Tag Archives: life

Rag-tag relics on a rag-tag road

They say that if you can’t find it
at the Portobello Market
you don’t want it,
but the opposite seems true to me.
The antique lead soldiers intrigue me the most
and the affable Cockney sells them hard.
They are so beautiful, so darling,
that I want to sing them a song—
a song of life so sweet and endearing
that their little lungs will swell and pump,
their tiny heads look up and cry,
their hardened hearts swell with faith.
But I don’t, or can’t, or try and fail,
because they’re just not listening.
Sad to say, there are only gawkers,
not buyers, in this place.

Thank you for reading Rag-tag relics on a rag-tag road. 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 was taken at the Portobello Market in London, England. 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 Work 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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My cataract surgery

While being wheeled to surgery
I thought of her as she rolled to hers—
the ceiling tiles sliding dizzily overhead
(no real voices, just whispers instead)—
and all the while that demon
screaming silently in her head.
With no me there to hold her hand.
So I wept.

My surgeon, misunderstanding me, was sweet.
Leaning in, she said, Don’t worry, it’ll be ok.
If only, I thought.
If only.

The good news is that my cataract surgeries are now complete and very successful. My surgeon, besides being very kind, is incredibly good at her job.

Thank you for reading My cataract surgery. 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 was taken in my home of yes, my well-worn personal copy. 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 Work 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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This too grew in the telling

LordRings

There comes a time each year
when the days grow cooler and the nights crisper,
when the light glows a certain golden color
and the frivolity of summer gives way to
the colors of autumn and the contemplation of winter,
that the need to take it up grows,
to dust it off, and live through it once again.

The pages are careworn, many dog-eared from lazy habit,
not a few stained with tea, coffee, or red-berry jam (or all three.)
Others are bent beyond repair (I often fell asleep reading it),
a number crayoned (my eldest),
some inked (my youngest),
and one missing (but I know that part by heart.)
The cover is scratched, the spine cracked,
the dust jacket in shreds, and a corner
of the end-map missing (it was one of them, I’m not sure which.)

But the words are there.
No other work flows so sweetly through my hands
at once so down-to-earth that it’s my loved ones squabbling
and yet so noble it calls me to stand taller just reading it.
Not a-one of those words I would change if I could,
for each is a jewel in the diadem of that world, placed, just so.

There are old words: doughty, gainsaid, and barrow,
and made-up words: mathons, lembas, and huorn.
There are foreign names, common names, hard-to-pronounce names,
high names, low names (Proudfoots! Proudfeet!)
and I quote them all half as well as I should like,
and remember half of them half as well as they deserve.
But I love them all.

The Lord of the Rings is a deserved classic, a hexalogy published in three volumes that has been re-discovered by each new generation since its publication in 1954. It gave birth to a wonderful series of movies (and for me a great Amazon series) and a whole genre of literature. While nothing I say of its greatness can exceed or best what has already been written of it, I cannot but help express my personal love of it.

The title of this poem comes from Tolkien’s opening sentence of his Foreword to the Second Edition, “This tale grew in the telling, until it became a history of the Great War of the Ring…”

Thank you for reading This too grew in the telling. 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 was taken in my home of yes, my well-worn personal copy. 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 Work 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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Tá brón orm

I secretly scented the first roses I gave her
with a few small drops of rose water,
a practice I kept up over the years.
Each time, she’d deeply inhale their musk
and smiling delightedly, remark on how
I always found the best just for her.
Sometimes I wondered if she knew
and didn’t let on, but probably not,
she was giving like that.

In any case, she knows now.
I used the last of the bottle
to scent the roses for the mourners.

Tá brón orm (pronounced toe-brone-urm) is Irish Celtic. In that language, one does not say, I am sad, but that, Sorrow is on me. The implication is that you are not fully identified with the emotion but that it is weighing on you and that with time all things change. Sometimes up, sometimes down, but that life is always in transition.

But still…tá brón orm.

By the way, yes, that is the bottle; I’ve not had the heart to get rid of it. It is photographed in front of some beautiful flowers from a neighbor’s yard. The kindness of friends never ends.

Thank you for reading Tá brón orm. 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 was taken in my home. 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 Work 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 generation of love

The best and sweetest left
to plant their bones whenever.
The rest of us stayed
and to spite ourselves,
we abandoned us, one, the other.
So when it comes, pray it’s quick,
and that when it’s done, it’s done,
and not this weighty, drag-on misery,
this open-maw of just begun.

As a teen, my enduring love of history was sparked by Barbara Tuchman’s masterful A Distant Mirror, in which she proposed that the death and suffering of 14th century Europe (a century of wars and the Black Death) reflected the modern world’s 20th century.

Bahá’u’lláh states, The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.

The suffering of the 14th century acted as a catharsis, giving way to the Renaissance that followed, which in turn gave birth to the Enlightenment, stages where man’s intellectual and spiritual development advanced quickly. So although yes, the world is in travail, and will suffer, as with the pain of any birth, a new world order will come from it. Just wait.

Thank you for reading The generation of love 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 was taken near Putnam, CT, my hometown. 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 Work 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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Like all illusions, a good trick

We believe we are weaving
each instance into a tapestry
where we are the warp
and circumstance the weft.

But where we really fool ourselves
is in thinking there are ends to this œuvre.
Look back, do you sense a beginning?
Look forward, what can you see?
Feel quick.

This is the second poem split off from its sibling It is not like this, death. Although they deal with similar themes they are not quite the same. I think I can hear this one breathing easier in its space.

Thank you for reading Like all illusions, a good trick. 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, I think, a photo of my jeans. I cannot remember when and where I took it. I just liked the texture of it, the regularity. 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 Work 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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A little lie is not too bad a thing

ingot

I hope to die in my sleep
with my prayer book by my side.
I don’t so often as I should
but when your tale is being writ
it’s nice to sneak a word in.
Especially when they cannot hear you.

I hope it isn’t. Too bad a thing, I mean. 🙂

Thank you for reading A little lie is not too bad a thing. 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 of a rough ingot of melted precious metals and was taken in Phoenix, Arizona. The colors show the different types of metals. 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 Work 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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When you walk alone

They say that sometimes at night
when your breath billows softly white
and the snow crunches loudly in the quick—
aye, then;
when the cold moon hangs pale overhead,
lusting and judging, close and full of dread—
aye, there;
that is where you can meet the one who
with all the lies of the world
and all the fears in your heart
will tempt you and deceive you and break you.

I do not believe this.
I meet that one everywhere.

The Devil at the Crossroads trope is a persistent and imaginative theme in western literature and this poem came out of some pencil doodlings I was doing one day. But even as the poem developed, I knew its end truth: the demon is always me, my ego—and, in society—us, ours.

Thank you for reading When you walk alone. 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 was taken in New Hampshire one cold winter night. 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 Work 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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I have, my love, but one wish

to live a life
in this world
worthy of you
in the next

Love transcends death, and lovers proceed united and bound through all the worlds of God. So it is I believe.

Thank you for reading I have, my love, but one wish. 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 was taken in a bookshop somewhere in New York, NY. 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 Work 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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That next one we take

They’re all lies anyway
those couldas, wouldas, and shouldas,
just mirages of our heated minds;
worse wanted because we feel them,
worse felt because we believe them.
Take a deep breath, then another,
that’s the only truth you have.
Live with it.

Every decision we make is a juncture, a point at which we chose to go one way, but had options for others. Over a lifetime we tend to build up fantasies (usually happy ones, but the opposite is just as likely) of what our lives might have been like with different choices. But in the end these fantasies are not real, and an equally apt word for them is “lies.” The only truth we have is the real life we have lived; good and bad, filled with rights and wrongs, and ups and downs, it is the truth we are. In accepting that we face the future of our possibilities and we face it honestly.

Thank you for reading That next one we take. 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 was taken somewhere (usually I remember, this time I do not) in Vermont on a restful, getaway weekend. 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 Work 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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