The Night I Dreamed Paul Klee Married the Sky

I am typing this on election day. In our village there are six candidates for three positions on the City Council. Not one would call anyone who voted for someone else “human scum.” We’ll keep the arguments as endless as anywhere else and say hello at the coffee shop and post office.

The front page story in this week’s Sunday New York Times was an unsettling analysis of all, ALL, of 45’s tweets. It would have disgusted my bawdy grandmother. But deep within the suitcase-sized Times was the Sunday Magazine and there next to an article about Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, was a poem I composed.

My poem there in the New York Times! No way would I ever, even on good grass, hallucinate that such a thing could happen.

As preface to the poem was a wonderfully insightful reading by the Column’s author/editor, Naomi Shihab Nye, who has given herself day after day, traveling throughout the world to bring her loving affirmation of peace over hate. Heartsick by the onslaught of hate let loose by 45, she rises daily with an aching hope for a ceasefire of this despicable disrespect of “the other.”

This here is a link to the poem and R.O. Blechman’s lovely ilustration and Naomi’s response. I still can’t believe this happened. False modesty? Nope. Damn proud and joy-filled:

The Night I Dreamed Paul Klee Married the Sky

We went out for dinner, down
some lackadaisical alley, threading
our way among leftover handshakes, sleeping

former aristocrats, and scattered scraps
of newsprint still holding words against
the wind. Above us, the old sky held

its cross-stitch of stars and we half expected
the light to shiver in our back pockets.
It was just that we knew. It was

just that it was cold. In the window
of the Italian restaurant, we saw a couple,
likely in their sixties, looking at each other.

She dipped her bread into her soup
while he drank his wine. Then she reached
across the table, took his hand, and lay

a spoon across his palm. We went in. I
remember how big the napkins were.

–Jack Ridl

We had a great night a couple of weeks ago. Salvatore Sapienza and I discussed Poetry & the Spirit. If you couldn’t make it, but are curious, you’ll find the video of the program here.

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

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.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

41 thoughts on “The Night I Dreamed Paul Klee Married the Sky

  1. Tears of joy for you and for the open hearts that get to experience uplifted emotions because of creativity like yours.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Judy, This from you touched me so deeply.
      I was sure surprised that this poem was in the Times!
      And how I appreciate your recognizing how difficult it
      is to write such poems with authenticity. I remember Ellen Bryant Voigt
      saying to me, “You’re our avant guarde poet because you risk affirming joy.” : )

  2. Congratulations, dear Jack! We are celebrating up here with such glee. Such a gift of a poem for ALL to ponder and savor.💝 Biggest hugs from Delbear et moi

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Ah Sally dear and Delbear, thank you sooo much!
      Never would have dreamed this could happen!
      That you are happy sure makes me happy.

    • Mary Jo,
      For you, a poet I so highly respect, to be so thoughtfully precise in your
      response is high praise, means so much to this ole scribbler.
      My deep gratitude

    • Linda,
      What joy to know that this image and poem landed in such a sensitive
      and attentive soul.
      Thank you for telling me. How else can I know??? So grateful

  3. Sir Jack,

    Such a lovely poem…a painting emerging in words. So many of the images resonate, but I am drawn to the idea of “holding words against the wind” and the communion-like laying “of a spoon across his palm.” I like the “old sky,” too. I have often believed the sky recycles itself, that we see skies that we saw in previous moments in our lives…that there are, indeed, old skies, and reasons for seeing them. And reasons, as they may occur, for marrying them. I recently came across a story in which scientists suggest the universe was/is not flat but more elliptical and that if we attempted to push through it we would ultimately come out in the same place we entered. I wonder how big the napkins are at the center. I hope you are well, better than well, and that winter is drawing its blanket slowly over the past season. We need a good rest…more than ever…as Trumpolini pouts from the podium and demands to know who copped his sled.

    Peace…and carrots, St. GF

    • St. GF
      Always you bring me something insightful and new. You “got” that part
      about marrying the sky, and that who knows what sky we see when we
      see a sky. We are indeed pulling the blanket up. However, Vivi dog
      loves it outside. She actually chomps the snow.
      Love Trumpolini! And “copped his sled” !!!!!!!
      Peace and carrots, lots of carrots. And big napkins.

    • Jane,
      So kind of you to write this, to tell me that you love the poem.
      How else can one know? Thank you so much!
      And to know that Naomi and I are part of your days is soooooo uplifting.

  4. Jack,

    I also love those lines: “It was just that we knew. It was just that it was cold.” The weaving together of something shared and difficult to put one’s finger on (love) and something real and every day (cold). Just beautiful.


    • John–
      What a joy it is to hear when one discerns/sees what is there
      not to communicate but to invite communion and realization.
      Thank you for deeply entering the poem. So much! You know
      yourself what that means to the one who makes/creates!

  5. What an honor, Jack, to have your poem In the NYT. You continue to win accolades in unprecedented ways. Stay vibrant. Stephen H.

    • Thank you so much, Stephen!
      And without the use of a neck!
      I am so grateful for your “unprecedented” and “vibrant”
      Keep savoring that sabbatical. What am I saying? I
      know you are.

  6. “It was just that we knew. It was just that it as cold” the depth of love next to the ordinariness of the moment. Beautiful.

  7. Oh my! I was so regretting having missed Poetry and the Spirit!!! I have had some health challenges and didn’t want to buy tickets expecting I could attend . . . this went on for about two months. Thankfully better now. Thank you to you and Julie for taping it. This will be such a wonderful treat tonight . . . maybe sipping hot tea underneath a toasty quilt!!

    Big congratulations on being in the New York Times! Such a wonderful piece to have broadcast into the world!!!!

    • Oh I hope you enjoy, get a kick out of the heretical duo!
      And thank you for your congrats about the surprise of the NYT
      AND, for all our sake stay well!!!!

    • That WOW says everything, Blaine. I said it, too, a thousand times.
      What a surprise that was.
      And so so glad you appreciated the poem. So very glad!
      Hug a lug

  8. Jack, I love this–and I love what Naomi Nye said about your poem. I just got an email from a student this morning. She was so excited and just had to tell me that she went to a Naomi Nye reading last night, and it was amazing. She had remembered reading her “Famous” in my class, so she attended. I think she’s at Boston University. Anyway, the web of poetry you and she contribute so much to reaches far and wide. Thanks.

    • Mark, You enlarge the web in such wonderful ways. Naomi will be delighted.
      I too love what Naomi wrote. Having such warmth in the times is all but
      Thank you, Friend!

    • To know you are glad for this ole scribbler adds so much to
      the surprising joy of the poem getting to be in the Times.
      Thank you so much!

  9. SOOOO wonderful that you were in the NYT magazine (for which I hunger every Sunday because of the puzzles). BRAVO YOU! And such a lovely poem.

    We miss you. Thank goodness for Thursdays.

    XX to you both, Jen

    • Oh you are soooooo lovingly kind. Thank you.
      And of course we miss you. Both. We had just
      started to know you well. But ya know what?
      We’ve discovered that you two have stayed in
      our hearts.
      And you are in a beautiful place, where beautiful
      souls belong.
      It snowed here today!

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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