A Father

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here,  and the video saved with all of his past Livestream videos here. 

Almost four years ago when I started writing this protest blog, I figured I’d be done in about four months. I mean how long can responsible people who represent us let us be led by a bully?

Well, here I sit once again trying to do what I’m not cut out to do: write another weekly, tangent composed “post.”

It’s maddening. I write on Tuesday, giving Julie time to show me what makes no sense whatsoever. Also I can’t spell. I was the first to go down in the state spelling bee. I was in seventh grade.

I sure hope the selection of Kamala Harris helps end this ordeal come November.

All this loss. All these people living in grief.

It’s been 25 years since I lost my dad. I still miss him. I mean I miss him in his garden. Someone’s passing upsets me because they don’t still get to be around. I cringe when someone says, “You’ll have such good memories.” Remembering is anything but a pleasant experience for me. “Remember your father and his gardens?” It’s meant well, but I want to say,“YEAH! I’m really upset that he can’t be back growing his vegetables and hundreds of gladioli.”

“45, YOU could have prevented hundreds of thousands of people being left with “good memories.”

And speaking of, now, it’s the precarious back to school time. Everyone must be worried if their children are among those going back into a building. I am scared as can be for our daughter, an overloaded art teacher.

A Father

I remember how he’d wait; he’d
make a mound of peace and surround
himself with nothing
I could know. His mind
seemed alone at the taut end
of a kite string. I would wait,
hoping for the air to open dipping
him back to us. His eyes were empty

sockets of morning light. I was on
my own, trying to learn at the end
of his fingers what it was he knew.

–Jack Ridl

First published in New Collage.
Subsequently published in The Same Ghost (Dawn Valley Press)

I’ve been asked how I pick the books to include here. I don’t. I simply list books by those I know who I’ve learned have books out. I know that I miss many. And for that I am sorry.

These writers have books I know that some of you would appreciate: Heidi Aronson, Shea Tuttle Charlie Brice, Judith Brice, R.A. Kamin, Ginger Rankin (her husband was my dad’s first All-American player), Dan Gerber, Phyllis Klein, Linda Hillringhouse, Patricia Barnes, Lisa Lenzo, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Robert Hamblin, Faith Shearin, Nancy Esther James, Salvatore Sapienza, Kirk Westphal, Thomas Allbaugh, D.R. James.

I do want to add that R.A. Kamin’s book is a suspense novel, her first, that keeps the pages turning. She wrote much of it here at our house after a full day as a therapist and mom who owns a large practice in Grand Rapids. Her practice is known as the first in her city to openly accept LGBTQ clients. She is good people.

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.

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

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.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

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

7 thoughts on “A Father

  1. Thanks again for your wonderful poetry. This is one I think I understand, or perhaps I don’t. But reading it did stir feelings in me and for that I am thankful. P


    • Yeah, forever it seems poems have been to the intellect when the intellect is simply there to affirm the emotional intelligence and the intelligence of the imagination.
      You really experienced which is what any real poem is meant to create: not A meaning but to take you beyond such into empathy or reflection or connection or new perception or realization.
      Treat every poem that way and you’ll have many such experiences. And always there are many a poem where ya can’t do that.
      Miss you

  2. Thanks for including my name in your list of new books from writers you know. I’ve been having a surprisingly good time with this endeavor. And I love being in such good company on your blog with you and the other authors. We’ve had one disaster of a month out here in California, (even the NYTimes agrees) so it’s great to see that creativity and connection go on. We are limping towards something better hopefully. And it was good to celebrate the centennial of women’s suffrage. May we have enough ballot containers and counters for the results we long for in the murky or perhaps better future. May I never have to be evacuated.

    • Loved your being there! We have a video that is quite unprofessional, but it was good to watch. Everything is a learning process! So far so good today with the fire situation for us but my colleague/friend’s sister and family lost their house last night. Words escape me.

  3. Dear Jack,
    reminds me of my father, this distance that was no keeping others away but rather a having lost the faculty of joining in just like that. Only a few months before his death he was able to, very cautiously, hint at a forlornness inside, which I traced back to experiences during the war, when the generation of our fathers was forced to live up to demands that were so much larger than the frail human frame. When death finally came he had his eyes wide open and amidst the morphine clutched my arm and whispered “The tanks, the tanks”. I presume a soul needs room for all these images, and that room may have been the distance I felt for many years knowing that it was no real distance but trying to keep his balance.
    Anyway, Jack, I’m still part of the flock but I went back into writing myself and want to have the book finished by the end of next year. A lot of reading is involved in the process and – you know how it is – one is necessarily focussed on one’s own futile endeavour when writing.
    So, smoke signals from the other side of the pond and best wishes (despite the fact that The Great Gagamemnon will, with pomp and cirumstance, start his parade around himself tomorrow)

    • Dear Reinhard,
      It’s a joy to read your writing, be it sorrowful,joyous, informative. It’s music.

      It’s also a joy to know that the poem made this connection, I can’t imagine what your father carried all his days and the impact on you.

      A poem is supposed to take us beyond itself into connection, feeling, imagination, reflection. empathy, new perception, realization.

      Receiving your comments is a gift.

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