BrooksLooks @ Writing Poetry

20160928_205626Writing Poetry with a Pencil
Brooks Bradbury

I once wrote a poem
with a pencil
right on a white paper sheet
until a hand-me-down
Remington portable
made college life complete

clacking away on metal keys
that flew up square and neat
as a typed-out poem in parallel lines
appeared on my white paper sheet

a spool of black and red cloth ribbon
clicked along through a metal notch
it was as close as I had ever come
to the works of a fine Swiss watch

though clacking away faster and faster
‘til I over-clacked a little
it was at last too damned fast
and the keys got jammed in the middle

into the late pre-historic,
pre-techno age
things were still low-tech
and eclectic
when along came a thing
that became all the rage
high-tech and self-correctic
it was the best you could find
at last! the great one of a kind
IBM Selectric!

with its fancy silver alphabet ball
it turned every which way but loose
and my poem spilled out
on the paper sheet
my office, at last complete

alas now there was no excuse
I could put the back-button into use
it would truly save the day
mistakes were covered in little white tape
and I could keep typing away

then at the dawn of our digital throes
beyond palm pilot and stylus woes
behold the blackberry had finally come
soon we were addicted to typing
with each carpal sore thumb
and it now really grates
when my hip ‘ghost’ vibrates
I think I’m still crackberry numb

so I typed out my poems
then on the little white screen
but now I could email my work
if you know what I mean
honestly I could just scream

it didn’t stop there
iPhones and tablets
have us all on the run
the digital arms race
had long since begun
sometimes I ponder
what progress has brung
a poet with an S4 Galaxy Samsung?

my monthly cell plan continues to rise
and my poetry production to taper
it’s time to go back
to writing each poem
with a pencil
right on a white sheet of paper

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury, BrooksLooks

BrooksLooks @ Autumn

20171007_175232.jpgINTO THE AUTUMN

a wince too painful
not to notice
sudden stabs
of hidden hurt
presage one’s
reluctant arrival
in middle age
foretelling storms
an upside plus
bones pre-ache
reminding us
like an early warning
signal flare
to live it up
while you’re still there
a final fling
live earnestly and
honestly
forthrightly
we implore each other
and we allow
our time grows short
even now
hold onto me
the best is coming
yet to be
i hope
one day we will see
through autumn’s
arrival
auspiciously
we live forward
in a season new
life’s expectancy
comes into view
we’ll warm our hands
at life’s sweet fire
through autumn leaves
of red and gold
we’ll dance
and laugh
at getting old

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury, BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Linger Here

Linger Here

linger here
in this moment
in this place
meant for you
a sacred space

a micro gift
for you alone
for your soul
a sunlit ray
synchronized
for you in time
here only now
along your way

fleeting moment
gone forever
if you miss it
you’ll not know
the very instant
joy presented
love and life
here all aglow

be ever ready
for little moments
that come along
arise to be
for life is seeking
your full attention
and little moments
set you free

© COPYRIGHT 2014 Brooks Bradbury, BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Home is Where You Are

HOME IS WHERE YOU ARE

home was where my parents were
not exactly a home on the range
the range was where dinner was made
when eating out was rather strange

home since then has moved about
from dorm to apartment to room
it didn’t seem to matter back then
until life began to bloom

apartment life was a passing phase
before jobs and moving and ‘homes’
after those pesky ‘overdraft’ days
before mortgages, bills, and loans

a career would bring us hither and yon
to one house after another–oh my!
we lived in places we’d never dream up
a place or two we should have passed by…

years went by and Mother moved
retiring south for the winter
her home is in Carolina now
we are sadly seldom together

home passed long ago from mom to spouse
you know how wild life is
houses sometimes resembled homes
but home is where ever my wife is

our latest house is not quite home
but to me it’s crystal clear
my home is with you–it will always be so
whatever the place, whatever the year

time’s gone by and things sure change
never my place with you
now that we’ve lived on the open range
and eating out’s a lot less strange

my home is you

© COPYRIGHT 2014 Brooks Bradbury ǀ BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks@ Crumbling

20181118_114538

Crumbling
sermons unheard
the unspoken good word
a song unsung
lessons unlearned
in an inhospitable place
where manners don’t matter
to an inhuman race
cruelty seeps
onto the world’s bloody streets
gunfire and grief
beyond our belief
shots fired
our frayed nerves hot-wired
dignity’s bridges burned
simple kindness spurned
if civility is lost
was compassion the cost?
beneath uneasy skies
too many why’s
morality decried
a teacher defied
a pastor sighs
and the poet cries

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury | BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Vantage Point

20180810_200108

Vantage Point

we’ve come so far

beyond paradigm

to where the few

know a rare place and time

complex new dimensions

misunderstood

yet seekers of truth

still seek the way

and the good

they cast a glance

at the growing storm

faraway

fanatic rants

jeopardize the safe and warm

will we make it

to the other side

will we rise above

the rising tide

can mankind cope

do we still hope

or is what we’ve achieved

threatened

on a slippery slope

it’s a race to the finish

to know how it ends

evil diminished

ill will portends

we build our walls higher

swarms of drones fire

evil’s army on the run

and the price will be paid

by daughter and son

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Going Away

20180810_195922

GOING AWAY

i’ve loved you and cared for you

every day of your life

i’ve paid a ransom price

to be your mother

a parent, a wife

in the roll of life’s dice

you’ll never know the depth

of my sacrifice

no time for small talk?

nor the details of my day?

so self-important now

you weren’t raised this way

and you tell me how you don’t care

it’s there in your eyes in that blank stare

good luck you’ve had your say

i won’t abide your disrespect

goodbye for now, i’m walking away

i don’t need you

i’m not some old door mat

my heart and I

can’t look back

i’m walkin’ away

my bags are packed

i loved you with all my heart

now I can’t look back

the fuse is burning in your life now

ticking like a time bomb

and you’ll never know how

i gave everything to be your Mom

i gave it all to be your Mom

a mother scorned by her own child

the most painful crime of all

you’ll realize sometime

when your heart’s in free fall

when your friends are few

and she leaves you

and the bills come due

remember that I loved you

you’ll remember things I say

but I won’t abide your disrespect

goodbye for now

i’m walking away

i don’t need you

i’m not some old door mat

you broke my heart

and I can’t look back

i’m walkin’ away

my bags are packed

i loved you with all of my heart

and i can’t look back

let me know when you’re back on track

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ The Great Quinnipiack Club Soup Controversy of 2006

front_of_clubhouseAREA HEADLINES:

“SOUP CONTROVERSY BOILS OVER!”

“CLUB HULLABALOO OVER SOUP ON THE FRONT BURNER”

“STIRRING THE POT IN CLUB SOUP DEBACLE”

“SOUP BATTLE: A REAL BEEF!”              “STOCK POT TEMPERS FLARE”

“AD HOC SOUP COMMISSION APPPOINTED”

“Q CLUB ‘SOUP-GATE’ REVEALS CANNED PRODUCTS

WERE USED EXTENSIVELY…AND PREFERRED BY ITS MEMBERS!”

NEW HAVEN, CT — In an act of desperation, eleven Quinnipiack Club members from the club’s self-described O.F.& H.B.’S (old farts and has beens) presented a strongly worded request to the Board of Governors today. It seems the long-simmering issue regarding recent changes in the club soup recipe has bubbled to the surface at the venerable private club.

As a result, an ad hoc ‘Soup, Broth & Consommé’ Committee is now being formed to address the rather dicey club issue. A Soup Task Force commissioner has yet to be named. It was unknown at press time whether the club’s new soup is actually being dumped into the New Haven Harbor (a la the Boston Tea Party) however Club Q Soup loyalists are really stirring the pot and ladling out cries of fowl.

The heat is also rising in the club’s ancient kitchen as the new chef was unaware there were any old “recipes” as the soup rebels claim. It seems that the club’s vital soup secrets (and a rusty can opener) disappeared about the same time as the former chef.

It is rumored that the new chef (with twenty-five years of cooking experience) actually arrived with some of his own soup recipes. Chef Jack Hodes when asked if he knew how to make soup, replied, “Yes.” And, “My soups have always been made from scratch. I know they are being well-received by the other club members because they actually have taste now.” The chef reports that the usage of salt, pepper and crackers has shown similar gains concurrent with the new homemade soups.

Compounding matters, one of the new chef’s first acts was to bring all of the old canned soup, soup base, stock and canned vegetables that were in the club’s kitchen when he arrived over to the nearby New Haven Soup Kitchen. While not homemade, management was certain that less fortunate members of our local community would really enjoy the soup, canned or otherwise.

Uncannily, we’ve all been shocked to discover that the Soup Traditionalists actually preferred the canned soup over the new made-from-scratch soup! Temperatures are boiling over as vehemence and vitriol pour out! Meanwhile, soup sales at New Haven’s Broadway Soup Kitchen have soared ever since the delivery of the Q Club canned food products. This however seems to be related to unfortunate economic reasons rather than dissenting Q Club members actually dining over there now.

The entire unsavory issue may be brought to a referendum in order that common ground is forged among the group’s steamed-up members. The emeritus leader of the “Soup Party” claims that “with the hiring of the new chef, our revered club soups have disappeared from the menu!” Reports from other members label this as simply “hogwash.”

It seems a majority of members actually prefers the bold, new direction of having some taste in their soup! “I find the club-made stocks to make all of the difference, bravo to the chef!,” exclaimed one gushing chowder-head. The general manager has been bowled over by the controversy and has vowed to address the concerns of all ‘soup loyalists’ with compassion and sensitivity. The situation remains fluid.

The Great Q Club Soup Controversy Simmers On!

© COPYRIGHT 2014 Brooks Bradbury ǀ BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Running a Remote Western Guest Ranch

cropped-chiricahuas-in-snow-2-21-13.jpgRunning a Remote Guest Ranch in Arizona

“There is a tarantula in my room!”

Thus began a three year adventure and a unique hospitality repositioning assignment in the Chihuahuan Desert of the American southwest. More specifically, my wife Susan and I went to live in the remote southeast corner of Arizona an hour’s drive from the historic town of Tombstone. There in Cochise County, a single county the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, the west remains as wild as the cowboy TV images of our childhood.

The Arizona border with New Mexico was a just a few miles to the east beyond the 9,800 foot peak of the Chiricahua Mountains. The more active border with old Mexico was just 25 miles to the south. Sunglow Ranch lies at an elevation of 5,340 feet, well above the worst of Arizona’s summer’s heat and just below the winter snows that come to the peaks above.

Adventurous American and European visitors still arrive here in search of the iconic Wild West. Germans in particular visit in large numbers to explore the land once made famous by beloved author Karl Friedrich May and the legendary characters of his novels such as Winnetou and Old Shatterhand.

This is a geographical location that rarely elicits a knowing response from world travelers. Old street signs there still reflect its remote location: signs like High Lonesome Road, Far Away Ranch and Double Buzzard Gulch. Cochise County is a corner of the United States few ever venture into except for avid birders and naturalists in search of the vast diversity of species there. Hikers, herpetologists and geologists also wander here for obvious reasons.

More recently, the area is emerging as an exceptional viticultural area. Perhaps one day you will recognize “Chiricahua Bench” as a new growing area on an Arizona wine label. It has been one of my life’s joys to get to know local winemaker friends there at the vineyards of Lawrence Dunham, Keeling-Schaefer, Pillsbury, Sand Reckoner, Aridus, Zarpara, Flying Leap, Kief Joshua and others. A remarkable development of Tasting Rooms is occurring today in Willcox, Arizona especially around Railroad Street. If you have yet to taste wine from southern Arizona, I am certain you will enjoy this distinct pleasure one day soon.

A dusty old airport that once welcomed Amelia Earhart to the area was just to our south toward the border towns of Douglas and Agua Prieta. We enjoyed visiting the old Hotel Gadsden in Douglas where Pancho Villa himself once charged in on his horse and rode right up the hotel’s main staircase. Bisbee to the west of Douglas is another fascinating Arizona border town in its own right with a rich copper mining history. We love exploring Bisbee’s picturesque streets and discovering its very special local shops.

As I arrived at the ranch a few months prior to Susan, there were moments when I felt exactly like Lieutenant Dunbar (Kevin Costner) must have felt in his assignment to that remote wilderness outpost in ‘Dances with Wolves’. In spite of feeling marooned, we both came to love the Chiricahua Mountains as a rough and untamed home for a while. (That’s “cheer-ih-cow’-a.”) We learned a whole lot about cowboy poetry and music, barbed wire fences and water rights, cattle brands and ourselves in the process.

We left our picture perfect Blue Ridge cabin atop the ridge itself in southern Virginia after opening the luxury Lodge and Spa at Primland in Meadows of Dan, Virginia for the late Didier Primat of Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Primat sadly died before the project was completed and all too soon at the age of 64. After Primland opened and was well on its way to being named to Condé Nast Traveler’s “World’s Top 100 Hotels,” Susan exclaimed, “I’m ready for an adventure!” No sooner than the words been spoken than it seemed we were on a plane to Tucson.

From there we picked up our rental car and drove two hours into the high desert, deep into the Chiricahua Mountains. Turning off I-10 eastbound we took a few back roads that eventually turned onto long dirt roads as we ventured further into unknown territory. We continued for about 6 miles beyond the pavement on primitive dirt roads when Susan was famously quoted as saying, “There better be a miracle at the end of this road.”

It was the end of July in 2011 and in the next morning’s soft light we beheld the beautiful 400 acre ranch for the first time. We were pretty sure the ranch had never encountered the likes of us before. It wasn’t exactly a miracle. It was more of a very special new adventure.

The Horseshoe II forest fire that had raged for months in the mountains above the ranch was just about contained by then having burned over 200,000 acres of mountain ridge above us from the Chiricahua National Monument (a not-to-be-missed national park to our north) all the way south to Rucker Canyon. The fire destroyed houses on our nearby Turkey Creek road as flames advanced to within one-half mile of the ranch. Thanks to amazing firefighters and Mother Nature the ranch narrowly averted a complete evacuation.

As is our nature, we set out to bring service excellence and quality to a place that had some pretty well-worn ruts of mediocrity. We also commenced an all out effort to polish the so called “Jewel of the Chiricahuas.”

The oil in the old ranch truck had been unchanged for years and the landscape was thoroughly neglected. We faced failed septic fields overflowing with raw sewage, a grease trap long ago rusted through and a general malaise that had been oozing through the ranch for at least a decade. While still in business, the kitchen’s walk-in coolers were filled with more garbage than fresh produce.

Many changes were still ahead. In spite of plenty of issues, the property presented extremely well (and still does) as a peaceful destination nestled in the hollow of an ancient caldera, the ancestral home of the Chiricahua Apaches. It was the first time in our lives here that we experienced a place of truly profound silence. I mean there were nights when ALL we could hear was our own quiet breathing. The area’s dark skies provided a remarkable nighttime panorama of stars and constellations, most of which are completely invisible elsewhere. Meteor showers were uniquely spectacular, each like a scene from Star Wars.

An incredible diversity of wildlife exists in the mountains of southeast Arizona in what are known as ‘Sky Islands’—high mountain peaks separated by broad open ranges that contribute to isolated individual species. Even Jaguars still roam the ancient mountains of Cochise County, the northern extent of this large cat’s habitat. The Elegant Trogon and the Olive Warbler are two of the avian prizes to be glimpsed in the Chiricahuas especially if one is adventurous enough to drive over the mountain to the even more remote towns of Portal and Paradise, and the remote scenic beauty of Cave Creek along the New Mexico border.

The best we can really say about the ranch staff that we inherited was that they meant well. They hadn’t a clue about service levels or hospitality standards and we gathered there wasn’t much interest in learning. It was to their disadvantage that the new management team had previously learned from and trained some of the world’s finest hospitality employees. We had little tolerance for chronic whining and we insisted everyone move a whole lot faster and follow our lead on elements of precise guest service or prepare to get out of the way. Training commenced even though most of this original staff moved on within the first year when they realized we were still there and that we had no intention of running the ranch the old way.

There were plenty of perplexed looks as to why there were copies of “Who Moved My Cheese” in the kitchen and a new carved wooden sign placed over the employee entrance door that read, “Nils Satis Nisi Optimum.” It was quite a moment too when undermining (now former) key staff reacted to another sign: “We’ll take 50% efficiency for 100% loyalty” on the back door. We drove excellence and quality always insisting that every guest was properly welcomed, greeted and well served.

There in that lovely arid high desert we also encountered dangerous mojave and diamondback rattlesnakes, javelinas, mountain lions, scorpions and beautiful (yet huge and terrifying) cinnamon colored black bears. Free range longhorn cattle from the open range grazed on into our guest areas making for some interesting moments. We faced drought conditions there and a few hungry and thirsty illegal aliens passing through occasionally from Mexico. Toward the end of our tenure, the drought grew worse, forcing the ranch to purchase truck loads of potable water—we hoped just a temporary condition until summer Monsoon Rains arrived.

Occasionally circling overhead were official helicopters, an indication of the intense battle between Border Patrol and syndicated Mexican “coyote” drug smugglers in the area. Southern Arizona’s omnipresent U.S. Border Patrol provided us with real comfort and peace of mind knowing they would be at the ranch in seconds if we needed help.

Taking over a ranch or even a country against its will has some parallels. Machiavelli (and Dr. Judith Best my college political theory professor) would agree that some of the tactics are by necessity similar. There were times we needed to be very heavy handed and times to be gentle and nurturing. We bit our tongues way more often than we were comfortable with and we chose to take on additional workload ourselves rather than put up with the indolent “I only do it my way or I quit so I can collect unemployment” type of employee. We strove to maintain a balance somewhere between these well-worn hospitality gems: “never cut off the branch when you’re sitting on it” and “never give in to terrorism.”

Running any kind of luxury business in a rural setting means that only a few people in the local community can or will afford your goods and services. In spite of this, it was always a pleasure to welcome our local guests especially those from Pearce and Sunsites and Willcox who came for dinner often and supported the ranch in so many ways. We will always be grateful for their friendship and encouragement. When the chips were down it was our regular guests who made us feel that our efforts were well appreciated.

To be honest, there were among our ranch team several diamond-in-the-rough heroes who stayed true to us and the ranch, working incredibly hard long days from beginning to end and making a real difference. Thank you to Mike, and Xiaoyan and Dan and others who helped Sunglow Ranch to achieve so much against all odds during our tenure. We will always be grateful to each of you.

There were long days and long nights to be sure in the running of the ranch and we were determined to prevent a lack of training and bad attitudes from undermining our guest service goals and our reputation. In the end we take a sense of accomplishment that we had actually led our team to reposition the ranch in anticipation of the real estate sale while achieving 6 TripAdvisor awards including two of the more coveted Traveler’s Choice awards in the process. We owe our thanks to amazingly loyal guests and the core of rock-solid employees who were as committed as we were.

We inherited a ranch that had undervalued itself for years—presenting itself in the marketplace as a deeply discounted venue to guests who really wanted to pay even less. For instance we heard a lot of, “What if we opt out of meals and housekeeping, can we get the room at half price?” Or, “We’d like to use the ranch for our wedding but we have our own catering.” Then there was the horde of discounted stays from the likes of misguided marketing initiatives like “Groupon.” There were those who tried to bring their own alcohol into the dining room in spite of the ranch’s liquor license. It felt good to move away from all of this.

We were as pleasant as we could be to this discount strata there when we arrived, and we worked to steadily increase the quality of our guest experience while pushing the average daily rate higher. Happily, the ranch came to provide needed sanctuary and real civility to discerning travelers who helped us to achieve new standards at the ranch. This in turn helped us to attract a new clientele better able and willing to support the emerging new Sunglow Ranch.

In spite of the forbearance required of us and some of the challenges outlined above, we were proud of the ranch we left behind. All along, we were well supported by the ranch’s owners and we enjoyed seeing a part of the country few others ever do. With grateful appreciation, we had the privilege of working for these two very special people who were always committed to making the ranch even better. Thank you Mitch and Chrissy for the opportunity to be a part of your team–for believing in us and for your patience and support. We will always be honored to know you and hope that our paths cross again one day. We wish you much success.

In the face of ownership’s renewed efforts to sell the ranch it was time at last for us to begin giving serious consideration to new opportunities. Early in 2014, an agreement was reached with a Chicago area real estate firm that was given the task of orchestrating the dispossession process. In the end, an auction was planned. This resulted in plenty of rumors by the uninformed who rumored that the ranch’s demise was caused by foreclosure and bankruptcy.

In fact, the time had been long overdue time for the owners to sell their ranch and a public auction was their last step in trying to move on. To their amazing credit, generous bonuses were paid to the loyal employees who stayed true to the end. No checks bounced, and no ranch debts were left unpaid.

After turning down four written offers to run unique hotel properties around the country, I accepted a position at a very special luxury inn in western North Carolina. I packed up a rental truck and left Sunglow Ranch behind for good at the end of February 2014. Susan decided the best thing for her was to manage the ranch a few more months on her own knowing my days would be immersed in a new post. She always knows better!

For me, it was disconcerting to imagine that Susan might have to face the wild west on her own. I took some measure of relief knowing she kept her .38 caliber, laser-sighted Ruger handy. She had already demonstrated that her aim was quite good. Out there, you quickly learn who is working for you and who is working against you and it’s always better to be prepared.

This time apart proved to be a great opportunity for Susan to shine on her own. On her first day as the ranch general manager she fired her first employee for performance reasons thereby setting the tone for the rest of her tenure. Thanks to Susan and the team’s continued efforts even more positive TripAdvisor reviews were posted.

Actually there may have been no person better suited than Susan to help the ranch through this period. She presented the ranch in the most professional manner as she met with the real estate company agents, prospective buyers and eventually surveyors and appraisers. A new buyer had indeed come forward, and a contract was signed by the end of Susan’s term. We’ve kept our fingers crossed hoping the new buyer would come along and build on our efforts, keep a vital presence in the Sunglow community for our neighbors and help the ranch’s owners to move on.

Post Script

Special thanks to Baxter Black, famous cowboy poet and Western personality extraordinaire–and our wrangler the one and only Miles “Bucky” Buckley for teaching us the true ways of the west. Thank you too to our very own cowboy singer Joel Eliot for his great performances and for helping us to know what cowboy music really means. We have a great new appreciation for the lives and work of Ian Tyson, Dave Stamey, Rex Allen, Stan Jones and poet Charles Badger Clark among so many others. “Navajo Rug”, “Ghost Riders in The Sky” and “I Love You Arizona” will resonate in our hearts forever.

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury ׀ Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ City on a Hill

City on a Hill
Brooks Bradbury

HE’S GOT A THOUSAND DOLLAR SUIT
A MILLION DOLLAR SMILE
HE’S GOT HUNDRED DOLLAR SHOES
TIME TO SIT AND THINK A WHILE

AND HE THINKS ABOUT THE HAVES
AND THOSE WHO DO WITHOUT
AND HOW HE’D GOT SO LUCKY
AND WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

HE KNOWS SOME QUESTIONS
HAVE NO ANSWERS
HE KNOWS THEY NEVER WILL
LIKE HOW HE CAME TO LIVE
IN A SHINING CITY ON THE HILL

EVERYTHING ONE NEEDS AND MORE
CITIES RICH BEYOND BELIEF
THERE’S MONEY TREES IN FORESTS
DOLLAR BILLS ON EVERY LEAF

THEY’VE GOT IT AND NOT A CLUE
OF POVERTY’S TRUE COST
NOW THE BILL IS COMING DUE
RAVAGED SOULS ARE LOST

OUR SHINING CITY ON THE HILL
ITS DISTANT VIEWS OBSCURE
THE SQUALOR FAR BELOW THEM
DESPERATE LIVES THE POOR ENDURE

THE CLOCK IS TICKING FOR THE HUNGRY
AND THOSE WHO DO WITHOUT
A TIME BOMB TICKING, TICKING
TO A RECKONING NO DOUBT

POLITICS WITHOUT COMPASSION
FAILURE TO SHARE OUR LOT
LEAVING BUT A MEASLEY RATION
IN ANGUISH THE POOR CRY OUT

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury ǀ BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ A Hall of Fame Father

HALL OF FAME FATHER
Brooks Bradbury

Our father who art in heaven
he went there straight away
you see three golfers were waiting
for one more soul to play

they decided on a format
no mulligans gimmies or ties
they all put in a dollar and agreed
to play it where it lies

God took out his one iron
and teed his ball up high
he drove it down the middle
“Good shot God,” quipped the new guy

Chuck couldn’t have been any calmer
as he put his ball in play
he crushed his drive 350 out
God said, “You’re still away.”

As they walked God turned to him,
“Chuck you’ve lead a model life.
Your faith has been rewarded,
by your family and your wife.

You were a tireless coach and teacher,
helping others on their way
you held a straight and steady course
I’m glad you finally came to play

You never over did it
You wasted neither words nor tears
you never gave up you soldiered on
A devoted father all these years

there was Briarcliff and Beacon
those Hudson River towns
Fort Lee Virginia and Canton New York
and moving’s ups and downs

Springville’s Griffith Institute
you loved those years there’s no dispute
I moved you on to Syracuse
in your time there you paid your dues

from city schools and racial rage
to Hamilton College and a bigger stage
that little country school at O.C.S.
it was all a lot I must confess

retirement in the land of pines
ended your New York state of mind
moments shared at Pinecrest High
your final football gift goodbye.”

Chuck said, “God it was quite a ride,
and as I take a final talley
I really enjoyed every challenge
even the Mohawk Valley.”

God said, “Thanks for that Chuck,
I put you where I needed you
in one continual test
sometimes I have to leave folks where they are and move around the rest

Chuck said, “God, I’m grateful.
and let me thank you first
for all the golf I played down there
from Orchard Park to Pinehurst.”

God then realized while he spoke
Chuck moved two strokes up
and on the 17th Chuck drilled a birdie putt
to the bottom of the cup

God said, “How about double or nothing Chuck?
It seems you’ve beaten me today
Chuck said, “Happy to make it interesting.
God, you’re still away.”

As they hit their drives on eighteen
Chuck walked in a magic glow
back at the top of his golf game again
friends and family missing him so

Heaven’s gained a rare Sportsman
A true Hall of Fame husband and dad
Now that he’s playing golf with God
we feel only a little less sad

We’ll join you in heaven one day Dad
free from earthly cares
until then you’ll remain in our thoughts Dad,
forever in our prayers

© COPYRIGHT 2014  Brooks Bradbury  ǀ  BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Crazy and Cruel

CRAZY AND CRUEL

HE WAS CRAZY AND COOL
THE TALK OF THE SCHOOL
HE WAS COMPLICATED
CONVOLUTED
CRAZY AND COOL

THHOUGHT LIFE WOULD BE A BREEZE
UNTIL IT BROUGHT HIM TO HIS KNEES
HE GREW UP FAST TO HIS SURPRISE
LIFE HIT HIM BETWEEN THE EYES

HE WAS KNOCKED DOWN
DEVASTATED
LIKE A FOOL
DISCOVERED LIFE WAS COMPLICATED
CRAZY AND CRUEL
IT WAS COMPLICATED CONVOLUTED
CRAZY AND CRUEL

IT CHANGED AGAIN WHEN HE WAS FORTY-TWO
A COURT TOOK HIS SON
AND HIS DAUGHTERS TOO
LIFE REMOVED HIS DAD DISGUISE
DRAINED THE TEARS FROM THOSE BLUE EYES

HE WAS KNOCKED DOWN
DEVASTATED
LIKE A FOOL
HE DISCOVERED LIFE WAS COMPLICATED
CRAZY AND CRUEL
LIFE IS COMPLICATED CONVOLUTED
CRAZY AND CRUEL

THEN SHE CAME ALONG IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY
LIKE FIREWORKS ON A SUMMER’S DAY
ELEGANT STRONG, SAVVY AND WISE
ACROSS NIGHTTIME FIELDS OF FIREFLIES
THE SPARKLE CAME BACK IN THEIR LOVE STARVED EYES

TWO HEARTS SETTLED DOWN
DISCOVERED HOW LOVE CAN BE PROFOUND
BUILDING A LIFE ON SHIFTING GROUND
EVERY FIRE NEEDS PLENTY OF FUEL
IN SPITE OF IT ALL IT’S STILL THE RULE
THEIR LIVE’S ARE COMPLICATED
CRAZY AND COOL
SOMETIMES CONVOLUTED
CRAZY AND CRUEL

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury ǀ BROOKS LOOKS

BrooksLooks @ Paradise

Paradise

FROM DOS CABEZAS THROUGH THE WINTER
INTO A SMOKY MOUNTAIN SPRING
ON THESE CAROLINA BACK ROADS
SWORE HE’D NEVER TRADE THIS FOR ANYTHING

ALWAYS HEADED TO SOME MAGIC PLACE OUT WHERE
THOSE CROOKED ROADS HE KNOWS WOULD TAKE HIM THERE
TO A PLACE, A PARADISE OF WHICH HE’S FOND
OUT ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, ABOVE AND BEYOND

HE PASSED THROUGH OOSTBURG IN THE AUTUMN
STOCKBRIDGE ON THE SPRING
CAN’T REMEMBER WHERE HOME IS NOW
OR IF THAT STILL MEANS A THING

TAKE ME BACK WITHOUT A CARE
TO A PLACE LIKE HOME, I WONDER WHERE
LET ME CATCH MY BREATH AND STARE
STRAIGHT AHEAD INTO THE FOREST THERE
IN THIS HOME ON THE ROAD TO EVERYWHERE
ON THE ROAD HOME IS ANYWHERE

ONCE HE KNEW THE CHIRICAHUA
ALGONQUIN, CHEROKEE
HE KNEW THE LAND OF IROQUOIS
APACHE SPIRITS SET HIM FREE

IT WAS ALLEGHENIES IN THE MORNING
BERKSHIRES THROUGH MIDDAY
BLUE RIDGE SUNSETS IN THE EVENING
SWEET SHEBOYGAN ON THE WAY

IT WAS A GOLDEN AGE IN TIME THEY SAY
MOST EVERYTHING WENT HIS WAY
AND ON HE WENT SWEPT AWAY
LIFE’S CURRENT TOOK HIM HIGHER, FURTHER ON EACH DAY

IT WAS UNIQUE A ONE-WAY TRIP IN TIME
MOMENTS SAVORED AND SUBLIME
UNTIL HE REACHED PARADISE ON HIS DYING DAY
NO REGRETS AT ALL THEY HEARD HIM SAY

TAKE ME BACK WITHOUT A CARE
TO A PLACE LIKE HOME I WONDER WHERE
LET ME CATCH MY BREATH AND STARE
STRAIGHT INTO THE FOREST THERE
IN THIS HOME ON THE ROAD TO EVERYWHERE
ON THE ROAD MY HOME COULD BE ANYWHERE

© COPYRIGHT 2014 BROOKS BRADBURY ǀ Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Rising Above

RISE ABOVE
Brooks Bradbury

we sucked the marrow out of life back then
took crooked roads that brought us back again
found our way into strange new lands
said goodbye to our best laid plans

and it ain ‘t easy but we rise above
remember all we have’s our own sweet love
try to hide it on our faces–life’s true toll
we all know the times that try one’s soul

ain’t no telling what’s to become
ain’t no telling now where we’re from
ain’t no telling down from up above
all we know we’ve got’s our own sweet love

dancin’ to the beat of our distant drum
still, life keeps pushin’ us all around some
and it ain ‘t easy but we rise above
we keep believin’ and we rise above

i miss sweet desert mornings
on the chaparral with you
Chiricahua cowgirl what will you do
you’re my only home, my sanity
Chiricahua cowgirl come set me free

and it ain ‘t easy but we rise above
remember all we have is our own sweet love
try to hide it on our faces life’s true toll
we surely know the times that try one’s soul

will we ever finish this human race
are we going forward or stuck in place
will there ever be a fine new age
or more and more rage until we turn the page

and it ain ‘t easy but we rise above
remember all we have is our own sweet love
and it ain ‘t easy but we rise above
remember all we really have is our sweet love

© Copyright 2014 Brooks Bradbury ǀ Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ One Life

20170805_150802 (1)

One Life

there at the outset we’re missing the smarts

act less with our brains and more with our hearts

we don’t even know that we don’t even know

and the current of life continues to flow

carried along as the wild winds blow

are we only vigilant guardians of some fatal narrow view

who don’t even know that we haven’t a clue

and at the end of our live’s will we discover it’s true

that it was less about me and more about you

like bulls in life’s great china shop

always ready to fight

never know when to stop

oblivious to what’s right

addicted to the daily news

am I only the vigilant guardian of some narrow view

do I not even know that I haven’t a clue

at the end of my life will I discover it’s true

that it was less about me and more about you

are we leaping from one extreme to another

is our age nothing but over-reaction

padlocked ideas and polarized factions

narrowing views and distant blood brothers

and the fading age of our loving mothers

where are we as a nation, a city a town

as people and races

and parties astound

are we heading

toward consciousness

a new-age ethos to be

or are we only drifting about

in a wide open sea

will our species ever achieve

unconscious competence

will we truly believe

or will we squander our providence

lose the flight of the dove

with spirits diminished in the face of lost love

are you only the vigilant guardian of some narrow view

who doesn’t even know that you haven’t a clue

at the end of your life will you discover it’s true

that it was always less about you

you could have taken a wider view

it was always less about you

limited by your narrow view

© Copyright 2014 by Brooks Bradbury ǀ Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Turkey Creek Caldera

TURKEY CREEK CALDERA

Brooks Bradbury

CORONADO RODE RIGHT BY HERE

THOUGH HE DIDN’T HAVE A CLUE

THERE WAS GOLD IN CHIRICAHUA

AND QUITE A LOVELY VIEW

A SWEET, SECRET CHAPARRAL

FORGED LONG AGO IN A FIERY HELL

VIOLENT FORCES AND SEISMIC SHOCK

LEFT A BUCOLIC BOWL OF MOLTEN ROCK

NOW A TRANQUIL, REMOTE CALDERA

SACRED HOME OF APACHE AND VAQUERO

WHERE BLOOD WAS SPILLED ON RHYOLITE

CHOKONEN WAYS LOST IN EVERY FIGHT

DOWN THROUGH THE AGES

DESPITE THE WISDOM OF SAGES

HUMAN TURMOIL RAGES

ON NATURE’S SWEET STAGES

MAY THE PEACE WE FIND HERE REMAIN IN OUR SOULS

ITS GOLDEN SILENCE EVER CONSOLES

AND MAY THIS RARE BEAUTY ENDEAVOR

TO GO ON LIKE THIS

BEYOND FOREVER

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | BROOKS LOOKS (Written at Sunglow Ranch, Pearce, Arizona)

BrooksLooks @ Service

I Tremble

I saw your face on Facebook today.
You died serving our country.
We’ve lost you at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
I can hardly breathe in gratitude.
Your supreme sacrifice is overwhelming.
My heart breaks for your proud family.
And for each life you have touched.
You will forever be a part of our American Soul.
Your life is a reminder how precious
the freedom you have helped to provide.
I tremble to receive such an extraordinary gift.

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Quasi Gray & Fuzzy

20190114_152514Quasi Gray and Fuzzy

life is quasi, gray, and fuzzy
while I hoped for more-finite
i’ve received my share of nebulous
in search of black and white
perhaps approximate and nearly
is all we really get
instead of crystal clearly
our conditions almost met
doesn’t mean we give up trying
when the brass ring comes around
but to have a taste of everything
makes for life lived quite profound
would rather have a full slice
than to never know life’s breadth
to know but a little strife
provides dimension, perception, and depth
i’m getting kind of greyish too
approaching life’s final slope
my days seem much more finite
as I’m learning how to cope
grey and dusky evenings
follow brilliant, hazy days
perhaps our palette’s full of color
and all that really matters
is how we spin our platter
and where we focus our life’s gaze

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Delirium

DELIRIUM
Brooks Bradbury

YOU TRIED TO LEAVE
YOU SOLD YOUR SOUL
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S IN THE HOLE
SEEMS YOU WERE JUST A BRIDGE FOR US
A HERE-TO-THERE WITH TOO MUCH FUSS
YOU TRIED TO GET THE SHIP TO SINK
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S SUNK, ‘S WHAT PEOPLE THINK
YOUR MACHINATIONS WORE MIGHTY THIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKIN’ IN
LET ME GET MY VIOLIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKIN’ IN

WATER RISING IN A SHIVER
YOU HELPED US CROSS A LITTLE RIVER
YOU ROSE AND PEAKED A SHORT TIME LATER
WE SMILED AT EACH ALLIGATOR
AS WE REACHED THE OTHER SHORE
YOU TAPERED OFF TO BUT A SLIVER
OVER SUCH A SLOW AND GENTLE RIVER
BOTH SIDES OF YOU ARE NOW MUCH CLEARER
TAKE A LOOK INTO THE MIRROR
HOLD OFF ON YOUR FINAL BOW
YOU WERE BUT A PATH FROM THERE TO HERE
A BRIDGE ACROSS THEN AND NOW

YOU TRIED TO LEAVE
YOU SOLD YOUR SOUL
NOW IT’S YOU WHO’S IN THE HOLE
SEEMS YOU WERE JUST A BRIDGE FOR US
A HERE-TO-THERE WITH TOO MUCH FUSS
YOU TRIED TO GET THE SHIP TO SINK
IT’S YOU WHO’S SUNK, S’ WHAT PEOPLE THINK
YOUR MACHINATIONS ARE MIGHTY THIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
HOLD OFF ON THAT GREAT BIG GRIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
I’LL ROSIN UP MY VIOLIN
NOW YOU’RE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

LIFE’S HARD ENOUGH WITHOUT TWO FACED LIARS
PERHAPS THEY SIMPLY CROSSED THEIR WIRES
BUT LIFE CAN BE A LOT MORE FUN
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN
CAN FINALLY SEE THE SHINING SUN
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN
TRAPPED IN THE SILKY WEB THEY’VE SPUN
BASTARDS ARE FINALLY ON THE RUN
AND OUR SPIRITS WON’T COME UNDONE
NOW THE BASTARDS ‘R ON THE RUN

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks

BrooksLooks @ Additional Therapy Required

Additional Therapy Required

They were the matter-of-fact, high-wire requests every local innkeeper and inn-team fielded and responded to over the course of a frenetic summer in the Berkshires.

These were life’s serendipitous brushes with greatness in sweet and personal ways. People serving people. If we took too much time to think about each of these moments, we could have flirted with even higher levels of stress knowing that if we screw “this” up, the whole world would surely know!

On this day, Mary Tyler Moore might request a brownie sundae in the wee hours of the morning. Or Ann Jackson would require an impromptu ride back to NYC for husband Eli Wallach, who wasn’t feeling well.

Martha Argerich would require a well-tuned piano in her guest room. Such sweet sounds! Or Garrison Keillor could be stamping his feet because he was unhappy with his room.

Or Shimon Peres might prefer a bottle of Bordeaux this morning. No matter that his personal time zone was out of synch with Eastern Standard Time and local liquor laws.

Or Lyle Lovett and his band would prefer that our New England chef prepare huevos rancheros for breakfast at noon. Or Marlo Thomas might need some help setting up her off-premise suite this morning.

There was the moment James Taylor simply asked to purchase a newspaper. Or the night Ray Davies came to dinner. Or the time Buzz Aldrin required some technical help with his laptop.

The answer to such requests was always yes–of course–right away in the same way “How high do I jump?” was followed by “How long do I stay up there?”

There was that one day in particular when Marge Champion’s massage was the day’s top priority. That is, until Senator and Mrs. Ted Kennedy called from the road to request a massage therapist be ready on standby for their imminent arrival.

Oh, by the way “our limo is just passing through Worcester now.” This could be loosely translated as, “We need two massages the moment we arrive in order to make it to the grand opening in time.”

Yes. Of course.

It really was all very simple. Making it happen was what we always did. After all, a career in service is just that–a ministry of serving guests well and the daily dispensation of The Platinum Rule–serving guests the way they wanted to be treated.

It really isn’t WHAT you know at moments like this but WHO you know! In this case the Kennedy’s were well on their way and my loyal assistant Pam began the process of calling all the licensed, high quality massage therapists on our list.

All too soon, we arrived at the bottom of the list without success. Pam already knew it was time to bring out the big guns—for instance leveraging area massage therapy coordinators. I had to leave a message for my friend “LL”. She had her finger on the pulse of local massage therapy, although on this day she was busy like everyone else. I had to leave a message for her.

Minutes began passes like seconds as Pam had to resort to the “phone book”—we were approaching that desperate territory now somewhere between the rock and hard place. But at last, Pam found a therapist who WAS available right away.

About this point, I found myself taking a gulp of air—it was a male therapist who was available. Was he our only option? Yes. Did we know anything about him? Not enough.

In a moment of loneliness at the top, I gave the ‘go ahead’ not feeling quite settled with my decision. The therapist would arrive in 15 minutes and the Kennedy’s would arrive moments later. For better or worse, this die was cast.

Just then, the front desk reported the massage therapist and his portable massage table were arriving at the front door right now. I met him at the door and personally ushered him to the suite. It was show time.

I was cringing inside that the therapist’s appearance was not quite spa worthy as I walked him to the Fire House suite. There, I introduced him to the arriving Senator and Vicky Kennedy. It was a joy to see them as always, but now there were massages to attend to and their schedule was quite tight.

I left the three of them in the suite and I returned to my office still on pins and needles. Then the telephone rang. It was my friend LL. “Now you call!” I said, and she asked if I was able to find someone.

I told her who we found, and a deafening silence commenced on the other end. “What is it, I asked?”

“He was terminated for reports of improperly using his hands.”

More silence–as my entire career began passing before my eyes…

“What do you mean?!?”

“I can’t say anything more.”

As I hung up the phone, a feeling of dread cast its pall over my very life.

As happened frequently Kennedy family members would enjoy enjoyed a full and high profile stay and in this case, two days later they left before I could say goodbye. The uncertainty was unbearable!

At a chamber of commerce meeting a few days later, I had a chance meeting with a key Kennedy politico who provided my first chance to ask how the visit actually went. “Brooks, they had a wonderful stay as always!”

Not satisfied, I pressed for more feedback relative to the massage therapy. I was able to exhale when I heard: “The massage therapist was fabulous! Thank you for arranging this on such short notice! Ted and Vicky loved him because he was such a staunch democrat!”

A handwritten thank-you note followed from the Kennedy’s as it did after each family visit. I was breathing a little easier. A few days later, an article appeared in the local newspaper detailing the charges against the massage therapist. Somberly, I faxed it to LL. I don’t know about the massage therapist’s career, but mine would happily go on.

Somehow, a bullet was dodged! Joyful moments of service to others have always provided amazing dimension to life. Such is the pleasure of hospitality and a life spent serving others well.

© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks