He Brings Home Everything

A faculty member at the college where I loved to be with students once emailed me the following: “You use too many exclamation points.”

What’s the deal with the fear of enthusiasm? Seems to me it’s more essential than ever what with the damper dropped over the world by 45. So many parts of our lives deserve and need our enthusiasm. Our dogs let us know that all day: when we respond to them without delight, warmth, affection their ears droop. Cosmic signal, I’d say.

I emailed this snotty response: “You use too many periods.”

I have read editorialized essays where the complaint is Americans use the word “love” so much that it becomes meaningless, that it should be reserved only for those few people one truly loves. I say we can never use it enough. Many a tradition all but demands that we love and love and love, be it ice cream, an enemy, ones beloved.

My new year’s resolution? To use way too many exclamation points! I love exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


He Brings Home Everything

Under the house there’s room for a cat.
The porch is piled with clocks, bicycles,
broken windows, toasters, magazines.
The kitchen has minarets and steeples and
towers of old tins, cereal boxes, the top
one always with a face: Hopalong Cassidy,
Willie Mays, Daffy Duck. Every shelf
holds a montage of mugs, match boxes,
old platters, coffee pots, an entanglement
of whisks, forks, ladles, and spoons.

A hornet’s nest dangles from the ceiling fan
hanging next to a mobile of fish bones.
The bathtub overflows with children’s books.
Four years ago, he closed the door on two
full bedrooms. In his own room: puppets,
trains, kites, stuffed and wooden animals,
pop-up books, soldiers, clowns, snow
globes, penny banks, tin cars and trucks.
There is a rowboat covering a leak in the roof.

–Jack Ridl

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

30 thoughts on “He Brings Home Everything

  1. My grandmother hated the tags at the back of shirts. She clipped each on off and left them neatly stacked in a small box for us to discover after she passed away.
    Thank you for the poem, Jack, and the recalled memory.

  2. As a child I lived with grandparents who lived on a farm settled in 1832. Many out-buildings contained storage rooms that remained intact filled with items fascinating to my young inquisitive mind. Growing up in the Western Reserve in Northeast Ohio and it’s memories…….Nice to remember Thanks Jack

    • Thanks for telling me this, Charles. It’s so good to know when a
      poem connects in a meaningful way. Here’s to much goodness for
      you in the new year.

  3. This is truly delightful, Jack! And I feel I am now absolved of my oft-noted habit of using too many exclamation points too! To harness delight is to submerge it and I don’t think that it ever comes back up for air in the same way. It is either gasping and desperate, or is resigned to shallow breathing. Life is too good for that. Exclaim and celebrate, and enjoy!!!

    Happy New Year,

    Love to you both, Beth

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Pingback: Jack Ridl - CavanKerry Press

    • This is such a joy, Jenna. A gift to this heart. Thank you for
      believing this worthy, for your abiding care. It sustains, oh
      my yes, it very much sustains.

  5. I am re-reading some of your emails with poems. I especially love this one because exclamation marks have come to “JOY,” to me! Chris Broersma Caughey P.S. I have been told I use capitalization to often! 😄😝

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