Ice Storm (…and about that party…)

Here’s a little coda to last week’s post: How many of you grew up being subjected to the well-meaning, “Just do your best”? I don’t know about you, but I was the kid who had no idea what my best was. Anxiety to the point of panic slithered within whether I was making my bed (My mother invariably smoothed out a wrinkle or four) or studying for an exam in existential philosophy.

Always I obsessed, “Did I do my best? How will I know?” They bewildered me, those people for whom the phrase brought relief, even confidence. Even after a failure — missing a layup or receiving a C — those folks heard, “That’s okay. I know you did your best.”

Man if this is 45’s best, I dread to think what his less than best looks like.

This week has lugged in quite a storm. It’s so cold that, even if properly winter-clothed, we will be frostbitten in ten minutes. The windchill here as I write has plummeted to a minus-27 F.

At least for a while we love it. Pile up the books, get out the board games, watch an old movie, curl up with the dogs.

A storm like this is a paradoxical gift, distracting us in the best of ways by forcing us to pay attention to what matters deeply in our own lives, all we would attend to if the thief-in-chief of our personal lives had never shown up in The White House.

Which brings me to today’s poem. Am I ever lucky! The blurbs/reviews for my new collection were written by Li-Young Lee, Dan Gerber, Terrance Hayes, and Billy Collins. In tune with the weather here, here’s an excerpt from Dan Gerber on the new book:

“Open the book to page 27 and read ‘Ice Storm.’ Feel how it settles in your chest, how your breath resounds with a long, deep, ‘Yes,’ how subtly you are changed by what you didn’t know you knew.”

Ice Storm

Here on the couch with my old dog I find
I’m feeling gratitude, an odd gratitude,
an old gratitude, one I thought had gone

for good down a long back road
that led away from the years when
I felt glad, felt what I believed

was an abiding gratitude: to be,
to be warm, and grateful to be
warm, to have some pillows

and a dozen books and all afternoon.
To be alone without even a sideswipe
of loneliness. To be on page 47,

or 114, or page one and there
was nothing missing. The ice
storm made things warm,

time irrelevant, made the sleeping
dog an Amen to a prayer never
needing to be said.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Third Wednesday
To be included in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

So much news to share!

1. Jack Interview, February 22 on WMUK’s Art Beat. 12:30pm.

2. Party Time: Book Reception, April 5 for the release of Saint Peter and the Goldfinch.

When: April 5, 6:30-9:30pm
Where: The Douglass UCC church.
There will be a reading at 7pm. Then we party. Books on site for sale and signing.
Click here to Read all about it and RSVP PLEASE

3. Writing Your Personal History Workshop, April 6. Grace Episcopal Church. 9am-2pm

4.Workshop on March 30. “Poetry Trauma: The Way to Recovery.” This will offer a fresh way to be nourished by a variety of poems. It’s FREE. But you MUST reserve a seat.

When: March 30, 10am-1pm.
Where: The Douglass UCC church Friendship Hall.
Click here to reserve your seat online, or sign up at the church hall one of these Sunday mornings.

5. Reading with Lisa Lenzo (whose new book, Unblinking, will be released in May!) on May 16 at Michigan News Agency Bookstore in Kalamazoo.. 7pm

6. Wonderful news for those of you who know or want to meet the beloved Kathleen Markland.
She has been named the Honoree for the celebration of and fundraiser for The Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency  in Saugatuck, Michigan. Ox-Bow is more than 100 years old and is a part of The Art Institute of Chicago. Stay tuned for that fundraiser date!

7. Saugatuck’s D.R. James has a new chapbook coming out! Click here for a pre-order discount!

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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.

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.

Instead of Planting Roses

I’ve been wondering lately about the word “best.” Why is it used so often instead of, say, “valuable.” A few weeks ago in The New York Times, David Orr told us which were the ten best books of poetry published in 2018. First I wondered how Mr. Orr found time to read the thousand or so books of poetry published in 2018. Then I wondered what his definition of best was and about his criteria. Neither accompanied his article.

That’s when I started brooding … about why for so many things “best” even matters?

What’s the best restaurant in town?
What’s the best religion?
Which of your nine cats is your best cat?
Since all the snowflakes are different, which is, at least for now, the best snowflake?

Mary Oliver passed away last week. She was our poet of yes.

Was “Wild Geese” Mary Oliver’s best poem? Or was it “The Journey”? Or, or, or? If you Google her, you’ll discover a site that lists her “best” poems. Not on that list were many that nourished the souls who turned to her poems for something much more important than deciding which was her best.

This is not my best poem…

Instead of Planting Roses

He’d work the garden until dark,
now and then looking up

to see if she was looking out
the window. She’d loved roses.

After two years, he gave up.
started sleeping on the left side,

and instead of planting roses,
filled the plot with tomatoes,

beans, zucchini, and asparagus.
The next year he added eggplant

then mixed in impatiens, pansies,
obedient plant, asters, autumn joy.

He loved to be surprised by a tomato
showing up within a mass of lobelia,

to discover peas climbing a tangle
of cosmos, lilies, and cleome,

to find a squash under the geraniums.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Poetry East

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

The Lake Michigan Mermaid illustrated by Meridith Ridl and written by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen has been named a Michigan Notable Book for 2019!

On April 1 (perfect!) (yipes, just 2ish months away) my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!

 

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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.

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.

After Talking it Over

The National Spelling Bee…

Host: “The word is galliambic.”
Katherine: “galliambic- g a l l i a m b i c”
Host: “Correct.”

Host: “The word is tlamatine.”
Nathan: “Tlamatine. t l a m a t i n e.”
Host: “Correct.”

Host: “The word is hamburger.”
45: “Hamburger. h a m b e r d e r.”
Buzzzzzzzzz
Host: “I’m sorry; it’s spelled h a m b u r g e r.”

45: “Once again, FAKE SPELLING.”

 

After Talking It Over

She says, “Why not?” Says,
“Corn chips, a long walk, maybe
a new dog, a mutt, half beagle or
one-third collie, one that will sit
on our laps when we watch
the worst shows on TV.” I think
TV, but know the shows will
turn into another movie or
a report on raising taxes to build
a dam in Idaho. Sixth grade

was not this frightening, but came
close. Mrs. Kendelton held spelling
bees every Friday afternoon. We’d
stand in a line along the blackboard
in the order we finished the last time.
She kept a record. We spelled
antelope, nuclear, satellite, creche.
Winners got chopsticks. Amy
Witherspoon finished elementary
school with 27 sets. Losers sat
with their knees pressing against
the bottoms of their desks. This

place is filled with winter. Winter
makes you think about your head, keeps
your mind on the road, roof, the dog
being outside. You have to know how
to spell rock salt, shovel, scarf.

–Jack Ridl

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

Next Thursday: D.R. James, Katie Kalisz, and Greg Rappleye will be reading from their new collections at The Bookman, 715 Washington Avenue in Grand Haven, 7pm.

AND

On January 29 at 7pm, the Hope College Visiting Writers Series will host a reading by Sophfronia Scott in the John and Dede Howard Recital Hall located in the Jack H. Miller Center

AND

Today is the birthday of William Stafford. I remember him every day as I sit down to write, kept good company by this poem he wrote at our first house, about our first dog.

atjackshouse

On April 1 (perfect!) (yipes, just 2.5 months away) my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!

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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.

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.

On the Last Day of the World

With apologies to Robert Frost who read at an inauguration where there actually was a large audience–

Someone there is who really loves a wall.
(Letting thousands suffer until he gets his way.)

On the Last Day of the World

Maybe the sky will be clear,
and we’ll take a walk down
the road behind our house,
just walk along, going nowhere,
somewhere. Birds will fly
branch to branch, a rabbit
or chipmunk may cross
in front of us, disappear
into the brush. We’ll try
not to look at the sun.
We’ll keep our eyes off
to the side. When we come
to the bend, we’ll look for
the deer path, take it, and
see where it leads, see if
it opens to a clearing where
each night the deer sleep
deep within the star-distant light.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Third Wednesday

Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 24 at 7pm. Three exceptional poets, Katie Kalisz, David James, and Greg Rappleye will read from their wonderfully varied new collections at The Bookman in Grand Haven.

On April 1 (perfect!) my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!

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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.

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 Crank Collector

I’ve a wonderfully warm-hearted, well-read yoga instructor, Ami. On Monday Ami suggested that if any of us were planning to make New Year’s resolutions, that we consider changing the word to intentions. As I sat there cross-legged, palms up, the wisdom of that arrived immediately.

When with Ami, we smile as over and again she says, “Your intention is to stretch your right leg as far across the left held straight as you can.”

A resolution is a decision one must stand by. Once broken, you have to admit failure in one way or another. “I resolve to go to the gym three times a week” often leads to “I can’t right now. I have to go to the gym.”

An intention leaves room for the welcoming of change. “Yeah, I know. I intended to go to the gym today. Then my neighbor came over, needed to talk.”

Resolve!!! There’s something harsh, unbending, non-fluid, demanding, set in concrete, must be OBEYED, If-I-don’t-I’ve-failed about it. Also something I’m-sorry-but-that’s-just-the-way-it-is about it.

“Intend.” It feels kinder, forgiving, fluid, even softer.

To solve? or To tend.

And no, I emphatically do not believe that all good intentions pave the path to Hell. In fact, I believe that resolutions more often do. The old “I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. Can’t change it now.”

“Resolved” is not benign.

Last week I mentioned the terrible, destructive injustice done to four beloved music teachers at Hope College, where I taught for 37 years. From the beginning it was obvious that those out to destroy the joyful and life-giving intentions of these four were most emphatically resolved to do them in.

What’s left now? Well, thousands of students are enjoying enriched lives given to them by these four. But, though their good work lives on, this wreckage can’t be healed, fixed, re-solved. And the bitterness is spreading, rapidly.

These four teachers worked with their students with loving intention, the intention being the enrichment of each student’s days. One does not demand that a student be resolved to master Bach, Baez, or Ellington. That leads only to failure or stagnation. These dynamic and encouraging teachers’ intention was to time and time again enable each student to be with and grow with whatever music they were studying, each time new and renewed.

The Crank Collector

I’d love to rust.
Just sit there
turning into air.
I put cranks
on anything. See
how I put one on
that lawn deer.
I wasn’t sure where
to fasten it. When I
found this old stuffed
chair, I had to put
a crank on it. I
thought this stump
should have one.
And that one,
on the rowboat, I first
put on our bed. I find
cranks everywhere.
They just turn up,
in the woods for instance,
behind a garage. I found
one once in a cemetery.
The one on the side of
the house, I found
digging in my garden,
planting some spurge.
There are a couple
thousand kinds of spurge.
That crank there’s
a double handle. You
can swing it arm over
arm. This one, I painted
green before I stuck it
into that window box.
And I took that one from
my grandmother’s attic.
I thought she’d like it
fastened to her Bible.

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Louisville Review

Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

On April 1 (perfect!) my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!

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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.

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.

Dear Coach

Leadership is on my mind. The kind that helps people to flourish, the kind that does just the opposite.

A sportswriter, in a piece for Sports Illustrated, noted that my father may have been the only coach in America who kept geraniums wintering in his basement, wore a hat, and said “Oh my” a lot. “Oh My Is a Four Letter Word” became a ubiquitous bumper sticker around Pittsburgh in his day.

Another sports writer wrote about how much my father loved the game of basketball and quoted him saying, “But I don’t understand why thousands of people come to watch and why it matters to so many if we win or lose.”

One time, when one of his players missed a layup that would have won the game at the buzzer, my father, surrounded by reporters in the locker room, was asked, “Why did (name) blow that layup?” My father thought for a bit and then said, “Well, if he didn’t miss it, and instead blew it, I guess he wanted to.”

Have you ever had friends falsely accused to the point that it cost them being able to bring their goodness into the world? I can’t voice how terrible that is. It’s happened to four cherished friends of ours recently. Done under the kind of blind, cruel, fear-inducing “leadership” so popular these days. Cruelty that can’t be undone.

On the other hand, there was my Dad. A real leader. How brave he was.

Dear Coach

Dear Coach,

Remember the time you left me in after I’d missed seven in a row, tossed a few out of bounds, and let my man score twenty? Bad night. But you didn’t pull me. You must have taken a lot for that. I can still hear the boos. I thought they were all at me. Why’d you leave me in? I’ve thought about that lately. Did you really think I’d come around? The other guys were furious sitting there watching me screw up. And after the game? What did you say? You must have had a second thought. It hit me last week. I was thinking back, remembering certain games. After that one, I wanted to run away. I had a thousand excuses. My family’s fine, kids are growing up. We took a vacation this year. My mother’s doing OK. Business is business, up and down. If you’re ever in town, I sure hope you’ll stop to see us.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Nebraska Territory

Subsequently published in Losing Season (CavanKerry Press)

Don’t forget to check out Holland Weekly at hollandweekly.com

On April 1 (perfect!) my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!

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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.

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 Christmas List for Santa

“You’re just being sentimental.”

Sentimental. Sentimentality.  These words more often than not are used as a judgement to label the recipient deficient. We encounter the word when reading reviews and critiques, in the academic world among those appealing for so-called objectivity.

It’s no wonder so many fear being damned as sentimental.

For perhaps a surprise consider the Merriam Webster dictionary, where sentimental/sentimentality is defined as tenderness, love, sadness seemingly expressed in an excessive or foolish way.

Ah hah! The dictionary author says “seemingly,” which I would suggest implies that sentimentality is not false feeling, nor as is often taught, a feeling inappropriate to its stimulus.

(Most definitely false feeling exists. We experience it every day in ads and especially in 45’s tweets.)

It’s that time of year when most joy and merry-making would disappear without the authenticity of sentimentality.

As our dear friend Mary Ruefle (Our fathers were college roommates.) writes in her extraordinary and wonderfully subversive-for-the-good-of-all book Madness, Rack, and Honey, “Why is it that all the great stuff is never in keeping with what you are always told: don’t be sentimental.”

Sentiment. Mental. What a lovely and whole coupling.

So, ’tis the season to be merry. And nostalgic. And sad. And wistful. And rich with seemingly inappropriate love.

As is every season, day, hour, and minute.

A repeat for this season–

A Christmas List for Santa

A Wednesday afternoon with no thought of Thursday

Three weeks in the woods, two by myself, one with my father

My father

Cups of tea, plates of sugar cookies, the first ones I ever made,

the dough still sticking to my fingertips

Comic books from the late ’40s: Little LuLu, The Green Hornet, Felix the Cat

Every creek from the upper peninsula of Michigan

The last page from twenty unpublished novels

The ease of a dog’s sleep

Five gold rings

A moon-draped evening among the birds in the hemlocks

Any snow-covered pile of leaves

Photographs, I don’t care how many, of my daughter just before

she smiles for the camera

Seven moments with the lucidity of cutting yourself with a bread knife

Whatever happens between what happens

The liturgy of an old monk laughing

–Jack Ridl

From Practicing To Walk Like A Heron (Wayne State University Press)

Don’t forget to check out Holland Weekly at hollandweekly.com

On April 1 (perfect!) my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!

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

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.

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.

He Went to The City of Bridges

Pittsburgh is my home city. My sister still lives there. Many times I wonder why I don’t. On November 27th the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Manfred Honeck and featuring the Mendelssohn Choir and Itzhak Perlman, presented “Tree of Life: A Concert for Peace and Unity,” a gift of music as response to the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue. My sister attended that concert.

Tonight, streaming it on PBS, Julie and I watched and listened to the performance. We encourage you to as well. The performance is available behind that link, above.

Pittsburgh’s Fred Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Some of those helpers created this concert. The arts are capable of transcending, of comforting, of helping us feel we aren’t alone. When asked what you think, answer “Music.”

Pittsburgh is a relatively small city, one made up of neighborhoods, many inhabited by varied cultures. And only New York has more bridges. Pittsburgh is known as The City of Bridges. Bridges connect.

He Went to The City of Bridges

He went to The City of Bridges.
He stood in front of the synagogue.
He dared shake the hand of the Rabbi.

He said what his daughter, her husband
told him to say. He went to The City
of Bridges. He went to the city of

neighborhoods. He did not enter
The Cathedral of Learning. He did
not look in the eyes of those sitting shiva.

He proclaimed he saw no one standing in lines
with their signs: “YOU are NOT welcome”
in The City of Bridges. He went to The City

of Bridges to meet the Carnegies, to see
where the steel barons sat. The others stood
at the church where Fred Rogers knelt.

He stopped by on the way to his rally.
In The City of Bridges, there was a rally
for HIAS, for peace, for health, and for love.

He went to The City of Bridges, one built
by the -iches, the -icis, the -ids, and the -o’s.
And I’m pretty damn sure that he crossed

the irregular streets where my immigrant
Bohemian hunky great-grandfather drove
horses hitched to a wagon hauling barrels

of beer through the city where his own son,
sixteen, said he was 20, so that day after weeks
he could stand on the monotonous

line, do his irrelevant, replaceable job.
At the end of that line was something that lined
the tailored twill pockets of those balancing books.

He stood so his family could eat, have
a car, and a house, a new radio. I carry hunky
in my blood, my heritage a shit hole country.

He went to The City of Bridges. Then on
to his base to proclaim to their cheers
he was loved. Loved. Not by the murdered.

Not by the trodden, the poor, the betrayed.
Not to the sorrow-filled veils. Not to the
hope-draped at the border, all ordered

to hand over their photos, their wallets,
their backpacks, their toothpaste, and children.
At 45’s rally, the congregants roared,

“Lock her up!” Blasphemed, “Great!”
Cheered on their hate while out there,
somewhere, someone was smiling,

planning, constructing a bomb, or
stroking a gun while the bereaved,
the love-broken sat shiva.

He went to The City of Bridges.

–Jack Ridl

HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, opened its doors in 1881 to aid Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. Their doors have remained open in support of anyone fleeing persecution. Please consider supporting them here.

Don’t forget to check out Holland Weekly at hollandweekly.com

And Todd Davis’s new collection of poems, Native Species (Michigan State University Press) will be out January 1st. One can pre-order. Jane Hirshfield writes, “Reading Todd Davis’s gorgeous poems, you can’t help but feel that [our] capacities for this way of seeing and naming have been mysteriously increased.”

 

On April 1 (perfect!)  my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!
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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.

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.

Stonington, Maine: Early

In her poem “April 9, 2018” poet Sharon Arendshorst uses as an epigraph, the following quote from Annie Dillard…

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

45, along with his sidekicks in Congresses both national and state, chronically — through action, lack of action, unethical and callous practices, words and tweets and disregard — do violence to our right to determine how to spend our days, thus creating our lives.

Interesting word, “spend,” how it suggests a limited amount of figurative currency. It’s a terrible thing to be robbed of something of monetary value. It may be even more evil to break, enter, and steal our time, our hours and minutes that deserve to be contributed to the common good, the personal good, the good of those loved in our worlds.

“Thou shalt not steal,” is most often applied to the robbing of material things. These thieves have stolen and hoarded the expectation that everyone deserves humane housing, healthcare, food, education, and safety, what should belong to all.

And they are stealing what little time we have.

Stonington, Maine: Early

The moon, full and on its
downward turn, seems to lay
the light bright off the harbor.
The fishing boats are leaving–
Cap’n Dolan, Edward Lee,
Jesse III. The snarls of rockweed
wrap the granite juttings. Open
clam shells seem to be gaping
as if taking in the morning.
And you are waking.
Gulls are walking on the low
tide floor. The town is beginning
its day: the bait shop opening, the diner,
the bookstore with the morning paper.
Father Kenney on his walk to Mass,
Marge and Marv turning up the heat
in their gas station/grocery store.

–Jack Ridl

boneandsinewoftheland

Such good news from historian Anna-Lisa Cox who lives nearby…

Smithsonian Magazine named Anna-Lisa’s The Bone and Sinew of the Land as one of eight books honored as the “Best History Books of 2018.” This year they were looking specifically for books that spoke to events in the nation today. Her book tells the history of the brave African American pioneers in the Midwest, people whose stories have been overlooked for so long. Follow the story: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/best-history-books-2018-180970864/?no-cache

On April 1 (perfect!)  my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!
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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.

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.

Fractals: A Nocturne

Tis the season. As we learned this week from the Handbook of 45–global warming is a hoax, climate change is normal. Just note the big early snowstorms.

Sigh.

When confronted by Pilate, Jesus said, “I am not of your kingdom,” and a multitude of us are most certainly saying, yelling, muttering much the same about King 45.

Things aren’t fine, but we have learned how to hold on to all that is good, loving, true.

And so in the midst of it all, ’tis still the season to be jolly, not happy–jolly.

Fractals: A Nocturne

Today we woke to the first snowfall of the season.
You know how it is: The flakes fall, and after
the dog goes out, comes in, you wipe his paws.
Or you don’t.

My wife’s father was captain
of a destroyer heading to
Cuba during the missile crisis. He
and his crew listened to Radio Havana.
Sometimes to Tito Puente. Kennedy
called to turn back the fleet.

This is the holiday season. The deer will soon lie in
the drifts outside our bedroom window. They sleep,
lift their heads, then lower them back into sleep.

Last night we put up a Frazier fir. They hold
their needles. We also untangled the strings
of lights. Eight months before I was born, my father,

white Army captain of a black company, led his
men through the rubble of Belgium and France.
My mother and her mother trimmed a tree.

I was born in April. My father was slogging his men
through the breath-stealing heat of the Philippines.
We are not treated the same as the others, he wrote,
and we are living in a rice paddy. All there is is rain.

Here it is still snowing.

–Jack Ridl

First published by Re)verb.

Then published in Toad.

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

I encourage you to take a look at the blog kept by award winning author and artist Linda K. Sienkiewicz. In posts she entitles “What, Why, How,” Sienkiewicz asks each person she welcomes to her blog those three questions. Talk about cutting to what really matters. Her novel In the Context of Love received not one but five major awards.

For many the Season of Advent is arriving. I noted before, Gayle Boss’s All Creation Waits, her numinous reflections on creatures who live with us, each reflection accompanied by the stunning woodcuts of David G. Klein. Day one: Painted Turtle, followed by Muskrat! Soon comes the loon and then the wood frog!

And here’s what Dos Madres Press has released about Greg Rappleye’s new collection–

New Book:  Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds by Greg Rappleye

Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds

Greg Rappleye is a poet of exquisite, lush language, exacting and precise in description, inventive in the re-creation of entire worlds. In this intoxicating and revelatory journey through the Brazilian rain forests of the 19th century, he populates the canvas of his poems with not only the flora and fauna of that time and place, but with the voice and inimitable perspective of its subject: Martin Johnson Heade, an American painter obsessed with the otherworldly appearance and flight of hummingbirds. As Rappleye’s imagined Heade confesses, “[I] walk for days to find their tiny hearts / beating in the jungle dark.” Yet for all its meticulous research, the heart of this book is a meditation on connection, on what we willingly give our lives over to. As the poet asks, “What should we save—/ a fallen world, or the life we are finally given to live?” —Todd Davis

On April 1 (perfect!)  my new book, St. Peter and the Goldfinch, will be released by Wayne State University Press. Preordering is up at that link, and Julie says stay tuned for news of a PARTY!
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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.

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.