The Man Who Decided to See

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

You can’t make me wear a mask to protect the lives of others!
You can’t make me wear a seatbelt.
I can drive as fast as I want–and drunk.
You can’t make me wear a shirt and shoes in your store.
You can’t make me buy a hunting license.
You can’t make me put a stamp on a letter.
You can’t make me get a driver’s license.
You can’t make me stop at a stop sign.
You can’t make me stop yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater.
The NRA can’t make me pay dues to join.
You can’t make me stop selling porn to minors.
You can’t make me get screened before boarding a plane.
You can’t make me stop grabbing any woman I want to in public.
It’s a free country. THAT’S what LIBERTY means, Stupid!

I’d love to be liberated from all the stupidity.

Did you know that one dog sniffing another dog’s butt gathers more news in that one whiff than FOX NEWS has ever broadcast?

People tell me how much more and how much better they SEE now.

They take the time to see, not just to look, but really to see: things they have around the house that others have given them, photographs, what’s outside the window, in the natural world, walking by, a long lost memory, color, a painting.

It takes time to see, to see deeply into things, to not pass by, to see a child, grandchild, sibling, parent, friend. One of the kindest things we can do for others is to see them when they talk to us.

The Man Who Decided to See

And for the first time he saw
the boy on the bicycle who sped by

his porch, then the yellowing leaf
on the back step. He saw a cloud bank

in his rear view mirror, and followed
the winding glide of the crack

in the sidewalk he took to the grocery
where he saw a woman in the bakery dab

the corner of her eye; he smiled as he saw
the way his wife’s hair spread across her shoulders.

He stopped to see the photo on the top of the
television, the frame chipped in the lower left

corner. Stars; the blue moon; the scarred
cutting board. The way the light fell across their bed.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Scintilla

Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Naomi Shihab Nye has a new collectionCAST 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.

8 thoughts on “The Man Who Decided to See

  1. I love this writing!! This line “One of the kindest things we can do for others is to see them when they talk to us.” hits home. It’s spot on and needs to said, heard and listened to. Thank you for your writings! Namaste, Augusta

    • Augusta, Please know what it means to me to learn this from you. A lot; a whole lot.
      I feel so grateful that you agree. Hey, I’m lookin’ at you right now!!!
      Thank you so very much

  2. Love this. The truth about the stupidity (and they are so proud of their stupidity – a triumph for Ignorance). And seeing – really seeing – learning this, defining it was something I learned from a biologist – an essential crossroads in my journey as a choreographer.

    • Oh do I love knowing this, Linda. I will always remember Jack Wilson once saying to me how few people really see.

      We who learned to see know how fortunate we are.

      Stay well, you two dear pals


  3. Love this – thank you Jack. You amaze me!!! Kathleen

    *“The human journey is a continuous act of transformation.”* *John O’Donahue*

    • Kathleen, thanks soooo much for telling me this. Ya always hope a post will matter,
      but you can’t know.
      Much gratitude for your kindness.

  4. Thank you as always (though you don’t always know it) for these Thursday gifts — my favorite line this week was “the scarred cutting board.” A lifetime of deliciousness!

    Love you, Jack! Hugs to Julie! Jen

    • Hi Jen

      Is it ever a joy when one sees the implications in what can appear as a rather simple image.
      Thank you soooooo much!!

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