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The princess’ story



My daddy was wonderful, she says.
I remember as a little girl sitting in his lap,
my head on his chest, loving the smell of
his cherry pipe tobacco on his shirt.
He would read his paper and stroke my hair
and later, before bed, he would brush it,
counting out loud: one, two, a hundred.
When he checked in on me, I would
pretend to be asleep and not, as usual,
reading after lights out. He would gently
lift the bangs from my eyes and say,
Princess, enough! It’s time to go to sleep,
but still I would pretend, it was our little game.
Then, when I was fourteen and he showed me
it wasn’t a game anymore, I cut my hair
the next day, and when he got angry
I yelled back that it was because I never
wanted him to touch me again. I had never
seen him cry before and after that he never
saw me cry again, although we both did,
often, alone, but after a while, I stopped.
I mean, why bother?

Today, my daughter also has beautiful hair
but I keep hers short too. And while she will
never know the smell of cherry pipe tobacco
rising from the heat of a heartbeat,
she will never be trapped in her own tower
or be fooled into thinking that the brave knight
can’t also be the clawing dragon.
It doesn’t matter that the knight got lung cancer
and rode his guilt into the grave.
I still love him, but it doesn’t matter.

up

The writer Tim O’Brien once distinguished between happened truth, when the events actually occurred, and story truth, where the events may have happened in parts to several people and which, at least, summarize the essence of a real experience or experiences.

The princess’ story is not, to my direct knowledge a happened truth, but it is a story truth. In fact, there are tiny bits of things I have picked up from several people in this poem.

As to its subject all I know is that there is too much abuse and pain in this world. We must make it stop.

Thank you for reading Short, very short, and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is entitled Rapids and was taken 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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Perhaps famous then

If ever I do, to show you how arty I am, I’d start with some animal grubbing in the dirt, perhaps, or something equally revolting. This incongruous and enigmatic scene would, of course, have nothing to do with the story, so a corpse would show up soon enough and the manner of the gruesome death would leave no doubts as to the cause: murder most foul. (That is life, after all.) There’d be multiple victims too, the more the merrier and besides, they’re cheap. And they’d all be nasty characters whose banality made their painful ends necessary—good riddance. The culprit would be more nastiness whose iron-clad alibi slowly rusts under the withering gaze of the eccentric, gruff, yet kindhearted hero/ine, who, after some stooge makes an innocuous comment, understands the impossibly irrelevant clues sprinkled hither and thither throughout the missive and determines how the improbable thing was done in the first place, and why. That’s always a crowd pleaser—why—even if not true. Then, after the guilty party stupidly brags a confession (which is—let’s be honest—hardly real but makes an efficient ending) the young love interests are reconciled, the obvious suspects are redeemed, the idiotic police are mollified and the whole shebang closed with the return of the opening grubbing animal scene.

I know—it would be totally neo-romantic of me,
but still, a cozy, comfortable world
where despite the corpses
(if not exactly because of them)
we are not left instead to hold the aging,
crumbling books that we have in our hands,
half-stories unfinished, chapters cut short,
pages torn out and the binding falling apart;
and where, when it is written—
if it is written at all—
it is written so obscurely or quickly or densely
that we cannot decipher it,
or remember it, or care about it.
Or worse, we fool ourselves into thinking
that we understand it but don’t need it.
Good riddance then, I suppose too,
but there’s no wonder—no mystery—
in that, not really.
Or comfort.
I almost envy the corpses.

This is the second of a trio of narrative poems I have written recently. In fact, I chose to make the first verse entirely narrative because of its subject. Why, in my dotage, I have taken it upon myself to write this type of poetry, which is rare for me, I cannot say. But it is up to you to say whether the effort is worth it. (Some would say that any change to my style would be an improvement, but those people are mostly family members who can be ignored and their comments edited out.)

In the end, however, don’t let the jocular tone of the poem fool you. At its core, this is a very serious poem.

Thank you for reading Perhaps famous then. 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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Filed under Poetry