the verse lyric. Still working on the music for that part but it shouldn't take long. Unless I get distracted -- it's easy to get distracted around here.

So, what does one do with a work such as this? I'm inclined to think of it as essentially an exercise. I'm not planning to enter the Contemporary Christian field. Nor the Contemporary Catholic sub-genre, which would more friendly toward a piece of this sort. Though, strictly speaking, CC is a radio format, not a genre. Like Americana!

However, as it IS an Advent song, it might show up if I ever record some Christmas music.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cave Art

No mammoths are on these walls,
these rocky hidden walls,
ancient low-vaulted temples
to visions of beast and man.

No horses nor bison nor stags
with wide spread antler crowns
run here. No shaman dances
as horned god of the hunt.

I have carried torches
into these hollows, daubed
my dreams across the dark
spans of their empty depths.

I have placed my symbols,
secret cyphers, in sunless
caves. None shall know them.
They are my conversations

with the spirits of the forest,
the animal guides that walk
with me. They are the map
I follow to myself.

Such myths have I woven
of my heart, the stories
of who I am. They fill
me with me. They create

me as I create them.
No mammoths are found on
these walls; an age ago
they followed north the mists.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

I churned this one out rather rapidly and it is most certainly a candidate for rewriting. It incorporates a few phrases and ideas I've jotted down for essays (which will be forthcoming) but was actually precipitated by a news item about cave paintings I saw this morning.

addendum: late afternoon and I've a revised version up. Smallish changes, really, and there may be more. But probably not posted here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

TO BE or not to bee...

The carpenter bee a carpenter be
When she drills holes in a tree;
No harm in this can I see
So long as she drill none in me!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A poem while raking up leaves in the yard as I get things into shape on Peanut Road. Lots to do. As always.

The carpenter bees are buzzing everywhere, thus the versifying. It's starting to look nicer, with some blooms out. They sort of distract one from the general shabbiness!

I've been attempting to compost pretty much everything. That includes my mom's disposable undies, a couple a day on average. Comes to quite a few after a while and I found that they simply were not breaking down well so I've taken to tearing out the absorbent stuffing (which actually helps hold moisture in the compost, a bonus) and then drying the paper part for burning later on. I had a lot of them I ended up removing from the compost pile but finally got them all done. No more undies scattered around in the yard to dry!

Incidentally, they will not burn well -- if at all -- with the absorbent material still inside.

Setting out more plants, as most Springs. And some won't take, of course. More Robin Hood Roses out front. They're looking great now but won't when the weather gets too hot and dry. They have all survived a couple of seasons though so I'm okay with them here. Done better, surprisingly, than the Firethorn (which is way too costly but I may be able to start my own in time).

I've finally managed to kill the oak out back via 'ringing,' thanks to the new big bow-saw. I was just never able to cut deeply enough into it before. I may go after some more now, including the large Live Oak out front. It would, eventually , be overhanging the house so it's best to be rid of it. It's surrounded by azaleas that haven't been trimmed since...well, sometime before I moved here. I'll cut them way back this year, after blooming, and be able to get in to the oak's trunk. The really large Red Oak north of the house is just to big for me to handle myself though and I wouldn't want it dead and dropping limbs on us!

I'd been budgeting to get it taken down professionally but now I'm thinking I'd better use that money to fix the roof (finally). I suppose I could even do it myself but it's a pretty big job. Speaking of the roof, I'm going to get up and paint the South-facing porch roof white soon -- it gets terribly hot under there on sunny Summer days and a coating should help.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mama, Don't You Know Me?

Mama, don't you know me?
I'm your daughter, I'm your son.
Mama, don't forget me,
I will be the one;
The one who is here for you
until our journey's done.
Mama, don't you know me?
I'm your daughter, I'm your son.

I have never left you,
I keep life's door ajar,
and I remember when you
forget all that you are.
I will be your anchor,
should you drift too far;
Here I will stand steady,
I'll be your North Star.

Mama, don't you ...

Your pale wondering eyes
see only yesterday;
I have lived in tomorrow
too long to know the way.
But I'll keep one light burning
and here I will stay,
and one name in my heart
each time that I pray.

Mama, don't you ...

Stephen Brooke ©2011

What with being a caregiver being the major focus of my life recently, it's not surprising that I'd eventually pop out a song about it. Yes, it's a bit maudlin but what do you expect, given the subject matter?

There are a few poems I've turned out over the past ten years or so that relate to this in some degree, including the 'award winning' My Name (available in my chapbook, Pieces of the Moon), but this is the first song. Admittedly, it's pretty much only a lyric right now -- I simply wasn't hearing the music this time but I will eventually work it out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Soldier Gives

The soldier gives us freedom,
the soldier takes our freedom;
who will give us freedom
from the soldier?
The soldier comes to save,
the soldier will enslave;
no freedom but the grave
from the soldier.

Problem and solution,
true believer still;
murderer and martyr,
to be killed or kill.
Loyal to the vision
of peace when all is done,
but the war to end wars
was long since lost and won.

The soldier gives... etc.

Heart is full of love
for the motherland,
calling him to crimes
he'll never understand.
No patriotic hymn
gives a reason why
he chooses to march on,
willing still to die.

The soldier gives... etc.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

I know, Buffy Sainte Marie already covered this concept quite nicely in Universal Soldier. Too nicely, maybe -- I've tried to write something a little harder-edged here. I like BSM's song and play it occasionally (of course I first heard it in the Donovan version). Sometimes I tackle her Piney Wood Hills, too -- great song.

Anyway, my song here is intended to be somewhat more rock, more driven. Music is in progress -- I have the chorus part down, need to work on the verses. Btw, the Red Cougar song I posted a couple days ago is complete, music-wise.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A POEM and a song:

For Fear

I will not love for fear I'd love too deeply
and in the depths of you might I then drown;
refusing any desperate hope of rescue,
I'd willingly let passion pull me down.

I will not love for fear I'd love too simply,
a fool who chooses without asking why,
and when abandoned, as I'd surely be,
left with no answers why love went awry.

I will not love for fear I'd love too little,
unworthy of the love I may be given;
a liar and a sinner, soon discovered,
and from your Paradise I would be driven.

I will not love for fear I'd love completely,
forgetting all I am, all I have been;
or is to lose, perhaps, to gain in love
and ever this the destiny of men?

I will not love for fear of love's unknowns,
the secret paths that lead me to your heart;
ways on which I can only wander, lost.
I will not love for fear; I'll live apart.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A bit of old-fashioned versifying. Iambic pentameter, by golly. The idea was to make up a list of excuses for avoiding love...some of which perhaps have some validity? :) As ever, I'm quite aware that this sort of pastiche should not quite be taken seriously by either the author nor the reader. And, as ever, the stuff I post here is early draft (generally) and open to revision.

Red Cougar

Anne's Cougar was red,
made in '67;
Entered in
a race to heaven.
Faster than the boat
she'd been rowing toward God;
Got behind the wheel
to outrun her facade.

Anne's Cougar growled
of lies and truth,
Yearning for
the eyes of youth.
Gave up control
in the driver's seat;
Found no Mercy
along the street.

I'll drive away,
some other day,
in Anne's red Cougar.
Take my trip,
give time the slip,
in Anne's red Cougar.
Gun the motor,
breathe in deep;
Find no answers,
only sleep.
I'll drive away,
some sunny day,
in Anne's red Cougar.

Anne's poems were read,
discussed, dissected;
Some belittled,
some respected,
And some remember
Anne's Cougar was red --
Turned on the radio,
away she sped.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

This song (music in progress) is, fairly obviously, referring to Anne Sexton and her suicide. Definitely grew this one from my Punk roots and it would be played as such. It is not intended as a call for offing oneself!

But then, it does not condemn it either. People do what they do.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mirror-Writer

Handwriting, in general, being
a lost art these days, I don't
get much practice but still I
mirror-write pretty well.

Right, like Da Vinci. Or left,
more precisely. And I suppose
there's no good reason to keep it up,
as handwriting fades into

notes written on misted mirrors,
to be wiped clear and forgotten.
But it's something I can do,
something a little different,

and we all like that, don't we?
Even if it is only visible
to ourselves. Even if it can
only be seen in a mirror.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

Spring Comes

Spring comes when it will:
it cares not for the plans of we
who write down dates on paper.

'Now it's time for Spring,'
we say, and measure our short lives
against eternal heaven's

wheel of stars. But I
hear Spring, this fitful fading night
of Winter's end, and waken:

Spring comes when it will,
a bird song at the dawn,
a soft breeze from the South.

Stephen Brooke ©2011


Although it did not take a particularly long time to finish this little piece, the form did morph a couple times before settling down to this fairly strict bit of structure. Anyway, I do feel this way about the arrival of Spring -- it's not something we find on a calendar but something that comes when it comes.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Bag

The way to Paradise is littered
with discarded sins, the luggage
we once thought we needed.

Drop that bag by the roadside;
you need carry it no further.
It's become no more

than a burden and, you know,
we need not pack so much
for our journey home.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

I said that I'd take just a second
But things ran on longer than reckoned
I made a mistake
Please give me a break
I think I need a second second!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

I usually attempt a limerick or two before St Pat's day.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Back Row

The cut-up in the back of the classroom,
the fool who refuses to learn --
I ignore each of life's lessons,
Never wait my turn.

Oh, and all my friends will laugh,
there in the back row,
each time I open my mouth to prove
just how little I know.

It's too late now to change my grades
or be teacher's pet;
dismissal bell is ringing and I've
only learned regret.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A rather bad poem, truthfully. My first thought for this concept was to develop it as a song but I recognized that it would need far more forceful, more visual, imagery for the idea to work. So it's just a so-so bit of rhymed poetry.

* * *

WillFest is coming up again in little over a week. And once again, I'll be missing out on it. I'll look at the bright side of it and think of all the money I'll save staying home.

Speaking of money and home, I'm finally investing in some plumbing hardware for the place. I've been only turning on the water into the house briefly a couple times a day because of my very leaky faucets. I could live this way (and take care of Mom too) indefinitely without it being any real bother at all but if I ever want guests here, I'd best have running water, I suppose...

* * *

Today is the birthday of Dr Seuss. I'll admit that I missed out on his books as a kid -- I never saw one until I was eight or so and by then I was way beyond them and reading all the adult books on our shelves. I truly learned to read from my siblings' tall stacks of comic books. I well remember plowing through the Classics Illustrated version of Red Badge of Courage in the back of the Plymouth station wagon on our way to New Orleans, summer of'57. Was I really going to want to read about green eggs and ham after that?