The Last Thing

Our daughter had a ninth grader who informed her that he was a cowboy. Each class he would sidle up to her, thumbs hitched into his belt loops, and in a cowboy drawl ask, “Well, Ms. Ridl, what we gonna draw tahday?”

Yes. What are we gonna draw tahday?

The Last Thing

That’s Jesus with the head of a tuna
sailing on His cross, over the roofs,
over villagers going to market, fixing
their cars, making soup, taking
their medicine or watching each other

on TV. See how the clouds hang
there around Him? He loves that. He
even tosses dice inside them to make
it rain. Sometimes He just lies back,
like here in this one, and lets everything

alone. He knows so long as He’s here
on this cross, everyone will let Him be.
He loves how they had Him rise
and come for dinner. See, here in
this one how He’s having some chocolate

cake? Outside, leaning against the front
of the house is His cross. See the dog
licking its paw? And the half moon with
Jesus sitting on it? Last night
I started a new painting. I

really like all the cows in this one.
I like that green sky and that little
girl pulling the wagon of doll’s heads.
And I like the old guy sitting on that
fish. That was the last thing I put in.

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Journal–Ohio State University
Published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

 

Upcoming Events–

June 22: Writing workshop at Ox-Bow. It might be open to more participants. And they may build a waiting list, so contact them and add your name in case someone drops. Be sure to check out all the classes at Ox-Bow here. They are a delight, especially because you learn without any pressure to achieve.

July 25: The Michigan Authors Workshop sponsored by Saginaw Valley State University. Arts Center in Midland. Writing workshop in the afternoon. A reading that evening.
Contact is Helen M. Raica-Klotz klotz@svsu.edu
Go to the website for a list of all the events over the several days and for registration information.

August 13, 6-8pm: Sixth Annual Reading at The Red Dock with D.L. James and Mark Hiskes, 219 N. Union Street, Douglas, MI,  6pm. Music mid-afternoon!

August 20, 7p.m.: Reading with Greg Rappleye at The Book Nook & Java Shop, 8744 Ferry Street in Montague. The place itself is worth being in–so comfy and welcoming with fine eats and of course Java!

 

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, The Book Nook in Saugatuck, 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.

But He Loved His Dog

My concern about using the term Pro-Life is that it’s a misnomer. It would be honest to say Pro-Birth. After that I don’t see much Pro-Life among the Pro-Lifers. They stand firm for the unborn; however, they show little if any passion and care for the born.

It would be life changing if the same passion were applied to those whose lives are mere survival. Don’t we long for those who need food, need medical attention they can’t afford, housing in which they can thrive, mental health aid and support, just plain safety, rights and respect, and on and on? Don’t we want to be pro-living for them?

And don’t we long for a president who serves the people and not this cult called “his base,” one who is pro-quality-of-life, not one who is pro-death to integrity, to the caring spirit?

But He Loved His Dog

Wednesday was trash day so he pulled
the garbage can to the curb. There
was never that much in it. Sometimes
he stood there for a few minutes, looking
down when a car drove by, looking up
at the trees in the yard across the street.

No one really knew if he knew anyone.
He had a dog. It wasn’t much of a dog.
It was an old dog, a mix too mixed
to know what all might be there. He
told someone once, “Oh I suppose
there has to be some beagle, maybe
some German shepherd.” Each noon
he walked the dog down to the corner,
left on Maple Avenue, three blocks
to the park where they would stop and

he would sit on a bench under a beech
that had been hollowing out for years.
The dog lay at his feet, once in a while
lifted its head and sniffed. He never read
or talked except to say, “What do you
think of this day, boy?” and the dog
would wag its tail across the gravel path.

He would sit for most of the afternoon,
then tug on the dog’s leash and they
would walk on through the park, then
back home. He would bring in the mail,
toss it away. When the evening’s light
began drawing its shadow across his porch,
he would turn on the radio, open a window,
and sit outside, with his dog, listening
to the classical music station and the cicadas.

–Jack Ridl

From Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

Here’s some really good news: The poet Kathleen McGookey, that masterful composer of the prose poem, has published a new collection–Nineteen Letters, a stunning hardback, each poem printed on a different color paper. (BarCat Press and produced in cooperation with Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School.)

Upcoming Events–

June 22: Writing workshop at Ox-Bow. It might be open to more participants. And they may build a waiting list, so contact them and add your name in case someone drops. Be sure to check out all the classes at Ox-Bow here. They are a delight, especially because you learn without any pressure to achieve.

July 25: The Michigan Authors Workshop sponsored by Saginaw Valley State University. Arts Center in Midland. Writing workshop in the afternoon. A reading that evening.
Contact is Helen M. Raica-Klotz klotz@svsu.edu
Go to the website for a list of all the events over the several days and for registration information.

August 13, 6-8pm: Sixth Annual Reading at The Red Dock, 219 N. Union Street, Douglas, MI, with D.L. James and Mark Hiskes. 6pm. Music mid afternoon.

August 20, 7p.m.: Reading at The Book Nook & Java Shop, 8744 Ferry Street in Montigue. The place itself is worth being in–so comfy and welcoming with fine eats and of course Java!

 

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, The Book Nook in Saugatuck, 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.

A Few Days before Another Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day in our village consisted of a parade: A police car, seven veterans (two were vets of WWII), a bugler, a color guard, the school’s band, and two fire trucks. We all then gathered at the war memorial in the little park.

The Sargent at Arms presented each of the veterans and gently reminded us of the day’s importance.

There was a prayer, and then Father Stoppel offered words that deserved to be given from the capitol steps. He said that we should honor those who fought for freedom — not for independent freedoms but for the freedom to bring goodness to one another.

A veteran laid a wreath at the memorial. Three volleys fired. The band played the themes associated with each armed force. I handed my handkerchief to Julie. It all closed quietly with a benediction and an invitation to have photographs taken with the veterans.

Just one little village. People together. Dogs together. All together. And then we slowly dispersed to whatever ways we would spend the rest of this “day off.”

It was the best of contradictions to the damage being done, one harmful lie and policy, one vile tweet after another, one more day of indifference to all who need our goodness.

Again this year I send the following poem. Memorial Day for many of us opens the door to Summer. I bet we make more “resolutions” than we do at New Year’s.

And so—-

A Few Days before Another Memorial Day Weekend

You think maybe if you screened in the porch.
You think fly fishing. You think re-reading
Middlemarch or your grandmother’s recipes.
There’s summer ahead, lots of days, plenty
of pots to make a container garden: mounds
of begonias, asters, foxglove, cosmos, and coleus.
There’s your sister’s wedding, her third you think.
It will be small, huge, both; it doesn’t matter.
And it does. It’s not at all the same. What is
the same is your penmanship, no matter how many
calligraphy lessons or how hard you’ve tried
to change the way you cross your tees. What’s
the same is birdsong and the taste of pepper. You
switch cereals, you turn off the television, the
back burner, the boss, the highway. There’s a little
restaurant where you can order garlic mashed
potatoes and switch to blueberry pie. You think
if you throw away your shoes, buy a little car, a little
place in the country, make little sense. You say yes
to four in the morning, yes to the dust on the table,
no to the days of the week, to wind chimes, number
two lead pencils, Louisiana. You know there’s wax
in your ears, there’s time enough to tell, there’s room
for it here–or even there. It’s just that the dog is asleep
and the cats are asleep and the water is running, running
where your mother said it would run, running while
the welcome mat stays out. You wonder if you thought
of Buddha, but no one can think of Buddha. So you
think of Jesus thinking of Buddha, Jesus thinking of
Krishna thinking of Buddha who is not thinking, who is
letting the dream of a better kitchen wander off with the end
of a novel. No, you think of the nuthatch climbing down
the dead maple outside your bedroom window, you
think of the kid on the yellow bicycle, peddling like
mad, like crazy, like wildfire down the street.

–Jack Ridl

Published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

Well, the Ox-Bow class filled. But we opened it to two more folks. And they may build a waiting list, so contact them and add your name in case someone drops. Be sure to check out all the classes at Ox-Bow here. They are a delight, especially because you learn without any pressure to achieve.

Ginger Rankin’s Spice Island (Rebel Magic Books) is a novel in 92 pages you won’t want to miss. The story of Paca and Jerold, two boys on the isolated island in Grenada in the soft Caribbean Sea, is a lyrical weaving of luminous moments, every moment evocative, indelible. Order your copy here.

Summer means it’s time to mark your calendars for the annual Reading at The Red Dock in Douglas: August 13, 6pm.

 

 

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, The Book Nook in Saugatuck, 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.

Still Here

When I started doing this poem stuff some fifty years ago, I couldn’t have known that poems would bring me so many uplifting souls and enriching experiences, that this was what can come from such an eccentric enterprise. I’ve been very lucky.

Two such gifts arrived last week.

Thursday I got to read with critically celebrated writer Lisa Lenzo at a venue that should have a historical marker: Michigan News in Kalamazoo. Since 1947 it has remained an authentic newsstand, now an endangered species. The one and only Dean Hauck took it over from her father. Ready for this? There are more than 6,000 magazine titles on the racks at Michigan News! And books piled on books, the categories labeled in Dean’s hand on cardboard signs. Walk in, talk with Dean and your heart will detach itself from the world of 45. There isn’t a single slick surface, no espresso bar, just the utterly uncommon reality of Dean and her beloved newsstand, a gift to all who enter.

Then on Saturday, a dear pal and I trekked up to Ludington on a Spring blooming day within the hills. While Jim hiked in the state park, I met with the Ludington Writers. Talk about an insightful, interested, warm group. Not once did anyone manipulate a question to draw attention to herself or his writing. They wanted to talk about Saint Peter and the Goldfinch.

Each had a book, and the afternoon turned into a two-hour conversation. These writers care about one another. They help one another in ways that reveal respect for and attentiveness to the writer’s work. Following our time together was a loving tribute to the marvel that was George Dila who once wrote about a man who had a gun held to his head and when ordered to say his last words, said, “Pizza Pie.” George’s books are available!

Then, of course, there’s 45, holding an economic gun to our heads while hawking how marvelous the economy has become because of him. Talk about obfuscation, about misleading figures, about distorting facts that impact people’s thoughts and lives.

Last week after sending to a friend a notice for a job, I received this–

Hi Jack!

How are you? Been thinking of you and hoping you’ve been enjoying this really lovely weather.

My parents drove up from Valpo yesterday for my mom’s 80th birthday. We barbecued and watched the robins and blue jays laugh at my homemade scarecrow. Very peaceful.

This job appeals to me and I think I’d be good at it. At 20 hrs a week, though, at $15/hr, I’d still struggle to make ends meet and would still struggle to have health insurance. [My other job] starts again soon, but that’s just under full time, only 6 weeks of work, and no benefits. Really hoping for a full time gig so ____ and I can have insurance.

[It’s a] maddening refrain how the economy is doing so well and there are so many jobs, when the reality is there are so many low paying, part time jobs with no benefits. I look at the list of cover letters I’ve written for full time jobs I’ve applied for in the last 2 yrs. with my 2 master’s degrees and years of professional experience and a handful of respectable publications, and can count on one hand how many I’ve even gotten so much as a phone call from. It is scary, frustrating, and the list goes on.

Yes, working when I did: I was so lucky.

Still Here

Easy world, you gave it once,
that quiet afternoon after
a morning rain. We
had lunch. Then, the sun
came out and we took
our sweat out into the
garden, pulled gently
on the weeds and lifted
the slugs off their path.
It was our own greenhouse,
lost under a wide sky, the
thunderheads now gone
on, the mud mixed
with the deep, muted
smell of leaves. That
was all, a morning
storm, a steamy afternoon,
a garden helping us
feel we belonged.

–Jack Ridl

Check out the Art on the Meadow classes at Ox-Bow. I’m getting to teach one called Personal Mythologies. But don’t let that intimidate you. What I mean by this is that your own personal experiences are the equal to what we inherit from known sources, like fables, legends, children’s stories, religious texts, classical myths. Work with your own world to discover that your poem about your frightening illness connects with dragon stories, that your story about being bullied connects to David facing down Goliath. You don’t have to draw on the sources. Just write your poem or story or fragment or paragraph and realize that you are doing personal mythology. Some of you might recall Joseph Campbell and his work, how he showed that we are all living our own mythological personal history. And it’ll be fun to be with one another.

When: June 23, 10am till 5pm. With a great lunch at Ox-Bow included!

Click here for online registration.
Questions? Email ox-bowr@saic.edu or
call 1-269-857-5811

A gift arrived in my inbox yesterday. Garrison Keillor featured one of my poems on The Writer’s Almanac, now a podcast. In good company with Harvey Milk, Hergé, Orville and Wilbur, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (Thanks, Norbert!)

 

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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.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

The World In May is Leafing Out (3rd ann.)

A reminder: These posts started the Thursday after 45 won the election. They were and are meant for those who appreciate a distraction for the good.

I remember reading several articles and having several conversations about the overuse of the word “love.” The arguments went something like, “It’s used for everything, to the point where it’s drained of its real meaning.”

Hmmmmmm.

There’s something culturally implanted going on when someone says that. But let’s not go there.

I’m just gonna say that we can’t use it enough. I suggest not getting bound up thinking about what is the appropriate use of the word. So ya love donuts and movies from the 40s, old sweatshirts and pitchers’ duels, cat photographs and listening to the blues, begonias and filling the bird feeder. Love and love and love and love all that’s worth loving.

Trust discernment. Our loved ones know the difference between when you say, “I love you,” and “I love donuts.” They know you’re not saying, “The love I have for you, dear, is the same as the love I have for donuts. You and donuts, no difference.”

And speaking of what we love, how about May in this part of the world — when its Mayness finally arrives! I’ve sent this poem out the last two Mays. I thought that I’d be sending it only that one time. Sigh. That’s okay. My wife loves it. And she loves me. And donuts.

The World in May Is Leafing Out

It’s Matisse on a bicycle. It’s
a great blue heron coloring
outside the lines. The show’s
turned over to the aftermath
of buds. You can love
never thinking
this cliché could turn
to ice. Even nice
can be profound
as worry, even
the creek over the rotting log,
the pansy in the moss-covered
pot. The birds bulge
with song. Mary Cassat
throws open her windows.
Monet drags his pallet,
sits and waits for the paint
to spill across the patina
of his failing sight. Eric Satie
makes his joyous cling
and clang a counterpoint
to dazzle. The earth is rising
in shoots and sprays.
The sky’s as new as rain.
The stubborn doors swing open.

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Listening Eye
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State Univ. Press)

Today, Thursday, May 16, Lisa Lenzo will be reading from her new collection of short stories, Unblinking (Wayne State University Press), and I get to be her opening act. 6pm at Michigan News, Kalamazoo.

A group in Ludington want to talk with me about Saint Peter and the Goldfinch. That will take place on May 18 in the Judith Minty Room at the Arts Center from 2-4. If you are near enough, come join the conversation. There will be a celebration of the marvel George Dila following the program.

 

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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.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Hardship in a Nice Place

Whew! Had a lot of response to my last post about being angry. I think I had better define my terms…

First, when I wrote about my colleague’s prayer — that we are to delight in our differences – neither she nor I meant to celebrate differences that suggest evil is to be delighted in, certainly not 45’s. It has been suggested to me that I don’t live up to that prayer because I do not delight in political differences. It is true that I can’t celebrate people who hurt those who are less fortunate.

Anger is a perfectly appropriate response to the violation of something one cares deeply about. It is wonderfully informative, signaling to us, and to one another, where our loyalties lie. It is not at all the same as hostility or violence. Those are anger turned to malevolence, 45’s daily exercise.

I’m surprised when it surprises people to realize that Jesus, for example, was not always a “nice” guy. He was often an angry guy. The beatitudes have been turned into mush. What he was saying was “Blessed are the meek. I know the meek, YOU are not the meek.” “Blessed are the merciful. I know the merciful, YOU are NOT the merciful,” etc. He even told Peter to “Get thee behind me, Satan!” And he did NOT say to the money changers — and you know who they would be today — “Uh, if you don’t mind, it’d be better if you took your tables outside. Please and thank you.”

These posts have, more often than not, been prompted by anger with the cruelty and ignorance of 45 and his yes-(anything but)men with the hope of supporting those working hard to hold on to their lives and to hold fast to those they love during the reign of King 45.

Hardship in a Nice Place

The roof on our house slants out
over the garden and if it rains
the water falls on what blossoms

still arc in late August. My wife
is sleeping through her day. There
is a breeze here on the porch. There

is a certain slant of light collapsing
through the beech trees on the hill. One
tree fell this afternoon. I could hear it

cracking into the quiet, saw an angle
of trunk begin to lean and then rustle
its branches across the limbs along

the stagger of woods. At night, sounds
come I can never identify. It’s often
like that, our long days lacking much

of anything that can be named. My
wife will sleep. I will walk back from
the mailbox with our dog and wait.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Rattle.
Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron.

We went to a delightful and informative reading by Jennifer Clark at Crane’s apple orchard. She read from her collection Johnny Appleseed: The Slice and Times of John Chapman (Shabda Press). The reading was a fundraiser for elementary school students in Fennville, Michigan, to provide books kids can take home, for keeps, through a program called Book Trust. If you like that idea, and want to learn more or contribute to this worthy program, you can do that here. If you want you can specify Fennville Public Schools on your donation to put your donation to work locally.

Lisa Lenzo has invited me to join her in a reading at Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, May 16, at 6pm. Lisa’s new collection of stories is Unblinking (Wayne State University Press)

A group in Ludington want to talk with me about Saint Peter and the Goldfinch. That will take place on May 18 in the Judith Minty Room at the Arts Center from 2-4. If you are near enough, come join the conversation. There will be a celebration of the marvel George Dila following the program.

Former student Heidi Aronson Kolk, assistant professor in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St Louis, has published the fascinating Taking Possession: The Politics of Memory in a St. Louis Town House (University of Massachusetts Press)

Charles W. Brice has published
a bracing new collection An Accident of Blood (WordTech Editions)

A dear old friend, Ginger Rankin, has published a magical and moving novel, Spice Island (Rebel Magic Books)

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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.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Some Answers to Your Question

This week I lost it. My anger went everywhere I went. It clung like Gorilla Glue. I exploded, yelling about everything that came to mind. If I hadn’t been so non-rationally serious, it would’ve been hilarious. Right, we’re gonna leave the country. Right, we’re gonna find a ramshackle house in a deep forest. Right, nothing I do matters. Right, I’m never coming out of the house.

Julie sat. Listened. Vivi, our dog, offered herself for petting.

Please, enough of this “45 isn’t arousing hate.” Of course he is. And he is permitting, encouraging, those who hate that they are doing the right thing by attacking, even killing those who differ from them.

I was told to be careful about celebrating the evening when 250 of us gathered for song, poetry, and jazz. I was cautioned for saying “like-minded,” for a friend’s saying it was “Blessed Community.” I should’ve said “like-hearted.” These are people who are like-hearted, united by love.

When asked to pray before meetings, a colleague in the English department at the college where I taught would bow her head, keep her eyes open, and pray, “Let us delight in our differences. Amen.”

Amen.

Some Answers to Your Question

—No.

—Only when the door is unlocked and open.

—Oh, I suppose it’s simply the way I am.

—My mother

—Well, the Bible seems to, at least to my mind, contradict itself on that.

—I think it was after he fell off his bicycle. The bike, by the way, was ruined.

—Do I really think so? Is that any question to ask? I mean really.

—Don’t worry about it. They’re like that.

–Jack Ridl

From Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Speaking of the Goldfinch… Keith Taylor offered a delightful review on Stateside, WUOM, the other day. Listen to it just to hear that man’s voice, I say.

Go Valencia!! I had the joy of spending time with marvelous artist/poet Valencia Robin at a conference awhile ago. I’m so happy to report that her new collection Ridiculous Light received the Lexi Rudnitzky First Book Prize from Persea Books. One of the many stunning qualities of her work is the presentation of survival in a way that somehow creates a gentle quiet.

Watch for this film, The Biggest Little Farm, a documentary about John and Molly, a husband and wife who created a farm that grows in harmony with all, and I mean all, of nature. It took them seven years. The film will bring many a gasp, sigh, laugh, and choked back tear. It will get us talking. Side note: the wife, Molly, is the daughter of friends of ours. Her dad was a standout forward for one of the teams my father coached, one which was ranked number one throughout the season.

Jeff Gundy’s Without a Plea “brashly ranges from stick-thin lyrics to page-crossing two-line stanzas” and reveals that “the world is full / of little possibilities for love.”

Tony Eames from nfreads.com published this interview. His goal with his newsletter is to “learn something new every week.” Wonderful.

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore 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.

Solstice After All These Years

Waking up to the news isn’t what gets to so many of us. At a certain point in our lives we expect the tragic, be it international, national, or local. We brace ourselves and more often than not the irony is that heartbreaking news brings out the best in us. We care, usually helplessly, but we care.

However, sneaking up on 2 1/2 years now, we wake up and steel ourselves. So often it’s 45’s words of vengeance or another lie added to his more than 9,500 lies that we hear. Many of us were misled by “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sigh. Bones can heal. Words can stick, can infect, and the consequences from these words will in all likelihood never heal.

So what does one do? When our daughter was little we, with gritted teeth, taught her that troubles and sorrows are constants. But that joy is also. That even though you are hurt, sad, troubled, never abandon the joy within.

Right now I am listening to Yo Yo Ma. I refuse to abandon Yo Yo Ma. My wife is knitting a blanket for a former student’s newborn. I refuse to abandon my smile. I filled the feeder. I refuse to abandon my delight at the birds’ visits. And when the smart-ass cynic tries to lure me with “And what good did this do?” I will say, “It did no good. It created good. That’s all I have.”

And then this afternoon we will be with friends. We will refuse to abandon friends to the lure of CNN. These are not escapes. These are who we are. These are what we do. These are the good we can create. These joys are lying in wait, within.

Solstice After All These Years

The work days go unnoticed.
It’s always a truck load;
it’s always maybe, or

another hour. Last night
we watched as the possum
crossed the back yard padding

its small path back into
the ineffable chaos
of wood and molder.

This morning there will be
a cup of coffee. There
will be the fierce pull

of the news’ hypnosis.
We will try not to remember.
We will tug ourselves to the novel

we roamed with into the anonymity
of sleep. We will be religious
without faith or doubt.

The trees will be our amen.
The cedar waxwing at the feeder
will take our place at communion,

redeeming seed into flight and song.
Tonight within the moon’s generosity
we will gather the vestments for tomorrow.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch

Tony Eames from nfreads.com published this interview. His goal with his newsletter is to “learn something new every week.” Wonderful.

Now is the time to order Kathleen Markland’s new book, A Pen, A Brush, A Book, is out and orderable right here. We have been celebrating this homecoming all week, and would like to boast that some of the work in the book was penned and painted right under our own noses. We have bragging rights on this one.

 

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore 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.