Monthly Archives: May 2013

Floating

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ

 

A giddy drunken laugh of pure melodic thought,
the musk of a scent floating in the dusk,
an impression, a vagary,
an echo of an image, a reverie,
the memory of a sweet soft sigh.
We are this silence,
this dreaming, this evening
we are this silence,
just now.

This poem is dedicated to my wonderful wife, Lyn, and to the incredible time we had in Sedona, Arizona for the last week. For my foreign readers, who may not know about this fabulous treasure, Sedona is an artist’s community/vacation area in the heart of the American Southwest dessert. It is a few hours drive south of the Grand Canyon and a few hours drive north of Phoenix, Arizona.

While we were in Sedona, we ate well, slept well, did some running, some hiking and some mountain biking, and all-in-all relaxed and had a wonderful, calm and romantic week. If only it need never have ended…

Thank you for reading Floating. 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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There

This do I know:
that there on that spot,
on that blessed, sweet spot,
on that spot of perfect, constant submission—
there does she stand and alone is she there,
she who is known only to those who can see her.
Of her, by her, due her—does she.

As I noted in Lucinda, the second Lenora, the original of that poem I cut into two poems and promised that when I next posted I would post that second poem.

There is that second poem and it is only about, and is all about, her, my wonderful, loving and generous sister.

Thank you for reading There. 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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Lucinda, the second Lenora

Being too much the devil and too much
the angel, yet the soul of a wicked
little brother, I wish I had at the time
known to ask: what sin did ever I commit
to deserve the scourge of that girl?
We laugh about it now, those days,
before we Hanseled and Greteled away,
she to find her way back to give
until there was nothing left to lose,
me to search the woods semi-blind,
until I lost what she had found.
But now we are past all that and together
we look into a hundred years or more
and know that although the places change,
the paths do not, no matter how often
you wander them. But it’s all right,
it really is, the crumbs are all dried
and blown away or eaten by the birds—
there’s nothing left that’s not been
given away, anyway, and given gladly,
long, long ago.

This poem is for my sister, Lucinda, better known as Cindy. (Her second name, Lenora, she shares with our maternal grandmother.) She will, I hope, forgive me for taking a poem from several years ago and re-writing it for this posting. In looking it over, I realized that the original was actually two poems rudely (foolishly?) pushed together. Despite its name, Lucinda, the Second Lenora is more about her and me together than just her, although, as in all things, I will always give her the lead. The other section of that original poem is now a poem all to its own and is called There;  it is all very much only about Cindy and I will present it when next I post.

I love my sister very, very much and can proudly say that I am fortunate to have grown up the younger sibling of a person who is as kind, loving, generous and as intuitive as she is. And if hard work is a virtue, surely she must be the most virtuous woman on the planet! Actually, in trying to come up with the single most best word to describe her (something I have thought long and hard on) perhaps the best word is one that is sadly out of fashion these days, ‘noble,’ for that is what she is: having the bearing and mien of wisdom and authority with the stamp of humility to make her kind nature shine through.

And this, mind you, despite the fact that as children we fought like wet cats and dogs (alas, too true) and that she, being the older, was the most wicked little manipulator and torturer that the good Lord put on this side of the Hundred Year’s War (alas, also true.)

Gosh what a wonderful, rich life we have lead!

Thank you for reading Lucinda, the second Lenora. 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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À Dieu

We watch, he and I,
from the cold leaky garret,
the bright snapping flashes
of the blue and red flags
broad slashes along that glad, silent rue.
‘I am not,’ he whispers, ‘a fool, but a madman,
searching for what it fells like as I see it.
And if I have taken more than I have given
than that is poor payment for the pleasure…
but still, it is all that I was given
and is what I have given back to you.’

It should be enough, I think,
and a moment later, again, it should,
but now I am not so sure—it seems
I am never sure about anything anymore.
Below me the blue and red gashes
bleed black like a cacophony of clashes
all along that sad, silent rue.
I look, I hear, I listen;
I remember, I look, I listen;
à Dieu, mon ami, à Dieu!

This is the painting referred to in the post. It is one of several Impressionistic paintings that fueled my love for that school of art in particular and painting in general.

BastilleDay

“Bastille Day” by Claude Monet. A painting of Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of 30 June 1878.

Luckily, I was able to see the original the last time I was in Paris. Surprisingly, it was not at the Monet family legacy museum, the Marmottan-Monet house. In fact, we found it quite by accident at (I think, the details are somewhat hazy now) the Orangerie Museum, a delightful spot that I highly recommend—after, of course, one has spent the obligatory time at the incredible Musee d’Orsay.

I should point out that English speaking people generally translate ‘adieu’ (the more common, modern spelling) as simply ‘goodbye’ or ‘farewell.’ In French it is much more nuanced than this. It means, literally, ‘to God’ and has a much greater sense of finalism and formality to it, and betokens death or complete separation, often as a result of staunch honor or sacrifice. In other words, ‘my fate is with God; it is in the Hands of the Almighty when next we shall meet again.’

Thank you for reading À Dieu. 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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The doily

doily

One of my mother’s doilies
rests now by my bed awaiting
its goodnight caress. It is,
in truth, a tacky little thing
made of bright garish colors
knit square into a rainbow-like
affair. It is the sort of thing
I would have crucified her over
had I seen it before she died.
She loved that, you know,
laughing out loud in my face.

A doily is a small ornamental mat or table napkin usually handmade of lace or linen. My mother was an insomniac and so had a penchant for making these during the many long nights she was up and awake.

Make no bones about it, it is a tacky little thing and I really would have teased her unmercifully over it if I had seen it before she died. And now…well, obviously now, it is one of my many small treasures. We collect them—small treasures—don’t we, as we grow older?

I hope something of my mother’s wonderful, vibrant and strong personality rings through this poem, although truth be it known, no words of mine could ever really capture her amazing vitality or strength of will.

It has been many long years since my mother’s passing in 1988, but still, I miss her, very, very much.

Thank you for reading The doily. 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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Please

There is a tear that sometimes falls
and in falling, fails, yet in failing,
flies to the hearts
of those we love the most.
Whywhywhy, why we ask, and then again, why?
Please, let it be soon!

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the arrest, then the application of trumped up accusations and finally the immoral conviction and sentencing, in Iran, of a group of Bahá’ís referred to as the Yarán-i-Irán, the “Friends of Iran.” Despite the fact that the Iranian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and despite the fact that every civilized country of the world regards this as a most fundamental aspect of basic human rights, the Yarán, and indeed 156 Bahá’ís in total—three of whom are infants—continue to be incarcerated for no other reason then their choice of religion. Typically referred to as “prisoners of conscience” I prefer the term “prisoners of certitude” because every one of these 156 could buy their freedom by a recantation of their faith…and yet all chose to remain.

If you are interested in reading more on this topic, please see Five Years Too Many.

In the end, all I can say is this: I am blessed and humbled to be one of those permitted to say a prayer in thanks and in honor of their sacrifice and strength, and to beg for their on-going steadfastness. In comparison to their sacrifice, I do not deserve even this station, but I am grateful for it.

Thank you for reading Please. 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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Writing Haiku With a Friend

Haiku are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense;
Refrigerator!

This came from a very funny article on bathroom graffiti that I saw on Buzzfeed. I liked it so much I posted it on Facebook  It garnered many likes and a few shares, but then, from Phil Wilke, one my best friends and a truly wonderful and sweet guy (with a wicked sense of humor) came this reply:

Writing a haiku
an exercise in restraint
The walrus was Paul

Well, of course, then the challenge was on and I responded with:

The question remains
Did she break up the Beatles?
Look, a butterfly!

To which Phil’s response was:

Why couldn’t Yoko
have met Baader-Meinhof Gang
and broken them up?

Which, to be honest, could not be beaten as a haiku. But I had to try…

Maybe she met them!
Happiness is a Warm Gun
Some guy she knew sang…

And after which he posted a picture of himself in a kilt with a scantily clad, beautiful young lady at some festival or another and the topic veered off in a dozen other directions, as it should.

But in the end, I was left thinking: to friends! May God bless them!

Thank you for reading Writing Haiku With a Friend. 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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