adventures in dysthymia

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Made in China, a poem

Made in China

It was a mysterious land,
an ancient land of silk
and oddly shaped mountains.
It evoked the exotic

when I was a child,
unknown, untouchable,
save through curios
and plates kept on high shelves.

The Great Wall has given
way to the great Walmart,
marking our new borders,
and Made in China has lost

its wonder. No caravans
traverse the Silk Road, today.
No barques bear chests of fragrant
dragon tea to our docks.

I have held the teak
and jade of another age.
I remember when
there was a land of mystery.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

more an idea than a completed poem

Friday, December 20, 2013

Donzalo's Destiny

I'm putting together a blog/site for the series of fantasy novels I call DONZALO'S DESTINY. It is located at: http://donzalosdestiny.wordpress.com/

The first book in the series, THE SONG OF THE SWORD is already in print (at Arachis Press) and the next, THE SHADOW OF ASAK, should be coming out fairly early in 2014. There will be more to follow--exactly how many, I'm not sure!

There is not much at the site yet and I will probably not give it a great deal of attention until next year, but the plan is to provide some 'behind the scenes' looks, some back-story, and so on.

The Song of the Sword

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Prehistoric World

In 1957, the summer between first and second grade, I sat in the back of my folks’ Plymouth station wagon and read the Classics Illustrated comic of ‘The Red Badge of Courage.’ We were on our way to New Orleans for a gymnastics meet in which my sisters were competing.

It was the only time I’ve ever been to New Orleans – or that far west – but I remember it quite vividly. Especially the ducks in the pond across from our motel! What would be more likely to make an impression on a seven-year-old, after all?

That was sort of my introduction to great literature and I was soon reading the ‘real’ books, not that a number of other Classics Illustrated titles didn’t pass through our home. Clues to go look for the books, at times, or to avoid them!

When I was twelve, one of their ‘special issues’ came out. These were titles that were not adapted from fiction but covered some historic or scientific topic. I picked up ‘Prehistoric World’ and it changed my life. Really.

Like any kid, I was interested in prehistoric animals, dinosaurs, etc. There was more to this comic, though. The greater part of it was dedicated to the ancestry of man. I met Australopithecus and Pithecanthropus (now Homo erectus) and those Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons and all the rest and I was hooked. Visits to the library meant bringing home books on anthropology and I plowed through a lot of thick volumes for a couple years there — when we moved from Columbus Ohio to Florida when I was fourteen, I didn’t have as much access to good libraries.

And, of course, I had a beach that required my occasional attention.

I’ll note that ‘Prehistoric World’ had a quite good explanation of genetics and evolution, as well. Good enough that I could figure out what they were talking about, anyway! It was completely new stuff to me.

I very much intended to go into anthropology all through high school. That sort of slipped into the whole history/art history thing when I got to college and decided I didn’t really want be the scientist that much. And by the time I finished college, I decided I’d rather create and went off to paint pictures.

But I’m still fascinated by ‘cave men’ and the story of the human race. Knowing whence we came connects us to each other, to the world and to the universe. The same stars have shone on our ‘family’ for billions of years and, at some point, we looked up and reached for them.

Ah, to have been there at that moment!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sleeping, a poem

Sleeping

Once upon a time came and went
before I could muster up the courage
to kiss my sleeping princess. What good
was it to be charming? Dream on,
your highness, dream on, and may
your beauty last behind those walls.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Squeaking, a poem

Squeaking

The honey-colored hamster went
round and round, the squeaking
of his wheel a soundtrack
for our play, our awkward
acting of the love scene
I had just written in my mind.

Who would bother to count
the revolutions? We all go
around, you know, and think
we have arrived somewhere,
with fresh newspapers to tell
us things have changed.

In the dark silence of after,
not noticing the wheel
had ceased to turn, we whispered
of fate and of love but I
knew that each cage is somewhere
in a larger cage.

I and the hamster accept this;
we have put the world
in a cage, where it can
do no harm. Inside
is outside and my wheel
still goes round and round.

You will, someday see
the wires around you. This
I have known all along.
I have laid awake too many
nights beside you, and heard
the squeaking start anew.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Very much first-drafty and maybe not all that interesting nor original a concept. It pretty much all arose from the image of the hamster---the phrase honey-colored hamster just came into my mind and that set it off. A couple hours of off-and-on jotting and this is the result.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ticking, a poem

Ticking

When each of us contains our own
end-times, rising from the grave
of self, can time be but the ticking
of a bomb? Hear the clocks,
their steady mechanisms marking
monotony till we no longer
note our passage into nothing.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Crates, a poem

Crates

I have placed yesterday on sale,
half-priced until we close. After
that, it goes into the dumpster

with the wilted lettuce and moldy
cheese. Let the homeless root
about and take the broken pieces.

I have no use for them. Crates
of tomorrow already wait
to be unloaded and placed on shelves.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lament for a King, a poem

Lament for a King

Where has gone the king?
Man no more is mighty;

silence spreads its shroud
where heroes sang of old.

Lizards doze upon
the walls of ruined cities;

the wells hold nests of snakes;
the wind rules realms of dust.

Victories forgotten,
sword beside him broken;

the king lies in his grave
and sleeps eternally.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Another piece intended for use in a fantasy novel — maybe not the one on which I’m currently working, but eventually.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Recent Recording Notes

My recent casual recordings – the video trailer for THE SONG OF THE SWORD (http://www.youtube.com/peanutroad), my reading of PIECES OF THE MOON (http://www.soundclick.com/stephenbrooke), and the Advent song, COME, COME, COME (http://www.reverbnation.com/stephenbrooke) – were all recorded with the same microphone, mostly because I had put it up for something else and was too lazy to go get a different mike set up. The rest of my equipment is in semi-storage until Spring; I can dig things out if I’m ambitious but they aren’t ready at hand.

Anyway, the microphone is a Heil PR30, a big dynamic basically intended as a broadcast mike but also popular for use on instruments (think Sennheiser 421 or Electro-Voice RE20 for similar microphones). Which is not to say that it is not a good choice for singing. Indeed, there is a hand-held version, the PR35, that is first choice for live performance by such artists as Joan Baez.

And for me, not a bad choice if I’m well back and singing full-voice. It’s versatile and one couldn’t really go wrong with the Heil most of the time, but I would be more inclined to choose something like a Shure SM7 (the one glaring hole in my mike cabinet is no current SM7!). Or, of course, a good condenser. My Cad e100S is a nicer voice-over microphone if I decide to record some more poetry one of these days.

By the way, in that I mentioned poetry, I would point out that I do have a dedicated page for my poetry – mostly to promote the chapbooks – at FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/stephenbrookepoet Feel free to like it.

Confession

One might not realize, from what one reads on sites and blogs around the internet, that five times as many teenage boys commit suicide than girls. Young men have, too often, looked to the rope or the gun as the solution to their torment, where confession has been the salvation of many young women since long before the internet existed.

Confession means admitting to ones sins, that is, recognizing who one is — the faults and failings as well as the strengths and successes. There is a reason to put this into words. It is so we can understand it, recognize ourselves for who we are.

As Flannery O’Connor put it, “I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.” So if young people ‘whine’ a bit, that’s a good thing. If they write confessional poems, good or bad, it’s all part of better understanding themselves.

I’m still discovering that, at my age. It goes on all ones life, I suspect, if one is truly living.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Loose Change, a poem

Loose Change

Regret, the loose change
of my life, is left
in a jar on the dresser
and never counted.

Each purchase, each time
I thought I needed
this, or thought that
would make me happy,

gives me another handful
of coins to add, to clink
one by one against
all I had hoped forgotten.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

A little quick piece, not very ambitious 

addendum, the next day: As usual, the poetry I post here is in early draft form. I can see all sorts of ways this might be revised  and rewritten. Right off, the first word (regret) should probably be dropped.

Blogs and Blogs

Not much going on at the moment. In one of my ‘lulls’ between periods of burying myself in whatever project I am obsessing about at the time. I will get back to the novel. Or something.

I did mention my Tumblr blog a few entries back. I have been auditioning outlets such as it and Twitter and Pinterest to find if they are worthwhile. Twitter...quite useless, I would say. Tumblr does not seem a particularly effective platform, either, and I may ignore it for a while, though I will not delete the account. At least not yet. I am interested in seeing how it might evolve – if at all – under Yahoo’s ownership.

Pinterest, on the other hand, seems pretty good. That surprised me, as it didn’t sound that great as an idea. Copying pictures from each other? It has definitely driven sales to my Cafe Press shop so I will stick around there.

But ‘real’ blogs like this are still my preference. In keeping with that, I will mention that I posted a demo version of an Advent song, ‘Come, Come, Come,’ at my Reverbnation pages. That is at: www.reverbnation.com/stephenbrooke

It is just a quickie recording — I wanted to get something up while I had a little time and before Christmas made it too late. I realized after I laid down the backing tracks that it should have been pitched something like a full tone higher. I croaked my way through the vocals anyway.

Maybe I’ll do it right next year!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Dyslexic Deity, a poem

The Dyslexic Deity

Heaven and Heart were created by Dog,
the Dyslexic Deity,
who set the Morning Rats in the sky
for all of us to see.
He turned the Sun into a father,
to sire each new day,
and to make the Universe laugh
created the comics ray.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

a throwaway more worthy of throwing away than all previous throwaways

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Stale, a poem

Stale

Bonbons for the banal,
candy-coated cliché;
make a new batch daily,
place them on display.

Powder-sugared poems,
junk food for the soul;
empty calories
will never fill the hole

hunger has created,
existence claims as toll.
Stale words in the window;
throw them all away.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Monday, December 02, 2013

Sinews, a poem

Sinews

I will run until I
forget, slam the heavy
bag, make myself weary
with curls and presses.

I have searched for sleep
in pills and bottles,
forgetfulness in the pursuit
of illusive pleasures,

but found nothing, save within
the singing of my own sinews.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

pretty much just another light-weight quickie of a poem

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Chewed, a poem

Chewed

I lost the words I meant
to say to you. Maybe
they’re under the cushions, slipped
out of my pocket while I sat
writing on the couch.
Or could the dogs have snatched
them when I wasn’t looking,
to play their games of tug
of war in the yard?
Well-chewed words, lint-covered
words are still usable,
I think. I’ll just rinse them
off, smooth them, stick them
into another poem
while no one is paying attention.
Maybe they’re in this one.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

another little throw-away

Theorems

I walked in high school. Around and around the campus I would go, before classes in the morning or during lunch break. I was restless and not one to sit and talk or interact much at all.

It’s a wonder I made it through those years at all, considering how little interest I felt and how often I was deeply depressed. Despite a disgustingly high IQ, I muddled through many of my classes, rarely actually hearing what was said in them, but feeling I had to do it or disappoint someone — exactly who, I am not sure now.

Oh, there were a few subjects that caught my interest. English, history, sure, especially when it got to the essay and paper writing. All that advanced algebra and trig and physics, not so much, but I did the work anyway. When it came to math, the only subject I actually liked was geometry. I loved working out theorems, those little puzzles of logic. It didn’t seem like math at all!

Maybe if life were a theorem, I could work it out and understand it, eh? I think maybe I’ve been treating it that way. And, no doubt, will continue; the problem may be the axioms with which I’ve been working! :)