Kneading, needling, needing for motherly whispers,
of secretive needs.
Oh, where's gone idolatry? Some still parade you
On strong shoulders of childlike fidelity. Not me.
c. E. D. Ridgell, 2014
The Last Train To Bronxville!
That September night when the last train to Bronxville,
That he might have, just could have; should have, been on,
come and gone, she just stood there
Like a statue gone cold as stone marble.
Thirteen years later, now, in some twisted
She's still there, standing there, a silent ghost
Staring in vain; that former self, that woman,
that self who is nevermore.
The girls just started college, all expenses paid.
She just saw
the last one off on the last mornings
Train from Bronxviile into Grand Central,
The train she refuses to ride anymore.
c. E. D, Ridgell, 2014
A Christmas Prayer!
And suddenly it's splendid to be old,
See the crop of your seeds set, so.
fall away each in turn,
Cross over and whittle the tree, just so-
The newer ornaments, their turns to
from limb-tip to deep bough.
Worries wax thin, fears lesson-
Each day dawns anew to savor what
Things age, fade; comes the twilight,
Look there into the distant night;
Patient Reaper, crooked finger,
Begs me make hast a delayed confession.
Gentle Lord, I beg Thy grace,
Commend my soul, as I surrender all pride-
Soon to dismount the
carousel of life;
Pay the priest to anoint a wrinkled brow,
With penitent heart, take the last rites, and
to bring me home to you, my God!
c. E. D. Ridgell, 2014
A South Dakota Kodak Moment!
Dirty money's pumping dirty oil-
Spills of pipes never inspected.
It's crack, a petroleum distillate.
All Koch's money and all
Humpty Dumpty back together, again!
He's fallen down, but never you mind.
The Senate's passed another
Moved it closer to a Presidential veto.
My mother was born in South Dakota.
The faded photographs sure look pretty,
she's caught in a Kodak moment,
Smiling out from a fresh water river.
They want to lay this pipeline right
Dakota. I don't think so!
c. E. D. Ridgell, 2015
When Unto My Jesu,
Like a billowing, wave unto shore,
I broke with a zeal and zest for life
As good as
any 'fore or since.
God bestowed on me thrice
What I deserved and more,
Feigning not to mark my sins.
I come before my Lord,
Knowing I must right the
And grateful beyond all measure.
Receive me into Your embrace,
A penetrant petitioner
Entirely at Your bountiful mercy.
c. E.D. Ridgell,
[There Always Will Be An England]- from the newsletter of the Jane Austen
Sir, - There have been three occasions recently when
human ashes have been left inthe garden of Jane Austin's House Museum.They have been left without permission and in secret.
While we understand the many admirers of Jane Austin would love to have their ashes here, it is something we do not allow. It is distressing for visitors to
see these mounds of human ash and particularly so for our gardener. Also,
it is of no benefit to the garden!We would be grateful if you could notify members-that if they
know anyone who might be thinking of doing this, it is not permissible.
Any ashes that are found will be disposed of.
- One Last Thing, If You Please
"By and by they fetched the niggers in and
had prayers,"- And when those that came; family, friends, fagots, Romans, Had finished what meager rites they
figured on me, That was done, and I thanked them, here in this writ of mind. Then my loved
ones, you must conspire one last time, One last thing, if you please, for me, for us, for what is fitting. Here!
There are these ashes, fresh ashes mixed with bone, That I charge you scatter, quickly, on the run, fast Before
they contrive to stop you. One run up the field, and Another, down that Green from the other end. Broadcast me
far and wide. Have some fun with me. Be merry, For merry I'll be feeling through the rotting catalpa pods And green
grass in hopes of coupling once again. God grant it! Bless you and keep you and remember what's
mortal stays there. I am with you, circumjacent, hovering around you, the whisper on wind, The breeze on your cheek,
the memory come and gone, waiting.
I trusted instinctively it was going to be alright
E.D. Ridgell, 2017
Lay Atop a Stainless Steel Table
waiting to be boxed and sent to a crematorium. In living he is much loved
but not too liked. Much about him is an enigma for he closely coddles his inner sanctum, and no one understands
the core of him. He is forever carding his contradistinctions, and he comprehends this passage well enough to not take it too seriously, or to dismiss too lightly that solemn progress that senses the unveiling of what
is righteous from what is not. “Luctor et emergo.”
This is a spiritual man who does
not argue or debate creeds. He senses the more empathic the being the closer that being is to the Source of
all that is good. He is humble enough to know that in living he can know nothing of the Mystery, and when if
ever can he die? “Hypotheses non fingo”.
The shedding shell upon the table is now silent
before the secret. Its dry remarks and humorous innuendos to lighten the solemnity of life are stalled
somewhere in-between. “Hoc est enim corpus meum.”
It is another Chucky Cheese birthday bash- this one for our Taylor Haven; too
soon aged five, and I am overwhelmed at so much packaged into a celebration.
Her grandmother is there with
a new husband in tow. In a hug I know she is happy, and I like the man in question- depth of feeling, generosity,
and intelligence are always good conversation and convivial company.
Taylor is excited and happy. It
is not often she can laud if over her sister with all the panache welled up within a middle child. It is her day
and she uses it well. Her sister, my little Aquitaine, is as unruffled as the folds of marble that cover
the effigy of the original.
The birthday girl’s little brother is at home, unwell. For the first time I realize the depth of my love by the measure of the missing. “Sunshine” is shining somewhere regardless of any strep throat.
Daddy is given the poem I have written for Taylor Haven. The bait is taken. Lawyers amuse me. In law silence is construed as innocence. Holding degrees in the fine arts, I know the value of the painterly stroke of the well placed lie. How often have I lied out of love, and how many more lies will
I be blessed to tell? Heaven is full of liars and hell houses many an honest man.
And the afternoon sailed
on like this banked by parties on either side each with their own stories to tell. At one point the din was so
loud I was adrift in sound and panicked thinking, “Silence is golden”.
A wise man once said: “Begin at the beginning, go the end, and stop”. Just before the stop I had succeeded in getting Taylor
alone atop the house on the token fed, great, riding horse that towered over this Chucky Cheese realm, where
with her wrapped in my arm I unwrapped an “I love you” to my birthday girl.
At the stop
of the horse near the stop of our play, high in the sky of Chucky Cheese’s, I suddenly was overwhelmed at
one more thing. Below us were a hundred or more people of so diverse origins, Exhibited by there decorum, demeanor,
and dress so as to light the candle of my patriotic heart. Here, Taylor is the future of you and your country. It is damaged but not broken. You take the reigns now and you and they go forward. You are at the beginning. Pop
Pop is very near the stop.
The salt cured ham has been ordered. Lillian, has agreed to
come and cook it, after boring it and stuffing it with kale as is a southern Maryland tradition.
Missus Sophie’s daughter, that kindly black woman who had worked for my grandmother, and while at her many
labors kept us boys in hand, and out of trouble, or at best as much as it is possible to keep bold young rascals
out of mischief. Many a raid on her pantry she thwarted with her broom in that way that is firmly felt to the bottom
but nevertheless loving. Sophie stuffed a ham for my grandfather and, just ten days later, for my grandmother. It was those old hands also who prepared the tribute for my mother some ten years later.
When Dad died
over a decade thereafter, it was Miss Lillian who performed the ritual. Sophie had passed on and it was my Aunt Bette
who had bored the holes for the kale that seasoned the meat for this good woman’s wake. That was almost thirty
years ago and Miss Lillian had now grown old. I was shocked to see just how much so when last year we laid my Uncle Bud, dubbed “The Judge” to a final rest beside the St. Mary’s River.
You text me from Paris in broken French, And I can tell you are so soon mended. Another passage for you, begins- Another go at love; And I am gladdened to my heart, You deserve it.
I conceal my sadness for your sake For life is hard. We keep taking turns. My progresses are fraught of
late And I feel as though I’m the fading fool, Whose courtly laughs grow fainter.
Our child, sown
so long ago- Her seeds grow so quickly higher. And now, now, I feel so outrun. I’m burning out Lyndell
and no one, not one, Can tell me the flame does not flicker.
Burn on bright and do not look back on me unkindly. I have navigated rough seas of troubles as best I could With never a thought to hurt anyone, Least of all my
first love. Believe that! We were but a wave that broke upon the shore And then receded leaving the next to break And leave her pretty shells in a line Upon that beach that is so private.
Those years in the blush and innocence
of youth Were not misspent. The young make early sortees- I left you with pirate’s bounty Worth far more
than any gold: A cove from out sprung, Allyson, my Aquitaine; Twenty three waves broken to the far shore- Taylor, my Haven; Thirty two ripples of Excalibur; And finally, that diamond not rough- Sunshine on my Shoulders; A billowing wave from William, That bent Conqueror- A joke on all of you; Queer As Folk, Let
if go untold to outlive me And all the laughter I have cut- The joker in the deck, The joking, jockeying, jester. One more laugh for me? Come on! I remember most of all The laughter.
A sticker labeled ‘JUROR', Marking my breast pocket, I try to convince myself, I'm no worse for wear, Though the blush hasn't cleared yet
And residues of shame still Rouge corners of my mouth line, After spewing out over the Judge's bench, Please, excuse me. I can't promise it won't matter anymore.
Came out again,
did ya? Roped justice at least for someone, did ya? You couldn't honestly be impartial. And so you melt a little
more, Dissipate to dissemble One more time, knowing there will be more. It doesn't stop, ya see?
After two bloody years of blood tests, And hard solicited hope, they discharged him! No
problems we can find. Live with it. Everything will be fine.
We spent the
last day of open enrollment To get him on my health insurance. We had put our hearts and our heads together, Like so many times before. Skipped the movie, Took the light rail in. We had the right, now, Thanks to funny
names like Mfume, Mikulski, and other allies. Good notes to tone deaf ears.
a bum's hunch, we went to one more doctor For one more test! What's a pancreas? He was dead in three months.
What others said of me were never of great concern.
bigoted were always in the wings, but
Never in His wings. They get their
And fly with the wicked birds. Bigots never soar.
My friends were few but usually aged and
of the best vintage.
Most of them went on the wings of the angels long ago.
Today I have my love and my family and a feline friend.
I need no more, but a quick end with as little pain
will grant me. I die a happy and contented man,
A man who celebrated life
and did not settle!
c. E.D. Ridgell, 2014
Oh Shite! But How I Love
She says: “Dad, you’re in that stage of life.” She’s right but it does not close
or sooth this strike ripping into my shaken quiddity. Oh Shite! But how I love you!
I knew as soon as
I heard your sage, sapient voice caressing wire. No one has taught acceptance to me more than you; my marker, my
messenger, my compos mentis, mentor. “Begin at the beginning go to the end and stop”, were a repeated
long time reminder of how many of your quipped quotes picked from out this orb of fools, I carry in my head and
bandy on in my own turn on this sphere. Oh Shite! But how I love you!
You found me on the corner of North
Calvert and 31st looking for what I did not know; the real me, lost hope, a broken spirit. Poitier had fled to the
rooftops. I fled to the alleys. And so, as in ancient times, the older took a younger under arms, instaurated his
soul, and initiated him into the orders of Apollo. “Often the test of courage is not to die but to live”. We both were bewailing lovers we were not meant to keep. You tell me Tom visited recently and that he is painting
again. You lament that he is sixty. Did he father? I can’t recall. I tell you Lynn is still searching for
that Daddy I could not be. We cut it all in laughter. Oh Shite! But how I love you!
Edie Johns is clucking
over you, a mother hen of crows. Randy is handling the will. Elizabet rots, and Randy has yet another queen with
the seeds of two. The doctors will know what you now know already. Your heart the best beating of you is too weak
to bear their miracles. We are at the beginning of the rituals reserved for those ordained. I hint at a Sulpician.
You’ll have your Jesuit, though. “That would be scann’d”-not by me! Oh Shite! But how I
I tease you as my mind multitasks at lightning speed, chiding you as my Lord Marchmain and trying
like Ryder to manipulate predestination. You, gone back to the see of Rome! Jesu! Decades before you took me to
the seminary where you were to be ordained before you chucked it all, knowing it could not be. You are one of a
few I condescend to call Christian. Your matching pair of sister nuns are dead and you are the last of your line
standing. Peripherals of no matter mingle around. We are of that flock that are born black sheep, the chosen, history’s
whipping boys. No matter. Oh Shite! But how I love you!