Tag Archives: humor

Soulless


I told letters not to be jealous of numbers, citing e=mc2.
But they snickered back, You think you know a thing,
once you have named it? You’ve no skin in this game at all!

Cheeky little buggers, they’ve summed me up
exactly.

Some poems write themselves quickly, while others are a misery to tease out. Soulless quickly shot to ‘full-on, 5-bell, over-the-top misery’ and has, since then, dragged itself ten miles beyond. The revision history says that I started this poem in mid-2015 and, as you’d expect, made many changes at the start; it was then revised occasionally in 2016, frequently in early 2017 and finally given up as a lost cause until September of 2018, at which point I started re-reading earlier versions to get re-inspired. Considering it is such a short little thing, I cannot understand what it is about it that it demands such attention, but that is the way of stubborn children.

So now, ready-or-not, done-or-not, good-or-not, misery-or-not, it’s in a post near you.  🙂

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

The photograph was taken at Coney Island in New York City. 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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One-hit-wonder

In a weak moment of optimism
I thought I could build a patio of four terraces,
in stone, in my lifetime.
It had become, by then, a misery of heat, humidity and sunburn,
sodden shirts, squashed fingers, stinging eyes and sore back.

But it was there on that patio,
from a neighbor’s open window, that I heard it,
a song I’d not heard in years—
a great melody, played incredibly, sung wonderfully,
the perfect summer moment…

Recorded by accident, I recalled, on a whim,
with the wrong personnel late at night.

It was almost lost and then released anyway,
more by indecision than design.

My wife found me later, laughing to myself,
slapping down rock with abandon.
God, I love to sweat!

I recently found this nearly lost gem several backup-layers down, deep in the bowels of an old directory I was about to purge. It dates from 2006 and while I remember the incident, I cannot, for the life of me, remember the song that sparked it! And if you are wondering, yes, I did eventually finish the patio, all four terraces of it. 🙂

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

The photograph was taken in our garden on one of the terraces. 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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Holiday traditions

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My sister confided in me that when we were kids
she never really liked Christmas. It always meant
too much scrubbing and bustle, too much cooking,
too big a mess to be got into and then cleaned up after.
The hardwood floors needed to be stripped and waxed
and every nook and cranny got into and cleaned out—
you never know when the priest could drop in (although
truth be known, all that needed was a good liquor cabinet.)
The decorations had to be pulled out, sorted out and put up,
and every one of grandmother’s dishes and glasses got at,
washed, used, and one (by me, of course, it was always me)
broken each year. And that was just the preparations.

I have grandchildren the age we were then, but when I speak to her,
I am always, again, that baby boy of the family—I never knew,
I never realized. Being younger (and dodgier) on Christmas Day
I was useless, as was our dad, who was exhausted and drunk by noon.
So my memory is different: fun yes, but depressed afterward,
the buildup over, the presents opened, the house put away
and everyone down for a nap, just me awake, wondering
where mom had hidden the chocolates. I still miss those,
even now, when I know just how much they cost.

up

My sister tells me that my mother’s favorite chocolates were Quality Street. It is a question of some debate in our family as to which came first: whether mom was forced to hide them because I would seek them out where ever they were hidden, or whether I had to take to hunting them because mom had secreted them away. It did not matter, though, since ours was a small house and I knew all of her favorite hiding spots.

The photograph was taken of a barn door on a small farm in Pomfret, CT. To see my photography blog, 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 in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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To springdom come

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

Aye, exactly,
blown out of all 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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Long may she reign

Rags, our 17 year old imperious barn cat
was dining at 6 but gone by 9—royalty do
know how to affect a scene, don’t they?
A mouser extrodinaire, it seemed
she would be with us for evermore,
remaining ’til the end a friendly,
loving queen of her domain—
just don’t poll the rodents.

It cannot be denied, however, that her majesty
could be a terrible tease when she wanted:
she loved to regally swish the horses in the face
as she tight-walked the stalls of her kingdom,
and would deign to lie in the middle of the track
because she knew I would go around her,
which of course I did. Muttering, it’s true,
but still, I did it.

Whenever I went to feed the fish in the pond
she would establish her monarchy on that spot
and graciously rule from the bench beside me—
although I was never quite sure if she was there
to survey her realm or was casing the joint for later.
That was Rags.

As she aged we tried to entice her in
on bitter nights but she would hide,
preferring instead her throne in the hayloft
to a warm, cozy retreat in another’s castle.
She was a good cat, was Rags, I’ll miss her,
even more than she’ll miss me, I think,
and I wonder what we will do now without her.
(The rejoicing among the rodents, for one,
is getting out of hand!)

I wrote this poem after reading a charming Facebook post by Gail Dickinson, repeated in full below. In giving me the go ahead, Gail also told me that the friend who originally gave her Rags as a kitten passed away only a month before. Such are the links that bind us.

I confess some inspiration for this poem from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats. Eliot is often extolled as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, but I have to be honest, except for, and because of, his gem on the inner life of felines, the quality of his other work pales to me.

Thank you for reading Long may she reign. 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

Facebook post from Gail Dickinson, 2013.11.24—Rags. Our 17 year old barn cat was gobbling breakfast at 6 am this morning and at 9 am, she was dead on her cat bed in the barn 😦 . She was one of those cats guilty of killing many small mammals, which we appreciated greatly. A friendlier, more loving cat couldn’t be found, rubbing against horses’ faces when she walked along stall walls and jumping into the lap of anyone sitting down outside. She also thought it was funny to lie in the way of the carriage when I was driving in the ring, forcing me to go around her. She knew when I came out with the can of fish food that I would be sitting down by the pond to watch them eat and would jump on the garden bench to wait for me. As she aged we would try to catch her to bring inside on cold nights but after a few successfully tries she started hiding, it seems she preferred a nest in the hayloft to a private room in the house. At least she seems to have gone peacefully. She was a good cat.

© 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.

Facebook posting by Gail Dickinson, © 2013 by Gail Dickinson; all rights reserved; may not be published in any form whatsoever.

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Writing Haiku With a Friend

Haiku are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense;
Refrigerator!

This came from a very funny article on bathroom graffiti that I saw on Buzzfeed. I liked it so much I posted it on Facebook  It garnered many likes and a few shares, but then, from Phil Wilke, one my best friends and a truly wonderful and sweet guy (with a wicked sense of humor) came this reply:

Writing a haiku
an exercise in restraint
The walrus was Paul

Well, of course, then the challenge was on and I responded with:

The question remains
Did she break up the Beatles?
Look, a butterfly!

To which Phil’s response was:

Why couldn’t Yoko
have met Baader-Meinhof Gang
and broken them up?

Which, to be honest, could not be beaten as a haiku. But I had to try…

Maybe she met them!
Happiness is a Warm Gun
Some guy she knew sang…

And after which he posted a picture of himself in a kilt with a scantily clad, beautiful young lady at some festival or another and the topic veered off in a dozen other directions, as it should.

But in the end, I was left thinking: to friends! May God bless them!

Thank you for reading Writing Haiku With a Friend. 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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My epitaph

If there is much in a word
there is more in a silence,
less in a desire,
and absolutely nothing left in an epitaph.

Unless, of course, it’s a really good joke
and then all bets are off,
obviously.

This is the first of two poems I call my “Epitaph duet.” (The second is Laugh out loud.) The idea is that both stand as separate poems but that together they form a vague third. As most of you know, an “epitaph” is a short text or poem honoring someone who is deceased. The best are written by the deceased themselves and the practice of writing humorous ones goes back to at least the Greeks.

Thank you so much for reading My epitaph. 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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