It Doesn’t Matter this Early in the Morning

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. 

My buddy from college, Mel, is a brilliant and eccentric therapist and professor, and has lectured throughout the world. His publications are multiple, he chairs his department while keeping his private practice.

In 1971, Melvin Miller is in Vietnam, in charge of a troop. He has his men leave a space during roll call for one invisible soldier — Private Harold Harnch. He orders his men to go into the jungle, tear down vines and make peace signs. A superior officer tried to have him court martialed, but the reasons were so absurd that they decided to just let it go.

“Sir, we demand a court martial for Miller’s invisible soldier.”


One day Mel drove his jeep over a cliff. I can’t recall how many bones he broke.

He was sent home and placed in Valley Forge Military Hospital. I was living in Pittsburgh so I drove across Pennsylvania to visit him. And there he lay in bed with both his arms and both his legs held up in the air in traction. there was no way he could move. There was no way he could heal except by waiting — for a long time. And then very slowly begin to walk and lift, and move again. Painfully.

However he could talk.

“I got out of that damn lie of a war,” said Mel.

So 45 thinks our soldiers are “suckers” and “losers.” Say, what?

It Doesn’t Matter This Early in the Morning

The sun beats down
somewhere else and
the moon is lower
than the top of the trees.
The cat comes back from
its prowl and curls up
in front of the back door.
Coming up the street,
the headlights on the
night shift worker’s car
turn into his driveway. We
can hear the refrigerator,
the pump in the basement,
the fan in the bedroom
upstairs. If there are
ghosts, they have only
the silence, only the last
of the moon’s borrowed light.

—Jack Ridl

Published in Point Shirley/Oxford England

Laura Donnelly’s Midwest Gothic, winner of the Richard Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press is now available. Donnelly’s first collection, Watershed, won the 213 Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize.

Eco-poet Alison Swan’s new collection, A Fine Canopy has been released by Wayne State University Press.

Both of these collections reveal writers who care deeply about their subjects and the use of artistry that serves their subjects with evidence of mastery, purpose, and integrity.

All of these writers have new books that deserve our attention: Robert Fanning, Alison Luterman, Jeff Munroe, Heidi Aronson, Shea Tuttle Charlie Brice, Judith Brice, R.A. Kamin, Matthew Baker, 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.

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

10 thoughts on “It Doesn’t Matter this Early in the Morning

  1. Loved today’s poem — it speaks to a peace that I long to find. If I sought such peace by composing to your poem (someday, not imminently), would I have your permission?

    With thanks and love, Jen

  2. I love this poem, Jack! I feel that experience of noise every night and morning. Since this whole thing began with T, I find myself hanging on to poetry and it is so soothing. Thanks for opening it up more for me in your class years ago! Christi (Broersma) Caughey

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