The Same Ghost

A child said to his parents, “If we visit America, will I be put in a cage?”

It’s too late. But not too late to create a place where such a question never enters the mind of anyone. The children in cages will carry trauma for the rest of their lives unless health care for all becomes no longer an issue, but an act of compassion.

This week I had a conversation with a 15-year-old Hispanic boy. I asked if he knew any families whose children were separated from their parents. He said no. Paused. Then said, “My parents do.”

Our daughter has a French god-daughter, Mathilde, whose whole family has become part of ours. Mathilde sent a message this morning wishing us a Happy 4th. This sent from the nation that gave us Lady Liberty.

Our son-in-law restored an amphibious vehicle, one that landed on Normandy Beach. When the French family visited and saw it, for several minutes the mother and father stood beside it in silence.

We have made online fast friends with the Kraas family in Tübingen, Germany. Norbert writes weekly and alerted Christian Zaschke who wrote the piece about this blog  project in SZ. Christian has become a member of our hearts’ world. Many German citizens respond to this little blog. They often write disappointments and warnings.

And so today I write on Independence Day. Independence. Not individualism. Not Freedom. Not the pursuit of happiness, often a pursuit in vain. I wish Jefferson had written about the Pursuit of Joy, or In Dependence. We depend on one another. We create the worlds others live in.

And so on this In Dependence Day, may we metaphorically and in spirit, parade with one another everywhere. Sure it’s a dream. Not terribly different from the so-called Founding Fathers who wrote “WE the people,” not “I the person.”

And so, to the Famille Saunier, the Kraas family, my new German friends, Christian, and all of you, I send hope for the restoration of “We” and the implementation of care for all who care.

No, child, you won’t be put in a cage. Not so far.

The Same Ghost

It’s the Spring in my
back pocket; it’s the old coat; it’s
the way you put your fingers on your buttons,
give the wind a nod, give me
one small lesson. I’ll not take anything
away; we can start again: we can live
in water; we can fly. Let me
pile some stones in a corner
and we’ll stand in our own
pain until feathers grow on the wall.
We are not alone. Listen!
It’s the same ghost
bringing us prayers and touching
the evening with its tongue.
And the clouds are moving over another field.
–Jack Ridl

from The Same Ghost (Dawn Valley Press)


Meridith and Jack Workshop at Oxbow
There’s still time to sign up for the fun class that daughter Meridith and I

are leading at Ox-Bow next week. You’ll get to write what you want to
write and then do a visual piece in response to what your wrote. A kind of reverse ekphrastic! Just go to the Ox-Bow website or call Dulcee to register at 269-857-5811

Fifth Annual Red Dock Reading, Douglas, MI

And again, mark those calendars for the Fifth Annual “Reading at The Red Dock” with the delight-filled Laura Donnelly. On Tuesday, August 14, 6:30pm. Come early.Last year the place was jammed. If you come later, bring a chair!

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Visit Roan & Black and Cabbages & Kings and Reader’s World to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

And, of course, click here to visit, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!

14 thoughts on “The Same Ghost

    • You know, don’t you, how much this means to me. You who do the great work responds
      to the scribbler who does this little post and hopes it matters a bit.
      Thanks, David, so much.

  1. Thanks Jack for your thoughts to 4th of July.
    What comes into my mind as an European (I choose this word on purpose) is the question, how will you reach the 49% percent of your fellow Americans which stand still strong behind 45 (no matter was he does daily to alienate the whole world)? From the distance it seems to me that the gap between your side and those human beings gets wider and wider every day. Not an easy question to answer, I suppose.
    All the best

    • Thanks, Joerg, for this caring response. This is what frightens my wife and me the very most. It has
      been a shock to learn that so many live here. We hold hope that there are varying percentages, several
      of which are much lower. We work daily to get candidates elected who can change this terrible and
      terrifying situation. We hold no hope for changing any who are 45s. Our hope lies in those who now
      know what their apathy hath wrought. I hope that the 49% figure is skewed.

  2. Ah Jack–I rant and rage. You create images for us to ponder. I beg and plead. You invite and patiently wait with the door open. Thank you for the cairn.

    • And I wonder daily if my way of responding is even close to being okay.
      Rant and rage seems to me to be the better stance.

    • When you get back, will you promise to get in touch so that we
      can sit on the porch here with one another?
      We love you two

  3. Last night I left work and walked around the corner to watch fireworks over the Grand Traverse Bay. I found myself in a corner of the park surrounded by families who spoke languages other than English. This is unusual in overwhelmingly monolingual Traverse City. Perhaps they were visitors to the National Cherry Festival, perhaps they live here. It was a splendid display! There were repeated exclamations of joy and awe in these other tongues, especially from the children. For a few minutes we celebrated in unity. May it be that way for all.

    • My cherished Betsy. This is so gently, lovingly you. What a happy moment, a gift
      to you who deserves such a gift. How beautifully soulful. It was a symphony of
      sound, those languages mixing.
      Thank you for sending this joy.

  4. Hi Jack, great poetry although I didn’t quite understand all of it…Emotionally, somehow I was struck with the thought that it would go well with the old Kansas song, “Dust in the Wind”…As far as the ghost in the works, I will be with you in spirit at the dock…One note on 45…The United States didn’t gain its independence by defeating King George through the electoral college…Blessings, bill h

    • Loved that observation about the electoral college and King George!
      As far as the poem, I also don’t understand it on one level, but on
      another, the Dust in the Wind connection, I do. That’s a wonderfully
      insight that leads to knowing without certain levels of understanding
      being needed.
      Thanks, Bill

  5. Wow, I hadn’t read this poem before. I love it. The play in it, the communion.

    Love love love


    Watch my TEDx talk The Art of Changing Metaphors: TEDX Rosemerry Trommer

    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer


    From: “” Reply-To: “RIDL.COM” Date: Thursday, July 5, 2018 at 4:32 AM To: Rosemerry Trommer Subject: [New post] The Same Ghost

    Jack posted: “A child said to his parents, “If we visit America, will I be put in a cage?” It’s too late. But not too late to create a place where such a question never enters the mind of anyone. The children in cages will carry trauma for the rest of their lives unle”

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