Blue Sky Over Key West

Jack will NOT be reading this poem over livestream on Facebook today. He’s having trouble with a lot of nerve pain again, and he will be taking a little break while we work to get it under control. Prayers and incantations for him, if you are into that sort of thing, please.

Well, Never did I think I would be sitting here four years later.
I certainly don’t need to ask you to VOTE!
And HOPE!

Blue Sky Over Key West

Sometimes when we stand in the loss
of it all, surrounded by what we will never

be, the sky seems to be just fine. It’s blue.
It’s many shades of blue. And it’s there

and will be when we join the landscape
of the invisible. Clouds cross, none ever

the same. And that’s when we realize again
that there actually is no sky, just another

anonymous unknown we are sure we see.
When our dog steps out onto the deck of

our little houseboat bobbing on the nameless
blue-green of this bight and lifts his nose into

the gull-crossed and sea-soaked breeze,
does he see our sky? I like to suppose

he does. Though most likely it’s something
his gentle nose has brought for only him.

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Louisville Review

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

The remarkably prolific and playfully serious poet J.R. Solonche has just come out with two collections: The Moon Is the Capital of the World and A Guide of the Perplexed.

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

On the Last Day of the World

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

I was raised to be very careful about using the word “Evil.”

It was never to be applied haphazardly. Hitler was evil. 45’s way of responding to Gretchen Whitmer, who bravely extended the lockdown here in Michigan and saved who knows how many lives, along with his vicious attacks on Dr. Fauci who has devoted his life to saving lives long after he could have retired, and the heinous accusations placed on Hunter Biden and promoted by that Cheshire Cat Guiliani and the ethically mangled Murdoch’s false journalists led me to brand the word on the protruding foreheads of 45 and his band of conscienceless pranksters.

45 and his henchmen are most certainly evil.

Good soul after good soul have told me that it’s reached the point where they are having physical reactions: stomach pains, increased pressure in the heart, headaches, surge depletion, ambivalent loss, increased anxiety, depression either mild or severe.

G. F. Korreck is one of those people whose interests are so eclectic, a man so humbly knowledgeable and intelligent that awe comes my way in our every conversation. And he’s an exceptional poet with an uncommon imagination. Today he sent to me the following piece of light verse he composed, which if you tilt your head, ain’t light, or is. Both. I secured his permission to include it in today’s post.

“My Favorite President”

serves me
french toast
every morning
and fresh squeezed orange
juice my napkin
has the constitution printed
in script every day
he sings the hallelujah
chorus he rescues a puppy
each afternoon he takes
my mom for a walk
and then shopping and
then to Taco Bell for lunch
he lets me watch old
videos of football
games my favorite
team won and gives
me a dollar
to spend wastefully

my favorite president
has Jimmy John’s cater dinner topped off
by a carton of blue
moon ice cream
and then we watch
tombstone
for the 80th time
my bed gets turned down
the sheets always
fresh the blankets
new and warm
the night light
is a star that sings
lullabies and
then
when it gets real dark
my favorite president
leaves as quietly as
a whisper never heard

–G. F. Korreck

Tonight is the workshop of outstanding poets, ten of ‘em. I think this is our 12th year. Not one emailed me, “But what about the debate?”

On the Last Day of the World

Maybe the sky will be clear,
and we’ll take a walk down
the road behind our house,
just walk along, going nowhere,
somewhere. Birds will fly branch
to branch, a rabbit or chipmunk
may cross in front of us, disappear
into the brush. We’ll try
not to look at the sun.
We’ll keep our eyes off
to the side. When we come
to the bend, we’ll look for
the deer path, take it, and
see where it leads, see if
it opens to a clearing where
each night the deer sleep
deep within the star-distant light.

–Jack Ridl
Published in Third Wednesday

Laura Donnelly’s Midwest Gothic, recipient of the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize and published by Ashland Poetry Press, is one mesmerizing collection. How can you not read poems with tales such as “Miss Missaukee,1966” and “Boat Song in F-sharp Minor”? On sale from the press, or wherever fine books are sold.

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

Fractals

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

It’s time for a hodgepodge. How can you follow the importance of one thing to another?

The virus has us all thinking with accompanied anxieties, plural, about the upcoming winter. And if you are where we are in Michigan, that means cold until May. What is the virus like in the freezing cold? I have yet to be told.

However, I should’ve begun with the wonder that is autumn. It all makes me feel honest awe, and at my age, I should be immune. I am not. The way the colors choreograph their appearance is silently orchestral.

Then there was my grandmother. (You met her before if you follow these posts.) Every year we—the family—would head out for a “color tour.” We’d beg her to go along. She would always refuse. Off we’d go, jaws dropping at every turn. On our return, she’d ask how it was, and my sister and I would all but jump around the room exclaiming the dazzle. Mom and Dad would maturely concur. My grandmother, who always sat in “her” chair by the window would turn, point out at all the trees that filled her front yard and quietly say, “Did they look like these?”

And we’re gonna worry about the holidays. How can we have them? They are tradition at its most celebrated.

And November 3. What will happen? What has happened is unconscionable. I started these postings not to argue with 45, but to counter him. I thought four-five months, tops. Frankly, I’m tired. Joe has to let me, if I keep going—kinda up to you—Joe has to enable me to write the sentiment-filled stuff I love to notice.

And if things are serious, I want them to be serious-personal as in the last two days. I’ve worked on poetry with Episcopal priest Rich Frontjes and retired philosophy professor Jim Allis, both of whom compose important, humane poems. I’ve heard and responded to the death of a friend’s father and brother, and I listened to a friend as he told me, somehow, of the death in a car wreck of his friends, a mother and daughter-in-law. Our daughter had a colleague commit suicide yesterday. I am doing the Crop Walk (For me, the Crop Limp?) and I am overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity of so many friends. I write these because I know you are experiencing similar personal experiences and want to give your time and attention to them, not to this virus and certainly no to four more years of gaslighting.

Example: Can you believe the doctor who treated 45 declaring him, what? Safe! 45? Safe??

This doctor took a Hippocratic oath.

That’s enough. Let’s savor the changing of the leaves. Let’s make it a secularly spiritual ritual. let’s all feel like jumping in the leaves, or like my grandmother, just look out the window.

Fractals

On this autumn afternoon, the light
falls across the last sentence in a letter,
just before the last movement of Brahms’
Fourth Symphony, a recording made more
than 20 years ago, the time when we were
looking for a house to rehabilitate, maybe
take out a wall and let the kitchen open
up into the living room, put in a window
so the morning light could fall across
the bed my wife’s grandmother made
the canopy for, the bed she slept in for
forty years. She was a doctor looking
for a town close enough that we can
drive past where she practiced, imagine
her picking up her violin when there
was time between patients, settle
it under her chin and play, looking
out the window into the same street we
drive down on our way to visit our
daughter in her studio. She creates
dresses, stitches turning into lines,
fabric turning into sculpture hanging
under her skylight, the dresses’ threads
knotted, their edges frayed. When
we knock on her door, she welcomes
us with cups of steaming tea, turns
down the jazz and kisses us. She
is happy in this light and later she
will ask us how we like our new place,
laugh when we begin to tell her all
our plans for tearing out the kitchen,
knocking out a wall so we can see
deep into the wood, along the creek
that twists itself around a pile of rocks
and through the trees. She makes us
dinner as we listen to Miles Davis,
“Birth of the Cool”—I always wonder
why he ended with a vocal, one
that sounds recorded twenty years
before. Its notes are sleepy,
the voices like smoke. At home
the dog and cats are sleeping. We
forgot to leave a light on for them,
but the radio is playing, and when we
get there, they will want to go outside.
The dog will pause for a scratch behind
his ears, his tail wagging as the cats
jump off the couch, hurry out the door,
disappear into the dark.
We’ll tune the radio to a symphony,
watch the moon harvesting
its light through the back window.

–Jack Ridl

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

The Chair

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

Because some personal losses happened this week that had nothing to do with Covid-19 or the protests, I thought a lot about those who are grieving in the midst of these events that affect us all. One still receives sympathy emails and notes along with baked goods, a casserole or two. But friends to sit with and be comforted by?

How does one personally grieve when one is already overwhelmed? Can you say to yourself, “I’ll put personal grieving off until family and friends can gather? No. Grief is an ambush. It attacks when it attacks, certainly immediately in the form of shock, then as the days crawl by, it sneak-attacks, and you find yourself crying in the produce section and wondering why.

And yet if you turn away from the hideous blaspheming of 45, the beautiful solidarity of the protests, the welfare of others regarding Covid, and the need to actually “serve and protect,” you feel you’ve put aside what could be — finally — a shift from consuming what isn’t needed to caring for what is.
I need to change the tone.

Let’s imagine 45’s book report on The Bible. First sentence, “It’s incredible.”

The Chair

This chair is empty. This evening
is another evening coming down around
us like the last moment before
the winds are gone and the wild
songs of the insects disappear into
the endless dream of the mind’s nest.

Whoever is not sitting in that chair
is who is resting in your veins, ready
to drift out of you, taking the voices
that interrupt the child’s play,
that hover over the marriage bed, mocking
the rhythm of being alone, ripping
the last chance from the last chance.

This empty chair sits, and sits facing
the window that frames the light
that you imagine is a gift
knowing its source is fire, its long journey
a flood, its movement through
the spider’s web a grace no less invincible
than sight. These are the days.
These are the nights. And at rest,
the empty chair.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Free Lunch. Subsequently published in Between(Dawn Vally Press).

On June 21 at 2pm I will give an online reading with charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom as part of M.L. Liebler engaging reading series on ZOOM. Write to him for details. 

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.

Linda Hillringhouse has a personally powerful book of poems out about the things that shape her life. The Things I Didn’t Know to Wish Forfrom NYQ Books.

Dan Gerber’s new, beautifully reflective long poemLandscape at Eighty, has been gorgeously printed in letterpress by Hound Dog Press.

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.

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

At Breakfast — 1965

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

“I can’t breathe!”

This sentence will never again be spoken without an eruption of consciousness. Its connotation has been forever changed, become a sorrowful mantra. 

And the people who took advantage of the righteous anger of African Americans to wreak their own havoc just sicken me. Speaking of whom…

Indelible is the image of 45 standing before Saint John’s and hoisting the Bible — about which he is illiterate — as a weapon.

45 has decimated any progress our country has tried to make toward its ideals. He might as well pull down every symbol of the nation’s dream. He has made the Statue of Liberty a symbol of our gravest hypocrisy.

Our dream of democracy has devolved into the battle scene from a Batman film. Our beautiful cities are suddenly cartoon Gothams.

“I can’t breathe”—and I mean this with deep sorrow and respect—“I can’t breathe” will forever be our metaphor. We all woke this morning feeling that metaphor: We can’t breathe.

45 called state and local leaders weak.

I hope the weak will inherit the earth.

At Breakfast–1965

“Appalling!” said Grace. “How in the world
could you join that fraternity?” She peered over

her bowl of Granola. I wanted to admit the vow
included, “Being white and of Christian birth.”

I poured myself another cup of coffee, cut it
with cream. Then I told her. Our black friend

across the table nodded. And Grace said, “How
could you say that? It’s horrid, horrifying!” I rolled

my hard-boiled egg along the table, peeled off
its shell, dabbed the white in the salt lying on my plate.

–Jack

On June 21 at 2pm I will give an online reading with charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom as part of M.L. Liebler engaging reading series on ZOOM. Write to him for details. 

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.

Linda Hillringhouse has a personally powerful book of poems out about the things that shape her life. The Things I Didn’t Know to Wish For, from NYQ Books.

Dan Gerber’s new, beautifully reflective long poem, Landscape at Eighty, has been gorgeously printed in letterpress by Hound Dog Press.

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.

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

Broken Symmetry

This week’s New Yorker cover: 45 is wearing a coronavirus mask, but it’s covering his eyes.

This morning I said to Julie, I can’t think of a thing to write this week.
So off I went into the day, thinking maybe something will come to me.

I washed Vivi-the-dog’s water dish and filled it with fresh water, nice and cold.
I put some of our favorite clothes into the washer.
Patted Vivi. Scratched her butt. She loves that.
Scratched cat Hattie behind her ears.
During the night I awoke to discover Vivi between Julie and me, and Hattie snuggled up beside me.
I made the bed. I usually trip over the three or four pillows Julie has dropped on her side.
I laughed at the Laurel and Hardy bed-making bit: “Now we’re getting somewhere!” We have some beautiful pillows that dance off the colorscape by Del Michel. Every morning they cheer me.
I “turned on” both fireplaces, watched the flames flicker.
In the room we call the cottage, I watched the zany squirrels and the
wonderful variety of birds come to the feeder.
Looking out that window and into the woods I thought of two dear friends who were having surgery that day.
I made the coffee, waiting for the little whistle telling me the water was ready to pour over the beans I’d ground.
Then Julie and I sat before the “fire” and sipped and savored. Vivi curled up with us, Hattie somewhere.
Julie checked her phone for any news I needed to know. I checked mine for any poems that her heart might need.
After an hour, a friend came. We meet once each week for a couple hours for conversations that you would enjoy, and to explore the poem he wrote that week…
As we sat there in the “cottage,” a goldfinch flew against the large window that looks out to the feeders and into the woods. That majestic patch of color landed on the ground and didn’t move.
We went out to carry the finch into the woods to bury her.
I turned her over, lifted a wing that was tucked beneath her stomach. Her head moved. Moved again. And then she flew off into the woods, stopped on a branch and seemed to look back.

Again I was reminded that what matters is every day that is, was, and will be.

Broken Symmetry

Angels never have to worry
about their wings: lose a feather here
or there, a new perfection floats down

across the landscape, catching itself
on its cousin the tree branch, landing
on its second cousin the leaf, or even

along its third cousin twice removed,
the blacktop highway. There is so much
symmetry that in the mirror your left

side resembles your left side even though
it’s never quite the same as your
right. Go deeper. All the cells split

into identical ice dancers, all
the electrons spin the same bacchanal.
Only the broken reveals, gives

the universe its chance at being
interesting, says a door is not
an elephant, the moon is not a

salad fork. So, break the bread
in two, drink half the glass of wine,
slice the baby down the middle, cut

the corner, divide the time. Tonight
the moon will once again reflect the sun’s
monotonous dazzle, and the old light

making its dumb way to us, will break
our symmetry of coming home,
of passing on the street.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Field.
Subsequently Published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

Don’t forget to check out D.R. James’Flip Requiem with cover by Meridith Ridl. Find it at your bookstore, or order from the publisher Dos Madres Press, Inc.

At last, the reading at The BookNook & Java Shop in Montague has been set for 7pm on April 28, when I’ll be joined by friend and poet Mark Hiskes. I guarantee you will love the place along with its good food and beverages. Many thanks to owner and arts promoter Bryan Uecker.

Jack’s Homily, “The Devil Went Down to Douglas” is here for those of you interested in marking the occasion.

Don’t miss subscribing to this podcast.  And Then Suddenly is the brainchild of the kind and brilliant Angela Santillo, whose path I’ve crossed once before while working with CavanKerry Press. Her podcast has a brilliant premise…  Describe a moment in your life that changed… everything. She’s had that moment, and from it she has made this podcast. Here’s the conversation we had recently.  I hope you explore many of the episodes. Because they will change you. In a good way.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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.

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

Michael Steinberg Made the World Better

Hi folks. Julie here. We are early this week. It’s a hard day, and we needed to talk about it…

Carole just wrote to us. Michael has died. We are staggered. We are staggered the way we are all staggered, trying to imagine the world without our loved ones in it. It’s unimaginable. And it should be, really. Hard to fathom. Anything less would say so little about the life. We should all aim to leave a hole in the world that staggers people.

Michael Steinberg.

Mike.

Many thousands of writers and readers could walk arm-in-arm through the hole Mike has left us. It is enormous and raggedly edged.

And that’s because Mike invented and taught us a whole new way to tell our stories. Then he made sure our stories were heard.

Really, what better gift could a person give the world, what better legacy could a person leave than giving us a new way to connect, one to an other? By giving us a Fourth Genre, he showed us how creative non-fiction can transport us to someone else’s place and time and experience.

And he poured more of his life into teaching and celebrating other people’s writing than anyone we knew. He celebrated Jack’s poems too, because he was generous that way. He listened to Jack’s stories, and Jack listened to his, and Carole and I were very patient, taking walks to stare into woods or along shorelines,  when many… well, most… of those stories centered on sports.

He introduced us to so many writers. And by us, I mean Jack and Julie, but I especially mean you, and the world. Editors paid attention to the writers Michael paid attention to. Careers quietly and not so quietly launched by his careful reading and coaching, his boundless energy for this work.

No. It’s hard to walk through this day, and it’s hard to imagine tomorrow without Michael. And if it’s hard for us, we can hardly dip a toe into Carole’s pain.  So let’s go to her now, and tell her we will never forget him. Not ever. Impossible.

Without looking for it, this poem landed in my lap this morning. It makes me think of that kid in Brooklyn, playing baseball anywhere he could hunt up a game. And then finding his girl.

Carole, we love you…  J&J

Psalm

I am still on a rooftop in Brooklyn
on your holy day. The harbor is before me,
Governor’s Island, Verrazano Bridge
and the Narrows. I keep in my head
what Rabbi Nachmann said about the world
being a narrow bridge and that the important thing
is not to be afraid. So on this day
I bless my mother and father, that they be
not fearful where they wander. And I
ask you to bless them and before you
close your Book of Life, your Sefer Hachayim,
remember that I always praised your world
and your splendor and that my tongue
tried to say your name on Court Street in Brooklyn.
Take me safely through the Narrows to the sea.

–Harvey Shapiro
From A Momentary Glory — Last Poems, Wesleyan University Press

Poetry and the Spirit (Sold Out, Wait List Open)

IMG_0687A conversation with Pastor Sal of Douglas UCC and Poet Laureate of Douglas Jack Ridl will be held October 24, 7 to 9pm, at Douglas United Church of Christ, 54 Wall Street, Douglas, Michigan. Tickets are available at: http://bit.ly/poetryspirit

Sal Sapienza, pastor of the Douglas United Church of Christ,  is a writer, a spiritual pilgrim, and a progressive minister who seeks communion of all faiths and justice in all things. Poet Jack Ridl was once a pre-seminary student, a former professor of poetry, a workshop leader, who for many years studied Zen.

The evening will begin with Sal and Jack offering some of their ways of thinking about the spiritual and the poetic, which not only have much in common, but may be so intertwined as to be inseparable. After their conversation, the audience will join in with their questions, comments, wonderings, ways of thinking.

Sal and Jack will refer to their own books, so it may be useful to bring along your copies. Their books are available through online and real life bookstores. Reader’s World Bookstore will have books for sale before and after the discussion in the Friendship Hall.

Seating is limited, tickets are $10 and will be taken at the door. Buy your tickets at: http://bit.ly/poetryspirit

Blog on Break. Here’s why…

Hi folks,
Jack had emergency surgery on Friday to release pressure on his spinal column, remove bone spurs, and fuse his neck from top to bottom. He has 12 weeks recovery in a hard neck brace that makes reading and emailing impossible.
As much as Jack would appreciate hearing from you, please don’t email him right now. It’s just too hard for him to respond, and he always feels pressure to respond. He should be back at it in late October!
All best to you and your work! Resist!
And to get your fix of great writing from large-hearted folks, head to Writer’s Resist.
Love,
Julie

Fractals: A Nocturne

Tis the season. As we learned this week from the Handbook of 45–global warming is a hoax, climate change is normal. Just note the big early snowstorms.

Sigh.

When confronted by Pilate, Jesus said, “I am not of your kingdom,” and a multitude of us are most certainly saying, yelling, muttering much the same about King 45.

Things aren’t fine, but we have learned how to hold on to all that is good, loving, true.

And so in the midst of it all, ’tis still the season to be jolly, not happy–jolly.

Fractals: A Nocturne

Today we woke to the first snowfall of the season.
You know how it is: The flakes fall, and after
the dog goes out, comes in, you wipe his paws.
Or you don’t.

My wife’s father was captain
of a destroyer heading to
Cuba during the missile crisis. He
and his crew listened to Radio Havana.
Sometimes to Tito Puente. Kennedy
called to turn back the fleet.

This is the holiday season. The deer will soon lie in
the drifts outside our bedroom window. They sleep,
lift their heads, then lower them back into sleep.

Last night we put up a Frazier fir. They hold
their needles. We also untangled the strings
of lights. Eight months before I was born, my father,

white Army captain of a black company, led his
men through the rubble of Belgium and France.
My mother and her mother trimmed a tree.

I was born in April. My father was slogging his men
through the breath-stealing heat of the Philippines.
We are not treated the same as the others, he wrote,
and we are living in a rice paddy. All there is is rain.

Here it is still snowing.

–Jack Ridl

First published by Re)verb.

Then published in Toad.

Published in an alternative form in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

I encourage you to take a look at the blog kept by award winning author and artist Linda K. Sienkiewicz. In posts she entitles “What, Why, How,” Sienkiewicz asks each person she welcomes to her blog those three questions. Talk about cutting to what really matters. Her novel In the Context of Love received not one but five major awards.

For many the Season of Advent is arriving. I noted before, Gayle Boss’s All Creation Waits, her numinous reflections on creatures who live with us, each reflection accompanied by the stunning woodcuts of David G. Klein. Day one: Painted Turtle, followed by Muskrat! Soon comes the loon and then the wood frog!

And here’s what Dos Madres Press has released about Greg Rappleye’s new collection–

New Book:  Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds by Greg Rappleye

Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds

Greg Rappleye is a poet of exquisite, lush language, exacting and precise in description, inventive in the re-creation of entire worlds. In this intoxicating and revelatory journey through the Brazilian rain forests of the 19th century, he populates the canvas of his poems with not only the flora and fauna of that time and place, but with the voice and inimitable perspective of its subject: Martin Johnson Heade, an American painter obsessed with the otherworldly appearance and flight of hummingbirds. As Rappleye’s imagined Heade confesses, “[I] walk for days to find their tiny hearts / beating in the jungle dark.” Yet for all its meticulous research, the heart of this book is a meditation on connection, on what we willingly give our lives over to. As the poet asks, “What should we save—/ a fallen world, or the life we are finally given to live?” —Todd Davis

On April 1 (perfect!)  my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!
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Visit Reader’s World in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

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.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.