There Are No Hidden Meanings

Tuesday evening I was invited to read at The Red Dock Cafe and Bar, one of the great venues for the arts in my town. A touch of old Key West in the Midwest, it sits out in the Harbor here where we get to live in Douglas/Saugatuck, Michigan. Tony Amato and his warm-hearted staff make everyone feel at home. If you can’t lay back at The Red Dock, you wouldn’t be able to lay back in a hot tub along the beaches of the Bahamas.

Joining me was the luminous poet Laura Donnelly, the sparkle of poet/translator Rebecca Kosick, and the ever-surprising Randy Smit. The place was tidal-wave full and with us. It was what a poetry reading is supposed to be–a gift to the soulful. And the soulful were there. At least I didn’t sniff an evaluator within a mile of the place.

All four of us, along with Tony and the Red Dock staff, were there to overcome, for a couple of hours, 45 and his gang, those who daily pollute our consciousness, distracting us from what we care about, from those we love.

So thank you, soulful souls. Thank you so very much.

There Are No Hidden Meanings
for Julie

This poem you’ll have to find.
Some hints: It’s nowhere in the house,
but can be gotten to by moving under the rugs.
It might be wise to follow where the dog has sniffed.
And watch the gulls: they have a knack for knowing.
Rain is often a talisman, and clouds can lure you.
Listen to the moon crawling across the sky,
but beware of evenings and bread dough.
Whenever a child stops suddenly, look there for a sign.
Mark any spot where you fall asleep.
If, while listening to birds, you notice
a hole in their song, walk into it.
Never underestimate the possibilities in a flea market.
And don’t overlook anything hanging from a nail.
Old ball gloves, wooden toys, weed beds, pocket watches,
cowbells, moths, musty clothes, and vinegar,
they can be signals that you’re close.
Follow any arrow on any pole.
Don’t ignore a detour sign.
Pause where there is mold.
And look especially close
at whatever it is you see every day.
You’ll find it when I won’t have to say,
“Cold, colder, warmer, warmer, hot.”

–Jack Ridl

Published in The Same Ghost (Dawn Valley Press, 1984)

Kristin Brace’s collection Fence, Patio, Blessed Virgin has been released from Finishing Line Press

Laura Donnelly’s award winning Watershed is published by Cider House Press.

As always, let me know of recent publications among your folks. I sure don’t wanna overlook anyone.


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20 thoughts on “There Are No Hidden Meanings

    • Oh am I ever so glad to hear this, Sue. Thank you for telling me. There’s
      no way to know if a poem means anything to anyone unless told. It means a
      lot, a whole lot!

    • And beware of bedpans and stethoscopes!

      Our love and care are with you both.

      Thanks for sending this to me, and under all
      this tension. Your kindness spans the stars.

  1. You have put into words where my paintings are found. When a person comes into my studio looking for “hidden meanings” they are gravely disappointed! The hole in the bird’s song, where the child stops, what hangs on the rusty nail. Oh my gosh! Thank you! You are so loved and appreciated.

    • I shivered reading this, Dawn. I did. Oh my yes yes yes, those are your
      paintings. How can one not see the being in the bicycle, the clothespin,
      the iris. Such lost souls who don’t even know it.

      And what a joy to have you three with me at The Red Dock. Please know
      how much that meant/means to me, what a joy it brings.


    • Of course you do: it’s strawberries and Eleanor and water and and and all of your magically real vision.
      Love and gratitude for Tuesday, for your work, for you always

  2. Thanks Jack, and to everyone who was responsible for the wonderful evening, on the Red Dock. Dawn, Lillian, and I were accompanied by two dear friends of ours, Trish, and Steve. We all agreed, in the afterglow, it was a perfect event, in every way, and even the whether was all in! What more could we have asked for?

  3. I am so incredibly happy I’ve met you and Julie since moving to West MI. You both are so incredibly wonderful… helping the rest of the tribe to make me feel “ I belong here.” ❤️

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Debra, you most assuredly belong in the world Julie and I live in. And
      we are deeply grateful for your presence in our hearts.

  4. Dear Mr Ridl,
    I have received your poems for some months now. They are like messages from an undercurrent, a mode of being that is always there but not always felt or visible. They have become little stimuli to slow down for a moment, give in to the current and be taken away. Not too far away, but far enough to reconsider. Thank you for that.
    Best wishes
    Reinhard Paczesny, from Aschaffenburg / Germany

    • Reinhard,
      Please know that your understanding of the vision of my poems is
      what I hope and hope happens. My thanks are an abundance. And it
      will be a gentle joy knowing that you are one I am writing for.
      May your days bring you many kind moments.

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