Tag Archives: patience

Ian Hamilton’s “The Birds”

She saw it from a distance seem to burn
Along the branches of her orchard trees,
Then disappear. All afternoon
She had kept watch. The smaller birds,
Assembled on the bitten lawn
In perfect rows, had waited with her.
Soon, she consoled them, soon.

Their claws stretch and unstretch, deep in the ground.
Between the broken trees, there are avenues
That flutter as she talks and seem to run
To the horizon without moving.

She stalls above all this and seems to see
Black on the whitest hill, the furthest tree.

This is another sample from the work of the brilliant late 20th century poet, Ian Hamilton, a poet for whom my admiration and awe continues to grow the more I read him.

This time, a more enigmatic poem. The tone is vintage Hamilton but the focus, while softer, has the same deep emotional impact mined from the same dark brevity. It is easy to get lost in the ‘she’ of the poem. Who is she? Why is she there? What is she doing? And then, with a gasp, what is she?

Click here for a list of the other Ian Hamilton poems on the Book of Pain.

For more on Ian Hamilton, I refer you to: his Wikipedia page.

Thank you for reading Ian Hamilton’s “The Birds”. 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

Comments © 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved.

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Let go

Sweetest to my lips is Your Name,
deepest in my heart, Your Voice;
closest to my hope is Your Mercy,
strongest for my courage, Your Memory;
hardest on my fear is Your Justice,
nearest to my serenity, Your Forgiveness;
dearest to my patience is Your Own,
heaviest on my mind, Your Truth.

Breathe deep, let go, breathe deep,
repeat…
for when the page before me dries
and I have let go all that I have learned,
I will write this poem down, I promise,
I will write this poem down.
Let go.

Thank you for reading Let go. 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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So what then?

Energy, frequency and vibration—
the stuff of heartbeats, tears and confessions.
But when they’re gone, be warned,
begging counts for nothing
and scales hold for everything.

So best blame me, if blame me you can,
or want, or must and honestly, I’d agree,
if no one else—but let’s face it:
you may have longed to hear the sound
pealing boldly in the night,
but when you could have pulled the rope
you failed to ring the bell.

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant electrical engineer, physicist and inventor, who, sadly, despite his genius, died penniless and in debt. The first line of the poem comes from a quote by him: If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.

Which got me thinking: what if you are just looking for is the secret to your own life? and what do you do when you’re dead?

Thank you for reading so what then?. 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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Jogging

One pace, two pace, three pace on,
2k, 4k, 6k done—
bent, trying to catch a breath,
praying no one can see you,
certain you’re actually sweating blood.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that you’d be faster
with the hounds of your soul
nipping at your ears,
but you’re not.
Funny that, huh?

It always catches me by surprise how quickly negative thoughts can sap your stamina and kill a good run. I have no cure for this, no remedy, not even any insight into how to block it. Generally I run as a cathartic act, to blow out the stress and pressure in my life. But sometimes…

Thank you for reading Jogging. 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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Rend

I wish to God I’d
more water to weep,
more blood to flow,
more flesh to rend from bone!

Think you, you wolves to have me?
It is me and only simply me
and the rocks and the earth and the sea and the sky
and all that is immutable
who lie here prone and silent,
ravenous with intent,
waiting just for you—
fools you—waiting just for you.

up

The idea I was trying to convey in this poem is best summed up by a quotation from the New Testament, Matthew 5:5: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

This quote is now often said with sarcasm, reflecting its use over the past centuries by the rich, powerful and manipulative as an excuse to subjugate and exploit other people by class, race, nationality or economic strata. The irony of this is undeniable: it is both a justification of greed, and at the same time, a sanctimonious suggestion that such rapaciousness somehow benefits the downtrodden. Ridiculous, of course, but hypocrisy seldom makes much sense in the end.

And in the end, there will be justice, if not this world, than the next.

Thank you so much for reading Rend. 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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Laugh out loud

Oh my children, my children,
my sweet, sweet children
how I love you all so very much!
Come to me again that I may
hold you in my arms,
clasp you to my breast,
and kiss your eyes one last time.

My hearts—heed me:
cry only in joy,
weep only for others
and promise me that you will laugh out loud
whenever you think of me hence.
I know that you will not forget me—
but I go hoping that someday
you just might understand me.

This is the second of two poems I call my “Epitaph Duet.” The first was My epitaph. The idea is that both stand as separate poems but that together they form a vague third.

But the issue with such serious weighty things as the last words you get to say is that it is hard to deal with the thought of how much you will hurt—if only for a little while—the loved ones you leave behind. As I wrote this poem, I realized that is why so many epitaphs are humorous: it is a great way to escape the awful finality of the idea you are facing.

Thank you so much for reading Laugh out loud. 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

2013.4.18 Edit:

Thank you for several people asking if there is any significance to my writing an epitaph. As far as I know, no, I am well and will, I hope, remain a burden on the poetry writing community for years yet to come. Dealing with the subject of a personal epitaph was an intellectual and emotional exercise only.

© 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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My epitaph

If there is much in a word
there is more in a silence,
less in a desire,
and absolutely nothing left in an epitaph.

Unless, of course, it’s a really good joke
and then all bets are off,
obviously.

This is the first of two poems I call my “Epitaph duet.” (The second is Laugh out loud.) The idea is that both stand as separate poems but that together they form a vague third. As most of you know, an “epitaph” is a short text or poem honoring someone who is deceased. The best are written by the deceased themselves and the practice of writing humorous ones goes back to at least the Greeks.

Thank you so much for reading My epitaph. 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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Another day of fasting

At the end of a day of fasting
it takes so little to satisfy me.
Is that the point?

When a lamp is lit the light must first
beg forgiveness of the wick,
the wick the forbearance of the oil,
and the oil the patience of the sun.
I know that without struggle there is
no merit in victory, but at night, still,
I lie awake thinking: without struggle,
how do we keep the night away?

I am foolish, I know,
I should leave it to our children
to figure it out. Now is rightly time
for me to beg the patience of my Sun
and turn off the light and sleep.
Tomorrow is, after all, another day of fasting.

The Bahá’í Fast—when Bahá’ís refrain from eating or drinking from sunup until sundown—lasts from March 2 through to the 21st. March 21st, generally the date of the Spring Equinox, is referred to as Naw-Ruz, or New Year, and is the first day of the Bahá’í Calendar. This holiday actually predates the Bahá’í Faith and is an ancient celebration held throughout much of the Near East, generally, throughout the area that once marked Alexander The Great’s empire.

At the beginning of the fast period, I had the pleasure of posting an incredibly beautiful poem called The Copper Tree Tops, by Lyn, my wonderful and long suffering wife. Today I get to bookend that effort with my own much lesser effort on fasting, Another Day of Fasting.

It is indeed a privilege and an honor to take part in the fast. I can honestly say that the effort required, which honestly is not a lot, is far outweighed by what one gets in return: a sense of accomplishment, of joy and of humility.

Thank you so much for reading Another Day of Fasting. 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, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address,https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.

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If you are reading this, then…

No cause is without its innocents,
its families loved and lost,
no truth lacks its heroes
nor doom denied its cost.

I don’t ask why, but how,
not where, but when,
for surely the irony of it
will break you:
brutal and bloody or
slow and steady,
yet gladsome all the same.
Who?

Truth be told, we are such pity inspiring creatures. So easy to hurt and to damage, so fast to fall when struck, so quick to damage when hurt. And we are so finely interconnected that when one is felled, the pain radiates outward like ripples in a pool, affecting all those who love the stricken.

Go to any Amnesty International meeting. There you will hear the heartbreaking stories of the tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience who are held, imprisoned, beaten, tortured and killed for their beliefs. There you will imagine how their families feel, how they live in fear and horror every day of their lives. My religion, the Bahá’í Faith, has not escaped this. There are, right now in Iran, nearly 100 of my fellow co-religionists in jail for no other reason than their religion.

And yet all these prisoners of conscience do it. Why? Surely there is nothing easier then recanting a belief, especially with your freedom or life being risked. But yet they hold fast and in the end, it is you and me who reap the reward for their strength and determination.

What is “sacrifice”? Surely it is to give up something of greater value for something of lesser value. But what if that act returns more than what was given up? What if it returns oceans of grace, mountains of love and an eternal sense of felicity? And not just to the recipient, but to the whole world? Is it still “sacrifice” or something far greater?

We must be diligent in our memory of the world’s prisoners of conscience and in our appreciation and understanding of their gift. And we must understand that it is they who change the world and make it into a better place. Them. Only them.

Thank you for reading If you are reading this, then…. 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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Zodiac

The planets, the moons, the stars,
what a desperate set they make!
They turn, they wheel, they dice, they deal
and never do they know
how easy it is to slip by them—
to deny them—to just go on and ignore them.
Each night it’s the same, if you’re lucky,
to the right and straight on ’til morning.

The astute of you will pick up on the Peter Pan reference: “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”

People think they are in control of their lives, but they are not. People are in control of their actions, but the forces that impinge on us are beyond our ability to control, coerce, and often, understand.

The source of all good is trust in God and contentment with His holy will and pleasure.

That does not mean that people are not responsible for their actions. But so much of life is beyond that limited degree of control. Illness, the way people appreciate your efforts, the way they treat you…you may be able to influence such things in a positive direction, but you cannot force them to be what you want.

And in some tragic ends, there are those who even chose the hardest and saddest of all options: opting out.

Thank you for reading Zodiac. 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.

6 Comments

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