Hardship in a Nice Place

Whew! Had a lot of response to my last post about being angry. I think I had better define my terms…

First, when I wrote about my colleague’s prayer — that we are to delight in our differences – neither she nor I meant to celebrate differences that suggest evil is to be delighted in, certainly not 45’s. It has been suggested to me that I don’t live up to that prayer because I do not delight in political differences. It is true that I can’t celebrate people who hurt those who are less fortunate.

Anger is a perfectly appropriate response to the violation of something one cares deeply about. It is wonderfully informative, signaling to us, and to one another, where our loyalties lie. It is not at all the same as hostility or violence. Those are anger turned to malevolence, 45’s daily exercise.

I’m surprised when it surprises people to realize that Jesus, for example, was not always a “nice” guy. He was often an angry guy. The beatitudes have been turned into mush. What he was saying was “Blessed are the meek. I know the meek, YOU are not the meek.” “Blessed are the merciful. I know the merciful, YOU are NOT the merciful,” etc. He even told Peter to “Get thee behind me, Satan!” And he did NOT say to the money changers — and you know who they would be today — “Uh, if you don’t mind, it’d be better if you took your tables outside. Please and thank you.”

These posts have, more often than not, been prompted by anger with the cruelty and ignorance of 45 and his yes-(anything but)men with the hope of supporting those working hard to hold on to their lives and to hold fast to those they love during the reign of King 45.

Hardship in a Nice Place

The roof on our house slants out
over the garden and if it rains
the water falls on what blossoms

still arc in late August. My wife
is sleeping through her day. There
is a breeze here on the porch. There

is a certain slant of light collapsing
through the beech trees on the hill. One
tree fell this afternoon. I could hear it

cracking into the quiet, saw an angle
of trunk begin to lean and then rustle
its branches across the limbs along

the stagger of woods. At night, sounds
come I can never identify. It’s often
like that, our long days lacking much

of anything that can be named. My
wife will sleep. I will walk back from
the mailbox with our dog and wait.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Rattle.
Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron.

We went to a delightful and informative reading by Jennifer Clark at Crane’s apple orchard. She read from her collection Johnny Appleseed: The Slice and Times of John Chapman (Shabda Press). The reading was a fundraiser for elementary school students in Fennville, Michigan, to provide books kids can take home, for keeps, through a program called Book Trust. If you like that idea, and want to learn more or contribute to this worthy program, you can do that here. If you want you can specify Fennville Public Schools on your donation to put your donation to work locally.

Lisa Lenzo has invited me to join her in a reading at Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, May 16, at 6pm. Lisa’s new collection of stories is Unblinking (Wayne State University Press)

A group in Ludington want to talk with me about Saint Peter and the Goldfinch. That will take place on May 18 in the Judith Minty Room at the Arts Center from 2-4. If you are near enough, come join the conversation. There will be a celebration of the marvel George Dila following the program.

Former student Heidi Aronson Kolk, assistant professor in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St Louis, has published the fascinating Taking Possession: The Politics of Memory in a St. Louis Town House (University of Massachusetts Press)

Charles W. Brice has published
a bracing new collection An Accident of Blood (WordTech Editions)

A dear old friend, Ginger Rankin, has published a magical and moving novel, Spice Island (Rebel Magic Books)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, 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.

17 thoughts on “Hardship in a Nice Place

  1. I got up and checked before your poem arrived this morning. I waited. Thank you. It is always worth the wait.

  2. Mark 11:12-21. Jesus got angry–and even hangry. He once killed an innocent fig tree because it had no fruit, and his stomach was growling. See, figs were out of season. You’d think Jesus would would know that and give the poor tree a break. Wrong place, wrong time, I guess. In Jesus’ defense, he was under a lot of pressure. He zapped the tree just before he entered Jerusalem, ransacked the merchants’ booths in the temple court, and, well, you know the rest.

  3. I’m with you Jack!

    We’re still in Florida, but I did send in my registration for your Ox-Bow program Looking forward to it.

    Sent from my iPad


    • So glad to have you walking along with me, Bev!
      AND—great to hear you are signed up. You MUST
      be the first!!!

  4. Let’s pin “anger” for discussion next time ! Just finished a book on women, metoo, and anger. So, so, so important.

    Keep it up!

    • We’re on~!
      AND–Congratulations on your decision and your promotion~~~!
      As I told your dad, “Amanda already knows all the stuff that
      they’d teach in those seminaries.”

  5. Just listened to your interview. You are always humble, informative, lovingly kind.


    Sent from my iPad


  6. In Zen Buddhism they speak of “being between the things”. Since, according to my understanding, it is one of the goals, it is – of course – not easy to get there. When it happens you call tell when you follow the words and lines of a mind “between the things”.
    Congratulations, Jack, to a poem that touches like a breeze from that other kingdom, and best wishes
    Reinhard Paczesny, Aschaffenburg, Germany

  7. Hi Jack!

    I have a photo from last week—the cover page of a London paper that a friend saw. Please advise as to how I might send that to you. I know you are likely in the midst of your big move.

    Hoped you will see this next query and then have time to reply. I’m all signed up for Saturday’s Ox Bow class with you. However, last year eek a friend passed away and her funeral is Saturday. I believe you’ve offered this type of class before. Do you anticipate offering it again very soon? Especially if it’s not while we’re traveling September 18-October 8 😀

    Thanks much and very best wishes with the move, Donna Nowak

    Sent from my iPhone


    • What can I say, Donna, I’m sorry. That always sounds so easy, inane.
      I can’t imagine not holding the class again. It’s filled every time.

      Our address stays the same: Box 793, Douglas 49406


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s