Posts Tagged ‘Jack Ridl’


for Jack Ridl



My friend Jack is really St. Peter.

I trust him. He has a knack

for finding the good in people,


for bringing it out. He has a way

of creating Eden out of a blank page,

out of a living room, out of pixels.


He knows the gate to paradise

is right here. He knows how to say,

“Fuck death.” He knows how to love


the world, how to hold those

who need to be held, how to care.

I am not always so sure I believe


in God, but I always believe in Jack.

Sometimes when I ache, when

I don’t know how to write another word,


Jack will send me a note. He’ll say

something like, “Grief is an ambush,”

and then, just knowing he understands,


I go on. I watch the willows turn yellow.

And Jack is here, too, holding open the pearly gate

so that heaven will slip through to this world.


He’s got his cup of coffee ready, and one for you

and me, too, to toast to all the beauty that is,

to all the beauty still left to be made.


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based on a title by Jack Ridl



But if you were, you’d hide in your chaps

on your dark stallion, concealed by the saguaro

beside the remote tracks. You’d scan the horizon

for the gray plume of smoke, listen for the whistle

in the distance, lean your ears toward the clackety

clack clack clack of the engine. And you’d wait. Till

you could see the whites of the engineer’s eyes

as he drove by. You’d kick your heels into your horse’s sides

and shoot your gun into the air to show you mean business.

You’d see the resolve set into the engineer’s jaw and you’d smile

beneath your black bandana. Yaw! You’d shout as you

keep pace with the train, your posse coming alongside.

You were made to shake things up. Just take a look

at that sun weighing down the west like

a big sack of gold just ready for the rustling,

and why not take it? The world is yours. And the

way you’re feeling, this good, this rich,

you already know you’ll give everything away.





This is the second time this week I am referencing Jack Ridl. If you are not yet aware of this amazing feller, here is his poetry blog:  https://ridl.wordpress.com/


and here is a link to his upcoming book: https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/saint-peter-and-goldfinch



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for Jack Ridl and all the rakers



Pulling the rake through the cottonwood leaves,

I think of Jack in Michigan pulling his rake

through beech, birch, oak and ash leaves.

I stop to lean on my rake and I think

of him stopping to lean on his rake

and talk to the gods. I’m not so sure I believe

in gods, but I believe in Jack. I believe in kindness.

I believe in friendship that grows despite distance.

I believe that these rhythms of raking and making piles

bring us closer together—all of us rakers, all of us

who step into the slow cadence of pull and reach,

and pull and reach. There is something unifying

in this annual act of tidying the world. Every day

the news is full of all we can’t set right. But we

can drag the rake through the yard so that we

can see the path again. And we can set the rake

aside and stare at the sky and think of all

the people we love and all the people

we’ll never know who join us in this simple act,

reach and pull, reach and pull, reach and pull,

the sound of metal tines grating, the beat

of our own hearts scraping against our chests.

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