Some Answers to Your Question

This week I lost it. My anger went everywhere I went. It clung like Gorilla Glue. I exploded, yelling about everything that came to mind. If I hadn’t been so non-rationally serious, it would’ve been hilarious. Right, we’re gonna leave the country. Right, we’re gonna find a ramshackle house in a deep forest. Right, nothing I do matters. Right, I’m never coming out of the house.

Julie sat. Listened. Vivi, our dog, offered herself for petting.

Please, enough of this “45 isn’t arousing hate.” Of course he is. And he is permitting, encouraging, those who hate that they are doing the right thing by attacking, even killing those who differ from them.

I was told to be careful about celebrating the evening when 250 of us gathered for song, poetry, and jazz. I was cautioned for saying “like-minded,” for a friend’s saying it was “Blessed Community.” I should’ve said “like-hearted.” These are people who are like-hearted, united by love.

When asked to pray before meetings, a colleague in the English department at the college where I taught would bow her head, keep her eyes open, and pray, “Let us delight in our differences. Amen.”


Some Answers to Your Question


—Only when the door is unlocked and open.

—Oh, I suppose it’s simply the way I am.

—My mother

—Well, the Bible seems to, at least to my mind, contradict itself on that.

—I think it was after he fell off his bicycle. The bike, by the way, was ruined.

—Do I really think so? Is that any question to ask? I mean really.

—Don’t worry about it. They’re like that.

–Jack Ridl

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

Speaking of the Goldfinch… Keith Taylor offered a delightful review on Stateside, WUOM, the other day. Listen to it just to hear that man’s voice, I say.

Go Valencia!! I had the joy of spending time with marvelous artist/poet Valencia Robin at a conference awhile ago. I’m so happy to report that her new collection Ridiculous Light received the Lexi Rudnitzky First Book Prize from Persea Books. One of the many stunning qualities of her work is the presentation of survival in a way that somehow creates a gentle quiet.

Watch for this film, The Biggest Little Farm, a documentary about John and Molly, a husband and wife who created a farm that grows in harmony with all, and I mean all, of nature. It took them seven years. The film will bring many a gasp, sigh, laugh, and choked back tear. It will get us talking. Side note: the wife, Molly, is the daughter of friends of ours. Her dad was a standout forward for one of the teams my father coached, one which was ranked number one throughout the season.

Jeff Gundy’s Without a Plea “brashly ranges from stick-thin lyrics to page-crossing two-line stanzas” and reveals that “the world is full / of little possibilities for love.”

Tony Eames from published this interview. His goal with his newsletter is to “learn something new every week.” Wonderful.

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore 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.

21 thoughts on “Some Answers to Your Question

    • Oh my, thank you. Thank you soooo much.
      I always write hoping the work lands where it
      belongs. Thanks for telling me that it did, Nancy!

  1. Jack,
    Don’t worry. You are just fine. The cause of that anger was that some asshole brought an incredibly loud leaf blower to what was supposed to be a nice peaceful morning raking leaves. After you went home that shrill noise couldn’t escape your brain. But over the days the decibel has gotten softer. You will be fine. And I will have a talk with the jerk that brought the leaf blower. 😁
    Bob Kenny

    Sent from my iPhone

    • I have a poem about a leaf blower guy. I’ll have to offer it to
      ya with a cringing countenance.
      Actually, I loved being reverent in the leaves with you, Friend!!

  2. Hello Jack,
    Yes, amen!: “Let us delight in our differences.” I don’t hate you, Jack. But from the substance of your posts, clearly you hate me because I have a different political point of view. I’ve always enjoyed your poetry. Even though your views are diametrically opposed to mine, I have not burned your books. In fact, I still pull them down off the shelf now and then to ruminate on what you had so finely crafted there. We have such profound differences, and yet I still appreciate you and your fine work. It is you who is letting Trump — “45” as you fashion him — live 24/7 rent-free in your mind. It reminds me of the old Buddhist saying: the accusing finger points at oneself. In photography we look for contrast in a creating an image. Contrast is what brings an image alive. It is the contrast among us that makes society alive and engaging. So, yes, I wholeheartedly concur with your colleague’s prayer: “Let us delight in our differences.”
    Best regards,

    • Really? How do we differ. I’m interested. Anger is a response to what one cares about
      being violated. Man, Jesus was angry allllll the time. I know Buddhism, have practiced
      its zen form for forty years. I guess what you are saying is that you are for 45 and
      the wall and all that. Well, ya we sure do differ. Sounds like you think you’re right.
      On we go. Differing with hate is I doubt something one should delight in.
      You likely remember Betsy Reedy. She was the one who prayed that prayer.

      • Hello Jack,
        I too know the Buddhadharma having practiced in the Vajrayana and Zen traditions for over 45 years, as well as attended a Buddhist seminary. So, we have some common ground there as Dharma brothers. But if you are in favor of open boarders and the policies of those “sanctuary” cities trying to nullify Federal law, like the Confederacy of old, and the Progressive/socialist agenda, then ya, we sure do differ there. Nonetheless, I think you missed my point — despite our rather profound differences politically (it seems), I still remember you as a fine teacher and I still enjoy reading you poetry. I am able to separate the person from the politics (much of the time). But sadly, so many people these days do not or cannot. And I do have a vague recollection of Betsy Reedy. Thank you for the reminder – I will have to search my synapses for her data.
        With kind regards,

      • Those terms don’t work for me anymore. I likely have no politics and
        I don’t fall for that “everything is political.” Or “the personal
        is political.” That’s all too easy. Everything is a mess or at least
        messy. I think it’s best to say that you win. That’s what seems
        important. I gotta go be with Julie now at dinner.

  3. I’m looking forward to the history books…20 years from now! Do kids still study history and civics in high school? What will historians have to say about this wack-a-doodle time in our nation’s history?

    • So glad to hear this, Jen. So very very glad.

      Alas, did you mean to have it be blank after the colon? If so, I
      really like that. If not, please send what was to be there.

  4. So sorry it was a tough week, Jack. I would listen to you as well. If you can try to be thankful for those wonderful listening ears of Julie’s and Vivi’s. XO


    • Ohhhhhh I’m thankful all right. Then and always. And that quieted the disquiet.
      Anger is a response to what one cares about being violated. I’m okay with it.
      Jesus sure got angrier than my little rant.

    • We always are. Anger is a healthy response to what one
      cares about being violated. It’s not the same as hostility.
      And thus endith the sermon. : )

    • ? If you mean don’t be angry. Hmmmmm. Anger is not hostility. It’s
      a response to what one loves being violated. 45 is hostile.

  5. No… I was wrong. My comments were a little heavy-handed. My legal training tends to encourage rhetorical dueling, of which my wife has to remind me not everyone enjoys. It was a mistake for me to intrude on your anger. I apologize for that. I shall not bother you again.

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