Tag Archives: pain

Pain

IMG_1969It’s a strange thing to manage: of you and not, it, itself, an otherness,
living and breathing, in and yet beyond you, insidiously skulking around.
Nerve slasher, I call it. Breath thief, dignity embezzler, hope arsonist.
From your last kiss before sleeping to your first caress when awaking
it is the demon that haunts you in between: silent, unseen, crippling.
Is it possible to make such a one a friend?

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This poem was written by my sister, Cindy, who is currently—and heroically has been for some years—facing severe medical issues.

Thank you for reading Pain. 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 Harkness Memorial Park, on the Connecticut side of the Long Island Sound. To see my photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh blog.

john

Poem © Lucinda Lenora Hayden. Photograph and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved.

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Cheers

IMG_0149I never got drunk with my father,
never got to count the little blessings
as each was poured and shared:
relaxation, then wisdom and laughter—
then solemn, then soused,
and finally the kiss of sleeping it off.
We never took that first shot and
looking at each other smiled
and agreed that it wasn’t half bad
that one wasn’t, not at all/at all:
feels good, have another, ‘think I will.
He was proud of that, oddly—
blue collar Irish, you appreciate
a son who swears off the drink.
Still, we never did pour ourselves into
each other’s glasses or our hearts
into each other’s hands. And now
that he’s gone I know that he knows
I was right, but oddly—it’s me now,
I’m no longer so sure I shouldn’t have.

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My conversion to the Baha’i  Faith caused my father, who was a devout Catholic, some degree of pain and worry. And although it was never a contentious point between us, he was never quite reconciled or happy with my choice and always, I think, a little saddened by it.

But if there was any silver lining to my decision for him, it was the Baha’i  law about not drinking alcohol. My father knew and saw too many good men and women (many from our own families) slide down that hole of excess and misery.

And yet, after his death, as I reflected on my father and our relationship, I could not help but think that it was a rite of passage that he and I never got to go through together. Would it have increased our love for each other? No. But would it have allowed us to grow a little closer and perhaps understand one another better? Perhaps. In any event, it’s too late now, and hence this poem.

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

The photograph was taken at Newport, RI at one of the once stately homes of the rich that is now merely the gawking place of us lower castes.  It is, I am guessing, a representation of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and drinking, although I am by no means an expert on such things. 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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He was wearing his regimental tie

regimental tieI remember those cold, consistent Novembers:
the way the damp hung in the air and soaked into you,
the way the outdoors was quieter and indoors louder
and how you could know, but forget, what lay ahead.
Once, I recall, as a boy, I went with my father
to the Legion. There I met his friends, veterans all,
heavy drinkers of course, middle aged by then, and one,
an elderly man, a small, shriveled, gnome of a fellow
grinning in the corner and being plied with drinks.
A survivor of Passchendaele, whispered my father
as he introduced me and gave the man his offering.
The last one. It was years before I knew what that meant.

I am now as old as my father was then,
and he is as old as that little old gnome,
and yes, as shrunk and shriveled and just as alone.
The Novembers too are, in balance, the same,
perhaps milder, perhaps damper, I’m not sure.
But I know this: I never once wanted to go back
to where I was born or to take my sons to a Legion.
Not once.

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The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit Canadian veterans organization founded in 1925. Almost every small town and village in Canada has a ‘Legion hall,’ a social club, attached bar and a display of war memorabilia collected from the members.

Passchendaele was a long and bloody Allied campaign of World War I that took place near the city of Ypres, in Belgium and was a classic battle of the western front of that war: mud, trenches, gas attacks, “up and over” the wire, no mans land, large numbers of men charging head on into machine gun fire, incredible kill rates…total estimates are a half million lives lost. It started in July of 1917 and ended ignominiously in November of the same year, failing to meet any of its strategic goals. Its value or waste as part of that war is still disputed, but one thing is clear: the horrific experience nearly consumed the entire contingent of many Canadian regiments and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment—where the old man of this poem served—in particular.

The photograph was taken at the top of Mount Wachussetts, in Massachussetts at the end of a particularly cold November, 2014. The memory of meeting that old man has been kicking its way into being a poem for some time, but it took 2014, the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, to bring it forth. To see my photography blog, 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 in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Schizophrenia

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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.

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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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Héloïse Haven’s “Parched”

The old wooden bucket plunges deep into the well,
The weathered staves bound by rings once bronzed.
Dangling from the old frayed rope,
It sways with each turn of the tired crank.
Deeper still, wafts of staleness drift upward
Until the small splash echoes laggardly.
The rusty lever groans as it begins the ascent,
Tired and worn from a life of long hauls.
One last crank to reach the light,
The shaft hesitates, the rope wavers,
The weary bucket crashes down.

 

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Héloïse  is a dear friend who has been, thus far, reluctant to publish her very fine poetry. I am hoping by seeing her poem here that she will be convinced to start her own blog and publish more of her work.

To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Poem © 2014 by Héloïse Haven; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License..

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On a skidding bike

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Front wheel rolling, rear one locked,
tail whipping out from behind. Grip frozen,
heart pounding, the noise, road rash,
bleeding and scaring all but certain.

And there she hangs, neither up nor down
but placid, serene even, as the memories
pull pace and flicker by:
nobody believed her, nobody stopped him,
nobody came, nobody does, nobody will.

Why not? she thinks, looking down.
It’s an embrace she’s certain is her due
and means at least landing somewhere
and having something to cling to.
Sometimes any kiss is worth the price,
if you don’t have to hold yourself up for it.

After that, don’t ask me how it went,
I don’t know, I wasn’t there.

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Anyone who has ridden a bike in a group setting knows the danger of a sudden fall. For those who have come close (guilty) or actually fallen (ditto), we know that there is a point, just before it happens, when it can go either way. It is a moment of total clarity, where everything freezes and you think, “Will I, or won’t I?” It’s like a full lifetime in a moment.

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

The photograph was taken during a day walk in Boston, 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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The princess’ story


My daddy was wonderful, she says.
I remember as a little girl sitting in his lap,
my head on his chest, loving the smell of
cherry pipe tobacco on his shirt.
He would read his paper and stroke my hair
and later, before bed, would brush it,
counting out each, one, two, a hundred.
When he checked in on me, I would
pretend to be asleep and not, as usual,
reading after lights out. He would gently
lift the bangs from my eyes and say,
Princess, enough! It’s time to go to sleep,
but still I would pretend, it was our little game.
Then, when I was fourteen and he showed me
it wasn’t a game anymore, I cut my hair
the next day, and when he got angry
I yelled back that it was because I never
wanted him to touch me again. I had never
seen him cry before and after that he never
saw me cry again, although we both did,
often, alone, but after a while I stopped.
I mean, why bother?

Today, my daughter also has beautiful hair
but I keep hers short too. And while she will
never know the smell of cherry pipe tobacco
rising from the heat of a heartbeat, she will
never be trapped in her own tower or be fooled that
the brave knight can’t also be the greedy dragon.
It doesn’t matter that the knight got lung cancer
and rode his guilt into the grave.
I still love him, but it doesn’t matter.

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The writer Tim O’Brien once distinguished between happened truth, when the events actually occurred, and story truth, where the events may have happened in parts to several people and which, at least, summarize the essence of a real experience or experiences.

The princess’ story is not, to my direct knowledge a happened truth, but it is a story truth. In fact, there are tiny bits of things I have picked up from several people in this poem.

As to its subject all I know is that there is too much abuse and pain in this world. We must make it stop.

Thank you for reading Short, very short, and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is entitled Rapids and was taken in Putnam, CT. 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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