Say not a word, none is needed.
With a nod, a kneel, a stand, a seat,
a look, a touch, a smile—
with a step to the side and a seat to the rear,
this is you, say it loud.

Here is the real of it: these are the magics
we use to cast ourselves forward
in a world that does not want us.
The rest is the story we live with:
said yesterday, quoted today, repeated tomorrow,
they are the on-our-back claw marks
of what none of us can now recall.
If there is a meaning in it at all, it is this:
who we are, for all we are, is what we are—
and that can never be said, let alone known, only done.
And yesI knowjust how ironic this is.

The passage below is from The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-age Warriors from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, by David W. Anthony. It is a book on the Proto-Indo-European language, the language that is the most distant mother tongue of the mother tongues now spoken by more than 50% of the peoples on Earth, including English. I was reading it over the 2012 Holiday week:

In the 1780s, Herder proposed a theory…that language creates the categories and distinctions through which humans give meaning to their world. Each particular language, therefore, generates and is enmeshed in a closed social community or “folk” that is at its core meaningless to an outsider. Language was seen…as a vessel that molded community and national identities.

It was the line “that language creates the categories and distinctions through which humans give meaning to their world” that caught my attention, as too the part about language “molding a community.” In my Faith it is said, “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”

It struck me then that our body language is as much a language that builds our community and our world as do words, and perhaps even more so, and how important this aspect of society is, as we build our personal, “spiritual folk.”

Thank you for reading Shouting magic. 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.


PS: I usually write my poetry on a computer but this poem was started in longhand on a flight. I thought you’d appreciate seeing the insanity that is my thought process when I start a poem…

the first draft of this poem

the first draft of this poem

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


Filed under Poetry

4 responses to “Shouting

  1. Happy new year John…, May good health and lots of happiness be yours, along with accomplishing your goals. Thanks for your beautiful thoughts and illustrations this year. All the best,

    Best wishes,

    • And Happy New Year to you, too mei. I had thought that publishing my poetry was a rather personal goal for 2012; what I had not realized was, that in publishing my own work, I would find my way to the beautiful poetry of a whole new group of friends and that this would be the main benefit of it. Thank you for sharing your work with us! I look forward to much more of it.


  2. Happy New Year John – this is absolutely beautiful, and I say this with a nod of the head and slight bow…

    • Michael, you are far too kind and I very much appreciate your friendship. Plus, I look forward to reading your book, and I hope, soon. I probably owe you a bi-line on a half dozen poems that your thought provoking conversations have stirred up in me. Alas for you, I am just too petty to do that. 😉

      By the way, guess what I gave my boss for Christmas? “The Tao of Pooh”. I cannot imagine what he thinks of it. “Something else from that nut job Etheridge,” is what I think he will have thought.

      I re-read it recently. Dang, but doesn’t it just get better and more serious with each read?

      Love you guy, and miss you much!