Tag Archives: anticipation

The ride

Whirlygig

When first she put her leg over the motorcycle
and clung on to the rat bastard’s back…
when first she felt the thrum of the engine
and felt the intense surge when he gunned it…
when first she threw herself all in with abandon,
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…
even then, knowing all of 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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Ian Hamilton’s “The Garden”

Ian Hamilton is a poet from the second half of the 20th century who I greatly admire and whose poetry I love to champion. You can find a listing of more of his poems on the Book of Pain here.

The Garden

This garden’s leaning in on us, green-shadowed
Shadowed green, as if to say: be still, don’t agitate
For what’s been overgrown—
Some cobbled little serpent of a path,
Perhaps, an arbour, a dry pond
That you’d have plans for if this place belonged to you.
The vegetation’s rank, I’ll grant you that,
The weeds well out of order, shoulder-high
And too complacently deranged. The trees
Ought not to scrape your face, your hands, your hair
Nor so haphazardly swarm upwards to breathe
In summertime. It shouldn’t be so dark
So early.
All the same, if I were you,
I’d let it be. Lay down your scythe. Don’t fidget
For old clearances, or new. For one more day
Let’s listen to our shadows and be glad
That this much light has managed to get through.

For more on Ian Hamilton, I refer you to his Wikipedia page.

Thank you for reading Ian Hamilton’s “The Garden”. 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

Comments © 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved.

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Ian Hamilton’s “The Birds”

She saw it from a distance seem to burn
Along the branches of her orchard trees,
Then disappear. All afternoon
She had kept watch. The smaller birds,
Assembled on the bitten lawn
In perfect rows, had waited with her.
Soon, she consoled them, soon.

Their claws stretch and unstretch, deep in the ground.
Between the broken trees, there are avenues
That flutter as she talks and seem to run
To the horizon without moving.

She stalls above all this and seems to see
Black on the whitest hill, the furthest tree.

This is another sample from the work of the brilliant late 20th century poet, Ian Hamilton, a poet for whom my admiration and awe continues to grow the more I read him.

This time, a more enigmatic poem. The tone is vintage Hamilton but the focus, while softer, has the same deep emotional impact mined from the same dark brevity. It is easy to get lost in the ‘she’ of the poem. Who is she? Why is she there? What is she doing? And then, with a gasp, what is she?

Click here for a list of the other Ian Hamilton poems on the Book of Pain.

For more on Ian Hamilton, I refer you to: his Wikipedia page.

Thank you for reading Ian Hamilton’s “The Birds”. 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

Comments © 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved.

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True lessons

‘Dad!’ said Aaron (he’s five),
‘I bet I can beat you to the grocery store door!’
‘What’s the use?’ I laughed, preparing,
knowing exactly what was written in the moment.
‘I know—that you know—that I know,
that you will always—WIN!’
And on that word “win”
I dashed and he dashed
and in all that dashing together
the simple difference in our heights
added up to a tragic occurrence:
his fist smashed me in my crotch.

Calming him down afterwards was the second hardest part,
‘It’s OK, hon, it was only an accident…
I’ll be able to breathe in a minute.’

Which just goes to show you that, one,
you don’t always know what is written in the moment,
and that, two,
you’d do it all over again.
I know—that you know—that even I know—
that.

(But not that hard, and please God,
not soon.)

Sad to say, but this is a true story which played out exactly as I have described it. I hesitated posting it as I very rarely try to be funny in poetry.

Howard Nemerov was twice Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Stanford professor professor of Literature. He is, however, a poet I have to be very careful of because his style, which often uses humor to get its point across, is both infectious and contagious. My fear is that while writing very bad authentic Etheridge is at least honorable, writing very bad Nemerov is despicable.

So, if you know of Nemerov’s work and you think True lessons a pale imitation of it, please, do me a favor and keep it to yourself, because in the end, it’s a great story and it’s my story. Well, ours anyway.

Thank you for reading True lessons. 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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