Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning

Speaking of treason… (And 45 has been tossing that extraordinary word around like it’s nothing more than a Wiffle Ball. ) …around here it’s called “insubordination.”

What can we do when there’s nothing we can do?

Many of us were brought up with good and evil being a good versus evil. If we didn’t fight evil, we were complicit in it. We were told making art, being cheerful, working in the garden, playing games at a time like this is morally repugnant.

Yes, let’s work to prevent further damage. But what do we do when we can’t stop the abuser of power or when what’s been done is done, leaving lives forever harmed, never to be healed?

Being cynical about the value of joy and the arts is easy. Why? Because these things CAN put good into the world.

Every second we are creating the world that others live in. We can continue to perform random acts of kindness, paint paintings, comfort one another, take care of a garden, stay by our families and friends, say hi to anyone we pass on the street, find a wandering way with one another’s differences, write down our days for our grandchildren, sing in the shower, and, and, and.

And get a dog.

The other day one of the beloved couples at the local college who were victims of hate and lost their livelihood in music got a puppy, a golden retriever. That pup will redeem their days. He will make them laugh, bring life to life, drive them mad, bring out their deep care, and join them in joy.

We are so glad for them, and for their dog.

Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning

I love our pup, she whose DNA chooses to chew
the coffee table’s legs, any book, shoe or the pair
of reading glasses I left where anyone my age

would set them in case of fire, storm, the need
to finally pay a bill, an inappropriate drop-in
by that person you would never add to

your daughter’s wedding invitation list. However
it’s 7am and I must feed her. There’s a schedule,
a set of behaviors prescribed in validated tomes

by those who decided never to major in philosophy,
dance history, or literature. They opened their minds
to trial and error, determining a schedule that for sure

is the only way to raise a confident and willing companion
who will on some unfathomable day give up dragging
anything dangling — bed spread, sweater, scarf, shower curtain—

who will come when called, sit, lie down, heel, fetch,
love me even when there is no treat. But it’s 7am and
I staggered to bed after meeting a 3am deadline.

However the schedule proclaims “Feed the pup at the same time
each and every day.” Oh come on! If she sleeps just one measly
hour longer, do I risk her turning into the neighborhood’s teeth-baring

dingo who digs up Mrs. Phelps’s petunias, snarls
at the priest on his daily walk, steals the dump truck
from the sandbox down the street, snaps at the kid

selling magazines for a trip to Haiti? Will I be
the one whose best friend must be muzzled
because she slept just one more hour of just

another day? What do I know? What will I ever know?

–Jack Ridl

From Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Daughter Meridith is featured in an interview along with her artwork in the latest Holland Weekly. Check it out at hollandweekly.com

Katie Kalisz will be reading from her new collection, Quiet Woman, at Grand Rapids Community College on February 21 and at Kentwood KDL on March 27.

I’ll be leading a workshop about approaches to writing personal history on March 23 at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan, 10am-1:30pm. Contact the church for details, registration, etc.

Poetry Trauma: The Way to Recovery workshop is filled. But there is a wait list. Sign up here to put yourself on it.

We are throwing a book Reception for Saint Peter and the Goldfinch. RSVP here to help us make plans. We’re so excited to welcome the Persisterhood Choir, who will open for us and the John Shea Trio, who will take the stage with Jack and create a conversation between jazz and poems.

Kristin Brace’s new chapbookEach Darkness Inside, can be ordered through April 12 from Finishing Line Press. It will be shipped in June.

Mark Hiskes’ new book is on the way! Watch Dos Madres Press for news!

Saugatuck’s D.R. James has a new chapbook coming out! Click here for a pre-order discount!

8 thoughts on “Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning

  1. I do many things, not always daily, to combat the evil (I haven o other word for it, and yet have too many words) so pervasive in the political arena. I knit for charity (mittens for local kids, hats for orphans in the Ukraine, other things for fundraisers for literacy organizations, etc.), I bake for charity (a cake walk for my local charter school later today), I post books on a book-swap site and use credits earned to purchase books for that same charter school. I try very hard to ask civilized questions on FB when people aren’t even remotely polite about the politics they consider “Other” and therefore wrong. There are days when any and all of this is difficult; the bastids do wear me down. And still, I persist. One person can make a difference. I, for all my bizarre upbringing and past, continue to believe that. Thank you, Jack, for reminding me that it’s sometimes the littlest of actions that can tip a tide.

    • P.J.
      I spend half or more of my time trying to decide to be civil while all the time I feel
      overwhelmed and dappled with rage at having to live in this particular world.
      And all the time I know that the good I do actually does no good. Except as you
      so wonderfully do: help those who also have to live within it all. What you
      are doing is a great comfort.
      XX

      • I’m glad it’s a comfort to someone. Perhaps that is/was one of the few tenets I took away with me from Hope: Matthew 25:40. And I also try to remember the obverse of “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It may be MORE blessed to give, and yet to give the gift of receiving joyfully is often harder to pull off, and can be truly a blessing for the person giving. I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn that one at Hope. .

  2. oh yes yes yes – our vicious critters would lick us to death [“get up! get up! get up! there are balls to be thrown, squirrels to be chased, so much to do! get up!] should we be late with the morning meal. Love ’em.

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