Tag Archives: humor

Holiday traditions

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My sister confided in me recently 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, put up, took down,
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.

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) I was useless,
as was dad, who was exhausted and drunk by noon. So my
memory is different: fun yes, but depressed afterwards,
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.

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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? Then there’s
always rose nasty
(June lazy,
thorn thirsty)
to fall back onto…

Aye, exactly,
blown all out of 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 the 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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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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Surely, it’s both

In a walk-by-eavesdrop
I heard a son
ask his father
why water was
incomprehensible.
Walking on
I thought to myself,
surely he means
incompressible,
but you never know,
not really.
Because when you think about it
(55 or 60% or so, lower when we cry)
it’s both.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it,
why we learned to laugh?

Thank you for reading Surely, it’s both. 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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