St. Francis in Disney World

I am ever grateful for our dogs, how they bring out the best in me, contradicting that heinously imposed notion that we have no good within us. And I am ever grateful to so many who do the same. And though I am not grateful one twitch for 45, I am, like so many, deeply moved by all the good emerging because of his cruelty. A high school student here in this village is making sure her fellow students are registered to vote, aligning them with the thoughtful courage of the students from Parkland and other schools, who are demanding change. We who hope for kindness in our politics and the world often feel so out of place, when maybe, just maybe, we are not the ones out of place after all.

St. Francis in Disney World

The children come up to him, touch
his robe and giggle. He blesses them. They
run and ask their parents to take their photo
peeking out from behind his filthy holiness.
Mickey quietly comes up beside him, his
huge fingers dangling like loaves of Wonder
Bread, tilts his head as if to say you better
leave or take a bath and put on clean jeans.
St. Francis whispers, asking for the birds.
Mickey shakes his head. St. Francis holds
his place in line while each ride spins its
squealing riders round or up or down: a
chug, a plunge, a long and hopeless cast
of thousands, tons of hot dogs, fries, and
pizza, sushi, Coke and Pepsi, pie and
ice cream, chocolate. There are bees.
He has no ticket. He’s told to step aside. He
looks up where the sky should be. He
watches a cat slide under the plastic
elephant. He looks back up. The sky
has gone. The earth has gone. His feet
are sore. His hands are turning into
birds. His hood is filling up with coins.
His beard is filled with bells.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Dogwood

Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)


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14 thoughts on “St. Francis in Disney World

    • Oh how we need birds and bells!
      Can’t wait to be with you and Gary again this year!!
      All good things to you two dear ones

  1. Thank you so much for keeping up posting these poems. I thought for sure you would stop after a year of 45. I especially enjoy when you write about dogs as we lost ours recently. I look forward to Thursday mornings!

    • I’m sorry. We have lost three and they are still here in us.
      Thank you for letting me know that you appreciate what I’m
      trying to do and give. I was hoping 45 would give up after a year.
      With care

    • Oh my! To hear from dear you! We miss our Liz.
      We wait for her to be at the front door.
      We are ever grateful for the gift to us of you.

  2. I look forward to receiving your poems. Each one is new to me and each creates a unique image or feeling. Can’t read or think too much about dogs.

    • T, you gotta know what this means to me. Each one is new to me, too. Really.
      Dogs are helping now more than ever.
      As are friends such as T and E

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