Friday, July 19, 2024

Blame, a poem


Adam blamed Eve, I do believe,
and Eve blamed the snake for her tasty mistake.

The snake blamed God—how very odd—
for making the fruit, evil’s root,

taste so good. Really, could
anyone resist? the serpent hissed.

Adam and Eve both had to leave
to roam the earth, and to give birth

to hungry mankind, still hoping to find
someone to blame—I’ll name no name.

Stephen Brooke ©2024

Friday, July 12, 2024

Mewlips and Gibbelins

“The Mewlips” is a tongue-in-cheek—but creepy, none the less—poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, supposedly one of those drawn from Hobbit lore. The sort of thing one recited in the comfort and safety of home or tavern! The mewlips seem a thoroughly bad bunch of swamp dwellers who are apt to devour travelers through their realm.

It is quite likely (and I am definitely not the first to mention this) that Tolkien’s mewlips were inspired at least in part by Lord Dunsany’s gibbelins, found in his short story “The Hoard of the Gibbelins.” Tolkien knew and admired Dunsany’s work, and the story predated the poem by decades.

Now Dunsany’s story, as much of his work, was also not entirely serious, yet it is a deliciously spooky sort of tale. There is also a certain amount of implicit social criticism built into it. That also is not untypical of his work.

The story of the Gibbelins appeared in Lord Dunsany’s ‘The Book of Wonder,’ which is long out of copyright and available as a free ebook at Project Gutenberg. Dunsany is one of the founders of modern fantasy; I highly recommend reading at least some of his work and “The Book of Wonder” is a good place to start.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Stempel Garamond

Stempel Garamond was first issued by the Stempel foundry almost a hundred years ago as Garamond-Antiqua. It was—and remains—one of the more faithful and attractive revivals of the Garamond typefaces. There have been a number of versions since, clones, reissues, digitalizations. One of the better known would be the free URW++ Garmond No.8, which may be found readily online. It is ‘almost’ an open license font; a publisher needn’t worry about using it for print or embedding it in a PDF. I see it pretty much as a publisher’s starting kit, dependable and usable for pretty much any project.

Incidentally, its italics are based on ones actually designed by Claude Garamond, where many other Garamond typefaces use italics by Robert Granjon, a respected successor of Garamond.

The Garamond Original typeface—a name used by both Bitstream and SoftMaker—is essentially a clone of Stempel. As with Garamond No.8, they lack opentype features for those who want or need them, though SoftMaker does offer separate small caps. That makes up for much. The typeface is included in SoftMaker’s MegaFont collection, which remains a rather good deal.

Not surprisingly, various opentype projects based on Garamond No.8 have popped up over the last couple decades but none have seemed to go much of anywhere. Be that as it may, the versions that are available are quite viable alternatives to commercial Garamonds or the popular EB Garamond and other open license Garamond (or Garamond-like) fonts. Stempel Garamond, under whatever name, is a good choice for anyone producing books.

Arachis Press used versions in all my fantasy novels set among the Mora (the Malvern Trilogy, the Mora Trilogy, etc). We are entirely likely to use Stempel again in books to come. Indeed, we consider it our default for novels.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Wonder, a poem


I have pursued the sense of wonder
beneath the hurtling moons of Barsoom
and through the caverns of Moria.

I followed its tracks in jungles where
Mowgli and his brothers howled,
and on the shores of Gitche Gumee.

I once held it for a moment,
off the coasts of Treasure Island,
and voyaged on, to seek new worlds.

I yet hear it calling me,
calling me again to follow
across the hills and far away.

Stephen Brooke ©2024

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

milky way tanka

a river of stars
flowed across my summer nights
above dark water

the milky way leads only
to such memories now

Stephen Brooke ©2024

more or less in the form of a tanka

Saturday, June 29, 2024

One More, a poem

One More

Light one more candle
in the church of my heart,
to flicker in darkness
if but for this moment.

Sing one more hymn,
your sacred song rising
to echo and fade
among shadowed vaults.

Whisper one prayer;
the words will not matter.
Allow them to wander  
to their true amen

hidden in smoke,
clothed in our music,
one last fleeting flame
before our stripped altars.

Light one last candle
in the church of my heart,
to burn until we
both are forgotten.

Stephen Brooke ©2024

This is admittedly an early draft and I see places I may or may not make changes. Of course, I'll probably never rid myself of Catholic imagery!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Boredom, a poem


Excitement is nice
for a day or two,
but I would prefer
sharing boredom with you.

We’d let the days melt
one into the next,
and not be bothered
and never be vexed.

Ah, such a life
has its appeal,
to sail through the years
on an even keel.

So, come join me,
we’ll make an accord
to avoid life’s turmoil—
would you be bored?

Stephen Brooke ©2024

Not of course, to be taken seriously. Or too seriously.