Tag Archives: poem

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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When you walk alone

They say that sometimes at night
when your breath billows softly white
and the snow crunches loud in the silence,
when the pale moon hangs overhead, large and bright,

that on your dark trail you can meet the one
who will, with all the lies of the world
and all the fears in your heart,
tempt you and deceive you and break you.

I do not believe this.
I meet that one everywhere.

The Devil at the Crossroads trope is a persistent and imaginative theme in western literature and this poem came out of some pencil doodlings I was doing one day. But even as the poem developed, I knew its end truth: the demon is always me, my ego—and, in society—us, ours.

Thank you for reading When you walk alone. 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 New Hampshire one cold winter night. 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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Laura’s “Five years ago”

I gardened all that day
weeding until my fingers hurt,
going inside three times thinking I was done
only to be drawn back out again.
She had been so sick for so long, but still…

I found myself sitting on a rock,
tears streaming down my face
when a cardinal perched in the tree beside me.
We sat there for many moments, quietly, together.
Yes, we each knew.

Recently, our neice, Laura, posted on Facebook a message about losing her mom, Sue, a dear, sweet lady whom we all adored, to cancer. Amazingly, that was five years ago this month. With very little massaging I knew her post would make a beautiful poem that could resonate with everyone who has lost someone they love. I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you for reading Five years ago. 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 the new Twin Towers 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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The magic of old New Orleans

The heart of New Orleans is the French Quarter
and at its center is Jackson Square.
There on the steps of the Basilica
for the shuck of us rubes
goes on the spirited commerce in lost souls:
tarot dealers and voodoo cursers,
faith healers and crystal readers,
they all vie for the right to sell you
the sweetest of illusions, control.
God here, the devil there—
in New Orleans you’d be crazy
not to deal the One without the other.

Built in the middle of a swamp, New Orleans’ original district, the French Quarter was once a city of canals, like modern day Venice. From the 1600s and through the 1900s, New Orleans had one of the highest death rates in the world. Combined with the large number of slaves that were brought in from the West Indies and Africa, this second misery of enslavement added to the first of location to gave birth to the Death Cult/black arts/voodoo worship/deep Catholicism aura that still haunts the city. Walk around there, you’ll feel it.

Thank you for reading The magic of old New Orleans. 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 photo is a copyright free image of Jackson Square. 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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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Too late”

We are now faced with the fact, my friends,
that tomorrow is today.
We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
In this unfolding conundrum of life and history,
there is such a thing as being too late.
Procrastination is still the thief of time.
Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected
with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men
does not remain at flood—it ebbs.

This is a short, contiguous excerpt from the Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence speech given by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th, 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York, NY. I have taken the liberty of arranging the excerpt as a poem. The title comes from later in the same paragraph as the selection.

Lyn, my dear wife, and I recently participated in reading this speech during a Connecticut “Veterans for Peace” commemoration. It is a beautifully written document: reasoned, passionate, humble, and deeply spiritual—one of the most insightful and compelling the Reverend ever gave.

What is most important is that it is just as relevant today as it was on the day it was given. The entire text of the speech can be found here. I hope you have the chance to read it in full.

Thank you for reading Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Too late”. 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 near the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. 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 trust

It is what it is, it is said,
and so is, when it is,
the curse of the lazy,
the sin of the cruel,
or the pith of those
who are wise.

Such a slippery thing is ‘is.’
I know it, to say it, but
rarely have the courage
to knit ‘i’ and ‘s’ together—
to know it for what it is,
to let it all go unowned
and loved from afar.

Thank you for reading To trust. 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 Buttonwood Farms in Connecicut. All of the sunflowers are sold and the profits donated to charity. 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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Bereft of discernment

Hundreds of years hence, they, then
will look at you and marvel
What could they have been thinking?
And you, your bones moldering
in your graves, what will you do?
As always, turn away, but
as like it will be to weep,
the better to hide your shame.

I am older now. Not, I believe, quite in my dotage, although to be fair, opinions differ on that point. But it is the prerogative of the old to look at the world around them and, judging death to be closer than further, to evaluate the world that they have loved and lived in.

Thank you for reading Bereft of discernment. The title of this poem comes from a passage of The Tablet of Aḥmad of the Bahá’í Faith:

For the people are wandering in the paths of delusion, bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with their own ears.

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 my home in 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 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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