Thursday, October 24, 2013

Romantic Comedy, a poem

Romantic Comedy

I wrote myself into
your romantic comedy,
reserving all the best
lines for myself. How clever

it all seemed, the banter
and repartee I scripted,
and how surely would it
win you over at last.

It remains unfinished,
all scribbled dreams and cliches.
Draft by unfinished draft,
rewrite after rewrite,

the final scene, our happy
ending eluded me.
Who will know my name
was stricken from the credits?

In some darkened theater
the crowd prepares to laugh.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

It's always iffy, trying to work from a 'high' concept like this---the longer one runs, the more strained the underlying metaphor may become.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Woman in the Other Room, a poem

The Woman in the Other Room

Knowing you are there
is all that’s needed,
that our lives will

cross and intertwine
here and there,
now and then,

that we are two vines
climbing together
toward whatever heaven

we might dream
but rooted in
our common soil.

You are the woman
in the other room,
making your way

as I make mine,
through the wordless days
of this house

and of our lives.
The quiet of you,
the knowing you are there

and I am here,
becomes all —
all that is needed.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

This comes from something a friend said to me years ago about her ideal relationship. Perhaps I can sympathize more with her words now; there’s a lot to be said for shared privacy.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Planning Ahead

I have a number of copies of THE SONG OF THE SWORD on hand now (as well as most of my other books) and they look fine, the illustrations are correct now, and I’m always willing to autograph a copy if anyone wants one directly from me. If I got out and about, maybe I’d do more direct sales but, in the mean time, all the Arachis Press titles are available at

As far as the next book goes, I’m not sure what it will be. I’ve been dabbling at different narratives but none has grabbed hold and said ‘write me!’ yet. Maybe the sequel to SONG or maybe a sequel to the young adult offering, THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Most of my actual sketching out of ideas lately has been a completely new possibility for a novel, probably ‘mainstream’ though it might slip into mystery territory, at least some.

The writing of a mainstream novel is not new to me, really. NOWHERE is essentially one, even if aimed at a younger audience. The bulk of my short stories (which is not really very bulky) would be not qualify as ‘genre’ fiction either. So we’ll see. I also need to work on the illustrations for some of my other projects.

Right now, I’m working toward two goals, publishing-wise: getting a magazine going and putting out some work by authors other than myself. These two go somewhat hand-in-hand as a magazine, obviously, would need a number of contributers. I’ll be eventually putting up notices about both of these at the site and various social media spots.

Publishing books by other authors may well start with something from the public domain with new illustrations. Without new pictures, annotations or such, there would be no point in putting out a new edition. We’re not Dover Books here, after all (and I do appreciate the books Dover has helped keep in print — many of which are in my library).

The POD approach continues to be the best way to do all this. Lulu has worked well for the Arachis Press so far and remains reasonably priced. I was looking into the possibility of using MagCloud for a print version of the magazine but as long as I stay with a black and white version, Lulu is cheaper. If I stick to digital only, that’s all moot.

Incidentally, I also have been investigating using Lightning Source as our printer and, were I starting out fresh, I might well have gone that way. But Lulu has its advantages, too, and can serve as a one-stop shop for both print and ebook, so I’ll stick with them. (Their pricing, at first look, seems high compared to LS but Lulu regularly offers discounts that bring more parity.)

On a completely unrelated note, it looks like the first cold weather of the season is rolling in shortly, with temperatures in the low-to-mid forties this coming week. I hope it’s a just a short cold spell and not the start of a long winter!

Incidentally, an application form of the Florida Folk Festival was in my email this morning. They took so long to get their new system working I'd practically forgotten about them. I wonder if I should put together a 'live' recording and apply this year. Or just give up on music altogether.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Caverns, a poem


Legends they tell,
where the dwarfs dwell,
of fires that well
from the hearths of Hell.

There chains of gold
were forged of old,
to bind, to hold,
in caverns cold,

where the dwarfs dwell.


In secret mines
a captive pines;
and the runic lines
form mystic signs

to tell her tale.
A whisper, a wail,
all voices fail —
doomed and pale

a captive pines.


In caverns deep
the hours creep;
to wake from sleep
means but to weep,

caught in this spell.
Does a distant bell
their passing tell?
Within her cell,

the hours creep.


The clamor, hark,
in caverns dark;
an anvil spark,
a dwarf-smith, stark,

to his tasks settles,
he casts, he fettles
his magic metals,
the crystal kettles

in caverns dark.


None know what befell,
where the dwarfs dwell;
the hammer’s knell
would rise and swell

on the fetid air,
a song of despair
for the captive fair,
beyond all care

where the dwarfs dwell.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

I consider this a very rough draft of an idea and it will almost certainly see changes and/or expansion. It will most likely appear in an upcoming novel, if I can find an excuse to slip it in!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Stuff, a poem


Stuff happens. We make of it
what we will, lessons,
meanings, fate. What matter

if it is all truly
random? So what if God
hands you only the unformed

stuff of life, says mold it
as you can, fashion
of it as you will?

I’ll give you no reasons
why today is as
it is and yesterday,

a discarded lump
of clay. So is life shaped
between our clumsy fingers.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Couches, a poem


No couches await you, not along
the wall nor artfully angled
beneath the windows. They do not
beckon you to sit with me,

shoulder pressed to shoulder, this
or any other evening.
I have but these chairs,
cushion-filled, soft in color

and upholstery, but with
room for only one. So I
live and take my choice,
sit where I please. You may, too,

should you visit, near yet not
close, alone together,
in my rooms filled with chairs,
my many rooms that have no couches.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Something I threw off this morning over my coffee and, therefor, very much a first draft sort of piece. It just struck me that I have no couches in my living room -- nor office nor art studio nor bedrooms -- on which I could sit with someone. Assuming someone ever came here. Admittedly, though, there is a big sofa in the music/recording room. And an old tattered one in the carport that the dog favors.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Beep, a poem


That small beep, barely heard
from the next room, announces
that the phone is charged.

I’ll unplug it later,
if I remember, place it
somewhere on my desk,

ready at hand for calls
that never come.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

A small piece that, yes, was inspired by a beep from the next room. I really do hardly use my phone and have one only because a number is required for so many things in everyday life and, of course, for emergencies.

Monday, October 07, 2013

New Books Ready to Go

The print copies of THE SONG OF THE SWORD and the reformatted RETELLINGS arrived today and both look good and are ready for purchase and shipping. Remember, the Christmas shopping season is drawing ever nearer!

The poetry chapbook, RETELLINGS, has no problems since the change of typeface. Why Libre Baskerville created printing glitches, I do not know, nor even if they would repeat on another printing. Best to be safe, so I switched to Baskerville 1757 and changed a bit of spacing here and there to fit its slightly different size. All looks pretty decent now.

Incidentally, I found that Libre Baskerville did not create em-dashes properly either so, considering how frequently I utilize them, it was a good idea to switch.

THE SONG OF THE SWORD, my fantasy novel, printed out just fine, text-wise. A couple of illustrations, not quite so much. The light gray mountains on my frontispiece map are so pale as to hardly be seen. I could fix that but it’s not very important and not worth hurrying out a new revision. The other problem picture is my own small portrait on the last page, which came out as something of a black blob. Again, not hugely important and when I do revise the book, eventually, I’ll just delete it.

So, today is the ‘official’ release of SONG. Strike up the band (lutes and bagpipes, please) and release the balloons! And stop by my ‘spotlight’ shop for your very own copy.

ADDENDUM: I did go ahead and fix the illustrations and a few small typos/formatting problems I found in my printed copy. The revised version is uploaded and should be ready to go.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Miracle, a poem


Love was once another color,
a deeper color. The suns and storms
of summer faded it, incessant
in their song of murmured rain.

I remember the richness of lawns
so green I would have set them shining
against the topaz morning and strung
a necklace of endless day for you.

You scoffed when I sought miracles
in each new day, along our path
from here to there, to our sunset.
Yes, I call it miracle.

A miracle must be in the eye
of the beholder. Its origin
matters not, only its meaning.
What meaning has a morning, now?

It has become the stuff of old
books, a wonder written down
for those who will believe. I can
no longer claim it as my own.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

I kept trying to tack an extra verse on this and kept deciding that it would take away more than it added. So here it is. I had thought more writing might help 'explain' the poem, but maybe it needs no more explanation. None the less, I will say that it is, at least in part, about writing that recalls the 'miracles' of our past. And that, of course, is in itself, a sort of miracle.


Cliches, New and Old

The phrase ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ is so common now that I quoted it in THE SONG OF THE SWORD as ‘that cliché.’ But where does it actually come from?

From THE GODFATHER. There is no known use of it exactly in that form before the novel and movie. It is definitely not, as it is sometimes mistakenly attributed, from Sun-Tzu. It is a paraphrase of Machiavelli (who may have borrowed it, in turn, from Petrarch).

At any rate, it is an old sentiment which is why I felt it safe to use. However, I did add ‘but not close enough to slip a knife into one.’

I am awaiting my proof copy of TSOTS to arrive (as well as the redo of RETELLINGS, which had some printing problems). As soon as it comes, I will make the official announcement of its publication. Assuming, of course, that everything looks right.