During the Last Two Weeks of His Life, He Wrote Only the Last Lines of Poems

In our little village the flags were lowered to half-mast immediately when we heard the news of John McCain’s passing. The flags hung there in front of the clapboard town hall and the police station. People talked of his service, his character.

During the Last Two Weeks of His Life, He Wrote Only the Last Lines of Poems


the stars, lost in the half light of evening.


giving us only a noun and the time to finally understand it.

after the taxi, after the end of the affair.

like the slow ruin of his own small town.

and God? Lost somewhere in the bread section.

wind, three medieval priests, a puppet, and a wedding dress.

the bus.

window, pouring out the last of the anonymous gin.

not the cow, not the fence post, not even the back door.

knew the rest, but kept the pile beside her desk, adding to it when it snowed.

amid the holiness of snails.

later. Then he juggled a scarf, an orange ball, and the flute.

wondering was it the rain, was it the ontology of morning?

–Jack Ridl


First published in Prairie Schooner.

Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

Writers’ Retreat Up North

There’s a wonderful Writers’ Retreat coming up at Lost Lake near Alpena, Michigan. Instead of the usual workshops, the retreat provides you a long-needed chance to get away, be among warm-hearted fellow writers and a staff of fiction writers, poets, and song writers with whom you can meet one on one, hear read, sing, and listen to interesting presentations. Here you will have time to write on your own in the beautiful autumn setting at Lost Lake.

October 4-7

For more details and to sign up go to inspirationalcona.org

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Visit Reader’s World in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

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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.