Grandfather

This week at a workshop on writing about one’s own personal history, which I was invited to lead at our UCC church, more than 50 people came. When Pastor Sal and I discussed having this workshop, we figured maybe a dozen or so would attend. 100 showed interest, but because of the size of the room, we had to limit participants to 50.

Sal and I discussed — why such interest in a class about exploring our histories? We think it’s because good souls are hungry for any opportunity to attend to what matters deeply to them, the events and people in their days. This discouraging time we are each absorbing has hijacked our consciousness, has lethally distracted us from the lives we deserve to live within. The three hours we spent together gave everyone an opportunity to care about what they actually do care about. And to be with like-hearted souls.

Here’s an excerpt from a message that arrived this week that links to this idea.

Dear Mister Ridl,
Normally I’m a reader, who doesn’t write to the authors I read, and also I’m not used to writing in English. But like many of the other new German readers you have, I feel so touched and so thankful for reading your poems and knowing about you in your house that I really want to thank you for that. Your poems and thoughts are graceful and gentle and they can comfort and foster. I need that so much – in everyday life, for I’m a primary school teacher and I need to be gentle with the children — but also in this present world, being so cruel and chaotic, for I’m a mother and want my children to grow up with hope and optimism. I always stand up very early, open the window and feel and smell the air and listen to the birds. Now, every Thursday I will also look for your poems. 

Greetings from Munich,

Natascha Guyton

 

Grandfather

He will come back–

in some small movement

of the line you draw, a word

you never said before,

a laugh, a sudden look.

You will be walking and the wind

will linger on your face. You’ll

know. His voice will drop

in rain, the snow. You’ll feel

his hand along the wood, in clay.

He’ll take his quiet presence

in your blood, your bones and cells.

He’ll stay.

for John Saurer

-Jack Ridl

First published in Yankee Magazine

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Visit Roan & Black and Cabbages & Kings and Reader’s World to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

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.

And, of course, click here to visit ridl.com, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!

 

Likely

The other day, the following appeared on the comments page from Meike Trenkel in Germany:

“I was touched very deeply by the SZ article and your work. I was born and grew up in the GDR (East Germany) and I know the feeling of life under a dictatorship very well. It damages everything…

“And the dark horrible shadows of the Nazi regime — they are still here. So we must stand together, support and help each other in love. Thank you very much, and sunny spring wishes from Germany. –Meike.”

Likely

Most days come
along like a child
kicking a stone
down an alley
or like the way
the mail lies
in the mailbox,
flag up.  But
sometimes as
you wander into
some old words,
you feel yourself
gliding on the morning,
maybe looking back
over your shoulder.

–Jack Ridl

Will be published in Saint Peter and the GoldfinchWayne State University Press, 2019

NOTE: An English translation of the article from SZ  (Sueddeutsche Zeitung ) noted above is on its way!

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Visit Roan & Black and Cabbages & Kings and Reader’s World to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

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.

And, of course, click here to visit ridl.com, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!

It’s April and It Should Be Spring

Welcome, welcome to all of my new German friends! This week has been overwhelming for me. Among the many joys of doing something that is for no gain is when the unexpected might, just might, come your way and becomes a gift you couldn’t imagine arriving.

This blog protest has created that experience. The gifts have come from you. You have created a world for me, one I realize is extraordinarily rare. My gratitude cannot be fully expressed. So today I want to offer two ways of thanking you. And when you read this, I want you to believe that I do feel that I am writing this post to one of you at a time. That’s very important to me.

These last few days have been overwhelming. Christian Zaschke’s article in the weekend edition of Sueddeutsche Zeitung about what I’m trying to do here reached far and wide. Some 200 new subscribers (Welcome!) from some 4,000 new visitors, primarily German speaking people from all over the world, Christian’s SZ fans from everywhere, arrived at at ridl.com, making that more than 27,000 people who have come to visit since I started this work, many to comment and/or email me. It’s become joyous new work to respond to each who have personally contacted me. It’s like having you all here, all around the kitchen table, and all attending to what matters to you.

This message from Albert Geiger is one of the many.  I think you will be as moved by it as I am, for all it implies for all of us:

“I am from Munich (Germany) and read yesterday the article about your activities in the SZ newspaper. Meanwhile I had the opportunity to visit your website and to enjoy some of your poems. The article and your poems touched me very much, resulting in a strong feeling of solidarity which drove me to write you these few sentences.

The article and your work reminded me vividly of my father who was one of the appr. 230,000 German resistance during the III Reich and who survived almost 11 years of imprisonment only because of literature and tender poems which gave him incredible strength. He even was able to write his own poems.

So I feel that your work is also extremely important for me, and I want to thank you for it.”

And here in an email response is the writer, Christian Zaschke:

“… if I may quickly throw a word into this group: this e-mail by Mr Geiger is extremely moving for me (I wrote the story). And if I may add: reactions in Germany to the text have been so kind, so gentle, so wonderful. I am overwhelmed (even though the readers all love Jack now and not the messenger – rightly so :-).

And it confirms what we all know: people have to engage. And to speak out. We can all reach out and touch the world.

I am so grateful for the time I have spent in Saugatuck and Douglas.”

My abundant thanks to my friend, Norbert Kraas, who contacted Christian about this project. This would not have happened had Norbert not been so kind as to do that. That’s Norbert — kind.

It’s snowing here and the wind is harsh. And it’s Spring. Yes, within this storm, there is Spring.

It’s April and It Should Be Spring

The gods are tired of tending fires.
Against the window, snow.

Each night the hour hand moves
time and us closer to the light.

No one wants to go out. No one
wants to stay in. And the snow.

Robins do their silly walk across the lawn,
dead grass dangling from their beaks.

Crocuses raise their purple risk
through the ice-crusted mulch of maple,

oak, beech, and willow. They last
a day. Clumps of daffodils stay

blossom-tight. We want to put away
sweaters. What would the saints do?

We haul in more wood. It is snowing.
Thursday and it is snowing and wind cold.

Winter’s wedged itself into a crack
along the equinox. We know, in time,

the trees will bud, the flowers rise
and bloom. We do what the earth does.

–Jack Ridl

And today? This is today. Here is hope.

First published in Temenos

Published later in an alternative form in Poetry East

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

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Visit Roan & Black and Cabbages & Kings and Reader’s World to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

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.

And, of course, click here to visit ridl.com, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!