Karen Brooks

Love of Life

Love of life
We remember you
Joy, child’s play
She lights up
The heavens open the sky
Praising, upraised arms.

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Karen Brooks

Frightened Angel

It’s 3:45 on a Wednesday morning in the middle of a shopping mall and the Angel is creaking in the cold, frightened.

But since when do Angels get cold or frightened? I watch her from my hiding place, beyond the dripping fountain, trickling drops like sour sweets run down my spine. In amongst the dirty dustbins I realize I am in more trouble than I thought.

I watch, my breath stumbling and stuttering in fearful asphyxiation, as she glides noiselessly, searching and keening through the dimly lit shops. A noise, off to her right and my left, startles us. Could that be him? I look towards the Angel, pleading begging eyes, emotions thundering through the empty, vacuumed mall. For a moment, she turns, staring directly at me but quickly looks away. She does not hear me.

The sound off to our sides repeats itself. Louder now, it sounds like the cackling of the deranged, and I shudder.

Karen Brooks

Feathered into Space

Screams from the womb
feathered into space
my breath, away from its place,
the earth, piles sand in a dead end street

walking around by the thousands
the eyes, two slits, sometimes small arrows
the brain and the heart looking through
the sight that builds, the sun that shines

my heart, the statue with a door.
hucksters selling, writers digging
walking and looking. the animals
bite, come down, but mostly
I look at the baby that sustains looking.

Karen Brooks

A Leap of Love

Love accompanies my leap,
as the sun shines at me

I am a servant, I serve
the learning, teaching as I’ve gathered.

Deja-vu’d into existence
I swallow, look to the horizon

into complete oblivion
not a void or abyss.

Ego is my nemesis, silently attacking
I do not fail, I do not falter.

I take the pathway
already changed, transformed.

There is no longer a me, only we
use this life for good, not ego

in God, in the All that Is,
Belief has changed into reality,

I step inside the Shaman’s hut
take the poison

reality, is where I serve
as safe as a babe in arms.

Only one step is needed
for our massive, cataclysmic shift.

Karen Brooks

And feel

And feel the roots
of the house move, roots
are anchored deep
within the darkness buried
underneath all that can
be seen. The house supposedly
solid hides the deep roots
even more they pretend they have
presence. They pretend they
are of the earth but
one day, maybe now or maybe
long in the future, they too will die
ever changing a bliss
is found.

Karen Brooks – author and publisher!

Karen Brooks has just self-published her Young Adult Fantasy Novel, Emily and the Battle of the Veil, Book One of the Scroll of Seven.

This is what she has to say about the process and about her plans which are very exciting and of great interest to many writers.

… I am now treading the hard road of marketing and distribution and so far I have appointments in Oct/Nov with 4 Exclusive Books branches and we also have 3 mag’s waiting to review it (You, Your Child and Teenzone) around December.

We are also designing and creating a Web Bookstore so we can sell these novels online – and have access to Web Developers to create a special site for books i.e see our http://www.scrollofseven.com which will link through to the Bookstore.

I must admit doing this ‘alone’ is quite something with distributors, percentages that everyone wants, having to list it at Sapnet, getting it to the libraries etc etc. I understand why people eventually give up but we are plunging forward regardless.

We are planning to have some launches in Dec … so if any of the Monthlies have a long list of young adult avid readers tucked away somewhere I’d love to get this from them!. If any of you know of a young adults who would like to read it in advance, please let me know. We are also looking at handing out flyers at schools sometime in the future and it would be cool if there was some who’d already read it!

Since I’ve gone through the pain of doing all of this myself, I believe there is a niche for a publisher in this category of MG (Middle Grade)/YA (Young Adult) Fantasy Fiction in South Africa. The mainstream publishers either aren’t interested at all or are only just starting to look at it.

… SO I would like to put the word out there that I’ll be looking at putting a Middle Grade/Young Adult ‘list’ together – which means I’ll be looking for new talent to get me Manuscripts asap. Depending on the MS, budget and needs, I’ll look at publishing them, with lots of interaction with the Authors, via my current company, Ispirato – which means Inspired – so it fits nicely. You can look at our website http://www.ispirato.co.za or query me directly at karen@ispirato.co.za

Our online bookstore should be available sometime in the next month (we’re hoping to be live by Dec 2008 latest). If your book meets our criteria, we’d just add it to our lists – and then next time we go on a marketing drive we’ll have more to offer suppliers – so we’ll all win.

We’d also consider putting other (already published) books online (so they can be available for purchase). We want to focus on the MG/YA market on the publishing side, but will happily put other books on the site – it will make our booksite look fuller and since it’s ours we can be highly negotiable with percentages etc.

We’re working this all out as we go along so will be very flexible on percentages – I can’t believe what the current online stores take – up to 45% in some cases. When you add distribution costs of 20%, admin fees, printing & artwork it’s no wonder writers earn peanuts! I’m hoping we’ll attract some good writers who want to earn a little more and are prepared to ‘walk the road’ with us, rather than just hand things over and take almost nothing for their hard earned work.

Karen Brooks

Night wind woman, standing still , masked in bleakness
Waiting, watching, wanting, a blood sniff carries
in the darkness of danger, intuition
alerted. Senses full.

Sacred waters pooling. A child in danger.
Far away. A will whispered in the wind.
Climb! Climb the tree! Indrawn breath exhaled. Danger
gone. Tense back, relaxed.

Karen Brooks

Her voice smelled like garlic, eaten raw, full of bursting flavor; ripe, crunchy, inedible but wanted in every ounce of noise, chatter and silence. Nasal but creeping up slowly to surprise with a tingle, tinge and taste, likened to teasing. Wanted, needed, healthy, whole but with an after-taste only noticed by those that haven’t been party to the having of it. Craving more, needing more even while knowing it chases others away. Such was the power of her delicious voice.

Karen Brooks

The Goddess of the Netherlands

Banished

Thrown out the castle into the wasteland, the waif-like creature is unsure of her footsteps. Barefoot, the sand beneath her toes melts inwards as her heart shrinks.

Having lived a life of sheltered luxury, she doesn’t know what to do. But there are no more shoes.
Her dress, once warm, rich colors and fabrics, now reduced to tatters by the crowd who had nothing and wanted all she had. Now it was shared.

Fallen from grace, this goddess was now one of the common people. Having understood universal truths, she was now just one of the universe.

The Neighborhood squatted on the side of the castle. Castle Tremor was occupied by the mighty magicians and godly only. The inner ring housed the most powerful of Lords, while the outer ring was filled with the Novices and Learners. Commoners weren’t allowed into these hallowed spaces even though they fought to have access every time the gates opened. The desert sun was relentless and no one ventured out from under the torn, scattered tarps during the daylight.

But Sarah didn’t know what the desert sun was like. And she couldn’t stay where she was, she decided, so putting one foot in front of the other she slowly stumbled out of the shadows and into the direct light. There was no hiding from anyone or anything, not anymore.

Step by slower step, Sarah wondered what she had done to deserve this.

What had she done that was so bad that she be banished into the Neighborhood. All she had sought to do was use her insight to help someone, and the next thing she knew she was out in the street.

I wonder if it would have made any difference if it had been one of the gentry and not a servant –woman. I wonder if it would have made a difference if the child hadn’t been saved. What would have happened to her if I hadn’t? What would have happened to her if I’d just left her alone? Too many thoughts filled her heated head, while each step took her further into the parched land.
Cracked lips, scattered thoughts, miles later, Sarah finally looked up to see the sun setting and dark descending.

She had no idea where she was or how long she had walked. Or in what direction. She tried to get her bearings but could only find the red mountain as her landmark. And even that was at least a night and another day away.  But at least the ground was cooling now.

Her cracked, bruised, bleeding feet were allowed some solace. She couldn’t stop now. She had to make her way to the San people. They would help her. She had been kind to them once and hoped that they would now return the favour. And so she walked onwards, step by aching step, north star guiding her onwards.

More aware of her surrounds as darkness crept in, Sarah gathered all her courage together and sent out the call.

Gandling are you there? Gandling can you hear me?

Silently the desert stirred around her, the invisible link moving outwards towards its intended recipient. She waited. She tilted her head to listen but nothing.

Sarah carried on walking a little further. Whether Gandling was there or not, she had nowhere else to go so she kept moving towards the mountains.

While Gandling might not yet be responding, her call had alerted the desert creatures and she heard the howling of the desert-dogs not far away. But they would stay away, knowing of her power.

The call had also alerted the night owls, who were on their way to her. “Aah, friends,” she called, “I thought I had lost you all when I was banished. How grateful I am that you are still with me.”

Nagtail answered, “We will always be here goddess, always at your side when you travel but there will be times when you will be unable to see us.”

Sarah startled “What do you mean, Nagtail? Surely if you can hear my call now, I will always be able to see you.”

“Not with your eyes, our goddess, but with your heart. Your adventure has just begun, your journey is not yet started, but we have come to be at your side as you move to the San mountain, so walk gently, oh beloved one, as we lift you in our wind.”

The night moved to day, Sarah and her companions keeping communion as they moved.

The sun came up slowly, blinding Sarah. She had nothing to wrap around her head and nothing to protect her eyes. Blinded, thirsty and drowning in sand, Sarah held onto the voice of Nagtail who guided her forward. Inch by inch, desert sand stinging, she found the will to get to the San mountain. At sundown, Sarah once more called for Gandling.

Gandling, are you there? Gandling, may I enter?

Gandling’s strong, male voice boomed in her senses.

Sarah, we can only let you pass. You cannot remain with us. Are you prepared to move through us towards your destination?

Sarah confused said, Destination, what destination? Gandling, I come to find rest amongst your people.

Gandling boomed again. We are not your destination Sarah, but we will give you safe passage and watch over your journey from afar. This is the most we can do for you. Will you allow us to be with you?

Sarah, despondent, desperate and doomed caved in. Gandling, I welcome some travel fare and rest, whatever you can offer me. I welcome your passage and eyes on my journey. I welcome your presence.

Sarah collapsed then, knowing that she could now let go. That she was in safe hands. Slowly the huge, red rocks of the mountain shifted, cracked and ground open. Two tall limbed creatures, gentle in their nature, wrapped her in their cloth and carried her in. She would rest now, they thought. They would watch over her as she took her next ethereal steps. They would care for her body as her soul took flight.

Newborn

The air rippled with the shriek of the newborn. Bright white fluorescent lights were the first searing image Sarah had and then it all faded. Born into the Netherlands, this child’s journey had only begun. As Sarah faded and the newborn was created anew, Gandling blessed her soul and reminded her that he would be there, even though it would take many, many years and much heartache before she would remember who she was and why she was there. You are on Earth, oh blessed one, on earth, whispered Gandling in her ear.

Trisha, Karen, Karen and Linda

Rest at ease and look with faith.
Ropes of reason bind me
in a well of unobservance

seeing escape, but not the path.
Etherial wings floating –
catch my soul with a butterfly net.

Seeing faces, not desires:
pulsating orb, a scarlet bump,
a promise in a word unspoken.

Smiling widely, I show the sun my face,
guillotine sense from nonsense:
I am the queen of the day.

Karen Brooks

To the left

To the left of my right hand
Squirrel waits to play
To the left of my right hand
Imp cartwheels all day

To the left of my right hand
Cries the girl
To the left of my right hand
Moon beams swirl

Joyful, jovial, frowning
Singing praise, drowning
Careful words, crowning

To the left of my right hand
Mighty lions roar
To the left of my right hand
Dinosaur birds caw

To the left of my right hand
A secret place waits
To the left of my right hand
A white women takes

Longing, lasting, leaving
Willing, wanting, weaving
Growing, growling, grieving

To the left
To the left
To the left of my right hand.

Karen Brooks

Unclean: Nealcnu?

Not yours. If unclean.
Not ours. If of dying.
We are simply critics.
The earth, or up down from
whole, it is a climb on
this strength of everything.
You, your out getting
unconnected words, jumbled, unconscious,
that which is. Once you are out.
The trick is to tell
the words. Not
ignore the meaning sense.
Allow the what, tell
the you that isn’t.

The you that isn’t.
Allow the what. Tell,
ignore the meaning, sense
the words. Not?
The trick is to tell
that which is, once you are out.
Unconnected words, jumbled, unconscious
you, your out. Getting
this strength of everything.
Whole, it is a climb on
the earth, or down up from.
We are simply critics.
Not ours if of dying.
Not yours, if unclean?