Tag Archives: spirituality

The generation of love

The best and sweetest left
to plant their bones whenever.
The rest of us stayed
and to spite ourselves,
we abandoned us, one, the other.
So when it comes, pray it’s quick,
and that when it’s done, it’s done,
and not this weighty, drag-on misery,
this open-maw wait of just begun.

As a teen, my enduring love of history was sparked by Barbara Tuchman’s masterful A Distant Mirror, in which she proposed that the death and suffering of 14th century Europe (a century of wars and the Black Death) reflected the modern world’s 20th century.

Bahá’u’lláh states, The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.

The suffering of the 14th century acted as a catharsis, giving way to the Renaissance that followed, which in turn gave birth to the Enlightenment, stages where man’s intellectual and spiritual development advanced quickly. So although yes, the world is in travail, and will suffer, as with the pain of any birth, a new world order will come from it. Just wait.

Thank you for reading The generation 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 near Putnam, CT, my hometown. 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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Like all illusions, a good trick

We believe we are weaving
each instance into a tapestry
where we are the warp
and circumstance the weft.

But where we really fool ourselves
is in thinking there are ends to this œuvre.
Look back, do you sense a beginning?
Look forward, what can you see?
Feel quick.

This is the second poem split off from its sibling It is not like this, death. Although they deal with similar themes they are not quite the same. I think I can hear this one breathing easier in its space.

Thank you for reading Like all illusions, a good trick. 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, I think, a photo of my jeans. I cannot remember when and where I took it. I just liked the texture of it, the regularity. 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 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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As my friend lay dying

I looked and there on his wall, from his photos,
we all stare back: him/you/me/we: all of us,
emergent from chaos, unpredictable yet bound,
looping up from within and flinging ourselves forward,
ever forward—reborn with each and every labored breath,
scrabbling for what comes to mind.

Until, I suppose, like him soon enough,
we can’t, or don’t, or won’t, or shan’t,
although I believe we do, even then, beyond, think I mean.
We’ll see. Anyway, this is what I saw so clearly, then,
as my friend lay dying before me.

A dear friend who was, when I first conceived of this poem, dying, has since passed on to his richly deserved reward. He was a dear soul, a dedicated Bahá’í, and the patriarch of a large and loving family.

The question of free will—who we are and what is reality—is of great importance to me. I had been reading Michael Gazzaniga’s Who’s in Charge (highly recommended, by the way) and the issue was, and remains, much in my mind. This is the issue: where does the physical, deterministic brain end and the sense of the ephemeral self start?

Thank you for reading As a friend lay dying. 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 Killingly, RI. 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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A force in some known direction

I thought: day has night, and light, dark.
But what has time got? Silence?
Well if so then I am content,
for that is the vector of me:
stillness becoming silence becoming stillness…
in truth, it is all I ever wanted.

By training I am an engineer, so mathematical metaphors often sneak into my poetry. A vector is exactly as it is described in the poem, a force moving in a direction. Think of a wind blowing at 20 mph from the east—that is a vector.

Of all the spiritual verities, perhaps humility—it being a virtue unique to man—is the most essential. With such a posture, one can see the world as it is and not as it pretends to be.

Thank you for reading A force in some known direction. 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 Long Island, New York. 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’m tired of all this indecision

‘Yes!’ say I. Knock me flat, chop me up
and share my raw bits about—
let’s have a grand ole look at this ‘me’ of mine!
Surely I am more than the observant self,
a story I fabricate the while,
effect and cause, more deceiving than perceiving,
bleeding before I decide to make the cut.
And stop this talk of actions and indecisions,
I want to make this slice and do it down to the bone,
because I need to know…
if I am not the me I think I am, then who in God’s Name am I?

The question of free will is of great importance to me. I had been reading Michael Gazzaniga’s Who’s in Charge (highly recommended, by the way) and the issue was, and remains, much in my mind. It is, I believe, the very pith of the religious experience, and its absence brings into doubt the structure of the whole spiritualization process.

For my part, I still believe in free will but confess that I am intrigued by the subtlety and complexity of how it operates…an issue about which there is, as yet, no clear consensus. But, as this poem proves,  the ‘me’ in me cannot stop thinking about it!

Thank you for reading I’m tired of all this indecision. 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 Killingly, RI on the way to work; no color alteration has been made. 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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First


You need an odd number of transitions
to have an even number of passages—
life’s hilarious that way.

Even and odd, over and on,
it’s a mystery how it all hangs together:
how tension works and release comes,
how rhythms are the heart of us
and we the heart of our rhythms.
So become: suffer, weep, despair, rise or fall,
it really doesn’t matter. But be.


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

Recently, I reviewed and archived all my poems on the Book of Pain. Some, I realized, were really two poems in one, this being such an example from a poem originally entitled Over and on; the other portion of that original work is now posted as A mathematical kōan.

The photograph was taken in my hometown of Putnam, Connecticut; it is one of two ‘road’ images, one each for this poem and its sibling. 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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Meta, an abstraction of the part

The sum of all that is, is data,
yet those who know only data
know less than they think.

The sum of all data is knowledge,
yet those who have only knowledge
know less than their data.

The sum of all knowledge is not wisdom,
it is words; the wise who do not surrender
to this are fools, lonely in their selves,
except for themselves.

And what is the sum of all surrender?
It is to be at the beginning of all things,
which is to say at the end of all things,
which is to say, exactly, with You.

I am a computer geek and deal with the differences between data, knowledge, and wisdom on a daily basis. The rest of the poem is a non-professional issue. 🙂

Thank you for reading Meta, an abstraction of the part. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Quebec, Canada, last 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 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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Go before me


up

I need no photograph to remember you
as you snowshoed that night,
you in the pool of your lamp
and me stumping behind,
the cold wrapping around us tighter than the dark,
the snow falling so fast it clicked and grew
into the otherness that hung all around.

Go before me dearest, go before me, I thought,
this trail won’t last forever.
And while I can taste the evening at its end
I can also hear the voices of our loved ones
calling us as ever they did, silently, softly,
but still, calling. So yes, dearest, go before me.
I’d rather you content in the warmth and the glow
than anything else I could ever want.
Leave the cold to me, go before me.

up

The setting for this poem was the wonderful winterscape of Ashland, New Hampshire, where my wife, Lyn, and I took a skiing/snowshoeing vacation some years back. The incident that was the generative spark for this poem was a snowshoe trek in the late evening that quickly turned dark and snowy while we were out on the trail. I remember thinking how lucky I was. True, it was cold, late and dark, yet I was with Lyn, the love of my life, out in nature, being us, being together, being there.

Some may think the underlying message of this poem is morbid, but I do not think it is. Neither of us fears death, but I know that whoever goes first, the other will be horribly lonely and lost. If it is my preference (and it is not, but still, there you are) I would save Lyn that pain.

Thank you for reading Go before me. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken during that trip to Ashland, New Hampshire. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

© 2013 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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It’s theirs, after all, and paid for


IMG_3720

Her cement-block chapel is deep in the barrio.
There she rests behind glass, a century gone,
a pious soul, shriven and anointed,
mummified by some quirk of the grave
and put on display by her family
so that the pilgrims could flock to see her.
For her upkeep there is a donation box
off to the side, which more than covers
the votives that are lit and left on the rail
to weep out their lives under the whispers.

She is especially busy on All Hallows, of course,
when prayers to the dead are the most potent.
Many come to pray and more are the candles
lit and left in the hope of her finding her way
to their aid. The pilgrims come, then go,
not staying long and they are solemn, these ones,
hopeful and confirmed. Some few even sneak
little balls of wax from the rail before departing,
although to what purpose, no one knows.
Perhaps, to eat later.

up

I found this story of a pious and sweet soul who died in the 1920’s becoming a local shrine in The Petrified Woman of Capiz by PenPowerSong, and was so intrigued by it that I asked his permission to write a poem from it.

The facts of the story stand true. The last sentence is almost directly from the original source and is what drew me to the idea of a poem in the first place.

Thank you for reading It’s theirs after all, and paid for. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken on Hope Street in Providence, Rhode Island, on a spring jaunt that my wife and I had down that wonderfully eclectic street. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poems 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.

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