Tag Archives: strength

Life lesson


You struck the keys,
but did not push or pull them;
you hit the beats,
but smudged the rests between them;
you sang the strains,
but feared to lift and soar them.

What surprised me the most
was learning the lesson
you did not mean to teach:
it’s better to flub some notes,
if you play them with a passion!

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

The photograph is of Lyn’s family heirloom piano, a heavy beast of a brute that she loves. 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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Ups, ups and more ups


There are no promises in life.
But there is a mercy in hope
and a simple majesty in being
where you find yourself to be—
if you embrace it.
As the guy with dementia said,
Sunup, wake up and get up: repeat!
Now that, my friends, is a friend.

swril2

Although I now live in the United States, I was born in Canada and occasionally listen to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in my car. It was there, on the tail-end of a segment about a gentleman from Ontario with worsening dementia, that I heard him talk about his ‘three ups.’ I have no idea what the story was about, but those words were like an explosion in my head and I knew that I had a stalled poem that was begging for some sense of finality, and that this was it.

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

The photograph was recently taken in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the largest of the Balearic Islands of Spain. 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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Detachment

IMG_1719a

She holds and twists her long-telling tale
of tangled and torn-at knots: blue ones, red ones,
yellow ones, green, her nails worn to the quick
sorting the strands of the rough fibers,
tiny dark stains bled into their ragged ends.

Blue ones, I think, for the oceans of ink wept
and yet to be written; red ones for the nights that
the sharp-tongues came out, yellow for a spot
to stand firm on. (The blow, it’s certain, is coming,
yet you stand there just the same.) And finally
green, dark green, that whispering green,
that green-green germ that grows inside you:
the one you eat whole and alive, else it eats you up
from the inside—because you planted it just for you.
That one.

up

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

The photograph of the river was taken in my home town of Putnam, just as the sun was going down. 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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Vocatus

Crash
Down to the sea, always to the sea,
it always all leads back to the sea—
the bitter sea, the deep dark sea,
the lowest of echoes, the sea.
And so do I stagger
this crooked path of me,
bereft of discernment
to be as I ought to be.
Thus have I found me
as thou also dost see,
flowing deep down to the sea,
that sea—that wept on, wept out, cold, black sea—
bidden or not, I am there.

up

Bahá’ís will recognize the allusions in this poem to The Tablet of Ahmad:

Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers. For the people are wandering in the paths of delusion, bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with their own ears. Thus have We found them, as thou also dost witness. – Bahá’u’lláh

The Tablet of Ahmad was written for a great spiritual hero of the early years of the Bahá’í Faith, who, through the fire of his faith was transformed into a fearless lion of spiritual strength.  It is used by Bahá’ís in times of great sorrow or duress.

The title of the poem comes from the Latin inscription, “Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit” which means “Called or uncalled, God will be present.” It is a statement that Carl Jung discovered among the Latin writings of Erasmus, who declared the statement had been an ancient Spartan proverb. (The original Greek had, presumably, gotten a Latin education somewhere along its journey.) Jung popularized it and had it inscribed first over the doorway of his house, and then upon his tomb. “Vocatus” has been variously translated as “summoned”, “called”, “invoked”, and “bidden.”

Thank you for reading Vocatus. 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 Crash and was taken in Newport, Rhode Island. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph © 2014, poem and notes © 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 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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Storm spotting

I can’t believe you can’t hear it,
the highs and lows merging,
twisting tauter and tighter, gathering,
a specter on the horizon, spinning closer.

And pray what you hope,
in the calm before this storm
you don’t even have the energy to dread it.
Because it’s there, right there,
it’s always been there,
it’s the soul of that edge, that whisper, that there.
So you scramble as you can
through the thick viscous air, thinking:
when it grabs you,
when it spins you around and tears you apart
and crushes you down like the flotsam that you are,
this time it will be worse,
this time it may not end,
this time they may never find you and bring you back again—
this time you may not even find yourself.

And so each time after, I wonder:
is that the me, that was me when I went flying?
Or is that some other storm-tossed me
that I wouldn’t have known then,
don’t know now—don’t want to know now—
and won’t truly know until
the sky comes tumbling in again?

Depression is not an easy thing to deal with and bouts of severe depression are incredibly hard, first on the one who is suffering, but also on their family and loved ones. If you suspect it may be a problem in your life, if a sense of any degree of sadness or emotional dullness is affecting your relationships or quality of life in any degree for more than just a few days, please seek assistance.

And if you are battling depression, God bless you and keep you strong.

Thank you for reading Storm spotting. 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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That tree

Older, barer, thick and still strong
is that tree which shaded my youth.
Prickly and knotted with a rough,
gnarly bark, it was always there,
rooted in prayer and gifted with the fruit
of its many silent blessings.
It is I who have grown,
and grown to miss it,
although I know it stands there still—
all hard and solid, its crown assured,
the weight of its many years bowing it
to the ground, as it awaits the wood cutter’s ax.

But in the winds that blow and swirl
and curl down through the years,
that tree will live on
as long as there is me or mine
to remember it. My father.

up

With great love and thanks to the family’s wonderful, loving, strong-as-a-tree father, Jack Etheridge!

Thank you for reading That tree. 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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Jogging

One pace, two pace, three pace on,
2k, 4k, 6k done—
bent, trying to catch a breath,
praying no one can see you,
certain you’re actually sweating blood.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that you’d be faster
with the hounds of your soul
nipping at your ears,
but you’re not.
Funny that, huh?

It always catches me by surprise how quickly negative thoughts can sap your stamina and kill a good run. I have no cure for this, no remedy, not even any insight into how to block it. Generally I run as a cathartic act, to blow out the stress and pressure in my life. But sometimes…

Thank you for reading Jogging. 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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