Tag Archives: self-esteem

Don’t grok shibboleths, do you?

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‘Course you do.
Shibboleths are the little worms in the heart of your pride,
the delusions of shifty strangers,
the sly winks when sincerity can’t wait.
Think of a black dude yelling at another
in a drive-by mouthing, ‘Yo, niggah!
Now, see, that’s a shibboleth,
the illusion is the sense of control.

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A shibboleth is a word, sound, or custom that a person unfamiliar with its significance may not pronounce or perform correctly,” and adds that it may refer also “to any ‘in-crowd’ word or phrase that can be used to distinguish members of a group from outsiders…”

It was a long battle for society to learn how harmful and demeaning racist words are and to turn away from their use. In the USA, the worst of these epitaphs was the “n word.” So it may seem surprising that it is now used by young black males to refer to each other. They do it, I think, because they can and not be stopped by anyone. But even more importantly, they do it because white people can’t, and who are yet forced into an ill-at-ease situation upon hearing it. It is, in its way, an act of self-empowerment and esteem building.

Grok‘ is a term coined by Robert A. Heinlein for his 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, where it is defined as understanding so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed.

Thank you for reading Don’t grok shibboleths, do you?. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken during a trip to New York City. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

© 2012 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: © 2013 by John Etheridge,  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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Filed under Poetry

On a skidding bike

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This is it: front wheel locked,
rear one rolling, 
tail whipping out from behind.
Grip frozen, 
heart pounding—the noise,
the road rash, the 
bleeding and the scaring
all but certain now.

And there she hangs, neither up nor down
but placid, serene even, as the memories
pull pace and flicker by:
nobody believed her, nobody stopped him,
nobody came, nobody does, nobody will.

So, why not? she thinks, looking down.
It’s an embrace of a sort and she’s certain
she’s due, and it means, at least,
landing somewhere and having something to cling to.
Sometimes any kiss is worth the price,
if you don’t have to hold yourself upright
to receive it.

After that, don’t ask me how it went,
I don’t know, I wasn’t there.

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Anyone who has ridden a bike in a group setting knows the danger of a sudden fall. For those who have come close (guilty) or actually fallen (ditto), we know that there is a point, just before it happens, when it can go either way. It is a moment of total clarity, where everything freezes and you think, “Will I, or won’t I?” It’s like a full life in a moment.

Thank you for reading On a skidding bike. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken during a day walk in Boston, Massachusetts. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem 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,  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.

4 Comments

Filed under Poetry