Tag Archives: love

Who will pray for me?

There is no room louder than a silent room
in which there sits a lonely one, remembering.
Doors banging open and closed…
yells of greetings and goodbyes…
laughter and food, movies and teens,
arguments and accusations.
How does it get to where blood turns so ugly?

It is a glue, this desire.
You want it so bad, deserve it so much,
pray so hard, love. What have we learned?
Pain is patient; you are patient; be the more patient.
That is what we’ve learned.

Thank you for reading Who will pray for me? 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 of Toronto, Canada was taken by my self-adopted brother, Sam. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph © Samandary Hindawi ; all rights reserved. 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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Something to hold on to

A symphony’s endnote is a flurry of emotions,
transcendent with joy and resolution.
When you left, you stole that last note away
and bound me to the drone of the penultimate.

I saw others getting back to their lives
and would think How can you? Don’t you still hear it?
It grew quieter, that droning, and I sometimes wondered
if it had gone silent; but whenever I listened it was still there.
As long as I can find it, so are you. There. Sort of.

If you doubt the idea of the resolution of the key of a great symphony, listen to the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (the movement of movements, of the symphony of symphonies, by the composer of symphonies.) Jump to the 9:55 mark in the recording to hear the full ending. After that, listen to at least the previous few minutes of the recording to get a feeling for the piece and then stop it before that final note. It hurts, you miss it so. Not getting to hear that final note…that is what the loss of a loved one is.

Thank you for reading Something to hold on to. 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 Hilton Head, South Carolina. 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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Transcendence

The touch is made first in the womb
and born in the gore thereafter.
Then comes the feedings, the colic, the changes,
the clothes, the tournaments, and the boyfriends—
the days of your dreams wrapped up each year
and sealed to the heart with a kiss.

But then it’s that day after surgery and you are
in the shower with your frail, 85-year old mother
and she’s bathing her baby girl again.
And then, later, when it’s her in the bed,
and as the bed settles into the ground—
that is when you realize this is the closest you can get;
I am because we are.

Ubuntu, sometimes translated as I am what I am because of who we all are, or, as it is here, the more succinct I am because we are, is an ancient African word from the Nguni Bantu language meaning humanity to others or the simpler humanity. Computer nerds (like yours truly) will know it as the name of an open-source version of the Linux operating system.

There are many ties in families: blood, obligation, and love. All are important, but only pure love—love without reward or obligation—love for love’s sake—is transcendent above physicality.

Thank you for reading Transcendence. 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 the Metropolitan Museum 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 Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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The math of love

We are more alive in the invisible than the visible.
There, our pluses and minuses give more and take less
than in the physical, where divisions alone strive to define us.
Between every two points, we covenant, there is another:
To bite ’em, so proceed ad infinitum.

So let us do that and bite ’em, the possibilities I mean:
hearts can be broken, yes, but in all our joys
our futures are coequal with our past.

So where does that put us? On some rising hope, I suppose,
back in the invisible from whence we started
perfectly, long, long ago. Did you hear that?
Say yes.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political essayist, poet and cleric. His most famous work is Gulliver’s Travels. The quote above is taken from Poetry, a Rhapsody:

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

Not only is the verse fun and wonderfully satirical, but it comes from a particular perspective, a time when the art of science was awakening and when things that we take for granted today (like bacteria) were first being discovered. Also, note the 400 year pronunciation shift: in Swift’s world the word “flea” would have been pronounced “flay” and rhymed with “prey.”

In mathematics, the concept of infinity occurs often. For example, mathematics holds that there is no smallest negative number and no largest positive number. Moreover, between any two numbers there is always another. This compares to, and parallels with, the Knowledge of God: infinitely broad, yet infinitely deep.

This thought, in turn, got me to thinking of the concept of love, and, well, as you can see, so proceed ad infinitum.

Thank you for reading The math 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 in Putnam, Connecticut. 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 is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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The next after another

On the darksome trail of this black ledge
I am blind,
but that is what I feel, isn’t it—
the next step?

If on the rough scrabble
I slip and fall,
that is what I bleed, isn’t it—
the step back?

I am as lost on this path
as I am bound to it,
but that is what I am, isn’t it—
the lockstep?

Against the cliffs my noise-some heart
echoes wrongly,
but that is what I hear, isn’t it—
the step up?

And now? Now I’m just tired
‘either/or’ ‘stop/go’
but that is what this is, isn’t it—
the final step?

My wife and I were driving to a Bahá’í conference when I noticed a hand painted sign off to the side of the road which said “Black Ledge” and an arrow pointing off in a direction. It was both incongruous and odd; why would anyone point to a black ledge?

It struck a chord with me and I linked it up with a conversation with my dearest friend and brother-in-heart, Sam, about service to humanity. Such service is an essential aspect of being human and yet it is not easy, nor does one pursue it without pitfalls and aches. Moreover, it can be wearisome and tiring, not the least of which because it can often fall on deaf ears and cold hearts. Yet, still it is important to continue and pursue such work, because you do it not just for the recipients, but for yourself, to learn humility and patience.

To learn humility and patience. That is my dear Sam in a nutshell.

Thank you for reading The next after another. 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 on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. 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 is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Some haiku

The Japanese find English haiku silly and trivial. English, being so much terser than Japanese, makes writing haiku infinitely easier, and what is worse, totally denies the original aesthetic. Anyway, I have written about this before, here, if you are interested; I will not belabor the topic now.

Below are a few haiku that are more in tune with the original ideal:

roses are not
the symbols of
love; thorns are.

This came to me on a recent bike ride, as I contemplated the trials of faith and love.

— • —

hearts seek
unity; minds seek
dominance.

There is no reference to nature is this haiku, but still, I believe it works. It was formulated on the same ride but is actually close to a quote spoken to me earlier by a friend. It beautifully sums up the truth that humble love seeks harmony and joy, but that the ego-driven mind drives division and wants to be recognized for its uniqueness. Sadly, we live in a world of ego-driven minds.

— • —

post-ride, i
disdained salt water;
charlie horse.


OK, so this poem has no esthetics to speak of. But it is humorous and sums up what happened to me after my ride. It was a brutally hot day and I should have known to increase my electrolytes once I was done. Believe me, I paid the price.

Thank you for reading Some haiku. 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 Cranston, RI. 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 is © John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Just three words

If wishes were tears
then weep my river, flow,
down from the mountains,
on through the valley
and into your darksome sea—
where, God help me,
if I could, I would drown.
I would drown.

Thank you for reading Just three words. 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 on the Quinebaug River, in my hometown of Putnam, CT. 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 is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Certitude

Fire is colored by unspent fuel,
carbon, blood and sinew;
the hottest flame
can’t be seen
and burns the deepest in you.

This poem is dedicated to my fellow Bahá’í brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East, but specifically those in Iran and Yemen, who suffer immoral and unjustified imprisonment and loss of basic human rights for their religious beliefs. Religion should be a force of love, not oppression or condemnation.

It is a re-post of the first poem I shared on this site in November, 2012.

Thank you for reading Certitude. 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 one cold winter night at a winter festival held at Old Sturbridge Village, an historical living museum. 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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Something to hold on to

A symphony’s endnote is a flurry of emotions,
transcendent with joy and resolution.
When you left, you stole that last note away
and bound me to the drone of the next-to-last.

I saw others getting back to their lives
and would think How can you? Don’t you still hear it?
It grew quieter, that droning, and I sometimes wondered
if it had gone silent; but whenever I looked it was still there.
As long as I can find it, so are you. There. Sort of.

If you doubt the idea of the resolution of the key of a great symphony, listen to the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (the movement of movements, of the symphony of symphonies, by the composer of symphonies.) Jump to the 9:55 mark in the recording to hear the full ending. After that, listen to at least the previous few minutes of the recording to get a feeling for the piece and then stop it before that final note. It hurts, you miss it so. Not getting to hear that final note…that is what the loss of a loved one is.

Thank you for reading Something to hold on to. 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 Hilton Head, South Carolina. 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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