I said to Julie, “I haven’t had my stomach in such a knot since my dad had to play North Carolina!”
Well, this is it, everyone. This is the first post for the beginning of the next four years. It’s also my last protest post. Four years ago I thought to counter this awful man and his minions by giving the only thing I have to give. I got so much in return from you.
So, starting next week, each Thursday at 9am instead Julie and I will do our Facebook video chat-and-a-poem only, the emphasis being empathy, as we work to survive the pandemic together. You’ll find me at that link above.
Of course I have wondered all four years whether doing this was worth it to anyone out there. I’m grateful for the responses that came in each week. They were sustaining.
This week, knowing we were nearing some kind of closure, revealing the ugly underbelly that has been there all along, waking us up to how fragile a moral nation is, I received two sustaining messages. One is from an American citizen; the other from a German citizen.
From our American friend Joe MacDoniels: “Here is hoping that you will be able to present a ‘last in the series’ poem on Thursday! That said, I hope you will also announce a new ‘Julie and Jack’ series that will shine a light on redemption, resolution and, dare I say ‘resurrection’ for America and a democratic vision of fairness, equality and hope. With appreciation for four years of starting my Thursdays with glimmers of light, memories and the joy of just falling into the wonderful implications of your words! –Joe”
And from German friend Josef Hien: “Dear Jack, I just read a book by Terry Pratchett, from the Discworld series, and I stumbled upon something that made me think of you and what you did the last four years. In it, a good witch has to fight a daemon called the Cunning Man. He is responsible for spreading fear and hate among people—and when she finally has to face him she says, ‘Your power is only rumor and lies. You bore your way into people when they are uncertain and weak and worried and frightened, and they think their enemy is other people when their enemy is, and always will be, you—the master of lies. Outside you are fearsome; inside, you are nothing but weakness. Inside, I am flint.’ A line a little earlier says, ‘Poison goes where poison’s welcome.’ I really hope that next week there will be not enough hearts and places to be found where poison is welcome. All my best wishes for you—and thank you for being flint!”
And thank YOU all for being flint! All this time, every Thursday and every day.
Prayer for the Moral Heart
There are those who know
the world without words,
not even a murmur or
a breath. Within the modesty
of presence, a prayer
could be green, tattered,
cold, alone as a possum
crossing a back road. It’s
the touch of the still. It’s
where we are Amen,
Shalom, Namaste—it’s our
there, here, our forgotten
habitat of yes. We become
sigh, our “I” the wet dog,
the sparrow nesting
in the anonymity of brown.
First published in Southern Poetry Review
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University
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.
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Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.