The murmur of the Nile, ever on


In Egypt, you more feel your way
through the beat of a song than hear it.
It is that wild thing you are after,
that joy of the moment held for its own sake
smoothing the blows into a throb you can live with
rather than just pounding it out on your own.
It is like tears running through the rhythm of your heart,
the ebb and flood of them the most ancient song
we sing of lives lived and life lived on
when it seems there is no reason left to listen.
But you do, because you hear that music.

This is a poem written about and for the dearest of all my friends, my “brother of another mother.”

Thank you for reading The murmur of the Nile, ever on. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

Sadly, I do not have a photo of the Nile or Egypt in my collection, so I substituted one of Lake Tahoe on the California side. Certainly, it reminds me of the tranquility of the Nile. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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An issue of privilege

All I can say is this,
that you are dear and beloved of me
for who and what you are.

And while I see only the tiniest bit
of the beauty that is you,
that little glimpse blinds me
and I struggle to say more
then just my awe.

You may not believe any of this. That is OK,
I will wait to be proved right.
But at the very least believe in me and my belief in you,
for I believe in you with all my heart and soul.

Thank you for reading An issue of privilege, one of the more joyous poems I’ve written recently! I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Sedona, Arizona. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Oh the parent who doesn’t know this

There was then a firmness to it
and it was my way to have it that way:
done right and done right away.
It was all “blood-in-the-bone” I know—
what sin can’t be justified with that?
But now that I am here towards the end
as God is my witness, it has humbled me.
Too late, but it has humbled me
and now all I have left is love
and these unanswered texts.

This is the second poem taken from an original longer poem, the other half of which was posted last week.

Thank you for reading Oh the parent who doesn’t know this. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in New York City several years ago; it is from one of the many marvelous Christmas windows displays that pop in the city at that time of year. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

 

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It is in the owing, I think

How do you let go of the water that’s flowed
when the water that’s flowed has gone dry?
How do you say yes when you’ve always said no
and you don’t even know the why?
And when do you stop paying
when the loan is renewed
but the principal is missing
and the interest long rued?

idon’tknow/idon’tknow/idon’tknow/idon’tknow
and I doubt if ever I will;
but if this debt is ever to be paid
it’ll not be me who counts the coin.

Occasionally, I will look back on an older poem and discover that my ambition then outstripped my ability, and I had mashed two poems into one. That is the case with the original of this poem and is here, I hope, righted.

Thank you for reading It is in the owing, I think. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at sunrise at Beaver Tail State Park in Rhode Island. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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It is not like that, death

We believe we are weaving each instance into a tapestry,
one that we are both in and which wraps around us.
But we are fooling ourselves if we think
eternity is without end; look back, there was no beginning.
The stars will grow weary in time
how much more then would we, where there are none?
It is—to be pithy—less about time than being timeless.
Think of the blind; they do not see black, they do not see.
So let those who can see, see that, and take comfort,
if it is comfort that they seek.

Thank you for reading It is not like that, death. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at my home in Connecticut. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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That next one we take

They’re all lies anyway, those
couldas, wouldas, and shouldas,
mirages of our heated minds,
worse wanted because we feel them,
worse felt because we believe them.
Take a deep breath, then another,
that’s the only truth you have.
So live with it.

Every decision we make is a juncture, a point at which we chose to go one way, but had options for others. Over a lifetime we tend to build up fantasies (usually happy ones, but the opposite is just as likely) of what our lives might have been like with different choices. But in the end these fantasies are not real, and an equally apt word for them is “lies.” The only truth we have is the real life we have lived; good and bad, filled with rights and wrongs, and ups and downs, it is the truth we are. In accepting that we face the future of our possibilities and we face it honestly.

Thank you for reading That next one we take. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken somewhere (usually I remember, this time I do not) in Vermont on a restful, getaway weekend. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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The steed of the Valley of Love is pain

You have no idea what rages inside me, but know this:
I will steal the breath from your throat,
char you to the bone
and flay you down to your still-beating heart;
I will kiss your eyes wide open,
lift your palm to my lips and breathe there a prayer
and sing you a song that you will never have heard
yet have known since you first drew breath.

I will break you just to make you
and in making you may lose you,
but if I do, it will be you who is lost.
If you hate me when I am done
I would understand,
but I promise you this if you do not,
your understanding will all be your own.

The title of this poem is a direct reference to The Seven Valleys, Bahá’u’lláh’s beautiful and mystical explanation of the soul’s development towards complete detachment from the trappings of this world and unity with the Will of His Messenger. There, in the section “The Valley of Love,” He states: The steed of this Valley is pain…

Thank you for reading The steed of the Valley of Love is pain. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in my home, in Putnam, Connecticut, and is the reflection of our kitchen light in my open, but powered off laptop screen. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Of those who are grateful

It catches you in a simple enough moment,
the clicking engine cooling,
the garage door squeaking closed behind,
home the hunter/home from the hill.

It’s dark, day is done, but you sit there,
breathing in/breathing out and that’s when they come,
spinning you around and hauling you down,
forcing your grip to the wheel.
And like breathing, they almost never go away…
Go in, you think, she’s there.

This is another poem that the edit history indicates is over two years old. Some poems come in a flash, others take time to write themselves.

The title refers to a line from a writing that has kept me going at times when nothing else could, the Tablet of Ahmad, a Bahá’í Prayer by Bahá’u’lláh:

These favors have We bestowed upon thee as a bounty on Our part and a mercy from Our presence, that thou mayest be of those who are grateful.

Home the hunter/home from the hill is a mashup misquote from Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson. The original lines are:

Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Thank you for reading Of those who are grateful. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Putnam, CT. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

 

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And me, who could start an argument in an empty room

However old I live
I hope never to forget the grace
of cycling downhill at speed,
the slightest lean flying me around the curve.

And that’s just that: the merest happenstance of a twist,
the humble change of posture, the gift
to a life poorly ridden, yet ridden all the same.
It is bliss, I think, flying through another bend. Bliss.

 

This thought truly came to me one day as I was cycling downhill at 35 mph (55 kph) through a curve on one of our regular Sunday rides. Right after that, the road goes up, so I had plenty of slow time to remember the concept! 🙂

In the end, I thought, what a positive thing it is in life, to be able to change your posture, just a bit, and submit to what comes your way…

Thank you for reading And me, who could start an argument in an empty room. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Cranston, Rhode Island. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

 

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Dance

The snap of a memory,
the lyric  of a face,
the joy of a melody that moves you and loves you
and lifts you up from your tired little space
into a heaven you hardly deserve.

Who are you? laughs the song, singing along,
And how do you know who I am?

How do I know who you are?! you cry,
eyes shut, tears flowing, arms out, hands swaying,
I could write this poem FOREVER!

Pure joy—pure radiant, intensive, and transformative joy is a quality of the soul, and we allow it to visit us all too rarely. But when it does…

Thank you for reading Dance. My edit history shows that this is a poem two years in development, so I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at my home in Connecticut, after a recent major snowfall. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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