Poem

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, EDT,  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will be saved for later viewing. You can find all of his Livestream videos here. 

Our daughter and her husband were visiting — six feet apart — friends who have a four-year-old daughter. Mid-conversation, the little one piped up, “I want the germs to go away. I want to hug my friends and hold their hands.”

It got to me this week that I was waking up and immediately realizing that no matter what 45 pulls off or what the latest report on Covid-19 is, this day will be just about the same as the day before, and tomorrow also will be.

Then out of nowhere it hit me: without 45 and without Covid-19, the day would still be pretty much the same. So I better take a nap and adjust my thinking to the realization that getting to read and watch the garden come into blossom and listen to music all through the day and walk the dog and have Julie here and once in a while have a neighbor appear to greet and, and, and…

But I’d still like to hug you and hold your hand.

Poem

I trust what my body says.
It is soft-spoken, never shouts,
gently whispers or nudges me into place.
I think you know what I mean.

Yesterday, it told me to go to the market
and buy a box of graham crackers.
I did. But it didn’t want the crackers,
just the walk to market and back.
Maybe another day.

Today, I feel it taking me outside.
“It’s sunny,” it says.
And I agree.

                                               for William Stafford

–Jack Ridl

Published in Between (Dawn Valley Press)

P.S. …

“All you can do is face the world with quiet grace and hope you make a sliver of a difference.”

–Brian Doyle from his remarkable collection of essays, One Long River of Song (Little Brown).

The sweetest email this week came from poet Garret Stack. He shared that in an interview with Pine Row Press, he was asked if any poets inspire him. He said that Ted Kooser was his “strongest influence,” and, “More recently, I’m inspired by… Jack Ridl who is quietly waging the most peaceful and poetic political protest in history.” I love that.

Jim Allis was here this morning and told me about waking up and deciding to deliver 70 pizzas to the families of the kids in his Tae Kwon Do class.

Naomi Shihab Nye has a new collection: CAST AWAY (Greenwillow). She has developed a fascinatingly direct voice. Imagine, 147 pages of poems about trash! Those concerned about our environment–everyone!– will find it a companion.

My first publisher, Nancy Esther James, has published a collection of her highly reflective poems: Avenues Toward Light (Dawn Valley Press).

M.L. Liebler has created an engaging reading series on ZOOM. Write to him for details. He has invited me to read with Charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom on June 21 at 2pm.

Gayle Boss has recorded her luminous book of environmental essays, Wild Hope, Paraclete Press, available now through Audible.

Our own Pastor Sal — Salvatore Sapienza — has a new book out, encouraging us to put away our childish thinking. It’s called… wait for it… Childish Thinking: How the Church Keeps Us Stuck in Sunday School

Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

 

At Home

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, EDT,  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will will be saved for later viewing. You can find all of his Livestream videos here. 

May is trying.

Change of subject: I prefer justice. You too?

And a country with a rule of law.

“Making me wear a mask infringes on my individual liberty.” These yahoos can still fire a semi-automatic with a tiny piece of cloth covering their noses and foul mouths.

And while I’m ranting, what’s with this “I hate ZOOM and Marco Polo, and FaceTime” grousing? Okay, let’s spend this interminable time without being able to see our grandkids, friends, loved ones.

And the alternative is?

The other day I emailed a friend asking how he and his wife were doing. I love his response. The first thing he said was, “It’s a good thing we like each other.” I thought about how important that is. Does one’s love include like? He went on to say that they have set up a pattern to their day and instead of that being boring, it keeps them from every morning groaning, “What are we ever going to do today?” They first watch mass on TV, then read, do the crossword. They take a morning and an afternoon walk usually downtown where there is a chance of meeting someone they know and having a conversation from six feet away. They watch a British mystery, Midsommer Murders. And they ZOOM with Kathleen and Mary (daughters) and sometimes with nieces and Maura’s (spouse) brother.

A “pattern.” I was struck by his choice of that word. All that it implies. And how after mass, each activity undermines repetition.

Wishing you great new patterns and the great good luck to have the means to reach out to loved ones and friends and coworkers…

At Home

We have settled here.
The wind is moving across the dunes,
and the sun-alert afternoon glows.
This is where we stay.
There are friends,
few enough to be friends.
What we know whispers
beneath the bed’s crocheted
canopy, hanging above us
as if to bring us closer.
During the day we walk
around the house, see
out the window: money plant,
beeches clawing the dunes,
the hole under the neighbor’s porch
where the cats hide, the firewood
stacked by the back door, one
chipmunk sitting on top, the car rusting.
We are alone.
That keeps most everything never
ours, helps us keep a kindly distance,
preserves our only chance.

–Jack Ridl

First Published in Paintbrush, a journal of Poetry, Translations, and Letters
Subsequently published in The Same Ghost (Dawn Vally Press)

Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Innisfree Journal edited by Greg McBride twice each year features a poet felt to be overlooked. This issue features work from each of Jack’s books and his contributions to poetry through his teaching.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

The World in May is Leafing Out

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, EDT,  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will will be saved for later viewing. You can find all of his Livestream videos here. 

It’s May! At last it’s the merry month of May!! And it’s 46 degrees. Oh how I want to feel warm earth surround my fingers as I plant this year’s garden.

But I am going to post my annual May poem anyway. Maybe it will work some magic.

Thanks to all who were able to make it to the ZOOM readings on Tuesday and/or Friday last week. I wanted to give a prize to the person who came the farthest.

Bryan (Uecker, of The Book Nook and Java Shop)! Thank you for all you did to make such a good time happen on Tuesday and for being your kind self as host.

And Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer on Friday blew out 132 WiFi networks with her humble passion.

Imagine! For 13 years–EVERY SINGLE DAY–Rosemerry has sent out a “rough” draft of a poem she composed the night before. Doing so has helped so many people discover the REAL value of poetry, how in the writing you are taken into realizations you otherwise would not have.

Here’s how to receive her poem each morning.

John Calipari, who for many lovely reasons is deeply, emotionally a part of the entire Ridl family, has a Facebook Live show on Mondays at 10am where he simply holds a conversation with someone you are likely familiar with. Yesterday I watched Charles Barkley and Cal banter. Of course they told funny basketball stories and argued over this and that; however Cal also spends time with his guests asking about their experience of the pandemic, and what kinds of things they are doing to help.

Here’s what Cal is doing. Before seclusion he made sure every school kid in Lexington was getting breakfast and lunch. Now, many of those kids’ working parents are laid off, so Cal and his wife Ellen are supporting those families with little to no income — some 600+ families–making sure each family receives a week’s worth of groceries — each week.  It’s a good season for millionaire watching.

May is closer to being merry for Cal’s families, at least.

The World in May Is Leafing Out

It’s Matisse on a bicycle. It’s
a great blue heron coloring
outside the lines. The show’s
turned over to the aftermath
of buds. You can love
never thinking
this cliché could turn
to ice. Even nice
can be profound
as worry, even
the creek over the rotting log,
the pansy in the moss-covered
pot. The birds bulge
with song. Mary Cassatt
throws open her windows.
Monet drags his pallet,
sits and waits for the paint
to spill across the patina
of his failing sight. Eric Satie
makes his joyous cling
and clang a counterpoint
to dazzle. The earth is rising
in shoots and sprays.
The sky’s as new as rain.
The stubborn doors swing open.

–Jack Ridl

Originally published in The Listening Eye.

Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Speaking of Great Bookstores, big thanks to The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague for hosting Tuesday’s reading, celebrating St. Peter and the Goldfinch.

Innisfree Journal edited by Greg McBride twice each year features a poet felt to be overlooked. This issue features work from each of Jack’s books and his contributions to poetry through his teaching.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

There will be a Writers Conference for writers at every level, held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Her Bed

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will will be saved for later viewing. You can find all of his Livestream videos here. 

On May 1, at 8pm ET Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Jack will give a ZOOM reading. “It’s About Time to Have a Good Time.”  To secure a spot go to:  https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k18i5NPSwCWobh2QFL5UQ

Well, It’s the last day of National Poetry Month. I dream of the day when we no longer need a National Poetry Month!!

This post will be one mass of tangents.

First, why don’t I play golf? There went my neighbor this morning for a nice long walk amid the coming green of everything. I was tempted to grab a leaf bag, put a few brooms in it, pay whatever outrageous price it takes to at last get out into the great outdoors and take a nice long green walk.

Do you know it’s been seven weeks? It’s strangely interesting how mixed up my feelings are. Are yours? My dear friend, poet Mary Ruefle, has said, “I’m all mixed up. I don’t mean by that confused. I mean blenderized.

Do you feel that way? I sure do: worried, sad, able to laugh, compassionate, heartbroken, angry, grieving and, and, and — blenderized.

And what are we supposed to do about our hair?

25 years ago my father passed away. Am I okay mourning his loss amid all this horror? He loved ice cream, usually savored a quarter of a gallon each evening. I’m gonna do that tonight. He was my age when he passed. Maybe I better take in a half gallon.

Gotta get this off what’s left of my chest…  If your candidate didn’t win the primary for president, don’t go selfishly putting your principles — be they aligned with the Green Party for the preservation of toad lilies — ahead of your fellow citizens who also care about the environment, the homeless, the hungry, those without health care. It’s time to vote together against lying, deceiving, cheating, and on behalf of those who need help.

Your only moral choice is to help everyone vote 45 out onto the street.

Wow, I really got going there. Whew.

And now back to caring for that person you know who is grieving his or her way through this lockdown and pandemic. This poem tries to understand—

Her Bed

During the worst of the storm, lightning
glazed the night’s same sky, thunder loud
enough to keep her from hearing her sigh

as she tried again to stop imagining. Her cat
leaped onto the bed, crossed over the pillows
on the left side, then jumped back down onto

the uncarpeted oak floor over which on
moving day there had been rose-colored
tile, then dashed back to his sleep spot

in the clothes closet under the trousers
dangling to a half inch from the floor.
The crocuses were up and opening,

some yellow. almost gold. some reverently
purple. But a frost could lean them into
the mulch. The pandemic was over. But

a pandemic, as Cuomo said, may never
be dead. Another slash of lightning
split her window pane. She had spent

her day listening to her complete collection
of Dvořák. It, of course, took all day. She
had decided to read the background of each

piece. She paused once to call her sister,
but all she could think to say was “I am so glad
I know hardly a thing about music.” Her

sister asked how she was so she said
that she’d had two burritos for a late lunch.
“Funny: Burritos and Dvořák. I want to listen

to some more now. Bye.” It kept raining. It kept
thundering. All afternoon. Into the evening. Her
cat finally came out, went to his bowl for dinner.

She listened on as the sun set, then the cat again
leaped onto the bed. She smiled, remembering
how hard a time she’d had learning to ride a bicycle.

–Jack Ridl

This poem has been invited to be included in a project to raise money to fight the coronavirus. More news about that coming soon.

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Speaking of Great Bookstores, big thanks to The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague for hosting Tuesday’s reading, celebrating St. Peter and the Goldfinch.

Innisfree Journal edited by Greg McBride twice each year features a poet felt to be overlooked. This issue features work from each of Jack’s books and his contributions to poetry through his teaching.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

There will be an outstanding Writers Conference held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

It’s April and It Should Be Spring

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, EDT,  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will will be saved for later viewing. You can find all of his Livestream videos here. 

The reading on April 28 at The Book Nook and Java Shop will be done via ZOOM starting at 7pm. Contact Bryan Uecker by email for the link. Later, this summer, Jack will give a live reading there with Mark Hiskes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I don’t know about where you are, but here it’s cold, rainy, gray, and supposed to be Spring. Well, the pansies I imposed on you last week are still smiling. Not very much else is. Even we hermit types wanna get our fingers into the earth. I am writing this with my wrists. My hands have been washed away. If this keeps going we’ll be doing most everything with our elbows.

I apologize for being so bitterly insensitive to any who have been infected.

Okay, enough self-pity. Oh, one other thing, do you go to bed now thinking “Well, I made it through another day”?

Our leader now can’t possibly wash the blood off his hands for the thousands (millions?) he could have saved and/or prevented from catching the virus.

While we’re all talking about heroes. My gosh, they can be the most unassuming of souls. I visited my surgeon the other day, and of course the receptionist could not be six feet away from me. And she was just as smiling in sincerity and warmth as always.

Okay back to this Spring. A great good thing is to see the plants pushing their way up through the cold no matter what. Let’s make them our totem reminders, and, what the heck, let’s be silly and have them say to us, “If we can make it, so can you.”

Oh, who cares if it’s cold and rainy. I’m heading outside to plant a couple dozen more pansies. It IS SPRING after all—in Michigan.

It’s April and It Should Be Spring

The gods are tired of tending fires.
Against the window, a cold rain.

Each night the hour hand moves
time and us closer to the light.

No one wants to go out. No one
wants to stay in. And the rain.

Robins do their silly walk across the lawn,
dead grass dangling from their beaks.

Crocuses raise their purple risk
through the ice-crusted mulch of maple,

oak, beech, and willow. They last
a day. Clumps of daffodils stay

blossom-tight. We want to put away
sweaters. What would the saints do?

We haul in more wood. It is raining.
Sunday and it is raining. And it is cold.

Winter’s wedged itself into a crack
along the equinox. We know, in time,

the trees will bud, the flowers rise
and bloom. Until that invisible time,

We do what the earth does.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Temenos Journal. Published later in an alternative form in Poetry East.
Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

On May 1, at 8pm EST Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Jack will give a ZOOM reading. “It’s About Time to Have a Good Time.”  There are 100 spots. To secure one go to:  https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k18i5NPSwCWobh2QFL5UQ

The reading on April 28 at The Book Nook and Java Shop will be done via ZOOM starting at 7pm. Contact Bryan Uecker, owner and organizer for information. Later, this summer, Jack will give a live reading there with Mark Hiskes.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

There will be an outstanding Writers Conference held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Here in the Time Between

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, EDT,  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will will be saved for viewing, in case you missed it.

On Monday I spent time on poetry one-on-one online with a shaman. Her poems invariably bring a realization. Authentic poetry isn’t “about.” It brings about realization; it reveals.

During our conversation, she told me a shaman believes that a disaster can bring about a personal awakening. Not making lemonade out of lemons. It’s more like, well, let’s look at the pandemic. We are worried. We are cut off from our outside daily lives. We are angry. We are enduring great losses. We are grieving.

But the shaman would also ask what awakenings have we realized?

For me, people on a screen are talking photographs.

Please don’t misunderstand; I am extremely grateful for this means of “Staying in touch.” Imagine our isolation without this wonder! However, I actually can’t “Stay in touch.”

My awakening has been how important, how enlivening the actual presence is of another. A couple of weeks ago I spent a one-on-one time with the poet Jim Allis, who said, “How about next week I come over. We’ll stay six feet apart. There’s something about actually being with each other that for me makes a valuable difference.”

There is an ineffable something, a presence another creates. I can’t name it. I just know when I feel I’m within it.

My awakening, I will tell the shaman, is that because of its absence, I have realized my need for the enlivening presence of another.

Fortunately, of course, it’s Julie’s presence I dwell within.

Here in the Time Between

Here in the time between snow
and the bud of the rhododendron,
we watch the robins, look into

the gray, and narrow our view
to the patches of wild grasses
coming green. The pile of ashes

in the fireplace, haphazard sticks
on the paths and gardens, leaves
tangled in the ivy and periwinkle

lie in wait against our will. This
drawing near of renewal, of stems
and blossoms, the hesitant return

of the anarchy of mud and seed
says not yet to the blood’s crawl.
When the deer along the stream

look back at us, we know
we have left them. We pull
a blanket over us when we sleep.

As if living in a prayer, we say
amen to the late arrival of red,
the stun of green, the muted yellow

at the end of every twig. We will
lift up our eyes unto the trees hoping
to discover a gnarled nest within

the branches’ negative space. And
we will watch for a fox sparrow
rustling in the dead leaves underneath.

–Jack Ridl

from Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

The reading on April 28 at The Book Nook and Java Shop will be done via ZOOM starting at 7pm. Contact Bryan Uecker, owner and organizer for information. Later, this summer, Jack will give a live reading there with Mark Hiskes.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

There will be an outstanding Writers Conference held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

Here’s a wonderfully generous gift from documentary film maker/poet John Stanton:

“I wonder if the people you mail your weekly missives to would enjoy free access to a small collection of documentary films? I do not want to assume anything. But I keep thinking that it might give people something to do during all this self-isolation. If you think it is a good idea, feel free to send them out. All anyone has to do to see them is click on the links.”

Wood Sails Dreams (60-min) This was a film festival hit. The idea of boats made of trees and powered by the wind is a small miracle. The people who build and restore these boats are very soulful.
https://vimeo.com/68012984

Oral History: Life During the Troubles, Belfast, Northern Ireland (20-min)
https://vimeo.com/259726267

The Last Bay Scallop (30-min) The tradition of dredging for bay scallops runs deep in coastal southeast New England. But are the last days of this cottage industry on the horizon?
https://vimeo.com/156956735

Memories of the Aud (45-minutes) In the last week before the closing of the Buffalo Auditorium we spoke with people for whom the sports played there gave them a sense of community.
https://vimeo.com/87802476

One Man’s Vietnam (8-min) This might be my favorite. Peter Sylvia is a friend of mine, who was drafted a few weeks after he graduated from art college in 1968. As an act of catharsis he painted what he saw, and then simply put the canvasses in his attic. This short film was made the day he took them down from the attic.
https://vimeo.com/52106358

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

But He Loved His Dog

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will will be saved for viewing, in case you missed it.

45 is Nero. And he’ll say something along the lines of “Fifty thousand died. Think of how many more would have died if it weren’t for me.”

(And here I promised not to mention him anymore.)

Yesterday Julie and I planted seventeen pots of pansies: purple, black, yellow, maroon, white. The thing about pansies is that they smile. No attempt to “cheer ya up.” Just a little smile. And they take cold, even frost.

I noticed how slowly I was placing each plant into its own carefully dug out hole in the soil. Was I trying to care more this year for the flowers themselves than for “making the place look nice”?  I really don’t know. I know only that this was happening.

What I did realize later was the difference between planting this year from any other year. In the past, gardening was primarily something I loved to do, done in the context of pleasure, no other reason. But this year it felt as if I were doing something good. The pansies were bringing good into a world that desperately needs good, just good for its own good sake. No, it doesn’t change a thing. Or does it?

I hope we will NOT say, “What good will it do — making cookies, knitting a sweater, or keeping a journal, sketching, riding a bike, taking a hike, (See? I CAN rhyme!), curling up and petting your dog or cat, spending Face-time with the person next door, thanking a delivery person or the post office people, the pharmacist, any first responder, listening to music etc.

This is not the good that combats evil. It is the good for which the world came into being.

But He Loved His Dog

Wednesday was trash day so he pulled
the garbage can to the curb. There
was never that much in it. Sometimes
he stood there for a few minutes, looking

down when a car drove by, looking up
at the trees in the yard across the street.
No one really knew if he knew anyone.
He had a dog. It wasn’t much of a dog.

It was an old dog, a mix too mixed
to know what all might be there. He
told someone once, “Oh I suppose
there has to be some beagle, maybe

some German shepherd.” Each noon
he walked the dog down to the corner,
left on Maple Avenue, three blocks
to the park where they would stop and

he would sit on a bench under a beech
that had been hollowing out for years.
The dog lay at his feet, once in a while
lifted its head and sniffed. He never read

or talked except to say, “What do you
think of this day, boy?” and the dog
would wag its tail across the gravel path.
He would sit for most of the afternoon,

then tug on the dog’s leash and they
would walk on through the park, then
back home. He would bring in the mail,
toss it away. When the evening’s light

began drawing its shadow across his porch,
he would turn on the radio, open a window,
and sit outside, with his dog, listening
to the classical music station and the cicadas.

–Jack Ridl

From Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

The Pandemic may put the reading at The BookNook & Java Shop in Montague online, and we will let you know about that.  It had been set for 7pm on April 28 in the store, along with friend and poet Mark Hiskes. When we can return there, I guarantee you will love the place along with its good food and beverages. Many thanks to owner and arts promoter Bryan Uecker.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

There will be an outstanding Writers Conference held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

Here’s a wonderfully generous gift from documentary film maker/poet John Stanton:

“I wonder if the people you mail your weekly missives to would enjoy free access to a small collection of documentary films? I do not want to assume anything. But I keep thinking that it might give people something to do during all this self-isolation. If you think it is a good idea, feel free to send them out. All anyone has to do to see them is click on the links.”

Wood Sails Dreams (60-min) This was a film festival hit. The idea of boats made of trees and powered by the wind is a small miracle. The people who build and restore these boats are very soulful.
https://vimeo.com/68012984

Oral History: Life During the Troubles, Belfast, Northern Ireland (20-min)
https://vimeo.com/259726267

The Last Bay Scallop (30-min) The tradition of dredging for bay scallops runs deep in coastal southeast New England. But are the last days of this cottage industry on the horizon?
https://vimeo.com/156956735

Memories of the Aud (45-minutes) In the last week before the closing of the Buffalo Auditorium we spoke with people for whom the sports played there gave them a sense of community.
https://vimeo.com/87802476

One Man’s Vietnam (8-min) This might be my favorite. Peter Sylvia is a friend of mine, who was drafted a few weeks after he graduated from art college in 1968. As an act of catharsis he painted what he saw, and then simply put the canvasses in his attic. This short film was made the day he took them down from the attic.
https://vimeo.com/52106358

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Over in That Corner, the Puppets

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will will be saved for viewing, in case you missed it.

You may know of the Myers-Briggs test.

You take it and end up with a combination of letters that represent ends of continuums of behavioral preferences.

Usually people have preferences that can slide based on the conditions at hand. For example, one person might test out as 60/40 Extroverted to Introverted. And how they express extroversion or introversion depends on their day, who they are with, how happy their amygdalas are, what they are called upon to do, how they feel, etc.

As we all probably know, America is dominated by extroverts. In fact introverts are often understood as having something “wrong with them.” And so, in this country, introverts must learn to pass as extroverts. ‘Tis why this guy is very often misread as extroverted when actually on the test, I have no “E” at all. I’ve been faking it. Really faking it. For 76 years.

I am 100 percent “I.”

My Myers-Briggs type is INFP, extraordinarily, fiercely INFP. Only 5 percent of the population expresses this type, and I express it hard.

Why bring all this up? Because, while I understand how difficult seclusion is for those who are extroverted, (“I GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE! I GOTTA SEE THE GANG! I HAVE TO HANG OUT! I REALLY HAVE TO HIT THE COFFEE SHOP, THE PUB!”), I’m happy living as a hibernating bookworm. This life is good for me. The circumstances are terribly sad. But the sequestering is no hardship at all.

But we introverts want you to know that because we’ve been faking it all our lives, we really do understand. We’re here for you mad extroverts. We’re listeners. Please feel free to come within six feet of us at the grocers, and let it out!

Here’s a poem written for the most generous and important of poets, another introvert, one who travels the world especially to help children — Naomi Shihab Nye, The Poet Laureate for Youth in the United States. I hope you see its connection to what we are are all trying to learn to deal with.

Over in That Corner, the Puppets

Even when the weather changes,
remember to pet the dog, make
the cat purr, watch whatever

comes to the window. If you
stand there long enough,
someone will come by,

a stranger perhaps, one who
could be more, but needs
to keep walking. “Hello”

is likely all you can say.

–for Naomi Shihab Nye

–Jack Ridl

First published in Peninsula Poets

Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Here’s a wonderfully generous gift from documentary film maker/poet John Stanton:

“I wonder if the people you mail your weekly missives to would enjoy free access to a small collection of documentary films? I do not want to assume anything. But I keep thinking that it might give people something to do during all this self-isolation. If you think it is a good idea, feel free to send them out. All anyone has to do to see them is click on the links.”

Wood Sails Dreams (60-min) This was a film festival hit. The idea of boats made of trees and powered by the wind is a small miracle. The people who build and restore these boats are very soulful.
https://vimeo.com/68012984

Oral History: Life During the Troubles, Belfast, Northern Ireland (20-min)
https://vimeo.com/259726267

The Last Bay Scallop (30-min) The tradition of dredging for bay scallops runs deep in coastal southeast New England. But are the last days of this cottage industry on the horizon?
https://vimeo.com/156956735

Memories of the Aud (45-minutes) In the last week before the closing of the Buffalo Auditorium we spoke with people for whom the sports played there gave them a sense of community.
https://vimeo.com/87802476

One Man’s Vietnam (8-min) This might be my favorite. Peter Sylvia is a friend of mine, who was drafted a few weeks after he graduated from art college in 1968. As an act of catharsis he painted what he saw, and then simply put the canvasses in his attic. This short film was made the day he took them down from the attic.
https://vimeo.com/52106358

The Pandemic may put the reading at The BookNook & Java Shop in Montague online, and we will let you know about that.  It had been set for 7pm on April 28 in the store, along with friend and poet Mark Hiskes. When we can return there, I guarantee you will love the place along with its good food and beverages. Many thanks to owner and arts promoter Bryan Uecker.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

There will be an outstanding Writers Conference held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Take Love for Granted

Jack was on livestream with today’s poem at 9am, on his Facebook page. Click here to see the video…)

Well, here we are. No, you are there, and I am here, and never the twain shall meet, it appears, for a while, unless we happen to be six feet apart.

I have witnessed or learned of a number of fascinating things, most of which you likely know…

I love the ZOOM or SKYPE cocktail parties and “It’s five o’clock somewhere times.” Cracks me up when our neighbor to the north, an open-window-shout away, joins Julie and our neighbor across the street for an online chat, in their pajamas.

And then of course the other day I noted a line clear out the door of the local gun and ammo shop.

On Sunday morning during the usual church hour, Julie set up a conversation online for our church members to meet up, each getting a square so we could see each face. It was a kind of gigantic UCC non-Hollywood Squares show. I won’t tell you who Paul Lynde was. (Bob.) The talk ranged from how everyone was holding up to a requested loving prayer from Stan Greene to making fun of one another to jokes seldom heard in a church group.

I’ve kept my “One on One” poetry sessions going, obviously online. (You’re welcome to sign up. Just click on “contact” from ridl.com.)

And my weekly conversation with Jim Allis took place this morning, even though neither one of us knew how to set it up so there was an immediate “JUUUUULIEEEEEE!!!!” And she even brought out Jim’s favorite mug with his favorite tea in its bag sitting atop the mug.

After Jim and I had our usual conversation, our dog Vivi and I went for a walk. And for some reason I kept thinking about Jim’s mug and that unopened tea bag and realized THAT’S what I’ve been missing and been brooding about concerning the wonder of online. I don’t want to bring on a downer, not at all. In fact just the opposite. I hope that when this is all over we can return to what I’m missing, what I’ll call companionship.

“Can I try that drink? What’s in it?”
“Do you mind if I feel that sweater you’re making?”
“I have to pee. Where’s your bathroom?”
“Where did you get this sofa. It is sooooo comfortable.”
“Come here! Look out the window. There’s a Ladderback on the oak.”
“Can I go sit by your dog? She’s so mellow.”
“Oh my gosh! Does your cat hop onto everyone’s lap? I love this.”

Well, it was Vivi, my patting her, my dropping the leash, asking her to stay, walking away, then saying “Come,” and having her run right up to me and get scrubbed and squished all over.

Okay. I am gonna finish with one downer, but it’s more a forewarning. Fact: divorces increase during times when we are required to stay sequestered. Make sure if you live with another that you allow for space and good talk time and as best as you can, stay patient.

Take Love for Granted

Assume it’s in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
In the garage. Don’t try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring it
in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
“Good morning.” Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love each other,
the silence, sighing,
and saying, “That’s her.”
“That’s him.” Then to
each other, “I know!
Let’s go out for breakfast!”

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Louisville Review.

Subsequently published in Practicing to walk Like a Heron, Wayne State University Press.

Unless the pandemic causes it to be cancelled, the reading at The BookNook & Java Shop in Montague has been set for 7pm on April 28, when I’ll be joined by friend and poet Mark Hiskes. I guarantee you will love the place along with its good food and beverages. Many thanks to owner and arts promoter Bryan Uecker.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

There will be an outstanding Writers Conference held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

Within the Moment of Indefinite Suffering

Starting Next Week: Video Poems.

We will be taping the poems for you so you can have a small reading each week. Because we need each other’s faces and voices, don’t you think?

—-

What a way to be united, eh? Here’s an elbow hug to all of you.

And helplessly, I hope that you are not among those infected.

It’s almost our daughter’s birthday. She has insisted that her age be 44 plus one. (Let it sink in. It can take a minute.)

I am often asked why I am happy all the time. It’s almost as if the question were really, “Don’t you know what’s going on?!?”

Let’s get something straight right off the bat that can’t be swung for at least a month…

I am NOT happy. In fact, I am quite sad. All. The. Time.

In fact, I don’t even believe in happiness. The pursuit of that imaginary goal in the Declaration was one of the world’s greatest mistakes. It’s caused more misery and break-ups as people keep trying to be happy and using it as a reason to leave one another. “Oh, I don’t know; I’m just not happy.”

Well, good luck on your next safari.

Happy is something that sometimes comes along. It’s not, never has been a part of us. “I need to see a therapist.” “Why?” “Oh, I don’t know, I’m just not happy.”

How in this world can anyone be happy? Sure, for a bit. It comes from an “external circumstance or stimulation.” We can’t decide to BE HAPPY. (Oh, I know the song: 🎼”Don’t worry. Be happy.”🎼)

Don’t worry??

How at a time like this, could one feel happiness?

What you may see is that I choose to behave cheerfully as an act of benevolence toward others. And lest you think I am consistent or can sustain this. Nope.

Of course I am full of disdain for those who or that which deserves it. And oh do I let down those who most deserve my being of good cheer. Time and again I forget that being of good cheer is something I must choose to be. It’s a set of muscles that need to be exercised constantly, but do get tired.

So, Let’s Be of Good Cheer. Or let’s at least try. Especially now..

Within the Moment of Indefinite Suffering

All it takes is a touch. You can be walking
your dog. Your dog can be stopping to
sniff a patch of jewel weed or pausing
to pee on a post surrounded by poison ivy.

You could be watching a swallowtail slowly
lifting and settling its wings while resting on
a swatch of crown vetch. The sun could be
lost behind clouds, clustered in a cumulus

mound of white or sinister gray, the moon
could be full, waning, new, the stars moving
across their scrim of deep space, everything
still benign in its revolving threat. You

could be sweeping the walk, passing under
the pergola draped in wisteria, wedding veil,
honeysuckle, or merely sitting on the bench
beside the brook out back. Or taking a path

through the park, joggers steady-stepping, or
walking along the well-worn trail to the pond
at the edge of town where you could be sitting
under the willow, its branches hanging their braids

over your wait for the sunfish to surface. It could all be
beautiful: the day, the light, the breeze bending the tall grass.

— Dedicated to all those suffering under the politics of the pandemic.

–Jack Ridl

First published in a slightly different form in Poet Lore.
Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State U. Press)

Unless the pandemic causes it to be cancelled, the reading at The BookNook & Java Shop in Montague has been set for 7pm on April 28, when I’ll be joined by friend and poet Mark Hiskes. I guarantee you will love the place along with its good food and beverages. Many thanks to owner and arts promoter Bryan Uecker.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection