Divorced from reality

a birch tree in the cold fog

The hyena pack of the cold front
slunk in through the night and
pounced on the warm moist air,
snarling and creating the fog in its hunt,
cackling as it roved in and took hold.

Early next morning I went to photograph
the banks of stranded mist
as their wisps and curls
pawed silently through the woods.
It’s a give-and-take thing shooting photos
in a shabby old forest in low light.
You find yourself thinking,
How in God’s name did it ever get this way?
and, What can set it aright?
Shot after shot, quicker and quicker,
more desperate as it goes on to hold on,
you try and try but sometimes, you think,
you just can’t capture what this silence is
and anyway, they can’t see the trees for the trees.

As the sun rises, the clan hunts itself breathlessly,
worries itself relentlessly and snips away
the last tendrils of its cohesion.
And then it’s gone.


How do we explain the inexplicable of what we do? I’m not sure, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.

Thank you for reading Divorced from reality. 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.


© 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.


Filed under Poetry

7 responses to “Divorced from reality

  1. Fantastic. One of your best. Brilliant imagery, great phrases (“trees for the trees” is perfect), and nice pacing. One of my favorite poems I’ve read in a while. It resonates especially in the current onset of winter… fantastically done.

    • JR, thank you so much! The revision list on this thing goes back months. At one point I thought I was going to need to bleed on it to get it right…I thought the changes would never stop and in fact went right up to pushing the post button. Thanks again! Very much appreciated.

  2. This really appeals to me, John. Your descriptions are ‘spot on’ and the atmosphere you have created is wonderful.

    • Denise, that is very, very kind of you. Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are heading into winter so the tone seemed correct. Interestingly enough, that photo taking journey, although it is a metaphor, actually did take place last year.

  3. “you just can’t capture what this silence is” Excellent imagery. I think many people can relate to this emotion!

    • It is frustrating when you know something but struggle to communicate it from fear or inertia, isn’t it? Especially when those closest to you don’t want to hear it. Thank you very much for your kind comment!

  4. For some reason, T. Davis, a regular follower of the Book of Pain could not leave a message for this poem. (I’m looking at you, WordPress!) In any event he emailed it to me and asked me to post it for him:

    John, This a wild and beautiful … and a mysterious poem. The metaphors are piercing. You know I wanted to find something that might … might … put words to the beautiful mystery you have running through this piece. So I grabbed a quote from Albert. “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” (Albert Einstein) One of my favorite lines you have here is “How do we explain the inexplicable of what we do? I’m not sure, but that doesn’t stop us from trying”. Way to go, Bro. T