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: www.ridl.com.