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two poems

by Jack Ridl

Billy Collins Meets the Faerie Queen

I was looking out the window,

the back window,

and holding a glass of Chardonnay.

Come to think of it, it was

a goblet, when up from amidst

the asters my wife had planted

last spring without consulting

my taste in late autumn blooms

arose what appeared to my

aging eyes to be the Faerie Queen.

At least it resembled the Humbolt

Horton illustration of such

that I recall ever so vaguely

from my sophomore college

textbook in English Lit I

taught by Dr. Helen Dobbins

who wore her hair in a bun

pierced perfectly in the center

with what appeared to be

a miniature ivory spear. I

stared while taking another sip

and to my enormous relief

discovered The Queen was

but another squirrel that had

somehow gotten itself tangled

in the thyme my beloved

had placed beneath

the sunflower seed feeder.

Today Was the Day after Yesterday

Yes! Now that my body’s this old,

is what I say when they ask. And

I never let the used dishes sit for long.

Meal finished, each dish goes into

the dishwasher, each type settled

into its allotted spot or slot. This may

be because I’m always living within what

seems like just yesterday that Dickie Palmer

was always picked last and never needed

to be told to play right field. He’s gone now,

and he was younger than any of us. Four days

ago the kindest woman in my little hometown

died. She, her husband, their daughter, and

a grandchild had been sitting in the living room,

catching up. She slumped. That was it.

Imagine, she died all but sitting up. We

were friends for more than 65 years. Another

friend, a loving mother found her teenage son

dead in the doorway to his bedroom. He’d shot

himself going in or coming out. I called her.

All she said was “I will try to make some

potato soup tonight.” I said, “A tribute. I

am going to see if I can read the mystery

I’m halfway through.” She said, “Good idea.”


Jack Ridl’s Practicing to Walk Like a Heron was co-recipient of the Gold Medal for Poetry from ForeWord Reviews. His Broken Symmetry was co-recipient of the Best Book of Poetry from The Society of Midland Authors. More than 100 of his students have become published authors. The Carnegie Foundation named him professor of the year. Each Thursday he presents a brief conversation on YouTube. Website:


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