Speaking of Alternative Facts…

 An experiment: after reading today’s poem, try the instruction that follows the citations.


Against Elegies
I’m tired of Death’s allure,
of how the old beggar
makes me think that
rowing across the river is
somehow richer, more serious, than
the center of a pomegranate or my
dog’s way of sleeping on his paws.
I’m tired of ”the beauty of the elegy,”
the tone deaf lyricism of it all. I
want Death to listen for awhile
to Bud Powell or Art Blakey,
to have to stare for seven hours
at Matisse. I want him to do
standup and play the banjo, to
have to tap-dance and juggle, to
play Trivial Pursuit and weed
my garden. I’m tired of how Death
throws his voice, gets us
to judge a begonia, a song
in the shower, a voice, old dog.
I want life’s ragged way
of getting along, the wasted
afternoon and empty morning, the
sloppy kiss. I want to stagger
along between innings. I want
the burnt toast, the forgotten note,
and the lost pillow case, the dime
novel, and the Silly Putty of it all.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Poetry.
Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

 >>EXPERIMENT INSTRUCTION: Read the poem again substituting Trump for Death.<<

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32 thoughts on “Speaking of Alternative Facts…

  1. Thank you, Jack! You’re giving me a reason to look forward to Thursday. I think of you and Julie so often. With love, Katie (Miller) Enders

    • KATIE!!!! You should see my smile. Oh so good to have you visit.
      You have never left this heart. In fact, Julie and I were going
      through Christmas cards from the past and sighed when we came
      across the one from cherished you.
      What we would give to have you all knocking on our new door
      fiddle in hand!
      Love always,
      Jack and for Julie

  2. If only Trump weren’t a narcissistic sociopath, who by definition lacks all empathy. I have always loved this poem and regrettably feel more confident that it could move Death before it ever could Trump. drj

    • Hi Linda,
      It really hit me when I happened to insert the T-word into that poem, how
      it truly did reveal him as a carrier of death.
      Thanks for letting me know your response. I love the reference to
      the suit of clothes. Black is the new black.

  3. What a wonderful birthday gift to have a poem in my in box! I will spend the day thinking of sleeping dogs, pomegranates, and the old friends that this poem and this poet have been to me.


      I am glad I could send you thoughts worth having.
      How I’d love to see you guys. If yer ever this way
      please do come by.

  4. New post on RIDL.COM

    I just finished rereading you poem Against Elegies with your suggestion of inserting the Trump name. I now think I have an ulcer. I am so very sad and I am even in Florida where the sun is shining!
    Thank you! (I think) Peg Sanford

    • Yeah. We join you in being so sad. And soon we’ll be joining you sad in the sun.
      Your “Thank you (I think) says soooo much.
      So Thank YOU, for sure.

  5. Jack,

    I just read this to Nathan and laughed, blurting out: “That’s grace…I mean great!” But it’s both, isn’t it!


    • Oh my gosh, do I ever love your insight that it’s both!!
      And we sure gotta keep laughing anyway!
      I was stunned when I realized that the T-word is, really is death. That’s what he’s bringing, causing.

  6. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Wow! What an instruction! Strong in its original form,but gave me chills with the second reading. I like how your mind works, Jack! Kindest regards,Susan

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    • Stunned when I first did the substitution, realizing that OMG, he really IS death. That’s what
      he’d causing in so many ways.
      I’m glad you like how this ole mind works. Sometimes it’s a difficult one to lug around!

  7. Thank you Jack, for making my week brighter in these dark times. It really helps to get into life and leave the rest behind.

    • Michael, please know how much this means to me, how much it matter, how much it keeps this heart.
      I was stunned when I put his name in the poem, realizing that he really IS death. That IS what he is

  8. (chuckle) I read the poem and read it again, “substituting Trump for Death”. The first gave me joy and the second gave me a sardonic smile. I love the picture of making death dance. Thankfully, Trump is temporary. I love you Jack!

    • Love ya back! I was shaken when I put his name in there, how it made me realize that
      he really IS death. That’s what he’s causing in so many ways.
      Thanks for your message, Dean. So very much.

  9. Inspired substitution.

    There aren’t words to describe this week.

    I’ll focus on things I love ——– like you, Jack.


    • Oh my, thank you, Beth!!! I was stunned, shaken when I first put his name in there, how it
      made me realize that he really IS death. That’s what he is causing in so many ways.
      Love you, dear, all the time.

    • Oh, dear Betsy! What a terrific line, your “Let art prevail against the sludge!” !!!
      I was shaken, stunned when I first put his name in the poem, how it revealed that he
      really IS death. That’s what he’s causing in so many ways.
      I sure hope that the days are being good to you, that they are dappled with moments of joy.

  10. Your challenge moved me to assemble a ‘care package’ for the Tweeter-in-Chief which contains:
    ►a set 48 crayons
    ►a pair of work gloves, the good tight kind for all kinds of work ranging from in the garden to power tools
    ►a beginner’s juggling set
    ►a starter card deck of Magic the Gathering
    ►a $50 ukulele and a diatonic harmonica in the key of G
    ►1 pomegranate
    ►1 pack of baseball cards
    ►1 used paperback edition of Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptomonicon”
    ►1 list of quotes on complementarity from Niels Bohr
    ►1 6-volume set of Richie Rich comic books with an additional notebook for reader annotation
    ►These recordings: Bud Powell: In March With Mingus, John Coltrane: Giant Steps, Keith Jarrett: The Koln Concert, Miles Davis: Kind of Blue, Kraftwerk: Autobahn, Shuggie Otis: Inspiration Information, Wes Montgomery: Down Here on the Ground, Duke Ellington: The Queen’s Suite, Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners, and many more all on a flash drive.
    This is just a first shipment.

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