Tag Archives: spirituality

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

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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 clacked and slapped
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, enigmatically, 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.

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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.

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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

This is an older form of the poem:

Her cement block chapel is deep in the barrio.
There she rests behind glass, a century long gone,
a pious soul, dried and shriven, mummified
by some quirk of the grave and brought back
for the pilgrims who 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 visits for them.

She cried the river that runs down to the sea,
to guide the  fishermen home,
says one, crossing
himself. And, says another. when the sun could not
come out, it was she who swallowed the night.
Yes, yes,
says a third, the town had grown wicked,
and there was no wind strong enough to clean it.
With one exhale, she quickened the air and then,
the bread of the poor would leaven again.

They nod as one. Yes, yes, they say, we have
heard this too. God bless her, it must be true.
What would we do without her?

She is especially busy on All Hallows, of course,
the Feast of All Saints, when prayers for the dead
are the most potent. Many come to pray and more
are the candles lit and left with her in the hope
of lighting her way to their wish.
They come and go, these penitents, not staying
long, but they are solemn, these ones, hopeful
and confirmed. Some few even sneak little balls
of wax from the rail when they depart, although
to what purpose, I do not know.

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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Perhaps

time
it is in the small hours, when
stumbling back to bed that
they come to you most often:
when will the dawn come?
and will I rise to greet it?
Or, will my friend come to wake me?
and when will he arrive?
Or, that glass, wasn’t it once half-filled?
But by then the clock far down
the hall is chiming its chimes
or ringing its bells
and you’re already back, snuggled in,
asleep again, not that it matters,
if you don’t really want to wake up,
but still, perhaps, just perhaps…

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

The photograph is a still life of a clock I took in my home in Putnam, CT. 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.

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Faith

fire

Wood to your fire,
smoke to your light,
ash from your heat—
I ponder, but you burn!

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As always, Lyn.

The photograph is entitled Can’t you hear my bread a bakin’? and was taken in Pennsylvania. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading Faith. 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

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.

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The well of fire

Explosion
I am frozen at the event horizon and the crush has begun:
heart, will and mystery stretching out between two infinities,
thread-like, from brazen hope to broken will.

But all is not lost. There is a mercy for the fallen
who are drawn in, weeping with the wonder of it,
landing (if you can call it landing at all) with an implosion
more felt than loud, but joyous all the same.

It’s an eternity, that stop—there on the edge— the frontal wave
of a heartbeat that never echoes again. But that is, in truth,
the event itself. Wait for it.

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Black holes are singularly (pun intended) interesting things. In a black hole, the event horizon is the point at which the gravity becomes so intense escape is impossible, even for light, hence the name. Moreover, time gets wonky around black holes. If you were to cross the event horizon of a black hole feet first, to an outsider you’d appear to hover on that edge forever, while to yourself you’d appear to become like a piece of spaghetti, as the gravity, being more intense at your feet than your head, stretched you out. And yet—and this is what made Stephen Hawking so darn famous in the first place—black holes leak energy. In fact even tiny amounts of matter falling to the core release horrific amounts of energy and black holes can have laser-like beams of energy and matter shooting out of them for thousands of light years.

It’s a hell of an analogy to work with!

Thank you for reading The well of fire. 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 entitled Explosion and was taken in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania. 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.

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Blessed be the hand that slips

Each morning I shave an illustrated man
and memories glide beneath my razor.
Yours is a rainbow that sings of crystal
in multicolored hues of light,
while yours is a bell that plays a dirge
to softly call down the night.
And yours is the river and yours the tree,
and yours the scent of spring blossoms.

But yours—yes, yours—yours is the blade
that moves across my throat
(up and then up and then up and then up.)
And what is that little drop of red
that stains through the white
to make no sound at all? That too is you
and you—yes, you—you are the loudest of all.
Up.

The Illustrated Man is an early science fiction book by Ray Bradbury. Made into a movie in 1969, it explores the relationship of man to the world. The main character has a series of tattoos etched upon him be a time traveler that predict the future and which move over his body.

Is it just me or do we all often daydream as we go through the mundane chores of our life, remembering past incidents and people we have interacted with? Thinking it over what they mean to us today? What is the most important such memory you can think of?

Thank you for reading Blessed be the hand that slips. 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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