Tag Archives: acceptance

Lake 2 ICU

I only feel whole in the cold bedside chair
despite how hard it is to breathe.
As you enter the door of the stroke unit
the lights at the top of the Christmas tree are blown
and I wonder is that happenstance or deliberate?
Does it matter?

On December 24, the light of my life, my dear, sweet, kind, loving, strong, intelligent, wise, and wonderful spouse, my darling Lyn, had two strokes. At this moment we are waiting to determine her baseline, but the damage is surely profound.

I am, as is our family and friends, devastated and broken by this tragedy, the grief held back only by our complete commitment to be with Lyn and support her whatever the Will of God is.

I am sharing this because poetry is one of the ways I grapple with the world, and to ask all kind-hearted people to keep our dearest darling in their hearts and prayers for at least a moment.

Thank you for reading Lake 2 ICU. 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 was taken at UMASS Memorial in Worcester, Massachusetts. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Oh-so-softly

I am guilty—who do I blame?
I am old—who do I entreat?
I am torn—who do I thank?

There is, I suspect, in the shell of every need
the pith of an answer
and the crown of a desire rooted deep in pure release.
Not lost (not yet) but slipping,
just-oh-so-softly away.
Aye, slipping.

There comes an age when you are ‘older.’ Not ’25 is older than 20’ older but ‘old.’ You recognize that the majority of your life is behind you and that certainly the most dynamic, energizing part has slipped into the past.

This realization puts you in a reflective mood, looking back on your life. What matters is who you have been, and are, and the people you affected and who affected you. But it matters only in a reflective way, as a mirror reflects the world. The moment that is, is, and for right now, that is all you have. Not the past, not the future, but only the here and now.

Thank you for reading Oh-so-softly. 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 was taken at Quaddick Park in Connecticut. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Words, they hear you say them

There must be a god power
under the darkened surface,
a subtext that can explode
letting lose the kiss of tears
that both break and make your heart.

So weep your river of woe.
Gather it into yourself
and float it down to the sea
where, for your humility,
you are gathered in and loved.
Such is the power of joy.

My love and empathy go out to those who endure, and then who endure some more, and who do so on the power and beauty of their faith.

I write little metered verse, but this one seemed to demand it. While I am hardly an expert in the subject, I think this poem is written mostly in iambic trimeter, a specific type of seven syllables per line poetry. If you think this is incorrect, please let me know.

Thank you for reading Words, they hear you say them. 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 of the Quinebaug River, as it flows through Putnam, CT. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 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 © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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A river flows to the sea

Sometimes, clearly,
it is a mercy.
Othertimes, un-clearly,
it is still.

Recently, a nephew of ours had a health scare. He is, thankfully, out of danger now, but the event got me thinking…

Everyone dies. When that time comes, some who are elderly or infirm are ready, even eager to go; others die untimely, leaving heartbreak and sorrow in their wake. But no matter how or when, the idea we need to hold onto is that the event is, in its own inscrutable and mysterious way, the mercy of God. And in our sorrow, we must allow that thought to comfort us. I acknowledge this is not easy to do, especially when the death is of someone we deeply love, and even more so if they are still young and full of potential. But what is the alternative? Anger? Depression? Doubt? These are poisons to be fled. In the end…

The source of all good is trust in God, submission unto His command, and contentment with His holy will and pleasure.

Thank you for reading A river flows to the sea. 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 was taken in Scituate, RI. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 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 © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Gadfly


If you could slow and watch a penny drop,
see it spiral its way down,
look at it flash from both sides ’round
listening before it hits the ground,
then you might have time to think
That is what I’ve been doing wrong!

I would laugh but for the tears:
more compassion—not less—especially for those
who deserve it the least,
they who I would despise the most.
For I am an ocean and they are not
and their bitter drop would be as nothing to me,
while my surge, will, I hope, drown them,
or so it is I believe.

I am the gadfly that spurs your noble steed to action.
– Socrates, paraphrased, at his trial, per Plato in the Apology dialog

I recently posted Pain in a Blind Eye, a poem that captured my distress at the recent murders which took place in a Jewish Synagogue in Pittsburgh. That event, and too many others like it, had left me rudderless and unable to cope with it. It was not until I read Pete Hulme’s Everybody Means Something blog that I started to get a glimpse of what was wrong. He says there, The wider we set our compass of compassion, and the deeper our wisdom becomes, the less likely are we to be fearful, threatened and reactively aggressive. When something disturbing happens and it’s a drop in the ocean you feel no fear. When something happens and it’s a drop in a thimble, all hell spills out.

In that one passage, he helped articulate a response that I was groping for but could not form, a balance that I needed but could not achieve. Our society is so divisive and polarized, the forces of disintegration and disunity so immense, the perpetrators of fear and hate so brazen and bold—it is all too easy to wearily succumb to them. But not if you can be an ocean of compassion to their anger and their tragedy.

To have compassion is not to forget, to condone, leave broken or let remain unpunished. It is a concern for the sufferings of others—all others—and that starts with striving to understand and to forgive.

PS: If you read Pete’s original post you will note that I even stole his ‘an important penny dropped’  line as a metaphor for seeing both sides of a situation. It turns out that I am as grateful as I am despicable, but there you go—I’ve said it before: originality is merely undetected plagiarism. 🙂

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

The photograph was taken on my phone. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 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 © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Ups, ups and more ups


There are no promises in life.
But there is a mercy in hope
and a simple majesty in being
where you find yourself to be—
if you embrace it.
As the guy with dementia said,
Sunup, wake up and get up: repeat!
Now that, my friends, is a friend.

swril2

Although I now live in the United States, I was born in Canada and occasionally listen to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in my car. It was there, on the tail-end of a segment about a gentleman from Ontario with worsening dementia, that I heard him talk about his ‘three ups.’ I have no idea what the story was about, but those words were like an explosion in my head and I knew that I had a stalled poem that was begging for some sense of finality, and that this was it.

Thank you for reading Ups, ups and more ups. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was recently taken in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the largest of the Balearic Islands of Spain. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 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: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Mavash Sabet’s “At Such a Time You’ll Come”

Mahvash Sabet is a Bahá’í prisoner of conscience currently serving an unjust 20 year sentence in Iran. Read more of her story here.

At Such a Time You’ll Come

I fear that time
when patience will no more be mine
when brittle hope will have been blown away,
it’s kindness gone,
when the wind will have scattered me
and my eyes will have strayed from the path–O!
if no door opens to me then, not one–
I will know for sure it is that time
when you will come again.

 

up

 

I am amazed at the strength and constancy that this poem radiates! Especially for one who is unjustly in prison and ill, such utter resignation is like a blade of grass which bends to the storm, unlike a strong tree, which is uprooted and thrown down.

Please consider purchasing Mahvash Sabet’s poetry as an act of solidarity in the fight for human rights: in the US, from Amazonin the UK, directly from the publisher.

john

This English edition of At Such a Time You’ll Come is ©2013 by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, who adapted the original Persian text into English; all rights reserved.

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The Letters of the Living

Burst

There, then, on that Purest Spot,
with the night pregnant with the day,
Shiva the Destroyer lifted up
and threw down on the knee of His love
the entire world and the heavens thereof,
breaking them then, all that lay therein
so that they fell, cast deep into darkness and doubt.

There were but Twenty still living:
the First, the eighteen and the Second,
Witness unto Himself. What Word
on that day did those eighteen say
so that the reunion could finally begin?
“Yea!” they cried, voices flung in abandon,
high unto the heavens.
“Yea!” they cried, necks bared to the blade,
arms lifted taut with joy.
“Yea!” they cried and thus they died
leaving only their echoes to recall them.
But here in my place, God help me,
I think I hear them still.

up

This is a poem that is steeped in the history of the Bahá’í Faith and the allusions will be unclear to non-Bahá’ís, so let me explain very briefly:

Much like John the Baptist came first to prepare the world for Jesus Christ, the Báb (“the First” in the poem) came to prepare the world for Bahá’u’lláh (“the Second” in the poem), the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. The first eighteen brave souls—martyrs all, as was the Báb Himself—who declared Their belief in Him are referred to as the Letters of the Living.

This concept of “living”  i.e. spiritual rejuvenation through belief in a new Manifestation of God, is developed also in the first stanza, where Shiva—a Hindu deity—fulfills one of the roles of God and “destroys” the world (everyone is metaphorically dead upon His arrival) and then transforms it, through giving “life”, i.e. spiritual rejuvenation through faith in Him.

Thank you for reading The Letters of the Living. 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 Burst and was taken in Washington, DC on Memorial Day, several years ago. 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,
wan gold in the wintery night.
I, walking home, amused myself with
the little puffs of vapor pushed out
into the silvery sheen—each balanced against
the crunch of the snow, the bite of the air
and the swishing of wither I went.
There’s no rhyme to that, I thought,
retreating further into my coat,
pulling the night close around me.
But there was.

up

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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Blessed be the hand that slips

Each morning I shave an illustrated man,
memories gliding beneath my razor.
Yours is a rainbow that sings of crystal
in many hues of light,
while yours is a bell that plays a dirge
to softly call down the night.
And yours is the river and yours the tree,
and yours the scent of apple blossoms.

But yours—yes, yours—yours is the blade
that moves across my throat—
up and then up and then up and then up.
And what is that little drop of red
that stains through the white
to make no sound at all? That too is you
and you—yes, you—you are the loudest of all.
Up.

The Illustrated Man is an early science fiction book by Ray Bradbury. Made into a movie in 1969, it explores the relationship of man to the world. The main character has a series of tattoos that move over his body that predict the future and make him into a time traveler.

Is it just me or do we all often daydream as we go through the mundane chores of our life, remembering past incidents and people we have interacted with?

Thank you for reading Blessed be the hand that slips. 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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