Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tell me again, will you?

flame

I missed another promise that I promised this time I’d keep.
The subjective implication of this
is matched only by the objective hook
that snags you as you pass it by:
it’s not the bleeding that ages you, it’s the scars;
think of sand put through the fire—eventually you become clear glass
but too fragile to hold on to when made.

So hold me,
just hold me—for a second will do. Hold me as if to say
You do not have to break and I will never let you go.
So that when I do, and you don’t (as I will and you won’t
and that is the simple truth of it)
I’ll have that long trail of hooks and snags
and little drops of blood that I let joyously fall
(flung, really,
cast out like little mendicants with their tiny beggar bowls held high)
to find my way back to you, again.
Tired, I think, smiling,
I’m just tired.
Smiling.

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Life is a journey and a long one. We are not, I hope, judged too generously on our few perfect moments, nor too harshly on our many failed moments, but mostly on our persistence to keep trying in the moments in between.

We should bring ourselves to account each day, but not to identify our failures—that’s corrosive. Rather, to value the good moments and the successes of the day, to cherish them and be thankful for them. Everything else, bundle up and pass off, asking God for His support and mercy. Life is about persistence, not perfection.

Thank you for reading Tell me again, will you? 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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Tag Mom, You’re It

A darling little poem from my friend and sometimes bicycle riding partner, Christine.

Old House | New Life

Birth it
Hold it
Love it
Bring it home in a blanket.
Clean it
Make it
Break it
Fix it with glue.
Shop it
Buy it
Misplace it
Find it under the sofa.
Work it
Earn it
Pay it
Answer it after hours.
Wear it
Wash it
Dry it
Hang it in the closet.
Cook it
Serve it
Eat it
Clean it all up.
Google it
Pin it 
Text it
Share it everywhere.
Expand it
Shrink it
Gain it
Lose if for once and for all.
Question it
Answer it
Doubt it
Take it on faith.
Feel it
Paint it
Write it
Talk it all out.
Hurt it
Soak it
Bandage it
Give it a kiss.
Read it
Brush it
Hug it
Tuck it into bed.
Uncork it
Pour it
Drink it
Because it all begins again tomorrow.
imagesTWPINKON
 Featured image courtesy of Sleeper

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Nod ‘good morning’ when you get to Bodie

In praise - Bodie State Park, CA They walked, they talked, they loved and they hated,
spread gossip (or at least listened), grew up, fell down
and mostly, but not always, got back up again.
Were pushed and were pulled, were driven and drove back,
were smacked and slapped down—often and hard—
but learned to keep their peace about it, or else.
Some bickered, some didn’t, some drank, some wouldn’t,
some forgave, most couldn’t, but they all cried and laughed
and got together on Sunday to sing for His Grace to be
abounding, with, on a good day, some extra for the heathens.
Barbers and butchers, buyers and sellers,
leeches—practiced with the bone saw, who’d as soon
kill you as look at you—barkeeps, gamblers,
gunslingers and whores: most came west because of the War,
the rest because the best had fallen there.
But in that when—and here in this place—they all came together,
scrabbling for a life, sweating and crying,
birthing and dying, and no one,
not one today to remember them, any of them,
not a soul to give them voice.
And yet here we all are
and here we all live,
together in this quiet, empty ghost town,
living on the edge of whenever.

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Bodie is a wild west ghost town in the Bodie Hills, which are east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California. Located at an elevation of over 8,000 feet, the summers are dry and cool and the winters bitter cold, conditions that help keep the town remarkably well preserved. The reasons for its abandonment over the years are many, but all tied to gold and silver mining and the economic boom and bust of Victorian aged California. It is recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark and by California as a California Historical Landmark designated as Bodie State Historic Park. The photograph is entitled In praise and is one of two sets of photographs about Bodie that you can find on the Book of Bokeh site, here and here.

Thank you for reading Ghost town. 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.

As I noted above, for more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 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: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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That emptiness

IMG_0812

Wither goest thou, little boy, little boy,
to play, to sup or to bed?
“I go to my Master’s house,” he said, he said,
“although I seem to have lost the way.”

How can it be there and then be gone?
How can you have it and then be missing it,
with no idea as to where,
between knowledge and volition,
it had stopped?
Wouldn’t you have felt it, that loss of the
THUMP-thump in your chest
and so know when it had slunk away?

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Thank you for reading That emptiness. 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 is entitled They don’t make ‘em like they used to and was taken in the Poconos as we waited for a family to return to their house and and sell us some of their local honey. In the end I got the photograph, but no honey, and while I am not discontent, I’d have preferred both. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 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: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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And each duly sets

The poem rose late, full and round in the winter night.
I, going home, was amused by the little puffs
of vapor I pushed out into the silvery sheen—
the crunch of the snow, the bite of the air,
the swishing of wither I went.
There’s no rhyme to that, I thought,
retreating further into my coat,
pulling the night in close around me.
But there was.

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Thank you for reading And each duly sets. 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 is entitled Let’s not today and was taken in Lincoln, NH, if, I recall, through a patio door on a day that was bitterly cold and wonderfully snowy. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 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: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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I just can’t till this land no more

Ghosts - Bodie State Park, CA


I just can’t till this land no more,
I just can’t till this land,
it’s a barren land, this land I hoe,
seeded with the salt of tears,
I stand on this land and it pulls me down
yearning to swallow me whole.

Here the wind whispers to the plow,
the plow to me and I to the yoke back:
You live only to die, to reap what is sown
and to gnaw the bitter root.

Carry on.

swril2

There are times when, out of desperation, fear, hope or love, we try to hold on to things and to control them. But they cannot be held, cannot be controlled and it is futile to try—they only strangle in your grip.

Santayana said, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. If there is humor built into Nature, that is it.

The photograph is entitled Ghosts and was taken in the ghost town of Bodie in Bodie State Park, CA. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading I just can’t till this land no more. 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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It’s long been said

I

Poems have conversations between themselves
about us behind our backs, and what’s worse,
with total strangers. Yes, they lie meekly
enough on the page where we place them
but this is all a sham, because among themselves
they bunch into cabals and define us and measure us
and to be honest, find us generally wanting—
although wanting of what they’re not sure.

It’s best to let them all go. That’s what I do.

II

Words know that we isolate and abuse them,
split them and twist them and sneak them in wrong.
They know when and how they’re hard done by
and that they get old, become jumbled and confused,
get left places where they ought not to be
and are ‘re-purposed’ out of retirement,
when they should have been left all alone.
Then too, they get lonely and search for
solace and meaning between where they are
and where they aren’t, but mostly where
they should be (but again aren’t) and how,
to their mind, they’ve lost their purpose in life.

It’s best to let them all go. That’s what I do.

III

When you think about it, words don’t sum up very well,
that’s the forté of numbers. But don’t tell words that
because poems have words and words have letters
and letters are really very jealous of numbers.
It’s got to do with numbers being exact and complex
despite their simplicity—and with those fancy infinities,
that belong to numbers and numbers alone.
Letters, on the other hand, are inexact and simple,
despite their complexity, and are fixed and bound
in their snobby little groupings.

It’s best to let them all go. That’s what I do.

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Thank you for reading the three poems that make up It’s long been written. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed them and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

Allow me to invite you to my photography blog, the Book of Bokeh.

john

© 2014 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: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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