Aubade for this Particular Morning

Appalling “idea” of the week: Rick Sanitarium saying that instead of wasting money on gun legislation, the money should be used to teach students CPR. What the hell does one say in response to that????

We don’t say, we do. On Saturday more than 500 of us marched behind brave and brilliant high school students in our twin towns whose population is just about 2,000 (many of us in warmer places this time of year).

Our posts (I say our posts because they are ours — I sit down each week and feel you one and all out there — I write TO you.) will be a feature story this weekend in Germany’s leading international newspaper, Süeddeutsche Zeitung. A couple of weeks ago, the New York correspondent for the paper, Christian Zaschke, spent four days with Julie and me, and with our friends, in order to write the story of these posts. It was a joy being with him as he experienced for the first time — the Midwest.

Before moving to New York, Christian was centered in Ireland during “The Troubles” and then for six years in London where he covered Brexit and wrote a best-selling book about it all. In addition to other best-selling non-fiction books, he has published collections of his columns and weekly stories. And he would be embarrassed by my saying this: people buy the weekend edition in order to read his articles.

When asked what Germans think of 45, he said, “90% can’t stomach him, and 90% think the U.S. has gone mad.” However, he did discover that while many of us feel we are, in fact, being driven mad, we are ably sustaining ourselves, working tirelessly for what’s right and what needs to be made right, and who should be in office come November. We are, and we are trying to find daily balance while we do.

Let’s do some deep breathing. And feel Spring trying to get here.

Aubade for this Particular Morning

The night was filled with rain,
lightning announcing our luck,
thunder rumbling its afterthought.

The dogs woke and quietly
came to the side of the bed.
The cat curled down between us.

Now in the damp of morning,
the leaves hold the early light
within each drop, the sun

rising into the sky’s still
depth of cloud, across
the gray scrim of the day.

It is quiet, not silent–quiet
as the sparrows, finches,
and warblers singing through

the dripping branches,
their notes a not quite startling
welcome as we open the windows,

brew the coffee, let our breath
return to its steady wander.
My mother began her mornings

saying, “Time for this day.”
Today the lingering
of an old rain. The chill

of 6AM. The musty smell
of books, blankets, and pillows
on the day bed on the porch.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Mid-American Review and subsequently published in Broken Symmetry, Wayne State University Press.

Kristin Brace, an exceptional former student, has her first collection, Fence, Patio, Blessed Virgin coming out from Finishing Line Press. The collection centers around Kristin’s Gramma Rose. I read the work in manuscript. It will nourish your heart and soul. I promise. Finishing Line creates beautiful books. To learn more about Kristin and to order her book, go to kristinbrace.com.

35 thoughts on “Aubade for this Particular Morning

  1. Jack, your Thursday morning blogs have become a favorite moment of the week- best taken pre-dawn with hot coffee and an old border collie at my feet. They are messages of hope and sanity in this troubled time. Thank you.

    • Paul, thank you so much for telling me this. It is sustaining to know that the
      project matters. Ya write these things, send ’em out into the air and unless
      yer told they matter, you can only hope. That border collie is one fortunate
      dog. During these awful, troubling times, I find that pre-dawn is often the best
      part of the day.
      Again, thank you so much.
      XXX
      Jack

    • It really is a sustaining joy to know that when I sit down to write
      each week, that you are one I am writing to, you who sustained so
      so sooooo many of us.
      XXX

  2. Congrats Jack, And thank you for the political commentary. It heartens me to know we are all in this together. Peace, Jane

    Jane Dickie

    >

    • Talk about a joy-filled surprise! Hearing from classmate you!
      I’m sitting here smiling and smiling.
      Thanks sooooo much.
      Here’s to all that can be good coming into your every day, Herk!
      XXX

    • Man, talk about someone–you–whose given his life to bringing out the
      warmest feelings in everyone who hears you play and sing.
      To make dear friend you feel good is a joy to know. Heaven knows
      you deserve it. “John makes us feel so good. Who makes him feel good?”
      XXX

  3. Thank you always and always for your songs and wisdoms. Thank you for your great heart, your far-seeing eyes, your courage and inspiration. You give words to the great collective longings and fears.

    • But I don’t give words to how much what you say here means to me.
      And yet, you do this, give words to our great collective longings and fears.
      And you help me so much by telling me what I’m doing. And I bet you know
      what that’s like, too. I am so grateful that the gift of you came
      my way during that one week at Fetzer. You never left.
      XXX

  4. Aw, Jack. What did the world, so many of us, including myself, do before you came along troubling yourself enough to find a way to reach the unreachable places with words?

    • Shhhhhhh. I can take no credit. But you sustain this scribbler.
      The only thing it takes is a deep breath and willingness not to turn away.
      You do that, too.
      XXX

    • Chris, you are so kind, generous, gracious with you responses. Please
      know how much they/you sustain the project. And I bet that you
      will very much appreciate Kristin’s collection.
      Sending hopes that goodness enters your every day,
      XXX Jack

    • OH Emma, how deeply I share your “gloom of hope.” I really like that, even
      if it’s a typo that meant “gleam.” It IS a gloom of hope. It is! It is
      difficult daily to live with a cruel, narcissistic overlord who chronically
      distracts us from what we deserve to attend to, tears at the fabric of
      common good that millions of us believe in. It’s like living within
      a country of goodness in the midst of a country of inhumanity.

      Thank you for your care. And I love thinking of our similar settings,
      and the gentle, kind, sharing of humane life that can be had there.

      XXX
      Jack

    • You bring joy and hope and your kindness will be sustaining. How I hoped that the blog
      would no longer need to be written by this point. Alas. However, knowing that out there
      you are living in the good that we all long for. I hope that I can write to you each
      week and bring something that enables your good heart to thrive. My thanks are
      abundant and I send them with a happy heart.
      XXX
      Jack

  5. This morning I read the great article in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, page 3. Instantly I had to go to your website and read the newest weekly blog. I was not disapointed when I read the article and the poem. There ist hope that things change in America if so many people do not agree with No. 45 and show it .I will keep on reading the blog!
    Greetings from Germany

    Monika

    • Dear kind Monica,
      My thanks are abundant for your kind and thoughtful message.It will lift this heart
      each week when I sit at the keyboard and know that you are out there and I am having
      the joy of writing to you.

      So many of us are living in our own country, one of kindness and determination within
      the cruel narcissism of this overlord. We are loyal to that which is goodness, to
      kindness, to caring for those so hurt by his soul-less, inhumane, non-person.

      It’s a cold, rain-dappled day here. You have warmed this old scribbler.
      XXX
      Jack

  6. Jack, I am a reader of Süddeutsche Zeitung and just read the piece about you and your friends by Christian Zaschke, headilined The Number of the Beast. Here are some quick thoughts on

    45
    If numbers were innocent
    45 would be a shallow puddle
    however here in Germany
    it is a heavy rock hanging in the air
    45 is a blade that cut through families
    dividing brother and brother
    sister and sister, father and son
    45 is a color in black and white
    common memory of brave US boys
    crossing mountains and fields of Europe
    beating the evil and liberate
    45 is a paint in which war was pictured
    and made good in spite of all
    we saw coming until The End
    45 marks the question of any German born
    thereafter and the words before
    What have you done?

    • I have just finished sighing and clearing my eyes after reading again your astonishingly
      powerful, prescient, personal, and very very very important poem. Thank you. Two little
      single syllable words that can’t convey the depth of feeling behind them. I hope you’ll
      try to feel this from me.

      Might I have your permission to offer your poem to others? I know of many who will not
      only admire it, but who will need it. You can send your reply to jack@ridl.com

      My thanks cross the seas and the sky
      XXX
      Jack

  7. It is a grey rainy morning, the newspaper is spread on the dining table, the cup of tea next to me – I just read the article about your posts and was immediately curious to visit your website – Thanks for the wonderful poem, the morning just felt the same here – Greetings from Munich

    • Valerie, you and your kindness and your cup of tea feel as if they are right here
      beside me at the desk. It’s supposed to be Spring, but it’s cold and the wind is
      strong enough to send the cold into ones bones. And it’s raining. But you have
      warmed this soul and I am ever grateful. I hope to continue writing to you
      through the poems each week. I shall be in Munich as well as here trying to
      love in a loving country in the midst of what the cruel narcissist is
      lording over.

      May gentle goodness enter your every day,
      XXX
      Jack

  8. Hi Jack, the SZ’s (it’s my daily link to home) feat pointed me to your blog.

    As a German (ex-)scientist (stopped publishing, started blogging, e.g. on phylogenetic networks based on U.S. gun laws, being more rewarding) with Swedish citizenship living in France and American (California, not Michigan, though) family ties, it was a nice surprise to read that there are still sane people living out there in the “woods” and see your blog (people and place) advertised in the best of possible words in, indeed, Germany’s largest proper newspaper.

    The SZ article and your (well, ours, as you put it) posts also reminded me of my visit to a bar in West Point, Nebraska, back in 2003 – which my Californian uncle-in-law warned me to go to: “Don’t go to Nebraska, they are not human out there”, is what he said (but we had no choice, a wedding invitation). Back then we (at least, we Germans) thought 43 was the worst and dumbest U.S. president ever and it could not get worse, and we found ourselves in the middle of the Deep Red Lands. Still, the alien visitors, academics from utterly “socialistic Old Europe”, had some nice conversations about a useless war and other things with the blue collar town folk in that very bar (and much more interesting ones than with our pseudo-posh hosts, whose wedding we had to attend), and I remember enjoying (’cause it was good journalism, something rare in the U.S. already back then), reading the articles in the local newspaper about the inhuman working conditions and bad treatment of (the not rarely illegal) Mexicans cleaning the county’s meat factories at night. The first time, I was confronted with the ambiguity of rural America (myself a country-boy, born in a village of 500, never liked big cities), even in a county that voted for 43 with c. 120% of the eligable voters (so it said in another article of that very newspaper).

    So, keep up the resistance out there, and good luck for November (you’ll need it)

    Guido

    • Dear Guido,
      First off, oh my goodness what a story, of your life and its shifts and importance and how it
      connects to your trek to Nebraska. Christian and I talked a bit about how I often think of the U.S.
      as too big. I sometimes get called a “Michigan poet” which is lovely and yet not national. Were we
      many countries here, it would be interesting and something to be delighted by. However, your story
      and mine do point out that there are many “countries” here. The one Julie, our daughter, our dogs,
      cats, and friends live in sprawls across the landscape and attempts to maintain its integrity while
      dwelling within the cruel narcissism imposed by the overlord of the whole.

      It will be sustaining to know that when I sit down each week at the keyboard that I’ll be writing
      to you and sending admiration for your important work and for you.

      Good luck? Yes, indeed we’ll need it.

      My thanks in abundance
      Jack

      • Dear Jack,

        the title “Michigan poet” is well deserved, and is a title with more meaning than “American poet”, and thanks for the poetic answer. I do lack that skill.

        But I do like the notion of a “United Countries”. I have travelled the West few times, and never found “the one America” but the many Americas one has occasionally heard of in songs and books, but also felt the missing opportunity to cross into another country. After all, its a land that welcomed (freely or forcibly) people from many different cultures and backgrounds, a land filled with skyscrapers and wood cabins. How could it be (and become) a monolith? That they are one country and not many, is somewhat unnatural. A forced construct, often with blood and steel, and money later on, and often invoked when the question is to spend more money on steel to spill blood.

        America’s greatest tragedy is that it could probably be much more, if it would not be one (walled) nation with one language. How many new Americans didn’t taught their children their mother tongues, because they were afraid they wouldn’t melt in? (My cousins don’t speak a single German word, my aunt felt alien enough as an ordinary southern German – small in stature, dark-haired, brown-eyed, easily tanned by the first stream of sunlight, broken English – in California of the 60s and 70s.) And how much did America lost because of that? Maybe any Michigan poet could write poems in two or three languages. How enriching would that be? As a tri-and-a-half-lingual, you realise the power of languages, how they divide but also stipulate. This changed in Europe as we grew together in our EU, and it’s a pleasure to know small children speaking French as fluently as German (and mixing it), or being addressed in a mix of Swedish and Styrian. You had this in America in some corners during episodes of your history, but it was never really cherished. Neither were the languages of the First Nations for a long time, languages naming so many places (and not few states) in the U.S.
        Would 45 be the same person, if he had grown up with English, Scots and German?

        And you have another point, pondering wether the United States are too big. Obviously, they have become too big (and diverse) to be ruled by just one man. I had to look into it for my post(s) and in not few aspects (and beyond gun legislation), the “United” States appear much less of a union than the EU. But few seem to realise that (and how important it hence is to attend state elections), and this may be one reason for the increasing alienation dividing the U.S. But accepting this may be the needed cure. Much as a EU of regions rather than nations (Germany, France, Italy and Spain are also too big for the EU, we know that, but can’t change it), it is of course an utopian idea, but why not dream about an “American Union” of many countries, all with their particularities (maybe the one or other bilingual)? When the EU has taught us something, it’s that there lies a beauty in being a part of something greater while being able to be yourself (though many Europeans don’t realise this). Even when you make stupid decisions. And that small countries often work better than big ones. Simply because everyone is closer to things that matter in our everyday lives, our homes. Also, the smaller you are, the more you need friends (and friendly neighbours). And democracy becomes inevitable: the more diversity there is in a union of countries, the less chance you have that all are of the same opinion. But, unfortunately, nations don’t go away once they are imposed on us (also in Germany with brute force, leading not only to one, but two European disasters).

        In a way – and as odd as it seems – regionalism could be the greatest enemy of the thriving-again and dividing nationalism, because you care about the well-being of people and things around you, your home (in the best of senses, and, yes, one can have many homes) and not the strength or might of “your great nation”. It is so much easier to feel connected with something that is small and concrete than large and abstract. And the smaller your home country is, the higher the risk to find yourself in another country, which usually is a good thing.

        I’d be proud to be called the “Michigan poet”. Knowing that Michigan is a real place, not a nation.

        A good Easter to us,
        Guido

  9. Having read “The Number of the Beast” in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung this Easter Sunday afternoon I feel:
    Ashamed of daring to judge the people of the U.S.A. for being capable of electing “45” as President;
    Troubled by the fact that in last year’s elections for the German Bundestag (Parliament), up to 25 % of votes on a state basis went to the nationalist party that calls itself “Alternative for Germany”;
    Consoled by now knowing about that lovable community meeting in the town of Saugatuck on the east shore of Lake Michigan “working tirelessly for what’s right and what needs to be made right”;
    Confident that there are many, many more Americans who are very worried by the situation and will make it right at the right time.
    With kind regards from Munich county,
    Mathias

    • Dear Mathias,
      I deeply understand. We, too, are overwhelmingly troubled by those who caused this to happen.
      And perhaps that includes those of us who refused to believe that it could happen. Please know
      that there are millions of us who are living in a country within the country that the cruel,
      narcissistic overlord 45 is imposing. We are here and knowing you are part of our anguish
      consoles and affirms and gives this little community and the larger community that the blog
      has brought together strength.
      I am so grateful that you wrote this message. I write and send the work out into the air and
      all I can do is hope it is of value. Unless I am told by kind hearts such as yours, I cannot
      know if I am of any help at all. Thank you so very very much for telling me. And I wish you
      kindness and goodness within your every day.
      XXX

  10. Hi Jack, I belong to the New German Followers (NGF) and am glad that there still are other voices and tones than that of “45” in the US and in Michigan! And I like your poems though a former teacher managed to make me dislike them…
    But I’ve a question: what is CPR?
    And there shall be Spring not only in your region but here, too!
    Renate

    • So good to hear this about other tones and voice, Renate. Thanks for telling me.
      And also it makes me happy to that that you like the poems. Alas, I’m sorry that
      your teacher doesn’t think they are worthwhile. Odd, because here in the States
      they have gathered in many major awards bestowed by those whose vies are well-
      informed and worth trusting. I don’t know that one in power should try to
      take away what honorably sustains another. But it happens in school, often. Sigh.
      There is snow here today. SNOW!!!! Spring in Michigan arrives sometime, for a couple
      days!!!
      Peace and gratitude in abundance,
      Jack

      • Hi Jack, this lady (nearly 60 years ago) was very arrogant to a lower-class refugee (from East Germany at that times) child; she didn’t accept my – a bit puristic – interpretations and rewarded me with a bad grade! Well, long gone and you belong to the poets who give me poems back (there are some German poets, too!).
        Once more, please: What did Rick Sanitarium (really funny!) mean by CPR?
        A bit of consolation: Here in Cologne we will get nice weather from tomorrow on but in a hilly region nearby they have snow, too – does this help?
        -r-

      • Ah Renate, yes this helps and so do you! My thanks, my deep thanks.

        No one has the right to take from another that which sustains. Alas, much
        non-physical violence occurs in certain quarters of the teaching world.

        I am moved by knowing only that you are/were a refugee from East Germany.
        I will carry that with me.

        And now on to what CPR is. It means cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Can you imagine????
        That guy thinks that bending over a student shot nine times and giving CPR is going to help!!!!
        And implied in his inane statement is that we don’t want to bother working to prevent violence; we’ll
        just let it happen and then apply CPR. I’m once again shaking my head as I type this.

        Here today it———SNOWED~~~!!!

        XXX
        Jack

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