Tag Archives: sadness

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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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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The next after another

On the darksome trail of this black ledge
I am blind,
but that is what I feel, isn’t it—
the next step?

If on the rough scrabble
I slip and fall,
that is what I bleed, isn’t it—
the step back?

I am as lost on this path
as I am bound to it,
but that is what I am, isn’t it—
the lockstep?

Against the cliffs my noise-some heart
echoes wrongly,
but that is what I hear, isn’t it—
the step up?

And now? Now I’m just tired
‘either/or’ ‘stop/go’
but that is what this is, isn’t it—
the final step?

My wife and I were driving to a Bahá’í conference when I noticed a hand painted sign off to the side of the road which said “Black Ledge” and an arrow pointing off in a direction. It was both incongruous and odd; why would anyone point to a black ledge?

It struck a chord with me and I linked it up with a conversation with my dearest friend and brother-in-heart, Sam, about service to humanity. Such service is an essential aspect of being human and yet it is not easy, nor does one pursue it without pitfalls and aches. Moreover, it can be wearisome and tiring, not the least of which because it can often fall on deaf ears and cold hearts. Yet, still it is important to continue and pursue such work, because you do it not just for the recipients, but for yourself, to learn humility and patience.

To learn humility and patience. That is my dear Sam in a nutshell.

Thank you for reading The next after another. 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 on Martha’s Vineyard, 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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Oh the parent who doesn’t know this

There was then a firmness to it
and it was my way to have it that way:
done right and done right away.
It was all “blood-in-the-bone” I know—
what sin can’t be justified with that?
But now that I am here at the end
as God is my witness, it has humbled me.
Too late, but it has humbled me
and now all I have left is love
and all these unanswered texts.

This is the second poem taken from an original longer poem, the other half of which was posted last week.

Thank you for reading Oh the parent who doesn’t know this. 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 York City several years ago; it is from one of the many marvelous Christmas windows displays that pop in the city at that time of year. 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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It is in the owing, I think

How do you let go of the water that’s flowed
when the water that’s flowed has gone dry?
How do you say yes when you’ve always said no
and you don’t even know the why?
And when do you stop paying
when the loan is renewed
but the principal is missing
and the interest long rued?

idon’tknow/idon’tknow/idon’tknow/idon’tknow
and I doubt if ever I will;
but if this debt is ever to be paid
it’ll not be me who pays the bill.

Occasionally, I will look back on an older poem and discover that my ambition then outstripped my ability, and I had mashed two poems into one. That is the case with the original of this poem and is here, I hope, righted.

Thank you for reading It is in the owing, I think. 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 sunrise at Beaver Tail State Park in Rhode Island. 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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Victims

In the perfect stillness, in the quiet,
over the waste, beyond the silence,
you move. Movement is everywhere:
through the smoke, through the noise,
past the barriers and into the chaos,
to this very day.

You, you innocents,
you are in your perfection, perfect,
and will remain that way forever,
of this there is no doubt—
even after we have long forgot you.

We have too many mass-murder victims. And because their lives are cut short so unexpectedly, to those left behind to grieve, their memories of their loved ones may always be caught up in, and constantly looping through, those last dreadful moments. But to us bystanders, as the years slip by, the truth is we just forget them as people. We may invoke their memories on each anniversary or when the topic arises, but only as a collected identity: the victims of that day’s terrible events. We do not remember them as individuals, ones who had lives and loves and hopes and fears and plans, and who deserve to be remembered that way, not as justification or explanation for what ensued thereafter.

Recently, I reviewed and archived all my poems on the Book of Pain. Some, I realized, were really two poems in one, this being one such. Originally entitled To this very day, that poem was eventually renamed 9/11/2001, the name whereby the other portion of the original still goes by.

The photograph was taken on a trip to Pompeii, Italy. 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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Nobody gets to kill you but me


Nobody gets to kill you but me, said your Irish twin.
Too bloody right just her, ask bully boy.
You were eight, she was nine and he was
that day all of forty-eight stitches from eternity;
she swung a mean shovel, she did—for you.

But damn her diagnosis took too long.
The surgeries that were botched,
the years that wore on,
the brunt of the pain carried
until it could be carried no longer…
You’ve wept enough, your hands are clean,
so let her go, she’s gone.
She wasn’t just talking to you.

Recently a dear friend’s beloved older sister committed suicide after many years of a debilitating and pain-ridden illness. The story in this poem is true: both my friend and her sister were, when children, digging a hole to China (and why not?!) when my friend was accosted by a bully, much to his quick lament because her older sister whoomphed him with her shovel. And ‘nobody gets to kill you but me‘ is exactly what the older sibling—during their many shared escapades—would say to her sister.

Love isn’t always easy; love isn’t always pretty; and love doesn’t always end up or go where you want it to. But it is binding, forever.

Thank you for reading Nobody gets to kill you but me. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at The Grand Canyon. 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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Aunt Vi


She lived down a small hill under the lilacs,
that all-smell of spring and full-shade of summer.
She is, I believe, still there, a flittering wren
in the nest of her doilies and lace
with no noise but from us nieces and nephews.

The rain was loudest at night
because the spare bedroom was under the rafters
and the train ran so close that it rattled the windows,
but you never let go because her fragile never did.
Fifty years on and still she sings to me,
light and delicate, so that there’s a flutter,
when I remember, deep in my throat
where the true self catches and warbles.

My maternal grandfather was married twice. Aunt Vi (for Violet) was the eldest of the first family, my mother the eldest of the second; to my mother, Aunt Vi was more a beloved step-mother than an older half-sister. She would, my mother always say, start cleaning the ashtray before you were finished, if you let her! Aunt Vi tried to make everything perfect around her because she knew how delicate life was; but despite this, she lived her life selflessly. The fact that she and Uncle George had no children, was, I came to understand, the tragedy of all our lives.

I never knew any of my grandparents, so Aunt Vi and her husband George remain the only grandparent figures I knew growing up. She suffered greatly in life and both met and rose above that pain with dignity and grace.  I, and my sister, are profoundly indebted to her for her love and her example, and are proud to cherish her memory today.

I have been privileged to mention her before in two other poems, The Royal Stores and Gone in the blood. Thank you for reading Aunt Vi. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph (from Google maps) is of the spot my aunt’s and uncle’s house used to be. Much road work has been done in the area to level the land and build a road where the train tracks used to run behind their property. I really wish they had re-planted lilacs there. 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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