Late Night Jazz Station, Coach Listening

Jack might just livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here,  where the video will will be saved for later viewing.  Buuuuuuttttt, he might not. He had lower back surgery yesterday, and though, at this writing, he is doing great, he might decide to sleep in…  Meanwhile, you can find all of his past Livestream videos here. 

Black lives always mattered to my father. Here is how he taught us…
(I apologize to those of you who have heard these stories…)

My father was the Captain of a black company in WWII. In boot camp he drank from a different fountain, showered, slept, ate in different tents. One day he noticed that his men’s equipment was not equal to the white companies’ equipment. He confronted the General, and his men were given equal equipment. But still the separate quarters, separate eating spaces. Later, he would wonder aloud to us why he hadn’t noticed these things then. “It’s just the way it was.”

One night, in 1958 (correction, 1957), before civil rights was in our consciousness, my father, now the basketball coach at a small college in western Pennsylvania, started three black players.

The next morning he was called into the president’s office. When Dad came home for lunch, we asked, “What was that about?”

My father said, “The president looked me in the eye and said two words, ‘Next game,’ and then he held up two fingers.”

My mother, sister, and I sat stunned, frightened. We assumed our father’s job was on the line. One obeys the president. We tried to just go ahead and eat our lunch. But after a few swallows, I couldn’t take it, and I stammered, “What’re you gonna do?”

My father finished his sandwich, wiped his fingers, paused, took a breath, and firmly but quietly said, “Next game,” and he held up four fingers.

And that’s what he did.

Titans 1957

Late Night Jazz Station, Coach Listening

Coach lets those good notes
float, swing their good way
into his late night. He smiles,
and his eyelids lower, and his
young dream comes sauntering
down the aisle of his mind.
He plays the sax.

“Here, Coach, take it,”
and he blows the meanest
wail, so mean that Bix
looks up, drops his chops,
Diz’s cheeks collapse,
and Duke and Lionel both turn
to Miles who laughs and says,
“Man, Count, we’ve all been had.”

Coach is hot. The whole joint
is swinging as he leans down,
blowing his whole damn life out
his horn. Everyone’s clapping,
stomping, shouting, “Yeah!”

Even Bird is flattened, floored,
turns to Mingus, says, “That’s
it. We got a sax.” Coach
can’t believe his ears, hits
a last long, loving note,
letting it hang in the air, feeling
the reed go limp against his tongue.
No one says a word.

Coach looks up,
gives them all a nod,
and takes his leave, the
whole place wondering
where the hell he’s been
and where the hell he’s going.

for Paul Zimmer

–Jack Ridl

Published in Between (Dawn Valley Press.)
Subsequently published in a slightly different form in Losing Season (CavanKerry Press)


On June 21 at 2pm I will give an online reading with Charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom as part of M. L. Liebler’s Living Room Online Literary Series on ZOOM. You can find the zoom link here.  I hope you can join us.

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

Here’s Hoping You Read as Well as He Writes

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Behind this link is the lovely piece Christian Zaschke wrote about Jack’s “In Time” series, his act of resistance. We are heartbroken that we cannot read it in German, because after spending a few days with Christian (after a few minutes, we knew), we realized that this writer loves his words, uses them carefully, builds and sculpts his stories. What an honor to have met him, and how kind he was to put so much effort into casting his light on this project.

Dear new readers, here are all of Jack’s Thursday posts, resisting the administration of 45, under the tag “In Time.”

So many thanks to Norbert Kraas for introducing us!




The Waiting Room Reader

Among the many reasons I feel very fortunate to have the next collection, Losing Season, published by CavanKerry Press is their commitment “to broadening the audience for poetry to those who most need it–particularly the under-served and those burdened by emotional and psychological stress (that includes all of us and everyone we know, doesn’t it?).”

Here is a description of their latest project under the leadership of founder/editor Joan Cusack Handler:

“Until now one piece of the dream remained unrealized. That involved bringing poetry to patients in hospital waiting rooms–those barren, lonely places where we are held captive, often for hours, with nothing to distract us but People, Us, and Golf magazines.” With help from the Liana Foundation, an anonymous donor, and The Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine, CavanKerry Press has published The Waiting Room Reader: Stories to Keep You Company. Copies of the anthology are now available in various hospitals starting in CK’s home territory of New York and New Jersey. As funding becomes available, they will continue the distribution to hospitals throughout the U.S.

To request copies of The Reader, contact:

For information about CKPress, you can go to their website at
or write
CavanKerry Press
6 Horizon Road
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Rybicki Fundraising Details

My life in poetry has been made warm and magical because Julie Moulds Rybicki is in it. She lit up my classes more than 20 years ago, and has lit up my mind and heart and life ever since. I am not alone. I bring her back to my classes as often as I can so she can spread her gift to as many students as possible. Her work and devotion to students of all ages makes her one of those teachers whose gifts can never be measured or repaid in any way.  She’s given us so much.

So it especially infuriates me that she has had to fight with cancer for her whole adult life. But being Julie, she has beaten cancer over and over again. She has to put up another fight. It’s time for another transplant. And our health care system being what it is, and fighting cancer for 20 years doing what it does to a family’s finances, Julie and her family now need our help. I think we can give it, don’t you?

There’s a big fundraising underway. Come to it or mail it in. But please, let’s support our amazing friend, okay? And please help spread the word!


**** All-Star Poetry & Fiction Reading, Concert * and Party*****

To Benefit the NTAF Great Lakes Bone Marrow Transplant Fund

In Honor of Julie Moulds Rybicki

For Her bone marrow Transplant Relocation Costs


Featuring the Poetry and Fiction of: Con Hilberry, Bonnie Jo Campbell,   Bill Olsen,   Nancy Eimers,   Jack Ridl,

Jackie Bartley,   Rodney Torreson,   Diane Seuss,   David Lee, Elizabeth Kerlikowske,   Andy Mozina,   Danna Ephland,

Gail Martin,   Greg Rappleye,   Nina feirer,   Dave Marlatt, Susan Ramsey,   John Rybicki   and   Julie Moulds Rybicki


Also featuring:

Irish music by Dave Marlatt and the Rambling Boys of Pleasure as well as American Roots Acoustic music by Solid Geometry and a Silent Auction of arts, crafts and signed books.


Where:  Kraftbrau Brewery    

Located at 402 East Kalamazoo Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, 269-384-0288

When:  Sunday, November 4 from 3 to 7:30 p.m.

Cash Bar.  Food provided.  Cost: $5


Come enjoy wonderful words, live music, revelry, mingling, eating, drinking and dancing.



3-4 p.m. American Roots Acoustic music by Solid Geometry

4-5 p.m. All-Star Reading Part I

5-6 p.m. Irish music by Dave Marlatt and the Rambling Boys of Pleasure

6-7:  All-Star Reading Part II

7-7:30. More revelry, auction results and wrap-up


For additional information, Email John Rybicki at


Tax-Deductible Donations Can Be Made Out To:

NTAF Great Lakes Bone Marrow Transplant Fund,

150 N. Radnor Chester Road,

Suite F-120, Radnor, PA 19087. 

Print “In Honor of Julie Rybicki” in the check’s memo section.

For secure, online credit card contributions visit: or call NTAF at 1-800-642-8399, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., EST.


Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.  This campaign is administered by the National Transplant Assistance Fund, a 501(c) (3) non-profit providing assistance to transplant and catastrophic injury patients.  Information:  1-800-642-8300.   Michigan registration number: MICS No. 11575.



Detroit Historical Museum

Julie and I drove over to Ann Arbor on Saturday, December 2, hung out there and felt politically correct, wandered in real bookstores, and ate good. Then on Sunday we headed over to The Detroit Historical Museum for a book signing. After signing a book, we went out to eat with Sarah and Mollica from the Wayne Press, their friend Brooke and former student David Soubly. That was a great time as we celebrated Sarah’s birthday even though it wasn’t her birthday. It was a delight to see David and learn about his survival at Ford, his continuing to write–he’s working to finish his second novel–and his family.

Look for David’s first novel titled SANTA, CEO. You can check out the novel at or obtain copies at And while mentioning former students, I recently learned that Jill Thiel who went to Hope College in the 70s was at the reading that Sally Smits and I got to give at IUSB.

What a joy to hear from good good her! Here’s wishing one and all the very best of these holiday times.

Reading with Sally

November 16 brought a wonderful gift. I got to read with my former student Sally Smits at Indiana University at South Bend. Sitting there listening to her, seeing her so luminous, brought back memories of this punk first year student who landed in the flatlands so homesick for her Rocky Mountains. And now here she was, a college professor and a poet you all should read, a poet whose poems are filled with glowing surprises and head/heart coherence. They dazzle but never show off. Amazing, I’d say. Julie was there, knitting away with a soft smile on her face the whole time. Following Sally felt like being the trained seal trying to follow the Queen of the Air. I balanced the bowling pin on my nose quite well, however. And there was a Q & A after, which was another delight as we responded to questions and bantered back and forth with lots of laughs.Everyone at IUSB was warm and welcoming. I loved being with the faculty after the reading and before it at dinner–one classy dinner it was. If you are ever in South Bend, go to the Main Street Cafe. I think that’s the name of it. The faculty at IUSB have such intelligent enthusiasm. They are building a writing program and it’s going to be terrific.

And former student Jill Thiel drove all the way from Chicago to be in the audience. That was so so kind of her. What a great good time this all was. To read with ones student–talk about a joy! In the spring, I get to read at Michigan State with former student Chris Dombrowski. I wanna have a tour with all my students!