In My Little Hometown

Today in the states we celebrate Thanksgiving. And yes, within it all, there is still much to be thankful for.

Making the rounds is the following: Thanksgiving: The celebration in remembrance of the time that Native Americans sat down to dinner with the illegal immigrants.

After the midterm elections you may have heard “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” Yes, all of us hope there is. Meanwhile, let’s do our best to each be a light within the tunnel.

In My Little Hometown

In my little hometown, there’s a grocery store,
Gilliland’s Market. If you are a few dollars
short, “You can bring the rest in next time.”

Billy Small, that’s his real name, has coffee
at the one restaurant every morning. He’s 62,
has lived here all his life. Mostly alone.
They often ask him to sweep the sidewalks.
He goes all over town, sweeps and smiles.

Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep do not live in
my little town. But everyone knows them.
They try to do some good. This morning
A Supreme Court Judge rebuked the President.
The President tweeted a caustic response.
The counting from the Camp Fire continued.

In my little town, there are five churches.
There is a park with a playground and
a swimming pool. Kids ride their bikes
and leave them leaning against a tree.

In my little town, there’s a garden club.
They meet, talk mostly about perennials.
They keep the town square in bloom
and trim the grass around the memorial
to those from town who died in any war.

My little town’s not perfect. There was
a murder/suicide in 1957. There’s no
movie theater. But Mr. Hover will
sharpen your mower, knives, and saws
for free. And the butcher at Gilliland’s knows
what you want for Thanksgiving dinner.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Toad the Journal

Hey, a couple of weeks ago, mentioned the new weekly online publication created by Reka Jellema and Kathleen Schenk: The editors welcome all sorts of writing about Holland and the area. Many of you are those writers! Take a look and consider contributing!


On April 1 (perfect!)  my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!

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Visit Reader’s World in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

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.

22 thoughts on “In My Little Hometown

  1. Thank you Jack. It was poignant and sentimental. It gave a much needed perspective on everyday life, and what is truly meaningful.

    45 makes his presence known everyday, and emphasizes only the worst in our culture! We need to be reminded, again, of all that is already great in America!

    We have much to be thank for in Our Little Towns, as well, and our county too.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Julie and your family!


    • Oh does that bring a shiver of joy, your saying it was a centering poem.
      You know how much that means, fellow traveler is this world called art!

  2. Thank you for this, precious Jack. Indeed we are thankful for our little town and I’ve always been grateful for you and your dear family.

    Billy Small is still going, not sweeping much, quite a big slower, but his “tall tales” aren’t suffering. He told me once that he saw Helen Bair naked in her bathtub.

    Love to you and Julie and Merry Thanksgiving, Beth

    • This now takes its place among the legendary responses! Oh my, am I
      ever glad you saw that poem and wrote this to me. What a gift!
      What a wondrous, truly, gift!
      Love ya so

  3. One of the best poems I’ve ever gotten to experience…and feel it I did. Well done Buddyroe. And Happy Thanksgiving to your little tribe. The world is better because your feet wiggle in its sand. XO


    • How do you do this, write a comment that turns into a lyrical poem!!!
      I am soooooo glad you loved that poem, so so so glad. And you told
      me. How would I ever know a poem touched someone unless told.
      Your feet dance in the sand!

    • Whoa.I’m shivering. I am. And blinking away whatever that stuff is
      that waters one’s eyes.
      And in our little town there is an artistic elf who dwells in an old
      one room school house and turns nothing into the real.
      Love and clothespins!

  4. Thanks, Jack, for another wonderful poem! I’m thinking of reading it at my family’s dinner today.

    BTW, you should know that Reka, when I spoke to her about Holland Weekly, said she contributed a couple of stories but otherwise has no involvement with the publication. (I’m actually working on a piece for Kathleen about notes and letters left in secret drawers over the years at the Curragh.)

    Happy thanksgiving, amigo and sensei, to you and Julie and your family!


    Sent from my iPhone


    • Firsts, thanks for telling me about Reka. There was a misread on my part there.
      And I’m so touched, moved that this poem touched you in a way that would lead
      you to perhaps read it at your dinner. And you told me, which is a great good
      gift. How can one ever know unless told.
      I’m ever thankful for you!

    • And I’m forever thankful that you are in our days and especially
      grateful for your abiding strength and friendship to and for Betsy
      Hugs !!

  5. I can picture that small town and Billy Small and the blade sharpener, those diligent gardeners and you offering a memoir poetry class in the community room at the Methodist Church. It smells like Elmer’s glue, coffee and oatmeal raisin cookies. You are hugging each of us as we leave into leafsmokey night, clutching a story about our own small towns. Ox

    • Oh my. This shivered me, Marsha. Whatever there is, it’s in the
      details, and no one knows that more than thee. Thank you so much
      for this poem from you. We’re both there with Billy Small and
      his tales of hyperbole!

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