After Filling Out the Brackets

This isn’t subtle: Do you say you work, “To make a living,” or “To make money”?

My memory may be errant here, but I can’t remember a single time while growing up in a small town that I heard anyone say they worked, “To make money.”

Way back then, the most common responses to “Why do you do what you do?” were “To make ends meet,” or “It pays the bills,” or “This is what I always wanted to be.”

And we supported our locals. We’d never head to a chain store to buy groceries. Cereal and milk cost a bit more at Gilliland’s Market, but that’s where we bought it. If you couldn’t find what you needed at Jim Miller’s, you didn’t really need it.

Jim would say, “I make enough for us to take a couple weeks off and go some place we’ve never been.”

The other day, I got a call from a woman representing Blue Cross/Blue Shield telling me that I could get my prescriptions cheaper by driving nine miles to a chain pharmacy. I said, “Nope.” She asked, “But why?” “Because at Saugatuck Drug Store, Sarah, Mark, Kelly and their staff are our friends.”

No one at some chain is going to carry on a conversation with me about the upcoming NCAA Tournament and how my brackets are doing, or about how our dog is getting along without his pal who used to play with her, or how our daughter’s teaching’s going, or how great Julie looks after her illness, or, or, or.

When I leave, they don’t say, “Have a nice day.” They say, “Say hi to Julie!”

When I was a kid, my mother used to laugh and tell people, “Jackie hates money.” That little kid knew why.

What’s 45 got to do with all this? Only a culture that reveres money above community, profit above people, could choose him to lead.

Enough. Let’s get to some fun, and fill out our brackets. Then watch them implode in the first round.

After Filling Out the Brackets

Each round sends teams home
to “I thought you might win
that one.” The winners head

back to practice and a hotel.
What could be more American?
There is no Good Samaritan

to pull the losers up from
their ditch. And tomorrow
the sun will rise and the moon

will rise and my grandfather
would be standing along
the assembly line tightening

three bolts every five seconds.
My wife and I have made a
terrarium and are pretty sure

we’ll make more. Now there are
sixteen teams left. Three I picked
are still hanging to the thread

of their seeding and we need
to do a better job of insulating
around the back door. And

the basement is cold. We love
working in the basement, all
that ground around us. You

can often be who you are
in a basement. It’s snowing.
It’s snowing and I’m putting

neatsfoot oil on the ball glove
I oiled each Spring when I
played shortstop more than

60 years ago. “Keep the ball
in front of you,” my father taught.
“On a lousy hop, let it hit you

in the chest. Always, always keep it in play.”

–Jack Ridl

Published in Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature

Workshop on March 23 at Grace Episcopal Church, Holland, MI
Jack will lead this workshop, sharing approaches to Writing Personal History at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan. Time 10-1:30. Contact the church to sign up.

D. R. James’s collection Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box)is dedicated “To all the victims of gun and military violence throughout the world, especially the far too many young people murdered, maimed, and traumatized in, of all places, their schools.”  David has sent the book to be part of an installation sculpture at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Kelly Fordon’s new collectionGoodbye Toothless House (Kattywompus Press) is, to paraphrase Gloria Whelan, relentless and unsparing in giving voice to all trapped behind an idyllic facade.

In April, Salmon Poetry in Ireland will publish Robert Fanning’s new book Severance, a linked collection of poems that follows two escaped marionettes! In the words of Peter Markus, “Prepare to be undone, unhinged, unstrung by the strange song that is this book.”

Shea Tuttle is one of the three editors of Can I Get A Witness?: Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders, and Agitators for Faith and Justice. (Eerdmans) Among the 13 are Mahalia Jackson, Cesar Chavez, Daniel Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Yuri Kochiyama, and William Stringfellow.

Thanks over and again to all of you who will be attending our “Gala for the Goldfinch.” The Goldfinch is very very grateful! What? You don’t know all about it already? Follow the link!

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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.

24 thoughts on “After Filling Out the Brackets

  1. Jack, love the essay this week (and the poem, of course. I’ll be lucky to have 2 teams still viable after the second round!). It reminds me of a quote by James Angell, former president of UM, who said, “The purpose of an education is not to teach you how to earn your bread, but to make every mouthful sweeter.” Ahhhhh. The right attitude, eh?
    See you in April with the goldfinches.

    • Oh I’m so glad you like this post. I went to the pharmacy today and
      they were all bouncy happy about being in it. So dear. Watch out
      for Murray State.
      “Not to make you rich but to make your life rich, that’s what an education is for.”
      And I forget who said that. Maybe my third grade teacher, Mrs.Sechler!

  2. We are so fortunate to have Saugatuck Drugstore and the care they give day after day, year after year.
    Oh, nice poem too.🙃❤❤❤

    • I’ll tell ’em you wrote this to me. I went in today and they were all
      bouncy happy about being highlighted. So dear.
      Love ya

    • Now if we could only get back that canoe.
      We got the most wonderful card from you today!
      Hilarious and sooooooo thoughtful, so you!

  3. And so we keep our empathy in play and the wave to the neighbor as we go to pick up our mail or take the trash to the curb in play. And we, who don’t have so many people to do so many things for us yet still understand community better, at times, than most of those who do, pay a little extra money, and attention. And still, I can imagine communities of people in other parts of the country where I would not feel particularly welcome believing their behavior to simply be–protecting/supporting their community and I wonder what has made the difference.

    • Yep. Always. Playing shortstop was many times rich with “dance moves” for me.

      Any chance we could have what we learned was a wonderful address by you at
      the open house?

  4. Bless you, how grateful we are for the wisdom of a poet of life who reminds us we are cradled by caring neighbors who fill our prescriptions, bag and carry our groceries, automatically bring us decaf and hot tea on Tuesday $2 breakfast day. ox marsha

    • This is YOU!!! You who took care of the richness of lives of sooooo many at the
      library, who thinks of the small gesture that makes the enormous difference,
      you who answers the phones for WMUK, you who, you who on and on and on.

  5. What a wonderful intro. And I read it just in time. Since a few weeks it is clear that Mr. Bezos will bei co-operating with the local Max-Planck-Institute (or version of the MIT) here in Tuebingen, South Germany, doing research on Artificial Intelligene. Amazon says they will only look for better ways to make the photographs of their products look nicer on their website. Haha, said the clown. Amazingly enough even the Green Party in Tübingen voted pro Amazon. I asked them why. The answer: If we don’t get them to Tübingen they will go somewhere else and – huhuh – so will the jobs. What a crap argument. Amazon is not a job machine, eveybody knows that by now, they try to kill jobs. So yes Jack, my dear friend, we buy our groceries on the market on Saturday in front of the church, and Elke the woman at the stand never forgets to give me old lettuce and other stuff for our four hens.
    In humble gratitude for your wise words – always

    • Norbert,
      Be sure to give Elke a big hug from your American friend!
      Capitalism has become a disease. “We can make more money if . . .”
      How about “We can make more friends if . . .”
      “Creating jobs” is heinous. How about creating meaningful work? !!
      Uh oh. A rant is on its way. I would rather get out our Kraas postcard
      collection and feel comforted with what matters.

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