Guarding the Back Yard

Well, it looks like 45 will get out of it.

On to what matters.

There’s a wonderful photograph of Daniel Berrigan where he’s in handcuffs. He’s raised his arms and is offering the peace sign.

Maybe that’s what it’s like to be us.

Guarding the Back Yard

He wears a hat, sometimes placing a feather
in the star-studded band circling the world

of his balding head. He’s watching
for slanderous gnomes and fairies gone bad.

He swings a rake along his steps, back and
forth across the long grass. He suspects

elves are tunneling toward his roses. He
tries to sleep altering which eye he closes,

keeping the other on the trees outside
his window. He plays a flute to his flowers.

He sings opera in the doorway. He plants
pinwheels. When it rains, he lies on a slab

of limestone, opens his mouth, imagines
his childhood alive in a milking pail.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Waymark
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Mark Hiskes’s long-awaited collection Standing with Alyosha (Dos Madres Press) has been released. Lorna Cook, author of Outside Wonderland among other novels, says “Mark Hiskes writes with the wisdom of a teacher humbled and seasoned, yet lit by an unfailing love of literature and the incandescence of adolescence. Each poem in the lovely collection is drawn with honesty, grit, and a constant thread of grace.”

Kelly Fordon has several readings from her new collection, Goodby Toothless House, coming up in the Detroit area. See her website for dates and times.

Mary MckSchmidt, author of Uncharted Waters works tirelessly for water protection. She reported recently on the staggering number of balloons sent into the air that end up in our lakes, oceans, and streams where creatures eat them and die. Please never release helium inflated balloons. And look for her book.

And don’t forget the new collections by D. R. James, Todd Davis, Jeff Gundy, Greg Rappleye, and Linda Nemec Foster. Linda will be offering a eulogy in NYC for poet Colette Inez who passed away this week. Colette, another who brought such good into the world and was all but unknown outside the poetry world. Sigh.

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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.

12 thoughts on “Guarding the Back Yard

  1. I love this. “slanderous gnomes” and “ childhood in a milk pail” are my favorite phrases. Thank you for continuing to inspire me.

  2. Thank you for the plug! And I am not giving up on justice for 45—not yet. The taxpayers paid for this investigation. We must see it—unfiltered by any spin doctor. I am writing to Upton, Peters, and Stabenow today to remind them.

    Your fan, Mary


    • Hi Mary, I like and appreciate your optimistic comments. I left my own comments (below) before reading your sensible outlook. I seem to be bent on making fun of the way our world has been moving along. It’s how I deal with almost everything that scares the living daylights out of me. Thank goodness for Jack’s poetry!~~~~Carole

  3. Hello Jack…. I was in attendance at your workshop at Grace Church in Holland last Saturday, March 23. I want to thank you for your willingness to give your time and share your knowledge. I am relatively new to the world of writing, (2 years) altho I have now created a few short stories, thanks to a now private writing group through HASP I have joined. I loved the advice, tips you shared and the manner in which you helped the class sort through their questions. I feel like I left that day having learned much. Interestingly, I made an announcement to our writing group about your workshop that day, and four of us were in attendance. At our next meeting we are each going to share something we learned that day.
    God bless you and thank you for helping us become writers.
    Bill Beiswenger

    • Bill,
      How very kind of you to let me know this. There IS no way of knowing if one has
      been of help unless told. Your telling me matters, a lot.
      I had such a good time with everyone. It felt so good to be with all that
      intelligence and sensitivity and receptivity.
      Great to hear that you are in that workshop. Give the others a good greeting from me.
      And may doing the writing bring you a richness otherwise unavailable.

  4. No…I doubt #45 will get out of it…not that I have a right to judge him, but I expect he will have a lot of splainin’ to do at St. Peter’s gate someday along with his huge entourage of like-thinkers. Oh, I just thought of something…I, too, will have a certain amount of splainin’ to do perhaps because I hate # 45…There is not one thing about him that I don’t hate, which puts me in pretty deep jeopardy; but, no matter how much I try, I cannot do anything but hate him, and forgiveness is not yet an option, although I keep that door open in case it might save me. So, when you all are in Heaven, and I’m not there…I may have condemned myself to eternal flames in the company of #45, God forbid.

    • Carole~!! You know very well that your hating him is a sign of love and care.
      I have no idea what forgiveness means unless it’s what I decided long ago: to
      refrain from revenge.
      I love your hate

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