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.