Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Oldest Magic, a poem

The Oldest Magic

It was the oldest magic, the unspoken spell
that bound our ancestors before they looked to heaven
and learned of gods and demons, ere they counted stars.
It was a magic born of dark primeval forest,

of prey and preyed upon and of the winds that howled
about the standing stones, a magic of the hunt,
the blooded spear, the fire, of woman and of man.
We cast such spells, once, counting not the rise and set

of sun nor phases of the moon to find our selves.
The ancient magic roars across all nights and we
are there; the hearts of dying beasts, still beating, find
an echo in the savage, hungry drums that call

us to the dance and in the lover's heart that beats
impassioned, pressed against our own. They bind us yet,
the ageless, wordless, yearning spells, this sorcery
of life and death and of creation, this oldest magic.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

messin' about in hexameter 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Nest, a poem


The hen knows but three words
which she keeps hidden in her nest.
In time, they will hatch, she believes.
In time, they will become stories,
scratching in the yard, crowing
to the dawn. Whom might they awaken?

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Installation, a poem


I'll not be seduced by your clever cliches,
your Post-modern wit, your wiseacre ways;
go find another to be your amigo,
to see to the feeding and care of your ego.

So self-indulgent, so full of your self,
a glittering statue posed on your own shelf
waits anticipating the phrases that flatter —
when rubbish is godhood does anything matter?

I've lived in your world where every mistake
may be elevated as art for art's sake
and rehashing Duchamp once more brings one fame —
ironically, irony must take the blame.

Now carry on, no more than sheep leading sheep,
for you've made your bed and its ready for sleep;
but don't allow me nor good taste to inhibit
you entering it in your latest exhibit.

I once was seduced by what now must appall,
the sheer arrogance, the galleries' gall,
to show us, quite literally, refuse and shit —
yet all of it truly was, I'll now admit.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

A bunch of words, not meaning much of anything. Well, okay, sort of a Stuckist view of the Postmodern art world, but not aimed at anyone in particular (despite the oblique reference to Tracey Emin).

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Saw Grass Day, a song

Saw Grass Day
Dragonflies hover
above the sea of grass;
glitter in the sun,
bits of colored glass.
Watch them dart and dance
with an ageless grace;
dragonflies of morning,
wings of silver lace.

So I greet another saw grass day
and in its turn, it will pass away;
dragonfly and I beneath the Florida sky,
time will bring another saw grass day.

Golden haze beneath
deep blue cloudless sky;
swallowtail kite
gliding on high.
Shadowed in the cattails,
great blue heron wades;
wind waves whispering
across the Everglades.

So I greet another saw grass day
and in its turn, it will pass away;
heron and I beneath the Florida sky,
God will bring another saw grass day.

Mist clings to the hammocks,
barred owl calls her last;
dawn is on the Glades,
as in ages past.
Morning air is humming
like a thing alive;
it’s good to see another
saw grass day arrive.

So I greet another saw grass day
and in its turn, it will pass away;
dragonfly and I beneath the Florida sky,
life will bring another saw grass day.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

This would be a song I wrote Sunday morning while sitting at my campsite at the Will McLean Festival, waiting for everyone else to wake up (I keep farmer’s hours, more or less). I’m doing it as sort of a bossa/jazz thing right now but that can always change. 

Monday, March 07, 2016

Greco-Roman Buddhism

I have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own — not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions. ~ Marcus Aurelius

I have a considerable affinity for Classical Stoic philosophy; indeed, discovering the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius at age nineteen played a big part in getting me through those days (not that any philosophy can cure depression, of course). One might describe Stoicism as a sort of Greco-Roman Buddhism. It certainly has many similar views.

But the seeds of both — as well as the development of Judaic monotheism — may lie far back in Indo-European culture. Certainly, one can see them foreshadowed in the teachings of Zoroaster. Though he doesn't get the press of a Buddha or a Christ, Zoroaster is still important, predating and influencing those who followed. Perhaps even the Tao of Lao-tze shows those influences — influences that, in turn, later filtered back into the West (resulting in, among other things, the Sufi).

The God of Christianity, of Islam and of Judaism, is a transcendent creator, who is more than what he has made, is separate from what he has made. He exists before and after all he has created. This differs from the ideas of godhood that arose from the Indo-European cultural tradition. Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Pagan — there is a pantheistic element there, god and universe as one. An heir to this tradition, the Stoic philosopher sees God as the totality of the universe. Each person has a part of the logos within, shares in that godhood. We are God Incarnate.

The universe itself is god and the universal outpouring of its soul...the universal existence in which all things are contained. ~ Chrysippus

This is a view which I can pretty much buy. Being is God. Would that Infinite Being, which contains all intelligences, be itself intelligent? I would think so but it can not be proven one way or another. Nor does it matter.

There are those things in the writings of the Stoic philosophers with which I must disagree. They did not have the understanding of the human mind, our nature, that we do now. Aurelius would have maintained that evil is the result of ignorance; I know that some simply are evil by nature. Sociopaths do not answer to any philosophical dicta. We are much more imperfect than the ancients were willing to admit!

Nor does our universe necessarily reflect any divine plan. Its divinity lies in its very existence, infinite being filling the infinite void. That is enough.

However, living in harmony and in balance is something I have attempted. To keep despair at bay, to not fall into anger and hatred (frequently of self) is not always easy. No, that's untrue — it is never easy. I can only try to remember that my brief flicker of life, seemingly inconsequential, is a part of the infinite. It is. I should ask for no more than that.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

March 12 Happenings

This coming Saturday, March 12, marks the official release of my latest book, HERO FROM THE SEA, the third and last installment of the Malvern Trilogy fantasy adventure novels. Available, as ever, from Arachis Press as well as at vendors pretty much everywhere. In that I won't be around on that date, and in that it is already out and ready for purchase, the date is actually rather meaningless.

Where shall I be this coming weekend, you ask? (You did. I heard you!) At the Will McLean music festival in central Florida (near Dade City), camping and listening to talented Florida Folkies performing. I guess I could see it as one big release party --- I will have books with me (pretty much always carry those these days) and wine, too!

Incidentally, March 12 is also the anniversary of 'the Storm of the Century' that ravaged the Big Bend area of Florida back in 1993, causing much damage and flooding and some casualties before heading up the Atlantic Coast as a Nor'easter of considerable power. I wrote a song some time back about it (called, naturally enough, The Storm of the Century) and also have used it as source material for my fiction, particularly the YA novel, The Middle of Nowhere.

I am not doing much writing at the moment. Spring is largely to blame for that; too much to do around the place, both outdoors and in. Also, I have a lot of projects I have been making notes toward but none have stood and called, "Write ME!" yet. That's all right. I'll get back into author mode --- but I mustn't forget artist mode and musician mode, too. I have truly neglected those!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Join, a poem


Won't you join my cult?
We have the best Kool-Aide!
Don't mind that aftertaste —
it will quickly fade.
No need for apprehension,
no need to be afraid;
you'll get by just fine,
as long as I'm obeyed.

Won't you trust my word?
It truly is inspired;
all my wives agree
and the forty-two kids I've sired!
I'll sell you the robe you need
to be properly attired —
that and abject submission
are all that is required.

Won't you join my cult?
I know the end is near —
the aliens await us
far beyond this sphere.
All your earthly possessions,
you can leave right here;
I'll take good care of them —
that you should never fear!

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Light poetry, inspired by a comment I saw on Tumblr and dashed off in a few minutes.