The Morning after the Tenth Straight Loss

jacknotafraidofamask

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here,  and the video saved with all of his past Livestream videos here. Maybe a story for our times…

My father is coaching the University of Pittsburgh’s basketball team.. It’s the mid ’60s.

After losing the opening game, PITT goes on the longest winning streak in the country. Sports Illustrated features the team. All the starters are from no more than maybe 15 miles from campus.

One day after practice my father is approached by a guy who introduces himself
as “Sonny Vaccaro. I’m from Pittsburgh, but I work for NIKE, and have come up
with a new promotion, and I’d like to offer you the first chance at taking advantage of it.”

“OK. what’s the deal?”

“We’ll give you $100,000 if you outfit your team in NIKE gear.”

“What?!?”

“Yep. That’s all you have to do. Just have your boys wear only NIKE sports
apparel when they play and practice.”

My father asked him to leave. He then called the University, asked for full security if Vaccaro came around the field house, his office, his home.

About all he ever said to us was, “No one should have to decide between money
and doing the right thing.”

My father coached one more year. He retired at 55. He never explained why he
retired that early from coaching the game he loved. They would have had to drag
him out of the gym. His salary when he gave up what he loved was around $18K a year.

The Morning after the Tenth Straight Loss

“The only thing that’s happy in my life,”
Coach thinks, “is my dog’s tail.” He looks
at his hands and wonders what they could
have held. It’s a day when the temperature
will stay below zero. He goes upstairs,
all the losses lying in his mind’s graveyard,
opens a window, reaches for the heat tape
dangling from the snow covered roof, grabs it,
pulls it inside, plugs it in. His dog
has followed. Downstairs, on his bookshelf
are his gardening books: The Gardener’s
Garden
, Guide to Creative Gardening, All
About Perennials
. In the fall, he strung
last summer’s geraniums from a string
across the basement, the plants dangling
in the slant of light through the earth-high
window. He goes back down, looks
at the morning paper, sees another
loss, goes to the shelf, takes All About
Perennials
, goes to the living room, sits
on the sofa, one hand turning the pages,
one hand scratching his dog’s right ear.

–Jack Ridl

From Losing Season, CavanKerry Press, 2013

On August 4, Matthew Baker’s new book, Why Visit America? Henry Holt & Co., comes out. It has already received exceptional reviews, and Matt has offered remarkably insightful interviews. Esquire Magazine has called it one of the twenty must-read books published this summer.

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

Reasons Enough

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

How are you holding up? For a lot of us it has gotten more difficult.

We are trying our best within the rise of the pandemic, the beginning of an overflow of messages from candidates and organizations, and the despicable words and acts of 45.

It’s overwhelming enough, let alone each time I hit unsubscribe, I feel I’ve let down helping out with all that really matters.

This is a second wave. We haven’t finished the first. We miss our break to get out, gather hugs, hang out with the people who keep us going.

I spent part of the morning playing with Hattie our cat. I have never pet Vivi so many times during a day. Of course I can’t scratch her butt enough as far as she is concerned. I always thought I would love having this much time to read.

There’s this sneaky feeling that I am lurking. It helps to get into the garden, even just sit on the porch and watch the sunset, most anything that doesn’t require passing through a barrier.

Well, we will make it. I am, for one thing, changing my view from “reading” to reading this book I’ve never experienced.

Reasons Enough

Because the afternoon sun shines through the window and settles on the pillows
And because the last of the summer sausage was stuck in the back of the fridge
That’s why. And—
The way the car starts like a bad joke
The way yesterday’s mail sits on the desk
The way the priest holds the host and carries the crucifix
Oh, and
Because of the Hopper print in the bedroom
Because of the maps of the Florida Keys in the glove compartment
Because of the burro’s tail drooping down across the open kitchen shelves
And the rosary beads on the mantle, the dog dish on its mat, the garden rake leaning against the side of the house
Also, when it rains at night, Sarah Vaughan, the radio
And the end of the driveway, that big rock with hostas around it, and the light on the back porch

–Jack Ridl

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

J.R. Solonche’s The Time of Your Life is out, his latest from Adelaide Books.

Rosemary Wahola Trommer’s new book Hush, winner of the Halcyon Prize for a collection of poems about human ecology, is a book-long love song to humanity and the natural world. It’s driven by curiosity and a willingness to dance in the unknown.  You will want this one, I promise.

Ginger Rankin’s novel , Grapefruit Parlor, is out on Amazon a novel that explores human trafficking in terribly personal detail. Touching, terrifying, and hopeful by turns. You won’t forget it.

R.A. Kamin’s first novel, The Other One, is out on Amazon. A psychological thriller that has your heart firmly in your throat from beginning to end. Set in the West Michigan!

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

Poem Beginning with Of Course

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

This past Thursday Jean Kirchner was honored by the U.S. Navy in a formal ceremony as she retired from her remarkable career.

Jean saved many lives — many after their tours of duty. She enabled Navy personnel suffering from trauma, PTSD, suicidal tendencies, to be restored to their civilian lives, some to return to duty.

Jean, like so many, is a hero who will go unnoticed while at the same time she will be able to recall the lives she restored.

She and her husband Gary were among my first students and could never have known way back then that they enabled me to recognize that if this is what teaching is like, I don’t want to do anything else.

Like so many events today, the ceremony took place on ZOOM. So there I sat at home facing a group of senior officers honoring Jean. I was to close the ceremony with two poems.

What touched me so much was how profoundly sincere, personal, and serious in celebration each officer was,  speaking directly to Jean. Voices cracked. Jean touched the corner of her eye. Her husband smiled.

Out of somewhere came the realization that sitting in front of me was the embodiment of courage; however, this time I recognized not only military courage which was most certainly evident, but moral courage. In the past week, these and many other senior officers had to display a kind of courage for which they have always been ready, but hope never to face: to firmly defend the Constitution against their so-called leader. This itself had to be traumatic. And there they were distinguishing one of their own in times that threaten the very stuff of people like Jean and Gary Kirchner.

Jean, we wish you quieter times. We thank you for your humane, life-restoring work. And we thank each officer we met that morning for defending our country against an inside force who does not know how to defend us, only how to defend himself.

Poem Beginning with Of Course

–for Jean Kirchner

Of course there are days when

the story slowly becomes one

we have known before: quiet

except for the highway

humming a mile away

while we still sleep within

the dream that hasn’t yet

awakened us. The morning

will slip away like the dew

on the hostas, ferns, and

butterbur. Mid-afternoon

will hang its heavy heat

on the spiders’ webs

while the cosmos droop

their startle of pink into

the bees’ bypass. Our ragged

cushions sit on the haphazard

disassembly of Adirondacks

we bought when we wondered

if we would stay where time

now settles into itself, the two

of us waiting within what lingers.

–Jack Ridl

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

Rosemary Wahola Trommer’s new book Hush, winner of the Halcyon Prize for a collection of poems about human ecology, is a book-long love song to humanity and the natural world. It’s driven by curiosity and a willingness to dance in the unknown.  You will want this one, I promise.

Ginger Rankin’s novel , Grapefruit Parlor, is out on Amazon a novel that explores human trafficking in terribly personal detail. Touching, terrifying, and hopeful by turns. You won’t forget it.

R.A. Kamin’s first novel, The Other One, is out on Amazon. A psychological thriller that has your heart firmly in your throat from beginning to end. Set in the West Michigan!

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

The Man Who Decided to See

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

You can’t make me wear a mask to protect the lives of others!
You can’t make me wear a seatbelt.
I can drive as fast as I want–and drunk.
You can’t make me wear a shirt and shoes in your store.
You can’t make me buy a hunting license.
You can’t make me put a stamp on a letter.
You can’t make me get a driver’s license.
You can’t make me stop at a stop sign.
You can’t make me stop yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater.
The NRA can’t make me pay dues to join.
You can’t make me stop selling porn to minors.
You can’t make me get screened before boarding a plane.
You can’t make me stop grabbing any woman I want to in public.
It’s a free country. THAT’S what LIBERTY means, Stupid!

I’d love to be liberated from all the stupidity.

Did you know that one dog sniffing another dog’s butt gathers more news in that one whiff than FOX NEWS has ever broadcast?

People tell me how much more and how much better they SEE now.

They take the time to see, not just to look, but really to see: things they have around the house that others have given them, photographs, what’s outside the window, in the natural world, walking by, a long lost memory, color, a painting.

It takes time to see, to see deeply into things, to not pass by, to see a child, grandchild, sibling, parent, friend. One of the kindest things we can do for others is to see them when they talk to us.

The Man Who Decided to See

And for the first time he saw
the boy on the bicycle who sped by

his porch, then the yellowing leaf
on the back step. He saw a cloud bank

in his rear view mirror, and followed
the winding glide of the crack

in the sidewalk he took to the grocery
where he saw a woman in the bakery dab

the corner of her eye; he smiled as he saw
the way his wife’s hair spread across her shoulders.

He stopped to see the photo on the top of the
television, the frame chipped in the lower left

corner. Stars; the blue moon; the scarred
cutting board. The way the light fell across their bed.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Scintilla

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

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.

My first publisher, Nancy Esther James, has published a collection of her highly reflective poems: Avenues Toward Light (Dawn Valley Press).

M.L. Liebler has created an engaging reading series on ZOOM. Write to him for details. He has invited me to read with Charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom on June 21 at 2pm.

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.

Poem

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

Our daughter and her husband were visiting — six feet apart — friends who have a four-year-old daughter. Mid-conversation, the little one piped up, “I want the germs to go away. I want to hug my friends and hold their hands.”

It got to me this week that I was waking up and immediately realizing that no matter what 45 pulls off or what the latest report on Covid-19 is, this day will be just about the same as the day before, and tomorrow also will be.

Then out of nowhere it hit me: without 45 and without Covid-19, the day would still be pretty much the same. So I better take a nap and adjust my thinking to the realization that getting to read and watch the garden come into blossom and listen to music all through the day and walk the dog and have Julie here and once in a while have a neighbor appear to greet and, and, and…

But I’d still like to hug you and hold your hand.

Poem

I trust what my body says.
It is soft-spoken, never shouts,
gently whispers or nudges me into place.
I think you know what I mean.

Yesterday, it told me to go to the market
and buy a box of graham crackers.
I did. But it didn’t want the crackers,
just the walk to market and back.
Maybe another day.

Today, I feel it taking me outside.
“It’s sunny,” it says.
And I agree.

                                               for William Stafford

–Jack Ridl

Published in Between (Dawn Valley Press)

P.S. …

“All you can do is face the world with quiet grace and hope you make a sliver of a difference.”

–Brian Doyle from his remarkable collection of essays, One Long River of Song (Little Brown).

The sweetest email this week came from poet Garret Stack. He shared that in an interview with Pine Row Press, he was asked if any poets inspire him. He said that Ted Kooser was his “strongest influence,” and, “More recently, I’m inspired by… Jack Ridl who is quietly waging the most peaceful and poetic political protest in history.” I love that.

Jim Allis was here this morning and told me about waking up and deciding to deliver 70 pizzas to the families of the kids in his Tae Kwon Do class.

Naomi Shihab Nye has a new collection: CAST 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.

My first publisher, Nancy Esther James, has published a collection of her highly reflective poems: Avenues Toward Light (Dawn Valley Press).

M.L. Liebler has created an engaging reading series on ZOOM. Write to him for details. He has invited me to read with Charles Baxter and Laurel Blossom on June 21 at 2pm.

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.

 

At Home

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

May is trying.

Change of subject: I prefer justice. You too?

And a country with a rule of law.

“Making me wear a mask infringes on my individual liberty.” These yahoos can still fire a semi-automatic with a tiny piece of cloth covering their noses and foul mouths.

And while I’m ranting, what’s with this “I hate ZOOM and Marco Polo, and FaceTime” grousing? Okay, let’s spend this interminable time without being able to see our grandkids, friends, loved ones.

And the alternative is?

The other day I emailed a friend asking how he and his wife were doing. I love his response. The first thing he said was, “It’s a good thing we like each other.” I thought about how important that is. Does one’s love include like? He went on to say that they have set up a pattern to their day and instead of that being boring, it keeps them from every morning groaning, “What are we ever going to do today?” They first watch mass on TV, then read, do the crossword. They take a morning and an afternoon walk usually downtown where there is a chance of meeting someone they know and having a conversation from six feet away. They watch a British mystery, Midsommer Murders. And they ZOOM with Kathleen and Mary (daughters) and sometimes with nieces and Maura’s (spouse) brother.

A “pattern.” I was struck by his choice of that word. All that it implies. And how after mass, each activity undermines repetition.

Wishing you great new patterns and the great good luck to have the means to reach out to loved ones and friends and coworkers…

At Home

We have settled here.
The wind is moving across the dunes,
and the sun-alert afternoon glows.
This is where we stay.
There are friends,
few enough to be friends.
What we know whispers
beneath the bed’s crocheted
canopy, hanging above us
as if to bring us closer.
During the day we walk
around the house, see
out the window: money plant,
beeches clawing the dunes,
the hole under the neighbor’s porch
where the cats hide, the firewood
stacked by the back door, one
chipmunk sitting on top, the car rusting.
We are alone.
That keeps most everything never
ours, helps us keep a kindly distance,
preserves our only chance.

–Jack Ridl

First Published in Paintbrush, a journal of Poetry, Translations, and Letters
Subsequently published in The Same Ghost (Dawn Vally Press)

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.

Innisfree Journal edited by Greg McBride twice each year features a poet felt to be overlooked. This issue features work from each of Jack’s books and his contributions to poetry through his teaching.

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.

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

The World in May is Leafing Out

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

It’s May! At last it’s the merry month of May!! And it’s 46 degrees. Oh how I want to feel warm earth surround my fingers as I plant this year’s garden.

But I am going to post my annual May poem anyway. Maybe it will work some magic.

Thanks to all who were able to make it to the ZOOM readings on Tuesday and/or Friday last week. I wanted to give a prize to the person who came the farthest.

Bryan (Uecker, of The Book Nook and Java Shop)! Thank you for all you did to make such a good time happen on Tuesday and for being your kind self as host.

And Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer on Friday blew out 132 WiFi networks with her humble passion.

Imagine! For 13 years–EVERY SINGLE DAY–Rosemerry has sent out a “rough” draft of a poem she composed the night before. Doing so has helped so many people discover the REAL value of poetry, how in the writing you are taken into realizations you otherwise would not have.

Here’s how to receive her poem each morning.

John Calipari, who for many lovely reasons is deeply, emotionally a part of the entire Ridl family, has a Facebook Live show on Mondays at 10am where he simply holds a conversation with someone you are likely familiar with. Yesterday I watched Charles Barkley and Cal banter. Of course they told funny basketball stories and argued over this and that; however Cal also spends time with his guests asking about their experience of the pandemic, and what kinds of things they are doing to help.

Here’s what Cal is doing. Before seclusion he made sure every school kid in Lexington was getting breakfast and lunch. Now, many of those kids’ working parents are laid off, so Cal and his wife Ellen are supporting those families with little to no income — some 600+ families–making sure each family receives a week’s worth of groceries — each week.  It’s a good season for millionaire watching.

May is closer to being merry for Cal’s families, at least.

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 Cassatt
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

Originally published in The Listening Eye.

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

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.

Speaking of Great Bookstores, big thanks to The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague for hosting Tuesday’s reading, celebrating St. Peter and the Goldfinch.

Innisfree Journal edited by Greg McBride twice each year features a poet felt to be overlooked. This issue features work from each of Jack’s books and his contributions to poetry through his teaching.

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.

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

There will be a Writers Conference for writers at every level, held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

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

Her Bed

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. 

On May 1, at 8pm ET Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Jack will give a ZOOM reading. “It’s About Time to Have a Good Time.”  To secure a spot go to:  https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k18i5NPSwCWobh2QFL5UQ

Well, It’s the last day of National Poetry Month. I dream of the day when we no longer need a National Poetry Month!!

This post will be one mass of tangents.

First, why don’t I play golf? There went my neighbor this morning for a nice long walk amid the coming green of everything. I was tempted to grab a leaf bag, put a few brooms in it, pay whatever outrageous price it takes to at last get out into the great outdoors and take a nice long green walk.

Do you know it’s been seven weeks? It’s strangely interesting how mixed up my feelings are. Are yours? My dear friend, poet Mary Ruefle, has said, “I’m all mixed up. I don’t mean by that confused. I mean blenderized.

Do you feel that way? I sure do: worried, sad, able to laugh, compassionate, heartbroken, angry, grieving and, and, and — blenderized.

And what are we supposed to do about our hair?

25 years ago my father passed away. Am I okay mourning his loss amid all this horror? He loved ice cream, usually savored a quarter of a gallon each evening. I’m gonna do that tonight. He was my age when he passed. Maybe I better take in a half gallon.

Gotta get this off what’s left of my chest…  If your candidate didn’t win the primary for president, don’t go selfishly putting your principles — be they aligned with the Green Party for the preservation of toad lilies — ahead of your fellow citizens who also care about the environment, the homeless, the hungry, those without health care. It’s time to vote together against lying, deceiving, cheating, and on behalf of those who need help.

Your only moral choice is to help everyone vote 45 out onto the street.

Wow, I really got going there. Whew.

And now back to caring for that person you know who is grieving his or her way through this lockdown and pandemic. This poem tries to understand—

Her Bed

During the worst of the storm, lightning
glazed the night’s same sky, thunder loud
enough to keep her from hearing her sigh

as she tried again to stop imagining. Her cat
leaped onto the bed, crossed over the pillows
on the left side, then jumped back down onto

the uncarpeted oak floor over which on
moving day there had been rose-colored
tile, then dashed back to his sleep spot

in the clothes closet under the trousers
dangling to a half inch from the floor.
The crocuses were up and opening,

some yellow. almost gold. some reverently
purple. But a frost could lean them into
the mulch. The pandemic was over. But

a pandemic, as Cuomo said, may never
be dead. Another slash of lightning
split her window pane. She had spent

her day listening to her complete collection
of Dvořák. It, of course, took all day. She
had decided to read the background of each

piece. She paused once to call her sister,
but all she could think to say was “I am so glad
I know hardly a thing about music.” Her

sister asked how she was so she said
that she’d had two burritos for a late lunch.
“Funny: Burritos and Dvořák. I want to listen

to some more now. Bye.” It kept raining. It kept
thundering. All afternoon. Into the evening. Her
cat finally came out, went to his bowl for dinner.

She listened on as the sun set, then the cat again
leaped onto the bed. She smiled, remembering
how hard a time she’d had learning to ride a bicycle.

–Jack Ridl

This poem has been invited to be included in a project to raise money to fight the coronavirus. More news about that coming soon.

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.

Speaking of Great Bookstores, big thanks to The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague for hosting Tuesday’s reading, celebrating St. Peter and the Goldfinch.

Innisfree Journal edited by Greg McBride twice each year features a poet felt to be overlooked. This issue features work from each of Jack’s books and his contributions to poetry through his teaching.

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.

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

There will be an outstanding Writers Conference held at The Grace A. Dow Library in the Dow Gardens in Midland on July 21 and 22. Each date has a 1-4 afternoon workshop and a reading in the evening along with a Q & A. July 21 features Desiree Cooper and John Mauk. July 22 features Anne-Marie Oomen and me. The workshops are capped at 20 people.

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