Monthly Archives: April 2014

To springdom come

IMG_3772

Are you
crocus brave,
daffodil shy
or blue squills
friendly? Perhaps
forsythia wild,
or tulip strong?
No? Then there’s
always rose nasty
(June lazy,
thorn thirsty)
to fall back onto…

Aye, exactly,
blown all out of proportion.

swril2

 

Thank you for reading To springdom come, and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is entitled The sheep are in the meadow and was taken along Hope St. in Providence, RI. Lyn has identified the blue flowers as “blue squills,” a plant indigenous to southern Russia and the Ukraine. They are stunning in bright patches! For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh where you will find two closely related postings, To springdom come 1 and To springdom come 2.

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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It is in the quiet,

NoiseInTheQuiet

in the echoes of five rambunctious kids pounding
pall mall in and out of doors, up and down steps,
slamming the porch’s storm door, Mom, I’m gone!
But now it’s mom is gone and dad is gone and
the porch, home as it was to loud cribbage games,
louder family ‘talks’ and louder yet thunderstorms
sits soulfully silent, the spare key no longer
hidden in the super secret spot of the rusty metal box
on the windowsill. The trick-or-treaters no longer
come squealing up the walk, the chaise lounge
no longer protests under her weight and nor do we
under her eye. Buyers today see only chipping paint,
the splintering wood and the loose screens,
the things that need fixing and not the things fixed.
They don’t hear the wind chimes or the whispers,
the laughter, the tears or the life—the life, that life.
But listen to this quiet and you can hear it,
I remember, and until there is no one left that does,
You are not gone.

swril2

This post is being made simultaneously with a photo essay of the house at the center of this poem, Dick’s not there anymore and posted on the Book of Bokeh.

Dick Brodeur was a wonderful man and we were lucky enough to have him as a friend and next door neighbor from the very first day our family moved to Putnam. What’s more, we were able to meet all of his children (and grandchildren!) and have become especially close with his youngest daughter, Michelle (now Foronda) and her beautiful family as well.

Sadly, last year, Dick—who was well into his eighties, but still boisterous and funny until the end—passed on and was finally reunited with his dear wife, who had passed on before him and whom he missed very much.

On Easter Sunday I was leaving my house and walking by his when I realized that for the last years of his life, even though Dick had slowed down and was not so mobile as he once was, the house had always had a lived in vibe to it, but that now that he was gone, I could sense the quiet and stillness radiating from it, the silent loneliness of a house that had raised a passel of kids as rambunctious as they come, but that now had no more noise to make. I ended up shooting a photo essay of the house trying to capture that feeling and afterwards, in asking Michelle’s permission to post it, she responded not only with a yes but some deep and fond memories of growing up there. Those memories (I merely knocked them into shape) are the heart of this poem.

Thank you for reading It is in the quiet,. 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

Poem © 2014 by Michelle Foronda and John Etheridge; photograph 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 Michelle Foronda and 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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The ride

Whirlygig

When first she put her leg over the motorcycle
and clung onto the rat bastard’s strong
and shapely back—when first she felt the thrum
of the powerful engine between her legs and
felt the intense surge when he gunned it—
when first she felt the rush of the pull
and threw herself all in with abandon
(so that she was giddy with knowing that this was it,
that this, just this—this was what she had wanted
all along) even then, knowing that the crash
was sure to come, knowing that she would break
everything she had to break, knowing that
she would lose everything that she had to lose
and more, much more besides…even then,
knowing all this from the start,
the anticipation was awesome,
just awesome.

swril2
A person’s life choices are never anything to comment on or to judge because life and its decisions are so personal and none of us are perfect. Put trying to tease apart the process, to understand how it is that we drive ourselves and how we face the world…to do that is universally human, and I trust, forgivable.

Thank you for reading The ride, and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is entitled Swing! and was taken at my home in Putnam, CT. It is the rotating pendulum going all a whirligig at the bottom of a clock. 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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Faith

fire

Wood to your fire,
smoke to your light,
ash from your heat—
I ponder, but you burn.

up

As always, Lyn.

The photograph is entitled Can’t you hear my bread a bakin’? and was taken in Pennsylvania. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading Faith. 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

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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“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

 

Not a poem today, but a recommendation. I do not know why I had not come across this wonderful book earlier, but I am glad that I finally have. A finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award The Things They Carried is a book I recommend highly.

But why on my poetry blog? It is because it flows like one long poem, a modern Iliad: beautifully written, ugly real, brutally honest and terribly sad.

Ostensibly it is a description of the things that soldiers carried with them during their stint in Vietnam, and after that stories of what life is like in a war zone, but of course it is much more than that: it is about Vietnam itself and about what it is like to be human and caught up in a mad world of death, destruction and fear.

If you have the chance, I would even suggest that your preference for format would be an audio version, as is mine; it adds to the poetic effect. I got mine through www.audible.com and it is powerfully read and performed by Brian Cranston, the brilliant main actor from the hit TV shows Breaking Bad and Malcolm in the Middle.

2014.04.14 update: Having just finished listening to the audible production I discovered that there is a bonus: a wonderful 1994 op-ed piece from the New York Times written and read by the author. Now I recommend the book even more and the audible version in particular.

Thank you for dropping by the Book of Pain. As always I am interested in your comments.

john

© 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved and 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.

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Self-portrait

That's me in the spotlight

Strong walls and empty halls,
rubber bands and hooks, softness;
brick and mortar, blood and bone,
eye and ear and mouth.
There is a left here, but no right
and every up has its down:
a grip, a hold, a lunge, a fall,
tumult in the night.

Smile and tear, laugh and bark,
tomorrow—there’s always tomorrow—
wait and see, hope and more,
little patience and little else.
Me looking at me looking at you
looking at me,
while the heat builds all the greater
from the forgotten whence
to the unknowable hence, on. On.

swril2

Thank you for reading Self-portrait, and please forgive me if you think it pure hubris. 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 That’s me in the spotlight and was taken at my home in Putnam, CT. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading Self-portrait. 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

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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A must read for poets

A good friend and wonderful poet, Kenneth Brauchler, in a post on his siteThe Mirror Obscura, pointed to an article by John Barr, past president of the Poetry Foundation, entitled American Poetry in the New Century. Originally written in 2006, it rings as real and true now (and perhaps more) as it did then and I urge everyone to read it…heck, to print it out and memorize it!

His call for a new approach to an accessible, understandable and relevant poetic standard has coalesced something in me that has been vaguely swirling for some time, but upon which I could not put a finger, let alone name. I have no idea what it will do to me, or if even I can rise to the challenge, but I mean to try.

Just two key points:

1) He points out how the poets were, at the start of World War 1, unready and had no poetic voice to be able to describe that conflict; that it required a few actual veterans of the conflict to break out of their traditional forms and world views to be able to start describing the horrors of that conflict.

2) He notes the preponderance of the lyric style of poetry in the modern world—poetry typically written in the present tense which expresses personal, and usually emotional, feelings or insight—and points out that while a valid and excellent form, it is also tired and overused, and that for the new century, a new paradigm was needed. Oops…guilty!

So again, I urge you to click on the link and read the article. If poetry or the arts means anything to you, you will be intrigued and, I think, interested, if not galvanized.

Thank you for dropping by and listening.

john

© 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved and 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.

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