After School

Last week I wrote about having our daughter and her students out here at our home for a class. The house echoed with joy, and it has lingered — lingered along with wondering what future 45, his cronies, and the cowards in congress are creating for them.

Last night local student and friend, 14-year-old Hannah Huggett, received her town’s Youth Social Justice Award for her tireless work combating climate change, gun violence, violations of women’s rights, pollution, harm to the earth. Hannah, of course, gives us hope, but like Greta, she wants more than hope; she demands action.

We’re all proud of you Hannah. Let’s embody that pride by celebrating you with action. Here’s a start: Join the fourth annual Women’s March on January 18. We will be marching from Douglas to Saugatuck. In our towns we will be meeting and organizing all weekend long. For details go here:

After School

Under the bridge from which anyone could have jumped,
we stood and read the history of rust, the sleep
of iron in the rainy afternoon. “I love Eddie”
“Class of 1974” “This world sucks!” We
remembered our hands. And we wished we could lie down
in this dirty stream and feel the fish come back,
see a weary angel lay its wings beside
the abandoned tire and wander off
tossing beer cans from the weeds and laughing.
–for John Armstrong III

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Carolina Quarterly
Subsequently published in Poems from The Same Ghost and Between (Dawn Valley Press)

On Tuesday, January 28, at 7pm, come see us in Montague at the amazing, one-and-only Book Nook and Java Shop! I’ll be reading from St. Peter and the Goldfinch, and chatting with Book Nook people. The best people. Here’s how to get there.

I am welcoming new sign-ups for one-on-one coaching in poetry writing held here at our home or online via Zoom or Skype. No experience needed; all levels are welcome. I always tailor the sessions to meet whatever you would enjoy working with. To set up a date and time just contact me at this link or the one above. Cost is $85 for an hour-and-a-half session or $235 for three sessions. And of course if you don’t enjoy our time together, no charge!!👍😊

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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.

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

6 thoughts on “After School

  1. Your writing never fails to stir something in me. Your poem makes me wonder who John Armstrong III is, to know why this poem is for him. The fish and angels leave some places. Makes me want to find where they’re all going and go there too. Or maybe we’re supposed to stay, try to clean up the water, call the fish back. Seems like Hannah feels that way. Seems like you do too. Thank you both.

    • Hi Ben,
      So good of you to respond. It sure helps keep me going!
      Yeah, I think we’re supposed to stay. I’m not sure those angels get it!
      John Armstrong was a student of mine, a rugged soul with a gentle heart,
      the kind of guy who would ride a Harley and stop along the way to pick
      up litter.
      My thanks are an abundance.

  2. Jack!!! When we were kids, do you remember playing in Little Neshannock Creek that sliced our little town in two? Do you remember building little temporary watery holding areas out of small river rocks for our temporarily captured crayfish to wander around???? When it was time for supper (I could hear my mother calling me half way across town, “You get home, or else!”), we freed our little prisoners and headed home hoping our soaking wet clothing would air out before the need to explain why we reeked like creek water, which usually meant an even bigger and more unpleasant “or else.”

    • Ohhhh do I ever! The poem likely would not have come into being
      had it not for Neshannock Creek! I released many a stick racing
      them all the way down to the Field House. thanks for taking me back
      there, Carole!

      • Thank YOU for taking me back there!!!! Neshannock Creek became my “go to” place to search for fossils when I was in my teens during the dry season…summer. I actually found a fossilized section of a lepidodendron!! Yep…I DID!!

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