Monthly Archives: April 2013

Fix

I took it all—
the stuff that makes the light
fail around the edges
and causes sound to disappear,
sealed it in a package,
wrapped it with a hug
and flew it to the coast,
letting it go, all of it,
praying to God my tears
didn’t ruin the return address
so that he could find his way
back home again someday.

Please, can you fix him
so that he can be what he can be,
and not what he’s become?
Please?

Thank you so much for reading Fix. 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.

john

© 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, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Rend

So wish to God I
more water to weep,
more blood to river,
more flesh to rend from bone!

Think you, you wolves to have me?
It is me and only simply me
and the rocks and the earth and the sea and the sky
and all that is immutable
who lie here prone and silent,
ravenous with patience,
waiting just for you—
fools you—waiting just for you.

The idea I was trying to convey in this poem is best summed up by a quotation from the New Testament, Matthew 5:5: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

This quote is now often said with sarcasm, reflecting its use over the past centuries by the rich, powerful and manipulative as an excuse to subjugate and exploit other people by class, race, nationality or economic strata. The irony of this is undeniable: it is both a justification of greed, and at the same time, a sanctimonious suggestion that such rapaciousness somehow benefits the downtrodden. Ridiculous, of course, but hypocrisy seldom makes much sense in the end.

And in the end, there will be justice, if not this world, than the next.

Thank you so much for reading Rend. 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.

john

© 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, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Laugh out loud

Oh my children, my children,
my sweet, sweet children
how I so very much love you all!
Come to me again that I may hold you in my arms,
clasp you to my breast
and kiss your eyes one last time.

My hearts, hear me:
cry only in joy,
weep only for others
and promise me that you will laugh out loud
whenever you think of me hence.
I know that you will not forget me—
but I go hoping that someday
you will also understand me.

This is the second of two poems I call my “Epitaph Duet.” The first was My epitaph. The idea is that both stand as separate poems but that together they form a vague third.

But the issue with such serious weighty things as the last words you get to say is that it is hard to deal with the thought of how much you will hurt—if only for a little while—the loved ones you leave behind. As I wrote this poem, I realized that is why so many epitaphs are humorous: it is a great way to escape the awful finality of the idea you are facing.

Thank you so much for reading Laugh out loud. 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.

john

2013.4.18 Edit:

Thank you for several people asking if there is any significance to my writing an epitaph. As far as I know, no, I am well and will, I hope, remain a burden on the poetry writing community for years yet to come. Dealing with the subject of a personal epitaph was an intellectual and emotional exercise only.

© 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, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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My epitaph

If there is much in a word
there is more in a silence,
less in a desire
and absolutely nothing left in an epitaph.

Unless, of course, it’s a really good joke
and then all bets are off,
obviously.

This is the first of two poems I call my “Epitaph duet.” (The second is Laugh out loud.) The idea is that both stand as separate poems but that together they form a vague third. As most of you know, an “epitaph” is a short text or poem honoring someone who is deceased. The best are written by the deceased themselves and the practice of writing humorous ones goes back to at least the Greeks.

Thank you so much for reading My epitaph. 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.

john

© 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, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Do you know a gardener?

Good loam to work your hands in,
black dirt under your nails;
back to ache, neck to burn
exhaustion from planting and worrying;
seed to sow, rain to come, life to hold on dear to:
sacred hope, quiet hope—deepest in our hearts,
love, commitment, patience and trust,
troth to those before us.

And life grows, it does, but rarely as we will,
and sometimes, often, it’s the roots that pull you down:
because no matter how you planted them
they just up and walk away,
not caring what they do or say
or how deeply they sow inside you.
So what do you do? You keep your head down
and keep on digging, keep on trying,
keep on watering the fertile ground
with your tears, praying as you go.

Relationships can be hard to grow, nurture and maintain. The point is not that some relationships will hurt you, because at some point they all do; the point is, how do you react when they do?

That is the measure you strive to live by.

Thank you so much for reading Do you know a gardener? 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.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.

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Hamlet

And then there was Hamlet,
correct when he was wrong,
wrong when he was correct
and pondering slipping beyond his decisions:
I surrender, therefore I am—
that’s the real rub of it.

This is the third—and with a sigh of relief, you say—last of three poems in my “Keep on thinking” series inspired by contemplation of the famous, “I think, therefore I am.” philosophical postulate. The first poem in the series is Philosophy, and the second poem in the series is Overrated.

The poem refers to the most famous of William Shakespeare’s soliloquies, the opening of  Act 3 scene 1 in Hamlet, the lines of which are said by the main character as he enters the stage:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub…

It is, of course, sheer hubris to link to anything written by Shakespeare, let alone perhaps one of his best works, but if one is going to be utterly rude and hitch one’s wagon to a star, make it a bright star, say I!

Thank you so much for reading Hamlet. 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.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.

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Overrated

Descartes said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’
It follows then
that when I am not, I will no longer.
In truth, the idea has long been overrated.

This is the second of three poems in my “Keep on thinking” series of poems inspired by contemplation of the famous, “I think, therefore I am.” philosophical postulate. The first poem in the series is Philosophy, and the third is Hamlet.

The poem hinges on a bit of a double entendre, which, to be honest, I am a little proud of. Both, however are serious suggestions  for reasons already outlined in my first post.

In the last line, “the idea” can refer to the noun, in the sense that “these things we call ‘ideas’ have long been overrated.” And, of course, it can also mean that the idea of ‘I think, therefore I am.’ is overrated. It’s your choice on how to read the poem: the one, the other, or both.

In any case, have fun doing so!

Thank you so much for reading Overrated. 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.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.

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