Tag Archives: frustration

Divorced from reality

a birch tree in the cold fog

The cold front, like a sly hyena clan,
slunk in through the night and
pounced on the warm moist air,
snarling and creating the fog in its hunt,
cackling as it roved in and took hold.

Early next morning I went hunting the banks
of stranded mist as their wisps and curls
pawed silently through the woods.
It’s a give and take thing photographing
a shabby old forest in low light.
You find yourself thinking,
How in God’s name did it ever get this way?
and Who will set it aright?
Shot after shot, quicker and quicker,
more desperate as it goes on to hold on,
you try and try but sometimes, you think,
you just can’t capture what this silence is
and anyway, they can’t see the trees for the trees.

As the sun rises, the clan hunts itself breathlessly,
worries itself relentlessly and snips away
the last tendrils of its cohesion.
And then it’s gone.

up

How do we explain the inexplicable of what we do? I’m not sure, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.

Thank you for reading Divorced from reality. 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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If only

Végre nem butulok tovább is Hungarian for
“I’ve finally stopped getting dumber.”
If only, I thought…

If only that were true I
would not fool me so often—
shame, then double shame on me.

If only that were true I
would not calculate so dear
the zero sum gain of a
positive sum loss of want.

If only that were true I
would, instead, invest in the
future and not in the past
and grip firm that which
truly profits me.

If only that were true I
would not calculate
the function of a yielding curve
integrated over time;
I’d sum, instead, the slopes of
the effort at the instant
spent overcoming what is me,
knowing this to be
the final truth of the heart.

If only.

The quotation that starts this poem came from a posting on the excellent essay blog, the Bully Pulpit, about Paul Erdős, one of the  most brilliant and prolific mathematicians of the twentieth century. Erdős proposed the line as his epitaph, and really, how can you not admire someone with that sense of humor? Or honesty.

The title of this poem was my immediate reaction to the quotation. It still is. It probably always will be.

If you are a math nerd you’ll most likely get the allusions in the poem. If you’re not a math nerd (it’s not as if we run in packs) here’s a short explanation for the obscure bits: ‘integrated over time’ implies the mathematical process of integration, the summing up of the effort put into the ‘yielding curve’ of humility. Mathematically, this is actually valid. On the other hand, the ‘sum of the slopes’ suggests the counter mathematical process of derivation, quantifying the surge of effort required at the instant of decision. Summing up such efforts is mathematically imprecise, but humanly real and justified, I believe, under my officially-issued certificate of poetic license.

I have it here somewhere if you want to see it…

Thank you for reading If only. 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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Filed under Poetry