Tag Archives: poem

It is not like this, death

The stars themselves will grow weary in time
how much more then, we, where there are none?
It is less, I suggest, about time than timelessness.

Think of the blind; they do not see black, they do not see.
So let those who can, see that, and take comfort,
if it is comfort that they seek.

This is part of a longer poem that, after review, I realized was actually two poems inadvisedly squished together, the whole being much less than the sum of the parts. Hopefully, now, this poem can breathe a tad easier, being on its own.

Thank you for reading It is not like this, death. 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 moment of sheer boredom while being in my car and on hold trying to talk with some company. Can you figure out what it is? 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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Sara’s “With my belovéd”

In Old Istanbul, the religion is really tavla, backgammon.
He had, among other things, taught me to play
so I went to the Grand Bazaar, the Kapalı Çarşı,
where I tried to haggle (unsuccessfully) to buy a set (successfully.)
In thanks I took him with me on a walk of the old peninsula,
and hand-in-hand/heart-to-heart we saw the Hagia Sophia
and the Sirkeci Terminali of the famous Oriental Express.
There too we ate islak burgers and simit pastries from street vendors
and had golden-brown tea and frothy coffee, Türk kahvesi, in a café.
As I stood alone on the Galata Bridge, wishing him really there,
I wondered how many others through the long years
have wept their past into the dark, flowing Bosporus.
Why-oh-why didn’t I learn his other game as well? 

The poem and photograph are by a dear friend of mine, Sara. That is the tavla board mentioned in the poem. I am certain that she will enjoy your comments.

Thank you for reading With my belovéd. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain.

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

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © 2022 Sara; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Her gifts

Each spring I’d say, I love tulips, why can’t we have some?
and you’d say, They’re a lot of work. They need to be planted
in the fall and the bulbs dug up in the summer to rest.

And I’d relent, that was fair, you did all the gardening.
So when I came around the corner of the house
and saw them blooming there, I wept.
Look love, I thought, this is the first spring you’ve missed!

Thank you for reading Her gifts. 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 copyright-free from the Internet. I thought I had taken photos of my darling’s tulips but can not, now, find them. More fool me. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

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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Lake 2 ICU

I only feel whole in the cold, bedside chair
despite how hard it is to breathe.
The lights at the top of the Christmas tree
at the door of the stroke unit 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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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, 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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À Dieu

We watch, he and I,
from a hot, sultry garret,
the bright snapping flashes
of the blue and red slashes
lining that silent, riotous rue.

I am not a fool, he whispers,
but a madman, painting what I feel.
And if I’ve taken more than I’ve given
that’s poor enough payment
but it is all that I am
and what I know of love.

The Rue Montorgueil in Paris, Celebration of 30 June 1878 by Claude Monet is one of several Impressionistic paintings that fueled my love for that school of art in particular and painting in general.

Luckily, my wife and I were able to see the original the last time we were in Paris. There are many great museums in that city, especially for viewing Monet’s oeuvre. One is the Monet family legacy museum, the Marmottan-Monet house; another is the delightful Orangerie Museum, a not-as-well-known spot that I highly recommend. But the best spot, of course, is the incredible Musée d’Orsay—where this particular painting is housed—and which may arguably be the greatest museum in the world.

I should point out that English-speaking people generally translate ‘adieu’ (the more common, modern spelling) as simply ‘goodbye’ or ‘farewell.’ In French, it is much more nuanced. It means, literally, ‘to God’ and has a much greater sense of finalism and formality to it, and betokens death or complete separation, often as a result of staunch honor or sacrifice. In other words, ‘My fate is with God; it is in the Hands of the Almighty when next we meet again.’

Thank you for reading À Dieu. 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 image is an online, freely available reproduction of the original. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

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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