BrooksLooks@ ‘Thoughts & Prayers’

never thought we’d ever say
thoughts and prayers had become cliché

a great country watches
even its young people die

from a lack of reasonable measures
and a congress gone awry

so-called leader equivocate
dancing around as it gets late

so many lost now, whole communities vexed
a country in fear cries out, “who’s next?”

© Copyright 2023 Brooks Bradbury /
BrooksLooks / All rights Reserved

BrooksLooks @ Great Smokies

my heart has raced
on your leaf strewn trails
where nature thrives
sweet peace prevails

take me out
beyond the noise
to your deep coves
and soulful joys

on each fringed ridge
atop lofty bald
eagles fly
where I am called

through walls of rhododendra
clouds of gentle mist
close in on me, i breathe and ponder
at last why i exist

© Copyright 2023 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks. All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Never Thought We’d Ever See

never thought
we’d ever see
a defilement
of our democracy
by a criminal president
and his liars in wait
who light the fire
of racist hate

looking into
America’s soul
a battle rages
over losing control
as racist “men”
cheat at life’s game
deny the rainbow
and rage at the rain

© Copyright 2022 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks. All Rights Reserved.

BrooksLooks@ Weeds

never thought
we’d ever see

we’ve come so far
to face so late
the damage caused
by racist hate

if karmic forces
would rise above
grant our wish
transforming haters
into lives of love

if this can’t happen
at least deliver
our humble needs
turn racists into
harmless weeds

perhaps this happens
every year
which explains
weeds real purpose here

© Copyright 2021 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Goodbye Neckties

Goodbye Ties

brought 200 neckties
to the thrift shop today
secreted in plastic bags (they never knew)
accepting them anyway

we had carted them all over the country
in some strange hoarding way
KonMari’s final test
how unburdened i feel today

it wasn’t like i was going back
to days of decorum for management
but what if forced against my will
back to the eastern establishment?

big and bright–wide you’d say
long since out of style
i was sure they’d be back ‘in’ one day
if only we kept them another while

they were knots and cravats, bows and reps
my wife could have made quite a quilt
how relieved i was to leave them stealthily there
with no ounce of guilt

these western ways have soothed my soul
beyond ties to wild rag and western hat
never going back to neckties, that’s my goal
prit’ near had enough of that

OK Marie Kondo! Yes! I confess!

i kept a suit or two that ‘bring me joy’
(plus 1 or 2 ties my wife, I mean I, smartly matched with pride )
they’re for funerals and weddings you know
except for only these, ties and me–we’re now untied

© Copyright 2021 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Chicken Shit Holler

Audio of Chicken Shit Holler by Brooks Bradbury

he was the greatest living hero
‘ever came out ta Appalachia
they all knew his name there
from Meada’s-a’-Dan
to downtown Galax
from Fancy Gap
‘ta right back at ya

a girl there she got his number
then she became his wife
she said i ain’t saying nothin’
but this’ll be one hard life
you ain’t got hardly a dollar
so’s it’s prit near clear to me
sure’s hell yer from down in
old chicken shit holler
no one there’s got one damn dollar
you just gotta be from
chicken shit holler

and his life ensued
he got a job
and he got screwed
he got a right real attitude
then he got plum downright rude
began to feud, came unglued

he tried to make his fortune
and he jest got all tripped up
knocked down
worn out, bashed in some
got lost on endless highways
let it all get under his skin
he had it up to here back then
but hey they had a few good days

then he would just move on
’cause he didn’t like the bosses
didn’t like the rules
couldn’t face the losses
didn’t want to deal
with all them damn fools

when his wife looked right at him
and told him it to him straight
she said i ain’t saying nothin’
i know you do it for the dollar
but it looks to me like
you’re headin’ back home ta
old chicken shit holler

i said i think you’re right
time to stand up and fight
i ain’t going back to old chicken shit holler
even if i’m down to my last dang dollar

and he looked in the mirror
said his boss was an f’in clown
things got a bit clearer
he wasn’t backin’ down

then he told it straight to his a-hole boss
that he was sick and tired
‘yer the worst damn boss i’d run across!’
his boss said, ‘well, anyway, you’re fired’

and our hero said, “Your Loss.”

when he got home
his wife looked right at him
and told him it to him straight
she said i ain’t saying nothin’
but screw the almighty dollar
it looks to me like
you’re fixin’ to git yerself out of
old chicken shit holler
you’re on your way out
of old chicken shit holler

i’ve done my time
i ain’t no damn scholar
gettin’ the hell out a’
old chicken shit holler
if i have to spend my last half-dollar
gettin’ the hell out a’
old chicken shit holler

leave it behind
i’m proud of my blue collar
ain’t a goin’ back ta
old chicken shit holler

© Copyright 2021 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Vegan Reason

Ranchers Sustained Audio

heavy rollers clank
on steel rails
recently slaughtered
hung on hooks
swing past
by the half
and the quarter

heaved into place
a bandsaw whines
cut after cut
slicing through
muscle and bone
until bone dust
starts piling up

blood red slabs
slap down
on each stainless-steel table
as hyper-sharp knives
in a blur of fists
slice    toss    repeat
until a life once whole and alive
is neatly piled into buckets of each–
bone    fat     meat

a whoosh of the vacuum packer
as each steak, chuck, and round
is sealed in plastic bags
what’s left is
‘hamburger’ ground
the final path
on rolling racks
from open range
now piled
on shelves
in tidy stacks

amateur butchers
remove aprons of
thick yellow vinyl
covered in blood,
fat, and more
removing gloves
of black nitrile
sterilizing each table
and floor
the band saw
until nothing remains
of this one life
hosed down the drain

and the grass-fed,
locally raised,
has been neatly processed
in a stainless steel plant
near the field
that once was its home–
a freezer now

and the circle of life
on a ranch is on full display
when each cow’s life
ends this way

© Copyright 2021 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Two Broken Hearts

an injured leg
a vicious break
then the inevitable steps
a vet must take

adrenaline runs wild
with anguish and stress
their only relief
is in her caress

a needle takes away his pain
as uncertainty grows in wild eyes
then a final, fatal injection
Fuzzy’s strong heartbeat dies

two hearts lay broken
in the dust on the ground
after a raging storm
tears rain down
on Fuzzy’s neck
still warm

how she will miss him
and the sweet love they shared
their burdens and joys
how deeply she cared

there are hoofbeats in heaven
where Fuzzy runs free
down here a dark empty stall
a snip of mane and a memory

our herd is diminished
as sweet Fuzzy dies
his life sanctified
by the tears in her eyes

© Copyright 2020  Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Grandfather’s Poems

i re-rēad your poems
at the end of my life
the ones you wrote at
the beginning of yours

at a tender age
you learned too well
about violence, evil and
the upheaval of world wars

your poems speak of death
as you knew it first-hand
your search for sanctuary
in war-torn land

i rēad your reminders
of how we must live
how much we have
how we must give

[i seek your wisdom
in hints you’d intersperse
as a grandson interprets his
grandfather’s verse]

© Copyright 2020  Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Dying, Revisited

in thinking
about death
and lately, why
man-made things
and life itself
all seem to die

i think it’s best to leave
the dead things dead
to focus on living now
and what might lie ahead

but looking back
at the many ‘bridges’
that provided
us some security
in life’s rear view mirror
we clearly see,
they were all
quite temporary

in the face of death
we may try
to stand our ground
to resuscitate
to hang around
if there’s even a shred
of life left
but we should really leave
dead things dead
focus on living
carry on
if only bereft

what else in our lives
is at a last resort?
what do i behold
just this one time?
i cherish the moments
knowing life is sublime
knowing now that
time is short

i learn to let go
sanctifying the space
knowing something better
will take its place
one of life’s lessons
is to let dead things be
to savor life and each
sweet memory

© Copyright 2020  Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks / All Rights Reserved

BrooksLooks@ Our Beloved Country

senseless acts
so many whys
under a heavy knee
a good man dies

and the haters hate
and the extremists seethe
and our country falters
when good men can’t breathe

vigilante killers 
spread extremist lies
blood on racist hands
a good soul dies

lost, grieving families
are shattered
thoughts and prayers
hardly mattered

who did this?
why did he hate?
what was his name?
what were the motives?
on hallowed ground
flowers are laid
with flickering votives

why my beloved country
have we not resolved
inequality and hatefulness
why when we need them most
have our leaders dissolved?

tears pour out
from so many eyes
our own children afraid
when a good person dies

can’t hold back this flood
as another dies
in a river of blood

a great nation cries

too many are gone
too many whys
an ocean of tears

pours forth
from American eyes

© Brooks Bradbury 2020 | BrookLooks

BrooksLooks@ The Big Dipper

sometimes a hat
jaunty and confident
when i feel like that

sometimes a ladle
pouring goodness
out onto our table

sometimes a question mark
compounding my doubt
written in stars
up there in the dark

sometimes a weapon
as to strike with a pan
as if holding it out
in defense of a man

one morphs to the other
as the weeks go by
and the stars re-align
i look for a sign

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks@ Old Country Inns

walking through
the grounds
of the old inn
here in town
sad to see the
shades were drawn
guests were gone

fast peeling paint
and a great old inn
is a bit less quaint
and a bit more old

it had bustled with life once
celebrations of love
were held in the dining room
and in guestrooms above
fine meals were savored
first dates were held
wedding parties danced
where happiness dwelled

now but a shell
of what it once was
an inn has died
perhaps because
of a focus lost
or changing winds
or foreboding times
for country inns

my soul still haunts these
authentic old inns 
along winding back roads
where the country begins

kindly innholders
welcome each guest
on creaky floors
to a comfortable rest
generous spirits
where joy is expressed
forever, we will love
old inns the best

we would drive on for miles
past motels and chains
in search of a place
that still retains
the spirit of welcome
and human kindness
in full measure
we find it here
life’s real treasure
lies within
the best place to be
is at an old country inn

© Copyright 2020 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks@ Chapters

life’s many moments
and all of its chapters
written in ledgers and tomes
kept for years
in the rafters
of so many homes

now that it’s late
it’s time to take a few down
to review, reconsider
what’s written
on ancient pages
turned yellowish brown

brushing away dust
in attempt to review
what transpired
back then
about when
and with whom
starting back when
we were brand new

what joy to re-think
all we beheld
moments savored
the places we dwelled
in halcyon days
the souls we’ve known
horizons forever
under our gaze

in re-pondering
our bridges
through oases in time
the treasures in
the pleasures
of places
and sublime

some chapters
could have gone on forever
glad some were a page or two
some a bit tragic
some were pure magic
still the best part
about being out here
is being out here
with you

life’s sweet moments
and all of its chapters
in ledgers and tomes
stored for years
in the rafters
of our many homes

© Copyright 2020 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks@ Wild

there is a 
lovely wildness
that still lives
here within
a need to
Nature’s spaces
as they’ve been

untouched places
left untrod
in shadowed canyons
out beyond
places not yet seen
nor pondered
places not yet
felt nor wandered

out here
in these sagebrushed lands
and red rock sands
high lonesome
condors call
aloft on desert winds
above it all

the need to
make a living
always plays a role
may it never
with the more
intrinsic goal
to go
to seek and there to find
the deepest depths
of one’s true soul

it’s taken years
and miles
to know what 
to leave behind
clearer now
the truth be told
as stillness
fills my mind

this place of
profound quiet
on a canvas
parched and painted
i savor every moment
lost in thoughts
at ease

there is a 
lovely wildness
that still lives
here within
a need to
go, discover
Nature’s spaces
as they’ve been

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks@ Uncle Frank’s Fruitcake

Uncle Frank’s fruitcake!
it arrived in the mail today.
Christmas joy has finally come!
oh aromatic loaf of citron,
cherries and nuts
deliciously–the damn thing’s
three-quarters rum!

you see it’s not just any old fruitcake
it’s the ultimate version of one
they say Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
He’s baked in a whole new rum-soaked level of fun

you can tell your loaf is coming
from over a mile away
Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
because now the UPS truck
smells that way!

i open the box
tear open the foil,
remove cheesecloth,
rubber bands, foil and string
oh to renew my taste buds
on the sweet goodness
Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
can bring

A slice or two is hardly enough
before i know it i’ve eaten it all
having to wait another year more
until Uncle Frank’s fruitcake
arrives at the door

you see, Uncle Frank’s Fruitcake.
from years in the diplomat corp
always seemed like he was having fun
i never realized before
it was all of the rum
see, not all of it
went into the cake
(Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.)
And boy can he bake!

now the holidays are finally over
and the fruitcake’s a sweet memory
Uncle Frank’s fruitcake.
will go down deep in history
and i heard him explain
as his last fruitcake bakes
More rum! for goodness sakes!

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks@ 40 going on 50

Forty some years ago an odd paperback book, “Country Inns and Backroads” caught my attention in the college bookstore. It was a travel guide of sorts about authentic, independent inns being marketed by author Norman Simpson. How little did I know then how the book would influence my life’s trajectory leading to a career in independent hospitality.

After our college graduation, lifelong friend Dan Hopkins and I took off on adventure thanks to a Greyhound bus special, “Go Anywhere in the USA for $50”. We purchased two tickets and boarded in snow-covered Syracuse, NY and endured countless bus changes, strange characters and endless highway until 72 hours later we recovered at the home of our mutual friend Rob Marks in La Mesa, California.

Returning home a year later from our ‘working vacation’, it was long overdue time to find gainful employment. I finally read Simpson’s book and was intrigued by the inn and hotel properties Simpson wrote about. With a pile of rejection letters and zero job prospects I donned my best $99 suit, borrowed my parent’s car and drove two hours east down I-90 across New York state to the one property in the book nearest our upstate home, just over the line in Massachusetts.

Incidentally, I wore the same navy-blue suit with my red, white and blue tie weeks earlier in interviews with the Central Intelligence Agency. That is another story, a path untaken.

Crossing the threshold of an old inn that dated to 1773, I arrived at the venerable Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts inquiring about a job–without any clue what a remarkable place this inn or the town would turn out to be. Centuries ago the Inn had been a remote stagecoach stop. It was and is now a bustling hostelry in this picturesque New England village.

Thanks to the inn’s manager and Red Lion Inn owners Senator Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick I was given a warm welcome. By the end of the day, I had passed muster. The Inn was very busy indeed and yes, they could use my help right away. Returning a few days later to begin work as a dining room host (whatever that meant!) I stayed for a while in a tiny staff room on the sultry, un-air-conditioned 4th floor of the inn. I promised the owners I would work very hard for my $4 per hour wage and thus began a career in hospitality on July 2, 1979 that continues today.

I would soon learn that both Norman Rockwell and Norman Simpson called the village of Stockbridge their home. Norman Rockwell died the year prior to my arrival, and over the years I delighted in befriending Norman Simpson as a bon vivant marketer who told the story of authentic old American inns until his untimely death in 1986. Today, Select Registry lives on as the latest evolution of Simpson’s vision. Mrs. Molly Rockwell still lived across the street from the inn back then and her husband Norman’s spirit is still celebrated in the Berkshires and beyond.

Stockbridge is a rare community in the Berkshires, rich in history and continuing to attract writers, artists and performers as it has from its earliest days as a mission community serving the native Mahican tribe. Today, a few miles up the road in Lenox, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performs each summer at Tanglewood Music Center as it has since 1937. Many of the BSO musicians lodge at the Inn with the hallways filled with the sweet sounds of practiced instrumentals.

Years later, I had begun to learn a few things and was by then well-versed in many aspects of the Inn’s operation. ‘Mrs. Fitz’ called me to her office one day in 1993 and offered me the Innkeeper & General Manager position. After working in every department of the inn, I felt as though I had pulled the sword from the stone. ‘Mrs. Fitz’ as we called her was an inspiration, a mentor and a powerful force.

While there, I had the pleasure of being a part of the management team that re-opened sister hotel, Blantyre, in the early 1980’s. Later, as GM of the Red Lion Inn I led our team effort to open the Porches Inn at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Leaving this Camelot experience years later, I felt as though I had ‘graduated’ and was ready for more of life’s lessons. My wife Susan and I embarked on a path that would lead us ever onward across the country. Before that, twenty-one exciting and wonderful years would pass there in Stockbridge until Jack and Jane retired.

We never looked back as our adventure in hospitality continued. Fast forward to today, and we happily call northern Colorado our home. This was preceded by a beautiful Kanab, Utah home and our other ‘homes’ in Stamford, Vermont; Stockbridge and Dalton, Massachusetts; Madison, Connecticut; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Meadows of Dan, Virginia (where we opened the luxury Lodge and Spa at Primland); Pearce, Arizona; Waynesville, North Carolina and Clark, Colorado in about that order.

Iroquois, Mahican, Stockbridge, Hammonasset, Winnebago, the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Apache, Yampa Utes, Anasazi, Navajo and Paiute native peoples preceded us in all of these areas. Their spirits permeate the communities on our path.

Berkshire, Blue Ridge, Great Smokies, the Colorado Rockies and Chiracahua mountains have all served as the beautiful backdrop of our lives along the way. The dramatic vermillion cliffs of southern Utah surrounded us for a time.

This charming village of Kanab (our 10th such home, and 17th move since our October 2000 wedding in Stamford, Vermont) provided a warm welcome to a growing yet remote southern Utah community of 4,500 residents with thousands more U.S. and international visitors arriving in season to explore national parks, extensive BLM lands and extraordinary state parks such as Coral Pink Sand Dunes.

Kanab and Kane County are centered among Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase Escalante and Grand Canyon National Parks. World-class challenging hiking trails traverse the area. Kanab was originally settled by Anasazi, Ute and Kaibab Paiute followed later in 1864 when ten Latter-Day Saint families moved into the area finally establishing Kanab in 1870.

Now a thriving small city, Kanab is growing with the arrivals of outliers like us and the discovery of Kanab as an up-and-coming destination. Kanab’s town fathers and commissioners work diligently to balance Kane County’s growing tourism business with residents’ quality of life all the while honoring Kanab’s history as Little Hollywood, once the setting of many classic western movies and television shows.

Our many moves have resulted from the vagaries of a career in independent hospitality and working for a range of owners from beloved to indifferent whom we discovered would unfortunately retire and die, sell their real estate holdings, change their minds, endure the great recession, suffer from dementia, etc. In short, we experienced life with all its uncertainties and changes.

Executive hospitality recruiters have played an important role in our lives, enticing us to consider new properties and explore wonderful new horizons. I learned early on that these were some of our most important business relationships.

Most of all I am grateful to my wife Susan and our petites Cotons de Tulears who have endured these many moves. Susan has faced the unenviable task of managing each move with all the resulting household changes and upheaval—all while re-inventing herself and finding a place in these new communities. This has been the most difficult aspect of moving, along with saying goodbye to new friends who have been so kind and helpful. We cherish our friends whom in spite of time and distance continue to keep in touch.

Above all, we found amazingly good and generous people wherever we went including our staff, our guests and our neighbors. We have discovered beautiful places, some that most American’s will never see. Out West, we have come to know what quiet really means. And we learned to count on each other through all of life’s vicissitudes. Susan is fond of saying that I seemed like a stable guy once, and ever since our first date at the grand opening of Mass MoCA on May 29, 1999 our lives together have been a wild and beautiful ride.

We had the pleasure of representing Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab. Its founders had a vision years ago of saving the lives of animals with a mission to bring about a time when there are no more homeless pets. It is a joy, and a responsibility that we support their work to end the suffering and killing of animals in shelters all across the country by the year 2025.

None of us ever gets where we are without the help of others. To explore this extraordinary country has been our great privilege and we remember all those who sacrificed for us, our parents who raised us, our families who have given so much to us, our neighbors who have sustained us, the communities who have welcomed us, and the owners who have challenged us.

We have made a career in the work of managing, opening, marketing and growing private clubs, guest ranches, lodges and inns since those precious first years in Stockbridge.

We treasure the vendors, suppliers and consultants who have supported our work, and the guests and colleagues whom we have come to know and serve. It is all of you and especially my parents who have taught me the lessons of graciousness and service.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks@ Circle the Sun

quantum quarks
in astral planes
dance above the hurricanes
lightning sparks
on earthly plains
over millennia
of man-made schemes
of man-made myths
the cost of dreams
what’s been lost
in our awesome toll
Nature finally on the run
species lost
damage done

and all we can do
is circle the sun
abiding in time
having our fun
another year
still alive
enjoying the ride
through time and tide
no reason to fear
we can’t even steer

who knows when
life ends as it must
and the ride continues
as one new layer
of human dust
and all we will do
is circle the sun
without a sail
year upon year
unaware of the scale
through time and tide
beyond forever
all we’ve got is fear
we can’t even steer

until that day
the end is near
the time is short
in reality
there’s never been
any guarantee
all we can do is
circle the sun
taking our time
having our fun
year upon year
enjoying the ride
enduring time and tide
we ride through the night
through darkness and light
all we’ve got is fear
we can’t even steer

mystic voices
foretold the day
ancient wisdom
would have no more to say

and all we can do
is circle the sun
abiding in time
having our fun
another year
still alive
enjoying the ride
through time and tide
no reason to fear
we can’t even steer

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks@ Colorado City Child

Colorado City Child

born into the maelstrom
where false prophets decreed
illegalities, debauchery
for their self-serving greed

pedophiliac demons enslaved
erased your personality
corrupted your soul
laid waste to your remote community
its beauty fenced, unhealthy, unwhole

Colorado City child!

your life’s moment is at hand
may you have the strength
to rise above
to fully understand
i pray you never settle
that you one day have enough

transcend such so-called religions
banish them from earth
collect your life’s precious pieces
reassemble your boundless worth

until then your mothers know
the price already paid
for lives on hold way too long
for stolen moments, for joy delayed

false leaders rightly arraigned
incarcerated and chained
Celebrate your new salvation!
a Creeker’s transformation

long may you fly
may your tears sanctify
their every wrong
their every lie

© Copyright 2019 Brooks Bradbury / BrooksLooks