Tag Archives: children

Fertile ground



It’s a blessèd thing
to dig, to grow, to weep, to reap,
but sometimes they surprise you:
because no matter how you sow
they just up and walk away,
not caring what they do or say
or how they hurt you when they go.

You want to wither—but you don’t—
that’s not how you were raised.
Instead, you put your head down
and keep on digging, keep on trying,
keep on crying over what you hope
is fertile ground, praying as you go.

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

Recently, I reviewed and archived all my poems on the Book of Pain. Some, I realized, were really two poems in one, this being such an example. The other portion of that original poem is posted separately and retains the title Do you know a gardener?

The photograph was taken in our garden. 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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Do you know a gardener?

Good loam to work your hands in,
black dirt beneath your nails;
back to ache, neck to burn,
exhaustion from planting and worrying.
Seed to plant, rain to come, life to hold on dear to:
sacred hope, quiet trust, troth to those before us.
Life growsthat’s a truthbut rarely as you’ve willed it,
and sometimes it’s the hope you’ve sown
that weighs you down the most.

Thank you for reading Do you know a gardener? I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

Recently, I reviewed and archived all my poems on the Book of Pain. Some, I realized, were really two poems in one, this being such an example. This portion of that original poem retains the title; the other portion is posted as the poem Fertile ground.

The photograph was taken at a local farm. 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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At a cafe, watching


Have a seat

She plays, as all little girls do
when allowed to be themselves
(by themselves, for themselves)
with an intense ferocity of will
that allows no entrance to her
fantastical: crayons to paper
with a non-stop dialog
of the whos, ways and whys
of her world.

She is my daughter, as are her sisters,
as too are my sons, her brothers,
and all the young I can imagine.
And all I want to tell them
is that I’m sorry, that I never meant
for it to be this way, that I had hoped
for better when I started.
But the fantastical—as real
as it is—admits no one,
and especially not us unbelievers.
So I pay my bill and leave,
not saying, of course, a word.

swril2

She was a darling child, caught up in her play so completely that it was fascinating just to watch her, her mother off to the side talking with friends. I thought, “There is great hope—despite our worst—yet for this world.”

Thank you for reading At a cafe, watching. 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 Have a seat and was taken in New York City on the steps of the Manhattan library. 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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Everyone should know where they come from

A story of Dharaa, originally from Nepal; dedicated to her aunt and grandmother.

Even though we all lived together, I don’t remember
being carried by my parents, grandparents or aunt.
They must have, many times, as they and I surely did
for my little brother and sister; but knowing it
and knowing it are two different things.
The only time I remember my father carrying me
was to and from the hospital when I broke my leg.
I was 7 and despite the pain,
I was happy just to be in his arms.

I think of my aunt as my older sister, or mother, really—
our relatives still call us ‘mother-daughter.’ But try
as I might, I can’t remember her carrying me either.
It’s not that there isn’t proof because there are photos.
One I really love is of me as a baby in her lap on
her wedding day. Grandmother laughs about it now
and tells me that I was the scandal of the day,
screaming and fussing not to be taken from her,
that I was so awful my uncle’s family still
talks about it to this day!

Now I am 21 and yet, every time I visit them,
I never miss to lie in their laps, close my eyes
and drift. And they never fail to comment that now I am
a grown up lady—it’s their turn to rest on my lap
and that soon my children-to-be will lie there too.
I yell, No way, I’m not done yet and I never will be!
And as they stroke my hair, they smile secretly thinking
I don’t understand but that someday I will, and I hide
my smile from them thinking that they don’t understand,
but really I know they do. And then I realize:
when I raise my family, my children won’t remember
me carrying them. I have to buy a camera!

This is the final third of narrative type poems I’ve written recently, although this time it is not my story. I was leaping from blog to blog one day and came across a posting by a young Nepalese lady named Dharaa, entitled Don’t remember being hoisted up. I was immediately struck with how charming the story was and I asked her permission to put it into a poem, which she granted.

I hope, Dharaa, that you like it, as I hope all of you do.

Thank you for reading Everyone should know where they come from. 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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Lucinda, the second Lenora

Being too much the devil
and too much the angel,
yet the soul of a wicked little brother,
I wish I had at the time known to ask:
what sin did ever I commit
to deserve the scourge of that girl?

We laugh about it now, those days,
before we Hanseled and Greteled away,
she to find her way back home
while I lost my way.

But now we look onto a hundred years or more
and know that the places may change but the paths do not,
no matter how often you wander them.
But it’s all right, it really is, the crumbs
are all dried and blown away or eaten by the birds—
there’s nothing left that’s not been given away, and anyway,
they were given gladly, long, long ago.

This poem is for my sister, Lucinda, better known as Cindy. (Her second name, Lenora, she shares with our maternal grandmother.) She will, I hope, forgive me for taking a poem from several years ago and re-writing it for this posting. In looking it over, I realized that the original was actually two poems rudely (foolishly?) pushed together. Despite its name, Lucinda, the Second Lenora is more about her and me together than just her, although, as in all things, I will always give her the lead. The other section of that original poem is now a poem all to its own and is called There;  it is all very much only about Cindy and I will present it when next I post.

I love my sister very, very much and can proudly say that I am fortunate to have grown up the younger sibling of a person who is as kind, loving, generous and as intuitive as she is. And if hard work is a virtue, surely she must be the most virtuous woman on the planet! Actually, in trying to come up with the single most best word to describe her (something I have thought long and hard on) perhaps the best word is one that is sadly out of fashion these days, ‘noble,’ for that is what she is: having the bearing and mien of wisdom and authority with the stamp of humility to make her kind nature shine through.

And this, mind you, despite the fact that as children we fought like wet cats and dogs (alas, too true) and that she, being the older, was the most wicked little manipulator and torturer that the good Lord put on this side of the Hundred Year’s War (alas, also true.)

Gosh what a wonderful, rich life we have lead!

Thank you for reading Lucinda, the second Lenora. 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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Tierney Tolar’s “Seasons”

My favorite season is winter and summer.
I like those two seasons because
summer is where you can do anything
and winter is where you can
build a snowman
and you can get into a snowball fight.

Having the greatest family

I’m having the greatest time of my life
and the greatest year, the funnest week ever
with grandma and grandpa and aunt Sasha
and my sisters and brother and parents.
I have the sweetest family ever.
Everyone cares about each other
and everyone even loves each other.
Family is important too.

Christmas trees

Christmas trees are fun to put ornaments on
(and lights of course)
and it’s pretty when you turn the lights on.
Christmas trees are to put presents under.
You can put the Christmas tree anywhere you want to.
I’m following Santa Claus tonight.
Santa is watching you…he loves cookies.

Cupcakes

It’s fun when you make cupcakes.
They are yummy, they are fun and they are cute
if you decorate them.
It’s just fun.
You can decorate them however you like
and you can even make a background too.
If you want.

It is with the greatest of pleasure that I get to introduce you to a singular, new and powerful voice in the world of poetry: my granddaughter, 8 year old Tierney. We, Tierney and I, but also her grandmother, father, mother, aunt, brother and sisters are together this Christmas.

Thank you for reading Seasons and all of Tierney’s poems. 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.

john

© 2012 by Tierney Tolar; all rights reserved. These poems and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

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Sometimes, it’s all you have

The fighting is hardest at night
when stray rounds explode everywhere;
you wonder then, Did I do enough?
Could I possibly have done more?
That is how you learn it,
this weariness that commands,
because the survival of survivors
is risky,
even after the firefight is done.

And it’s not exactly chance
and it’s not exactly wisdom
and it’s not exactly anything I understand,
but all the hopes, prayers, curses and tears
are, in the end,
the only comforts left to those
who carry on as best they can.
Mind and body suffer both,
but some of it never heals.

The last two lines of this poem are based on the quote, “Mind and body both suffer, however. Some of it never heals.” from The Napalm detail by Claude Williams, an on-line essay about his Korean War experience serving at infamous Outpost Harry in 1953.

I was speaking with a friend and we were discussing the pain and worry that we, as parents, go through over  our children’s struggles. And while I would not equate the intensity of fear every parent has over their children’s life choices to that of being in a theater of war, I was struck by the similarity of the processes: the worry, the sense of loneliness, the self-doubts, the fear, the worrisome nights and the struggle with sleep.

Thank you for reading Sometimes, it’s all you have. 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

© 2012 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: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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