Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, EDT,  on his Facebook Page here, where the video will be saved for later viewing. You can find all of his Livestream videos here. 

Our daughter and her husband were visiting — six feet apart — friends who have a four-year-old daughter. Mid-conversation, the little one piped up, “I want the germs to go away. I want to hug my friends and hold their hands.”

It got to me this week that I was waking up and immediately realizing that no matter what 45 pulls off or what the latest report on Covid-19 is, this day will be just about the same as the day before, and tomorrow also will be.

Then out of nowhere it hit me: without 45 and without Covid-19, the day would still be pretty much the same. So I better take a nap and adjust my thinking to the realization that getting to read and watch the garden come into blossom and listen to music all through the day and walk the dog and have Julie here and once in a while have a neighbor appear to greet and, and, and…

But I’d still like to hug you and hold your hand.


I trust what my body says.
It is soft-spoken, never shouts,
gently whispers or nudges me into place.
I think you know what I mean.

Yesterday, it told me to go to the market
and buy a box of graham crackers.
I did. But it didn’t want the crackers,
just the walk to market and back.
Maybe another day.

Today, I feel it taking me outside.
“It’s sunny,” it says.
And I agree.

                                               for William Stafford

–Jack Ridl

Published in Between (Dawn Valley Press)

P.S. …

“All you can do is face the world with quiet grace and hope you make a sliver of a difference.”

–Brian Doyle from his remarkable collection of essays, One Long River of Song (Little Brown).

The sweetest email this week came from poet Garret Stack. He shared that in an interview with Pine Row Press, he was asked if any poets inspire him. He said that Ted Kooser was his “strongest influence,” and, “More recently, I’m inspired by… Jack Ridl who is quietly waging the most peaceful and poetic political protest in history.” I love that.

Jim Allis was here this morning and told me about waking up and deciding to deliver 70 pizzas to the families of the kids in his Tae Kwon Do class.

Naomi Shihab Nye has a new collection: CAST AWAY (Greenwillow). She has developed a fascinatingly direct voice. Imagine, 147 pages of poems about trash! Those concerned about our environment–everyone!– will find it a companion.

My first publisher, Nancy Esther James, has published a collection of her highly reflective poems: Avenues Toward Light (Dawn Valley Press).

M.L. Liebler has created an engaging reading series on ZOOM. Write to him for details. He has invited me to read with Charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom on June 21 at 2pm.

Gayle Boss has recorded her luminous book of environmental essays, Wild Hope, Paraclete Press, available now through Audible.

Our own Pastor Sal — Salvatore Sapienza — has a new book out, encouraging us to put away our childish thinking. It’s called… wait for it… Childish Thinking: How the Church Keeps Us Stuck in Sunday School

Where are the 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.


15 thoughts on “Poem

  1. I can’t wait to see/hear you. I’m cozying in and smiling just waiting😊. The worst part is when the poem is over and my Jack time abruptly ends with a black, quiet screen.☹️ it’s such a lonely, blank feeling. Can’t you stand up and hug us or kiss us goodbye or hold our hand or SOMETHING …. sing 🎶 happy trails to youuu🎶until we meet again🎶maybe? Love, Debbie

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Susan,
      Please know how glad it makes me to know I could be helpful.
      I hope the days treat you with kindness.

      Thank you for telling me this. There’s no way i can know unless told

  2. Yep, the day is pretty much the same, no matter what, except how each of us makes it. In any case, to quote the Moody Blues (and boy, do I date myself!): “There you go, man, Keep as cool as you can. Face piles of trials with smiles. It riles them to believe you perceive the web they weave. And keep on thinking free.” Nice tribute to Stafford, one of my favorite poets. I remember when he visited Hope with Sam Hazo, also a favorite, long long ago in a galaxy far far away….

    • So good to hear that about Stafford and Hazo. Sam was the first poet I ever met. Bill, a mentor.

      Ahhhh The Moody Blues. I remember little Mimi saying, “Dad? Can we listen to something else?” : )


  3. I enjoy your emails very much, and especially today’s poem along with your mentions of William Stafford and Brian Doyle (two of my favorite writers). Have you read Doyle’s novel “Chicago”?  It’s a gem of a book (possibly a semi-memoir) of a young writer’s time in Chicago, with his exploration of the nooks and crannies of the city, his love of baseball, his relationship with the unusual people in his apartment building–along with a dog named Edward who does therapy with other animals.  Best regards, Ann Weller 

    • Hi Ann,
      So good hearing from you!

      Both Julie and I love “Chicago” And behind me hangs the poem Bill Stafford wrote while with us, titled “At Jack’s House.”

      Stay safe. Best always to you and Herb. I assume he’s already been fishing!

  4. Oh Jack!!!! This is like a giant cup of cocoa and a compress for the heaviness so many carry!!! It is so important and absolutely healing! Your “realization” was a quiet example for us all. The sun is shining. We have the songs of birds, the sounds of water, the time to enjoy them, and even the wonderful stretching arms of friends who “meet” and Air Hug each other. There is good to be found and we harm ourselves by refusing its blessing. Thank you!!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


    • And YOU just lifted my heart. Your words are a comfort and a healing for an aching heart for the world.

      Savor that bay! And stay safe.


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