Coach Dreams of Being on Vacation

Did I… did we… hear correctly?

Did 45 really say that there is no room for hate in America?

Oh he’ll get out of this one by saying he only hates those who hate, and that’s why he is justified in attacking any who disagree with him. Look it up in Roget’s: Synonym for hate — to disagree.

Sigh. And that prompts my gratitude for the abundance of care, kindness, and well-wishes as I take a few months to recover from cervical surgery.

Julie and I do indeed live in an alternative, deeply caring world that won’t quit within the depersonalized world at large. Thinking small is paradoxically thinking big.

I grew up in one of the strangest worlds where hate thrives: Sports. I have never understood the emotional investment in one’s team winning or losing. As my father once told a sportswriter, “I love this game. What I don’t understand is why all these people place their emotional well-being in my and my team’s hands. Let’s care about what really matters.”

How have we turned our political party into sports franchises?

Coach Dreams of Being On Vacation

Swathed in Number 4 Coppertone, Coach
sits in his beach chair, watching
the Atlantic roll itself toward his toes,
his belly white as a gull’s,
the sun playing him tight.

He listens to the waves, the children squealing,
the stockbrokers still talking big bucks
as their wives try to coax them offshore,
and the teenagers laughing as they roll
under the cool water or whispering

as they bake next to each other, fingers
laced. Suddenly he wants to buy
some jeans, open his shirt, take
his wife across state lines.
But his brain’s a gym.

Every move he makes draws jeers.
Even here, dreaming himself a surfer,
builder of sandcastles, a stud
who strolls the shoreline, or just
leaning back into the sand to feel

the salt air sift across his body,
he can hear the catcalls — “You’re
a bum, Coach. You’re a lousy bum.”

–Jack Ridl

First published in Poetry East
Anthologized in Men of Our Time (University of Georgia Press)
Subsequently published in Losing Season (CavanKerry Press)

Sure bummed about having to cancel The Red Dock Reading. Mark Hiskes and D.L. James will join me next year, the second Tuesday in August.

The reading with Greg Rappleye at The Book Nook and Java Shop in Montague has been postponed until the holiday season. Date and time TBA.

A fascinating new memoir in poems, Portals by Nancy Owen Nelson, has just been released from Kelsey Books. “We enter Nelson’s liminal dreamscape into poems populated by Becket, Godot, Hemingway, even Johnny Cash,”–Kelly Fordon, author of the recently published Goodbye Toothless House.

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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.

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

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

Another Day in Your Life

A dear friend was here today and told me about a number of very unfortunate things that had happened over the week to people close to him and to him as well. After our conversation about these and appreciating the poem he’d written out from these experiences, we realized that on this day, like all the days, 45 was going to steal our attention through yet another cruel tweet or verbal abuse.

Though I’m sure we have had racist presidents before, this one never hides it. With civility out the window, there is no discussion, no debate or argument, no conversation, no hope of defending people at the border, no room for encouraging our better angels. It’s as if they’ve fled.

And then there’s the “father figure” head of Focus on the Family, after going to the border, announcing that “these” people are violent criminals. Well, you don’t need me to point out the vicious dramatic irony.

My friend should not have to be shaking his head over 45’s personal vendettas. He should be unencumbered while he cares for those he cares about.

We most certainly should be able to simply get up and get about our own inevitable dailiness, our own work to push uphill to a better place.

Sigh.

Another Day in Your Life

The thing is this rain keeps
falling and the long notion
of another day stays

relentless as a ringing phone.
What if you made up who you are
and why your mother never ate cereal,

why your father was a night watchman
in his own home? You keep things
tidy and full of happy endings. You

rearrange the empty jars in the cellar,
remembering the way you strained
the apricots, blueberries, raspberries,

how you stirred the apple butter, sealed
and labeled each jar. You sort through
the gladiolus bulbs lying on frayed window

screens, pull off new tubers, count them
to see if you’ll have three or four times
as many in the summer when the wheat

grass around your house has grown
so thick the cats can hide. You swipe
the webs from corners of the windows,

go back upstairs, sit down with a drink,
the windows open, and you smile as you tell
yourself the same old jokes your father told.

–Jack Ridl

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

 

 

Taking a short break for surgery to stabilize  my neck. Meanwhile, please follow the good folks  at Writers Resist online magazine. An honor to be included, an honor to be in such a gorgeous magazine. Check them out when you need solace and friends!

If you enjoy the annual Reading at The Red Dock, this year’s will take place on August 13 at 6pm. This year I’ll be joined by D.L. James and Mark Hiskes. Come early for music, food and drink, and a good time on the high water harbor!

On August 20 at 7pm, I’ll be reading with Greg Rappleye at The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague. Talk about a place where the atmosphere alone is a joy, let alone the food and beverages.

AND… Kristin Brace’s first book-award-winning collectionToward the Wild Abundance(Michigan State University Press), has been released! Stop here to pick up your copy now! 

 

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

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.

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

Band Director

This week a miscellany of thoughts…

Thanks to all who sent their care in response to last week’s post. Many emailed me their own debilitating stories of trying to get their insurance firms to do what they claim (pun) they do–care.

You would be shaken to read messages about heart problems, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and on and on having to be proven to the software that those suffering were deserving of coverage.

In the little town where I grew up, the insurance agent, John Vance, would say, “Yes, this is how I make a living, but the reason I do this is because it was the only thing I could think of where I could be of help.” What’s happened to that industry in my time is criminal.

Speaking of. I hold my ninth grade U.S. history teacher fully responsible for not informing us that during the War for Independence our brave soldiers protected our airports from the Redcoats.

“I’m sorry. Sir. I thank you for winning our independence, but that was over a week ago, and even if you are heading home, your musket must fit either in an overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.”

“Donald, there’s water in the basement!!!”
“What loser built this place?! Wait! I know. Obama did this. I know it. I just know it. Tell Hannity!”

And so on we go in a country where we are supposed to have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of something called happiness. To paraphrase Chloe in The Big Chill, “I’ve never seen people who have those. What do they look like?”

Band Director

He looks over the list of fight songs,
picks out ten for the game tonight, thinks
back to when he played trombone in

this same school. He’d practice
two hours every day. While other
guys were working on their cars,

playing ball, picking up girls, loafing,
he’d be sliding the long arm of his horn,
trying to get away. He got good enough

to go to State, major in music, pick up
an ed degree. Tonight he’ll listen as
the notes get hit, missed, flung into

the gym’s dissonant air. He’ll
pretend it’s perfect, smile, look
over his shoulder at the team,

glance up into the stands.

–Jack Ridl

from Losing Season published by CavanKerry Press

Today I have a poem included among all the writing resisters at the wondrous Writers Resist online magazine. An honor to be included, an honor to be in such a gorgeous magazine. Check them out when you need solace and friends!

On July 25 from 1-4pm, at The Pines in the Dow Gardens in Midland, Jack will lead a workshop on writing personal history. That evening at 7pm he will join Jim Ottaviani for a reading in the MCFTA Founders Room, 1801 W. St. Andrews, Midland. To register for the workshop, email Helen Raica-Klotz at klotz@svsu.edu. The reading is free.

If you enjoy the annual Reading at The Red Dock, this year’s will take place on August 13 at 6pm. This year I’ll be joined by D.L. James and Mark Hiskes. Come early for music, food and drink, and a good time on the high water harbor!

On August 20 at 7pm, I’ll be reading with Greg Rappleye at The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague. Talk about a place where the atmosphere alone is a joy, let alone the food and beverages.

AND… Kristin Brace’s first book-award-winning collectionToward the Wild Abundance(Michigan State University Press), has been released! Stop here to pick up your copy now! 

 

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

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.

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

Tabula Rasa

Well, I went and pinched a nerve along my spinal cord or perhaps pinched the cord. I met with my terrific neurologist, Dr. Ariagno, who prescribed an MRI. Filled out the paper work and readied myself to enter the “Tube.” “Are you claustrophobic?” asked the nurse. “Nope.”

I was tempted to say, “But I am afraid of the United States.”

“We’ll get back to you about when to have your MRI.” “Thank you.”

That was a week ago.  The last time I had these symptoms, an emergency surgery followed to stabilize my neck. I was told by the surgeon then to expect more surgeries because my neck is very arthritic. He’s a really good surgeon who no longer accepts our college’s retirement insurance package. (He’s also a former student of mine. Julie says the irony is so thick she can’t even cut it with a knife.)

A week and a half later, the nerve remains pinched. Yesterday Julie left a message wondering what the hold up was, given this is a pretty serious situation. Then she called around, insurance company, hospital, back to the doc’s office. This morning Julie got through to a human who informed her that the hold up is with the insurance approval software. “The order for the MRI keeps being rejected. We’re working on it.”

I should after all have said that I was afraid of the United States: There is an algorithm or script in a hunk of software taking away the feeling in my arms and legs.

The highly trained neurologist orders his patient an MRI, but the insurance software decides if I really need one. How many millions of lives are balanced by insurance companies who in my lifetime have shifted their values from caring to “hey, we can make more money if we . . .”

And the holiday means we won’t hear anything for days more. I keep falling down and into things, and Julie can hardly move for her anger.

And then there’s that parade in D.C. We won’t be watching. We just can’t, of course, but we shouldn’t. Not while our country is locking up children and tearing apart families. That’s not the time for a military parade. It’s not 1933. Or is it?

Sigh.

Tabula Rasa

“You may lose the ability to use your
right hand.”—Surgeon’s diagnosis

I think about the end of writing and what may follow:
Some sunlight across the bowl on the kitchen table.

A daughter stopping by after work. I’ll lift the cup
of coffee with my left hand. We will laugh.

The dogs will wrestle, the older one letting
the pup pull tufts of hair from his scraggly ears.

The geese will still bring their V, north, then south.
I know a solitary one will fly by and I will wonder

about its being alone, if it will find its way.
I won’t know. You’ll say,

“Go ahead, stir the soup, add some more
tomatoes if you like or maybe some oregano.”

I will use the phone, but I’m used to stamps,
love writing a name and address, their steady

place floating in the center of a moving
universe, then adding where to return

the letter if it doesn’t find its way and needs
to wander back. Up there, in the left corner.

That’s a kind of home. And in the center, another.
And there we are, heading out, hoping we connect

without knowing when. Maybe not even where.

–Jack Ridl

Published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

On July 25 from 1-4pm, at The Pines in the Dow Gardens in Midland, Jack will lead a workshop on writing personal history. That evening at 7pm he will join Jim Ottaviani for a reading in the MCFTA Founders Room, 1801 W. St. Andrews, Midland. To register for the workshop, email Helen Raica-Klotz at klotz@svsu.edu. The reading is free.

If you enjoy the annual Reading at The Red Dock, this year’s will take place on August 13 at 6pm. This year I’ll be joined by D.L. James and Mark Hiskes. Come early for music, food and drink, and a good time on the high water harbor!

On August 20 at 7pm, I’ll be reading with Greg Rappleye at The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague. Talk about a place where the atmosphere alone is a joy, let alone the food and beverages.

AND… Kristin Brace’s first book-award-winning collection, Toward the Wild Abundance (Michigan State University Press), has been released! Stop here to pick up your copy now! 

 

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

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.

Naming the Paintings

Tuesday was our 36th wedding anniversary. Don’t worry; I won’t bore you with schmaltz. I will say that after Julie’s eight-year illness, each morning she gets up is a gift.

45 was at his worst this past week, which means he was the same as every other week. Something on that at a later time.

Right now we’re in the midst of the delight of the final (Well, they are never final.) touches in our new home. That means deciding where to hang the artworks.

You know that painting with the dogs playing poker? I love it. As we hung the work of so many marvelous artists, I kept thinking how 45 would call them losers, mutter that ubiquitous “A child could paint that,” award a second medal to Tiger Woods, and hang the poker-playing mutts throughout the White House.

Here’s a “Museum of Imagined Art.” Let each title bring the painting into the gallery of your imagination.

Naming the Paintings

1. Snow in Early April

2. Kind David’s Lust

3. The Dog Sleeps at His Master’s Side

4. Young Girl with Ball

5. Dinner Conversation

6. The Yellow Chair

7. Middle-Aged Couple with Car

8. Self-Portrait without Shape

9. Nude Lovers on Dump

10. Still Life: Fruit and Whip

11. Sunrise over Larry’s

–Jack Ridl

First published in Free Lunch
Subsequently published in The Same Ghost (Dawn Valley Press)

I received Taking in the Seasons by Jeanie Mortensen, a beautiful collection about which Philip Sterling writes, “In the square dance of poetry, Mortensen is a world-class caller.”

If you enjoy the annual Reading at The Red Dock, this year’s will take place on August 13 at 6pm. This year I’ll be joined by D.L. James and Mark Hiskes. Come early for music, food and drink, and a good time on the high water harbor!

On August 20 at 7pm, I’ll be reading with Greg Rappleye at The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague. Talk about a place where the atmosphere alone is a joy, let alone the food and beverages!

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

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.

 

Selling the House

I learned something very important this week. Kind of Kierkegaardian in that I lived it forward and learned it backward: Moving into a new house is much more exhausting when you are 75. Thank heavens we had help.

45 had help moving into his place, and I doubt he lifted even one of his many little fingers.

Any more people left the White House this week? Someone did or is going to or something. I have happily lost track. We promise to treat our new place and all who visit here better than he has.

Of course there were buyers of our former home. We thought it was perfect or perfectly imperfect with its cottage garden in the front and Japanese garden in the back. I won’t go into the difference in aesthetics. Let’s just leave at “overgrown.”

Selling the House

The buyers came to measure,
and we watched, trying
to drink coffee and read.

We watched them stretch
a tape along the wall of
family photographs and

along the shelf cluttered
with shells and carved
Madonnas, and then heard

her say, “I hate this
wall. I hope we can
put in a window.” It

started to rain, and
the dog lay under
the table, and the

hummingbirds hovered
at the feeder while
the orioles pecked

at the orange halves
nailed along the porch
rail. In a week it all

would go to sleep.
Under the maples,
birches, and pines.

Under the rocks piled
every summer along
the shore. Under

the graves of the dogs.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Southern Indiana Review.
Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry, Wayne State University Press.

 

Kristin Brace’s collection Each Darkness Inside is now available online, from Kristin, and from Finishing Line Press. Kristin recently won the First Book Award from Michigan State University Press.

If you enjoy the annual Reading at The Red Dock, this year’s will take place on August 13 at 6pm. This year I’ll be joined by D.L. James and Mark Hiskes. Come early for music, food and drink, and a good time on the high water harbor!

On August 20 at 7pm, I’ll be reading with Greg Rappleye at The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague. Talk about a place where the atmosphere alone is a joy, let alone the food and beverages!

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

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 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!

 

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

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!

 

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

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.

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Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.