The Materialism of Angels

During this season, I hope these angels bring you comfort and joy. That’s their job!

Here’s some joy in our household.  I learned yesterday that that the first poem I sent you, “While the Dog Sleeps,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by The Louisville Review.  So good of them to do that. And so we’ll go through the winter with our fingers crossed…

The Materialism of Angels

“Who would say that pleasure is not useful?”—Charles Eames

Of course the angels dance. If not
on the head of a pin, then maybe
on the boardwalk along the ocean of stars.
And they eat hot and spicy: salsa,
tabasco, red peppers. They love
mangoes. They can munch
for hours on cashews. Olives
sit in bronze bowls on the cherry
tables next to their canopy beds
where the solace of pillows swallows
their sweet heads and the quiet
of silk lies across their happy backs.
They know the altruism of material things.
They want to say to us, “We’ll sleep
next to you. Feel our soft and unimposing
flutter across your shoulders, on your
heartbroken feet.” They want us
to take, eat, to smell the wood,
run our tired fingers over the rim of
every glass, give our eyes the chance
to see the way the metal bends and
curves its way into the black oval
of the chair. They want us to feel
the holiness of scratching where it
itches, rubbing where it hurts. They
want us to take long, steamy showers
and a nap. They know how easily
we follow directions: hook the red wire
to the front of the furnace, fill in only
the top half of the life insurance form.
They have no manuals for joy.
They can’t fix anything we break.
They wonder why we never laugh
enough, why we don’t know God
is crazy for deep massage, and loves
to wail on an alto sax whenever they dance.

–Jack Ridl

from Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

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32 thoughts on “The Materialism of Angels

  1. love it. I’ve always sought to know this dance of angels, hence my dance with gravity. MERDE about the nomination!!! how cool is that!!! good luck!!! and as ever- thankyou- hugs- L

    • Linda, they came up with a Chair Study but it was lousy, kept floating.
      Any angel can do that. Only you/angel can do the magic.

  2. Dearest Jack – This poem touched my heart so profoundly. You probably heard that my brother just died. Your poem described him to a T. May I have permission to read it at his funeral (if I can summon up enough courage)?

    • Oh Sue. Sigh. I never know what to say. But this I know: your brother had a most loving, gentle, devoted, soulful sister.
      What more could a brother carry than that love and care.
      And–choke–yes, it would be a sorrow-filled honor for the poem and for me to have you read it. I’ll stand beside you.
      As will those angels.

    • It makes the angels and me so glad to hear this, Lorna. Oh, and by
      the way, the angels said that they would be happy to do the
      shopping for ya!

    • Oh does that ever make those angels happy, dancing happy!
      And me too, even though I could never keep up with them~~!!
      Thank you sooooo much!

  3. Just in time to save my day! I’ve been waiting all week for Jack’s good words. Thank you😊 Congrats on the award nomination. I’m not surprised😊❤️

  4. Jack – Your poem touched me deeply. May I have your permission to read it at my brother’s funeral service tomorrow? Love to you and Julie. -Sue

    Sent from Sue’s iPhone


  5. Hi Jack, probably when the angels are not doing divinely appointed if not godly, errands, they sit around and read your poems…blessings, bill h

  6. Jack, What a pleasure it is to read your poems. Your images are so clear and your words flow like warm honey. Thanks for going on-line to share your words with your friends. Thanks.

    • And you now need to bring yourself and your Angel Elaine, an imp of an angel, up
      here over the holidays for honey in the good stuff to sip. I mean it, man!

  7. Dear Jack,

    You should see me smiling from ear to ear while reading “The Materializm of Angels”!

    I plan to snuggle with those angels throughout the winter following their footprints along highland trails chasing us through tall bunch grass, now turned from green to straw.

    Thanks so much for you!



    • Those smiles of yours, Robin, are angels. They are.
      “Snuggle” has always been among the most important
      words in our family!
      Thank ye

  8. Oh my friend, here’s to the angels we know and the shy angels awaiting us. Here’s to the luck that comes of the poet whose heart is open and who deserves every prize that says yes to that open and generous heart.

    xo Dale M. Kushner

    author of The Conditions of Love now available

    Please visit me on my website and Facebook and my Psychology Today blog


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