Tag Archives: pain

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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Do I even want to?

In the summer it is so, so beautiful.

Beneath the high azure glow
the trees reach high with their crowns of green
as the bees flit ’round the fresh cut flowers
she holds so dear to her heart.
Drink deep, I think, letting my river flow.
Will I ever, I wonder,
lose the deepness of this mountain?

Thank you for reading Do I even want 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 Putnam, our hometown, at the graveside where my beloved is buried. 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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Where the light dazzles

Will-o’-the-wisp, why’o’why?
why this, why that, why her?
Seekers/dreamers/lovers
wander/wonder/ponder:
what is this Thing we are?

This poem is dedicated to my darling wife, Lyn. Still I find myself wondering sometimes, how can such a commanding presence be gone? And I have no answer.

The mandala in the photograph was painted by our daughter-in-law and two of our granddaughters on their patio. The center is a stylized “LDT” for “Lynette Deane Tolar.” It is ringed with the name “Bahá’u’lláh” repeated 9 times. It is a stunningly beautiful tribute to a stunningly beautiful woman.

Thank you for reading Where the light dazzles. 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.

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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Lake 2 ICU

I only feel whole in the cold bedside chair
despite how hard it is to breathe.
As you enter the door of the stroke unit
the lights at the top of the Christmas tree are blown
and I wonder is that happenstance or deliberate?
Does it matter?

On December 24, the light of my life, my dear, sweet, kind, loving, strong, intelligent, wise, and wonderful spouse, my darling Lyn, had two strokes. At this moment we are waiting to determine her baseline, but the damage is surely profound.

I am, as is our family and friends, devastated and broken by this tragedy, the grief held back only by our complete commitment to be with Lyn and support her whatever the Will of God is.

I am sharing this because poetry is one of the ways I grapple with the world, and to ask all kind-hearted people to keep our dearest darling in their hearts and prayers for at least a moment.

Thank you for reading Lake 2 ICU. 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 UMASS Memorial in Worcester, 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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Who will pray for me?

There is no room louder than a silent one
in which you sit alone, remembering.
Doors banging open and then closing,
yells of greetings and goodbyeings,
laughter and food, movies and teens,
arguments and tears, truths 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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With a little love

Another day another day
another day since that day,
another day until this day
hope today come what may,
here today gone away.

This poem is for all those who, at the last, hang on to that last thing there is to hang on to, endurance. Please, my hearts, hang on.

Thank you for reading With a little 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 is of—for those of you who love such details—January 2021. 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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Victims

In the perfect stillness, in the quiet,
over the waste, beyond the silence,
you move. Movement is everywhere:
through the smoke, through the noise,
past the barriers and into the chaos,
to this very day.

You, you innocents,
you are in your perfection, perfect,
and will remain that way forever,
of this there is no doubt—
even after we have long forgot you.

We have too many mass-murder victims. And because their lives are cut short so unexpectedly, to those left behind to grieve, their memories of their loved ones may always be caught up in, and constantly looping through, those last dreadful moments. But to us bystanders, as the years slip by, the truth is we just forget them as people. We may invoke their memories on each anniversary or when the topic arises, but only as a collected identity: the victims of that day’s terrible events. We do not remember them as individuals, ones who had lives and loves and hopes and fears and plans, and who deserve to be remembered that way, not as justification or explanation for what ensued thereafter.

Recently, I reviewed and archived all my poems on the Book of Pain. Some, I realized, were really two poems in one, this being one such. Originally entitled To this very day, that poem was eventually renamed 9/11/2001, the name whereby the other portion of the original still goes by.

The photograph was taken on a trip to Pompeii, Italy. 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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Nobody gets to kill you but me


Nobody gets to kill you but me, said your Irish twin.
Too bloody right just her, ask bully boy.
You were eight, she was nine and he was
that day all of forty-eight stitches from eternity;
she swung a mean shovel, she did—for you.

But damn her diagnosis took too long.
The surgeries that were botched,
the years that wore on,
the brunt of the pain carried
until it could be carried no longer…
You’ve wept enough, your hands are clean,
so let her go, she’s gone.
She wasn’t just talking to you.

Recently a dear friend’s beloved older sister committed suicide after many years of a debilitating and pain-ridden illness. The story in this poem is true: both my friend and her sister were, when children, digging a hole to China (and why not?!) when my friend was accosted by a bully, much to his quick lament because her older sister whoomphed him with her shovel. And ‘nobody gets to kill you but me‘ is exactly what the older sibling—during their many shared escapades—would say to her sister.

Love isn’t always easy; love isn’t always pretty; and love doesn’t always end up or go where you want it to. But it is binding, forever.

Thank you for reading Nobody gets to kill you but me. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at The Grand Canyon. 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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To those I should have loved more



There is a sky somewhere, vast enough, blue enough,
so high, so round, so close, so bright
that it brings your should-have-been’s, could-have-been’s
and hoped-to-be’s back together,
so that the tears you cry are ones of joy,
and the clouds that go by, go swiftly—
high and tight to the warming sun.
And as those clouds fade and float away
they can take with them all that you let slip,
rightly or wrongly, wisely or churlishly,
so that there and then, on that spot,
with that sky singing above you,
you will forge, my lovers, forgiveness;
and it will wash over you
and it will cleanse you
and you will be a fire
to everyone around you.
And you will not hurt,
at least not then, maybe never.
We’ll see.

Thank you for reading To those I should have loved more. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken on my way to work one morning. 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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Non-parental events


Words pound through hot pulsed air
and bile rises everywhere:
Who I am is not who I was—alleles do not lie.
Unlike parents and siblings who did and do
and then “like that” steal away.

No, even that’s not right,
it’s the words themselves who’ve moved
and mean less and say more than ever they did before.
Even I have shifted—I thought I was me,
but now that our swabs have told their tale
my skin is never going to feel right again.
Because it’s not just Who am I?
it’s Who are you?

NPE’s (non-paternity events, or more familiarly, non-paternal or non-parent events) are, for some people, a growing issue: they and their siblings submit their DNA to one of the many “Discover-Your-Ancestry” companies and the results are shocking: they find out that they are only half-siblings, or worse yet, no physical relation at all to the family they grew up with. In some cases the parents have died and no explanation can be had. In others, parents are unwilling to discuss the issue, or, when they do, it is at best a cover up, at worse a sordid story. In the worst scenario, some family members have turned on their half-siblings for “being hurtful.” As if who you are is of no consequence—which it is not, to those certain of the answer.

If you are affected by this situation, there is a Facebook group: “DNA surprise support group.” Check it out.

By the way, these Discover-Your-Ancestry DNA kit companies are scientific frauds. While accurate enough for identifying close familial relationships, tests run for identical twins often have huge differences in who their ancestors are said to be; nor will two different companies give similar results; nor will any company yield the same ancestry on two different tests for the same person. For a scientific rationale on why this “ancestry” approach to DNA analysis is bogus, check out Adam Rutherford’s A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived. Highly recommended. I enjoyed it immensely.

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

The photograph was taken in on my way to work one sunny morning after an ice storm. 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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