Tag Archives: justice

Behind us only justice

DSC05370If this is not the end then woe to us the fallen,
for the only comforts remaining are the lies
from the low and the ferment from the front.
So here we remain, toe-to-toe/heart-to-heart,
with no plans to connive nor options to pursue,
left only to our apathy and hand-wringing.
We would bear witness to these truths—we would—
if we had a breath left to draw on; we don’t.

But if the scales are shifting (and I am terrified they are)
it’s because of the innocents we’ve sacrificed.
Yes, you can weep, but try not to complain,
it’s nobler that way and besides, there’s nothing wrong
with being left to twist in this wind.

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This poem grew from the seed of a line that was cut early in the writing:

I’m not wrong, but I’ll not insist on the right—especially as I am.

It, in turn, was a paraphrase of a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche:

It is nobler to declare oneself wrong than to insist on being right—especially when one is right.

While to start with an idea from a famous philosopher can be inspirational, in the end I thought it better to write bad Etheridge than imitate good Nietzsche.

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

The photograph was taken in Washington, DC at the Lincoln Memorial. 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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The irony of elemental questions

Water flows where it is bade, willingly;
fire warms all indiscriminately;
stone endures on, patiently.
Air flows to those who draw it equally;
metal bears its burden assuredly;
but this is not me, consistently.
What about you?

And there it is again in force.
That despite all this, it is we they say
who are the worthiest of reflections.
Yet gifts beg choices, as we well know—
how does the old trope go?
What a piece of work are we?
Close enough.

This poem pairs five elements with five virtues, but more importantly notes that the elements are more worthy of their nature because they remain true to it.

Intended as an homage to, and to explore the nature of one of my favorite quotes, The irony of elemental questions is really only a pale and poor imitation of that original quote which is, truthfully, far more perfect than anything I could ever write:

They should conduct themselves in such manner that the earth upon which they tread may never be allowed to address to them such words as these: “I am to be preferred above you. For witness, how patient I am in bearing the burden which the husbandman layeth upon me. I am the instrument that continually imparteth unto all beings the blessings with which He Who is the Source of all grace hath entrusted me. Notwithstanding the honor conferred upon me, and the unnumbered evidences of my wealth—a wealth that supplieth the needs of all creation—behold the measure of my humility, witness with what absolute submissiveness I allow myself to be trodden beneath the feet of men….” —Bahá’u’lláh

Thank you for reading The irony of elemental questions. 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

PS: forgive the mangled quote from Shakespeare. I really can’t help myself.

© 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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Rend

So wish to God I
more water to weep,
more blood to river,
more flesh to rend from bone!

Think you, you wolves to have me?
It is me and only simply me
and the rocks and the earth and the sea and the sky
and all that is immutable
who lie here prone and silent,
ravenous with patience,
waiting just for you—
fools you—waiting just for you.

The idea I was trying to convey in this poem is best summed up by a quotation from the New Testament, Matthew 5:5: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

This quote is now often said with sarcasm, reflecting its use over the past centuries by the rich, powerful and manipulative as an excuse to subjugate and exploit other people by class, race, nationality or economic strata. The irony of this is undeniable: it is both a justification of greed, and at the same time, a sanctimonious suggestion that such rapaciousness somehow benefits the downtrodden. Ridiculous, of course, but hypocrisy seldom makes much sense in the end.

And in the end, there will be justice, if not this world, than the next.

Thank you so much for reading Rend. 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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