Tag Archives: trying

Self-portrait

That's me in the spotlight

Strong walls and empty halls,
rubber bands and hooks—softness;
brick and mortar, blood and bone,
eye and ear and mouth.
There is a left here, but no right
and every up has its matching down:
a grip, a hold, a lunge, a fall,
tumult in the night.
Smile and tear, laugh and bark,
tomorrow—there’s always tomorrow—
wait and see, hope and pray,
little patience and little else.

Me looking at me
looking at you looking at me,
while the heat builds all the greater
from the forgotten whence
to the unknowable hence, on.
On.

swril2

Thank you for reading Self-portrait, and please forgive me if you think it pure hubris. 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 That’s me in the spotlight and was taken at my home in Putnam, CT. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading Self-portrait. 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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And each duly sets

The poem rose late, full and round,
wan gold in the wintery night.
I, walking home, amused myself with
the little puffs of vapor pushed out
into the silvery sheen—each balanced against
the crunch of the snow, the bite of the air
and the swishing of wither I went.
There’s no rhyme to that, I thought,
retreating further into my coat,
pulling the night close around me.
But there was.

up

Thank you for reading And each duly sets. 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 Let’s not today and was taken in Lincoln, NH, if, I recall, through a patio door on a day that was bitterly cold and wonderfully snowy. 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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A grasping man

I am a miser born, a greedy man,
the more I have the more I am,
the more I give the more I can
hold back the fear that I fear the most,
the covetousness of pain. My plan?
Feel it for a truth and bleed it,
just bleed it.

I have never described how this blog got its name. I was living in Tunisia and asked a friend, an elderly Palestinian Bahá’í named Rephai—now, sadly passed on to the next world—how to say the word “pain” in Arabic. He responded “Elam.” Why I asked the question, I can no longer remember. In any case, then and there I told him that I had decided, if I ever published my poetry, I would do so under the title of Kitáb-i-Elam.

Many books in the Bahá’í Faith are of the pattern Kitáb-i-Name. (To name two: the Kitáb-i-Aqdas—The Most Holy Book—and the Kitáb-i-Iqán—The Book of Certitude.) By noting this I am not in any way suggesting that anything I write would or could ever be remotely associated with such Writings. Books named in this style are the foundational Writings of my religion and I would not dishonor Them in thought or deed by comparison or imitation. But in homage to that naming convention, I chose to use the pattern and thus decided to use it for this blog.

Rephai stopped and looked at me and said in a very serious manner, “That is a very good name. But if you use it, make sure that your poetry is worthy of it.” To appreciate what he was getting at, you must understand that all Arabic speaking peoples have a deep and long historical love of poetry. Poems and poets are taken very seriously throughout the Islamic world and it is honored dearly. I knew Rephai was being very serious when he told me this, as an elder to a young man should give council.

Rephai, you dear man, I hope you think I have honored my side of the deal.

Thank you for reading Hold back nothing. 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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The phoenix

I awoke drenched and panting
with only the echoes to befriend me,
and prayed, despite my grieving,
that you were still the phoenix striving,
(burning, rising) your life—your faith—surviving.
Why can’t I love you as I ought?

I have talked about Sam, my dearest friend, before. We have now been friends since we first met in Egypt, thirty years ago and still, today, I love him more, appreciate him more and learn more from him each year that I know him.

Samandari (his last name) translates as “phoenix” and this poem is about the many nights I have woken up worrying about him. On these nights it often takes many prayers to calm me down and let me get back to sleep. If I do.

Thank you for reading The phoenix. 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

© 2012 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: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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