Tag Archives: lost

Gone in the blood

IMG_6943I was ten and David, my cousin,
was a just-then-teen lost boy.
Lost he was to the parents who uglied him away,
lost again to the younger ones he tried to protect,
lost finally to the madness in his cytoblast,
which copied him/copied him/copied him on,
until it copied him into his grave.
Our Aunt Vi and Uncle George were childless
and loved us nieces and nephews like we were their own,
but David—he was David—special was little David,
so they took him in.
He would have been, I think, more like them
(and, most hopefully, sober like him)
if Goliath had not struck him down.

Wilfred was David’s younger brother and I’ve just spent
an hour sifting through the photos of his obituary.
Fifty-one he was, tired looking with fat jowls
and heavy, bloodshot eyes, a beer by his side
in every photo his family shared of him.
I don’t think that when we lost David
anyone would have said he was the lucky one.
But ‘lost’ is a relative place and once he was gone
he was somewhere safe where he could always be found,
which is not something that, to be honest,
could be said of the rest of us he left behind.

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I once went on a hike with David down by the river near the town where we lived. It is a day that I remember vividly, from a time in my life when I have few memories. I have no specific memories of David being sick with leukemia, or of his dying, or of going to his funeral, or of everyone around me grieving. And yet, all of this must have happened. I can only surmise now, years later, that I just blocked it all out.

I know I admired David—he was older and therefore more daring, after all—but I also remember there always being a cloud of worry about him. Although I was young and knew no details, I was aware in a vague, whispered way that he did not have a happy home life and I knew that was a very sad thing.

God rest you all, my lonely, sad, lost cousins.

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

The photograph was taken on a walk in a local park one fall morning. The empty bottle had been left on the table exactly where I photographed it. By a person? Some people? It had been a party? Loud? Quiet? I don’t know. You never do. 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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Schizophrenia

up

Roll up, roll ’round, curve over, curve down,
waves on the sea, beating/beating/beating,
pounding and grasping me—holding me.
Dark cold waves, dull sheen/deep green, shush,
tears lashed from the cusp, slamming to and fro,
my back breaking and my head rolling off my shoulders.
They whisper, these sirens, as they roll and they toll
and demand I hear what isn’t there. I listen.

There are no unbelievers who go down to this sea to sink
beneath its waves—is it truly only me that can hear me?
Sunrise to sunrise, pay this/pay that, naught for free/always a fee,
it has taken me, it has left me, it will forever surge around me
and through me, a storm raging in the lee that should be me
but is not. I will weep this way eternally, ever with
this dark green sea, this lost salty sea, this rolling big sea,
that’s me, yes me…there is no land in sight. I am lost.

swril2

Mental illness is a terrible burden both for the individual and the family, but especially when it is possible to see through the facade of the disease into the beauty of the mind and soul lost beneath the affliction.

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

The photograph was taken from Gay Head point, Martha’s Vineyard island, Massachusetts. For more photography, 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 or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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Him, you, them

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He made me fall in love with him
and then he got me hooked.

He got clean, I couldn’t, he left.
Funny, huh?

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This poem, with very little editing, is based on a postcard I saw at PostSecret.com, a site where people anonymously mail in their secrets. I was at first struck with the simple, yet powerful rhythm of it, but then, clearly, the issue: on the one hand it is brutally honest to the reader, but on the other, brutally self-deceiving for the writer; notice how she refuses ownership of her issues. No wonder she cannot get clean. She is pitiable, but lost to everyone until she finds herself.

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

The photograph was taken at the Boston Commons subway stop. For more photography, 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 or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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Tell me again, will you?

flame

I missed another promise that I promised this time I’d keep.
The subjective implication of this
is matched only by the objective hook
that snags you as you pass it by:
it’s not the bleeding that ages you, it’s the scars;
think of sand put through the fire—eventually you become clear glass
but too fragile to hold on to when made.

So hold me,
just hold me—for a second will do. Hold me as if to say
You do not have to break and I will never let you go.
So that when I do, and you don’t (as I will and you won’t
and that is the simple truth of it)
I’ll have that long trail of hooks and snags
and little drops of blood that I let joyously fall
(flung, really,
cast out like little mendicants with their tiny beggar bowls held high)
to find my way back to you, again.
Tired, I think, smiling,
I’m just tired.
Smiling.

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Life is a journey and a long one. We are not, I hope, judged too generously on our few perfect moments, nor too harshly on our many failed moments, but mostly on our persistence to keep trying in the moments in between.

We should bring ourselves to account each day, but not to identify our failures—that’s corrosive. Rather, to value the good moments and the successes of the day, to cherish them and be thankful for them. Everything else, bundle up and pass off, asking God for His support and mercy. Life is about persistence, not perfection.

Thank you for reading Tell me again, will you? 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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Storm spotting

I can’t believe you can’t hear it,
the highs and lows merging,
twisting tauter and tighter, gathering,
a specter on the horizon, spinning closer.

And pray what you hope,
in the calm before this storm
you don’t even have the energy to dread it.
Because it’s just there, right there,
it’s always been there,
it’s the soul of that edge, that whisper, that there.
So you scramble as you can
through the thick viscous air thinking:
when it grabs you,
when it spins you around and tears you apart
and crushes you down like the flotsam that you are,
this time it will be worse,
this time it may not end,
this time they may never find you and bring you back again—
this time you may not even find yourself.

And so each time after, I wonder:
is that the me, that was me
when I went flying?
Or is that some other storm-tossed me
that I wouldn’t have known then,
don’t know now—don’t want to know now—
and won’t truly know until
the sky comes tumbling in again?
I wonder…

Depression is not an easy thing to deal with and bouts of severe depression are incredibly hard, first on the one who is suffering, but also on their family and loved ones. If you suspect it may be a problem in your life, if a sense of any degree of sadness or emotional dullness is affecting your relationships or quality of life in any degree for more than just a few days, please seek assistance.

And if you are battling depression, God bless you and keep you strong.

Thank you for reading Storm spotting. 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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Nibbling

As the solstice approaches coldly
you sense the mice nibbling daintily
on the final grains of your certainty,
slowly, steadily,
with a long winter ahead, too.

No one is immune to sadness and many are susceptible to its big ugly cousin, depression. What I wanted to capture in this poem is the quietness, stealth, inexorable advance and demoralization of sadness as it comes upon you, as you start to question—when you feel the dark and the cold coming—your very own worth and faith.

Thank you for reading Nibbling. 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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