Again the Squirrels

Well, pardon me!

Nothing like having the president of the United States re-invent both the legal and social meaning of “I beg your pardon.”

45 has now given us the permission to offer a pardon to ourselves without concern of the needs of those offended. We can bump into someone and say, “I pardon me.” In conversation we can declare, “I pardon my interruption.” If we feel the need to insert a bit of humility, we can mutter, “I beg my own pardon.”


Squirrels don’t pardon themselves.

Again the Squirrels

The squirrels are hanging
from the feeder meant
for the morning
arrival of grosbeaks, finches,

chickadees, the assertive
jays. The feeder clangs
and I try to sit
zazen, feel

the startled
of my silly heart
wanting to slam
the door
black tails, gray tails

from their clutch
of the ebony~oiled sunflower seeds.
“Only for the birds,” I chant. “Only
for the birds,” my mantra mocking
myself, my morning, my

monotonous hope
that the day will unfold into
something other
than its inevitable
chatter, its necessary way
of forcing us
to interrupt.

I will waitfor night,
for the moon’s light

draping across our eyes, for

a rainfall that mutes it all.

–Jack Ridl

First published in I-70 Review.

HEY!!! Mark your calendars for the Fifth Annual Red Dock Poetry Reading, where I’ll be joined by the great poet, Laura DonnellyTuesday, August 14, 6:30pm. Come early to enjoy dinner along the water.

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17 thoughts on “Again the Squirrels

  1. Jack… You are the best (and this world dumbfounds me as well!).

    I have to say… May is my favorite month of the year and I’m always a little down when June arrives. I’m particularly sad that I had to flip the page of the Roethke calendar… I so loved reading your poem daily.

    Hope all is well. Hope the writing gods are smiling kindly on you (they always seem to be from this reader’s perspective!).

    Much love to you…


    Christopher Giroux

    Associate Professor, English Department, SE165, 989.964.4914

    Assistant Director, Writing Center, Z250A, 989.964.7228

    Coordinator, Roethke Student Writing Award


    • Chris,
      You sure lifted this ole heart. Thank youuuuuU!!!!

      I’m an October and May guy. Often in Michigan I make June my May!

      May the good gods bring you many a good summertime summer time

      Love back to ya

  2. I’m all in for self pardons! Love it and the potential. Can I pray to me to ask for pardon as well?
    Will escape DC for Holland in a week or so—is that an “escape”.

    • Yes, of course you can pray to you. I might even try praying to you.
      “Dear Joe, forgive my little jokes and silly ways. Ah, Man!”
      Safe and happy travels to you two!!

  3. Sorry Jack. I can see you are upset about the presidential pardon authority, but you are wrong if you think the President has given himself, sua sponte, the power to pardon himself. The Constitution itself grants him the authority. Art. 2 Sec. 2 states: “…he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” He has full plenary power, which means unrestricted power, in matters of reprieves and pardons under Federal law, except in matters of impeachment (he cannot, however, pardon someone convicted under state laws). So, if Congress impeaches a judge, even a Supreme Court Justice, or a cabinet secretary or the President himself, the President cannot grant a pardon or reprieve. Why is that? Because Art. 1 Sec. 2 of the Constitution states that Congress, by the House of Representatives, “shall have the sole power of impeachment.” So, Congress has the sole plenary power of impeachment. If the President were able to pardon in matters of impeachment, then that would violate the principle of separation of powers. Conversely, Congress cannot impinge on the President’s exclusive power to pardon. One co-equal branch of government cannot infringe on the plenary power, granted under the Constitution itself, of another co-equal branch of government. Therefore, if the President’s authority to grant pardons is unrestricted (under Federal law), except in matters of impeachment (which would include the President himself), then he has complete, unfettered discretion to grant pardons for all violations of federal law to all persons, including himself. This is one reason, among others, why the US Dept. of Justice, 40 years ago, made it an explicit policy and regulation of the Dept. of Justice that a sitting President cannot be indicted for any crime. There is a former New Jersey state court judge on Fox News (their “chief legal expert”) who blathers that the President cannot pardon himself because the President cannot act as both judge and jury with respect to himself. Well, the pardon authority is not about acting as either as a judge or a jury; it is a full Constitutional power granted solely to President separate from the process of adjudication (or “acting as both a judge and jury”). With all due respect to Judge Napolitano (whom I do like in many respects), he makes no reference at all to the Constitution for his proposition, indeed his supposed restriction that the President cannot act as judge and jury is not found in Art. 2 or anywhere else in the Constitution; he ignores the plain language of Art. 2 Sec. 2, as well as the plain language of Art. 1 Sec. 2; and he apparently forgot the fundamental principle of separation of powers. Furthermore, in my own experience, having argued in front of many state and federal judges, state court judges tend not to be very well versed in Constitutional matters for the simple reason that they do not usually deal with federal Constitutional matters at the state level.

    • Cedric,
      Your list of soul-less leaders is terrifying. We are all living within this
      frightening threat to all that is good, humane, enriching. I so appreciate
      your “My hope is that the brain of the people will lead them to a better direction.”
      My wife, Julie, is working tirelessly to bring rightful change in the next election.
      We who care for justice, truth, equal rights and more are doing all we can to bring
      about that change, and worried that doing all we can may not be enough.
      Thank you for your affirmation of my project. It helps sustain me as I go on.
      With hope,
      Douglas, Michigan, USA

    • Thanks.
      I must have not applied the proper tone. I was trying to be funny
      about his saying such things, not believing it was possible.
      I’m sorry you took it that I “was wrong.”
      On we go.

      • Perhaps it was the tone of the note. Sorry, I didn’t get the humor, only anger. But then all your comments about the President come across as angry, whether the intention is otherwise I don’t know. Just sayin’. I wasn’t commenting on you anger or your feelings in the matter, only about the implicit presumption regarding the pardon authority.

  4. Dear Jack,

    As to squirrels, I’ve been there. Makes me ache to own a BB gun.

    As to 45, just when I think I’ve heard the most preposterous statement, another follows shortly. I’m not pugilistic, but this person (?) makes my blood pressure rise. I’m in awe of how Americans can stomach him.

    He makes squirrels a minor problem.

    Hugs, Beth

    • My dear dear Friend,
      Yes. Oh my yes. You and I. See what an
      influence for that which is right and
      good you were on me? And still are!
      Love youuuuuu
      Little Jackie

  5. How i love this poem and all the chatter in it, and even the chatter around it, and then yes, the longing for the obliteration of the chatter. come, rain, come.

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