Tag Archives: resignation

Mavash Sabet’s “At Such a Time You’ll Come”

Mahvash Sabet is a Bahá’í prisoner of conscience currently serving an unjust 20 year sentence in Iran. Read more of her story here.

At Such a Time You’ll Come

I fear that time
when patience will no more be mine
when brittle hope will have been blown away,
it’s kindness gone,
when the wind will have scattered me
and my eyes will have strayed from the path–O!
if no door opens to me then, not one–
I will know for sure it is that time
when you will come again.

 

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I am amazed at the strength and constancy that this poem radiates! Especially for one who is unjustly in prison and ill, such utter resignation is like a blade of grass which bends to the storm, unlike a strong tree, which is uprooted and thrown down.

Please consider purchasing Mahvash Sabet’s poetry as an act of solidarity in the fight for human rights: in the US, from Amazonin the UK, directly from the publisher.

john

This English edition of At Such a Time You’ll Come is ©2013 by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, who adapted the original Persian text into English; all rights reserved.

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The long wait


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God, but don’t I just know it:
that greedy little glutton
sucks the life right out of you—
all my grandparents, one by one,
then my brother, and now,
Stage IIIB in my father’s lungs.
I mean, one year? What’s that,
with a lifetime to repair?

And what do I do then?

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Phil Wilke,  my best friend from Kansas (and just one of the funniest, most genuine and upright guys you will ever want to meet) recently emailed me to let me know that his father had just been diagnosed with Stage IIIB lung cancer. In that email he had written a small haiku detailing his family’s history with the dreaded disease, a poem which ended with “cancer sucks.” I asked permission, which he granted, to work on the poem for the Book of Pain.

I cannot imagine there is anyone left today who has not had a close friend or family member who has been struck by the disease. Even as our ability to fight it slowly increases, so too does its rate of occurrence seem to be increasing. And yet we persevere and support those we love because that is all we know to do.

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

The photograph was taken in Newfoundland, which I visited recently, to visit my ailing father. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Poem © 2014 by Phil Wilke and John Etheridge; all rights reserved. Photograph 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 and Phil Wilke,  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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A peaceful forest

Across the broken back of the old stone wall
the tree lay crashed, staunch, fallen.
Two hundred years seed to crown—
twenty years dying, dead, done and down,
with what? twenty more to be gone?

A silent forest is a terrible thing
full of musk, chaos and rot
it is hard to feel young in a forest.
But if you close your eyes,
and listen, just listen,
you can hear it if you try…
and there is a measure of solace in that.

This is a simple poem for a simple truth: I was driving one day and in a quick glimpse, saw a mighty tree fallen across an old, typical, New England, free-stacked stone wall. The one had broken the other and I thought to myself, “There must be a poem in that!”

I hope you agree.

Thank you for reading A peaceful forest. 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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When it was just a game

Where were you on the 28th of September, 1972
when with 34 seconds left, Henderson saved your soul?
Me, I found myself lost in the uproar,
desperate to join the catharsis that was
making the world perfect for one perfect second.
But try as I might I couldn’t join in,
I knew it was just a game after all.

Look at my hands,
so much has changed since then:
the right one aches in the morning
and the left one still bears the scar
of that ring, sworn upon once
and then sworn upon again,
but broken now and long since ended.

And Henderson? They say he found religion
and if so I am happy for him, I am.
And while I still don’t understand the uproar,
now I know it’s not just a game after all.
Is it Paul?

The game referred to in the poem is the final hockey game of the 1972 Canadian/Russian “Summit Series” tournament. For those interested, a full description of that event is included at the end of this post.

The Summit Series is, however, incidental to the poem. As an event it was famous and intense in its day but time has reduced it in importance and influence. My intent was to use it as a mirror to, and in contrast with, the end of my first marriage.

This is not revenge poetry—I have no ax to grind with my ex-wife. Our marriage was difficult, but equally so for each of us. The simple truth of it is that although we tried, we were just not meant to be life long companions. And from our marriage we have two sons we both love and with whom, even as we dissolved our union, we worked very hard to assure that this was about us, not them, and about our failings and not anything they did or did not do.

What did I learn? That marriage is not a game, to be fought with a sense of strategy in the hope to be the winner. But no matter the course of a marriage, ending one should be an occasion for sadness: so much promise, so much effort, so much pain—it’s inevitable that there should be some reflection and questioning.

Thank you for reading When hockey was just a game. 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.

The Summit Series

In 1972, Canada had long been held at a disadvantage in international hockey tournaments as its best players were professionals in the National Hockey League and therefore ineligible to play at the World Championship and Olympic Games. As a result, Canadian and Soviet officials negotiated a first everm eight game September “Summit Series” in which any professional or amateur player could play. The series was a shock to the collective Canadian psyche; broad predictions of a Canadian sweep of the series were quickly proven wrong as the tournament began. The Russian team was good, fast and dogged; their goal tending  in particular, was superb. In the fifth game Paul Henderson scored to give Canada a 4 to 1 lead, but also suffered a concussion, although he was able to return. The heroics were for naught, however, as the Soviets came back to win that game. At that point they led the series 3-1-1 and appeared on the brink of taking the overall win. But Canada dug deep and after being toughened in a two game Swedish series en route to Russia, won the sixth and seventh games there, both on game winning goals by Paul Henderson.

The series by then, and in those cold, pre-detente days, had taken on a cultural sub-text: it was West vs East, democracy vs communism, the good guys against the bad, the elemental “us versus them.” It’s ridiculous now to think of the tournament in that fashion, but in 1972, that was what it had become. This difference was only magnified by the contrast of the game audiences: the Russians sitting quietly and watching intently, the few Canadian fans creating an almighty uproar that was almost loud enough to be heard “back home.” In the final, eighth game—Canada was essentially shut down to watch it live—the Soviets entered the third period leading with a 5 to 3 score. But goals by Phil Espisito and Yvan Cournoyer tied the game and the series. With only seconds left, Paul Henderson, after an initially blocked shot, came back from sliding into the rear boards and scored the winning goal, in a shot said to have caused all of Canada to simultaneously stand and scream out in one united roar. The good guys had won—barely—but they had won, and Paul Henderson was the undisputed hero of the tournament. Surprisingly—but perhaps not—the sudden fame was hard on Henderson, who struggled to keep his life and his family together. But eventually he did, becoming a born again Christian and finishing out his hockey career with distinction and going on in retirement from hockey to join the religious ministry.

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Oh-so-softly

I am guilty—who do I blame?
I am old—who do I entreat?
I am torn—who do I thank?

There is, I suspect, in the shell of every need
the pith of an answer
and the crown of a desire rooted deep in pure release.
Not lost (not yet) but slipping,
just-oh-so-softly away.
Aye, slipping.

There comes an age when you are “older.’ By this I do not mean “21 is older than 20,” but “older” as in “old.” You recognize that the majority of your life is behind you and that certainly the most dynamic, energizing part has slipped into the past.

This realization put me in a reflective mood, looking back on my life. None of it matters, not really. Who you have been and are, the people you affected and who affected you—that matters—but only in a reflective way, as a mirror reflects the world. The moment that is, is, and for right now, that is all you have. Not the past, not the future, but only the here and now.

Thank you for reading Oh-so-softly. 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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