The Old Days

You may have seen it online, the photograph of a gas station sign that reads


There have been no long lines and the owner is quite sure he’ll remain in business.

I have a hunch this guy hangs out after work here in this poem.

The Old Days

In a dark corner
of the Bull’s Eye Bar

they sit, burnt out
and burned up over

wages and dreams
that turned to lies.

They live in beer
and bad jokes,

make it through
the day

by knowing
this is where

they’ll be
when the whistle blows.

Something about
the neon sign.

Something about
the elk’s head.

Something about
the floor,

the walls, the
bowling scores

taped behind
the bar.

“Wish I could
quit smoking.”

“No you don’t.”
“You’re right.”

for Nelson Oestreich

–Jack Ridl

Published in Between (Dawn Valley Press) Copies available on used book sites.

Kristin Brace will be offering a reading from her newly released collection Fence, Patio, Blessed Virgin on September 26, 6:00pm at Books & Mortar bookstore, 955 Cherry Street. SE, Grand Rapids.

On September 27 at 7:00pm, The Hope College Visiting Writers Series will open with readings by Matthew Baker and by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne Marie Oomen with illustrator Meridith Ridl from their book The Lake Michigan Mermaid. The readings will be held in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Music Center.

There are still a few spots left for The Lost Lake Writers Retreat. It’s a great time with good writing souls in a beautiful setting.


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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.