The World In May is Leafing Out (3rd ann.)

A reminder: These posts started the Thursday after 45 won the election. They were and are meant for those who appreciate a distraction for the good.

I remember reading several articles and having several conversations about the overuse of the word “love.” The arguments went something like, “It’s used for everything, to the point where it’s drained of its real meaning.”


There’s something culturally implanted going on when someone says that. But let’s not go there.

I’m just gonna say that we can’t use it enough. I suggest not getting bound up thinking about what is the appropriate use of the word. So ya love donuts and movies from the 40s, old sweatshirts and pitchers’ duels, cat photographs and listening to the blues, begonias and filling the bird feeder. Love and love and love and love all that’s worth loving.

Trust discernment. Our loved ones know the difference between when you say, “I love you,” and “I love donuts.” They know you’re not saying, “The love I have for you, dear, is the same as the love I have for donuts. You and donuts, no difference.”

And speaking of what we love, how about May in this part of the world — when its Mayness finally arrives! I’ve sent this poem out the last two Mays. I thought that I’d be sending it only that one time. Sigh. That’s okay. My wife loves it. And she loves me. And donuts.

The World in May Is Leafing Out

It’s Matisse on a bicycle. It’s
a great blue heron coloring
outside the lines. The show’s
turned over to the aftermath
of buds. You can love
never thinking
this cliché could turn
to ice. Even nice
can be profound
as worry, even
the creek over the rotting log,
the pansy in the moss-covered
pot. The birds bulge
with song. Mary Cassat
throws open her windows.
Monet drags his pallet,
sits and waits for the paint
to spill across the patina
of his failing sight. Eric Satie
makes his joyous cling
and clang a counterpoint
to dazzle. The earth is rising
in shoots and sprays.
The sky’s as new as rain.
The stubborn doors swing open.

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Listening Eye
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State Univ. Press)

Today, Thursday, May 16, Lisa Lenzo will be reading from her new collection of short stories, Unblinking (Wayne State University Press), and I get to be her opening act. 6pm at Michigan News, Kalamazoo.

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.


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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.

27 thoughts on “The World In May is Leafing Out (3rd ann.)

  1. Hi Jack, hooray for May!! Have fun tonight in K zoo, it is on my calendar in the hall but now I won’t be able to make it. I love your words, friend. Enjoy this breezy passionate day, the hummingbirds came just a few days ago, now that is news to love. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. Another great poem and great preface Jack. I also like your use of nice in the poem. In high school people, particularly my female classmates, said I was nice. I was not happy about that then. I wanted to be “cool” not “nice”. Now I take nice as a big compliment as I think nice is underrated.

    Please keep your posts going and please keep on with the love stuff.

    Here I am chillin with Levi this morning.


    Sent from my iPhone


    • Makes for a big smile here, the image of you ‘n Levi chillin’ !!

      I have a T-shirt that says only “Be nice.”

      You ‘n me. Always got that in high school, too, while watching the cool
      guys taking the cool girls to the dance after the game.

      Means a great big whole lot–your appreciating the posts, Chris!!!

  3. Jack – just wanted to say I love you this morning. I have some stuff to give you but have been in a whirlwind of activity this week. Next week . . .

    Jeff Munroe Executive Vice President

    ph 616.392.8555 x111 101 East 13th Street, Holland MI 49423-3622 [image: WTS_logo_email.png]

  4. Amen to a long life of love….Larry is hopefully coming home today after successful hip replacement surgery surrounded by love of friends, family, hospital staff and who knows who else? God, herself….thanks, Jack for the attention to proper and meaningful distractions. The poem is wondrous. Thank you. Love, Ginny

    • Oh my, do give Larry my care during what is of course a long recovery. Ugh.

      I love your saying that about proper and meaningful distractions. That’s
      certainly my hope! And oh so glad you feel that way about the poem. Soooo glad.

      You take care of yourself, too. Caregivers get worn out, ya know.

  5. Dear Jack —

    Yesterday afternoon I was feted with a glorious retirement party. This morning, as a sort of post-partum blues were threatening, the beauty of your words brought a different kind of tears to my eyes. I used to resist my mushball nature and fight this kind of emotion when it came but, just as you asked us not to resist using the word love, I have learned to embrace this part of my nature. I would rather love than hate – rather be a mushball than a hardass – rather laugh and cry than be stone-faced.


    • Chris, this is so good to hear. I have started a literary movement–Sappism. I’m a Sappist monk.

      Jim Harrison said, and I paraphrase, “I’d rather die a sappy guy than know I took the easy
      way of the cynical wise ass.”

      Sentimentality is misused day after day. It’s not the same as cheesy. Mary Ruefle had a gloriously
      intelligent essay revealing that the word comes from the fusion of sentiment with mentality, what
      the poet’s job is. No one was more sentimental than Shakespeare, than Dickens, than Dickinson,
      than Whitman.
      Thank you for writing this to me and FOR everyone.

  6. I’m reminded of Mary Oliver’s line, “If the doors of my heart/ ever close, I am as good as dead.” This poem puts a foot on the threshold and keeps the “stubborn doors” open!

  7. Rebecca, when I was re- telling the story of “with”, I think I mentioned Jack Ridl’s blog project that comes weekly on Thursdays. Here is this AM’s. Enjoy!

    Sent from my iPhone

  8. Jack,
    I love your poems and I love hearing you read them and I love that it is okay to say that per your post of today. Thank you for all of that.

    Smile today.

    • Pauli, was it ever a joy to be with you last night at Michigan News! That
      was so much fun. And thank you for these wonderfully kind words!!

  9. Reading belatedly – in New York and left last Thursday. All I can say is, along with Julie – I love love love this poem!


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