This Poet's Corner


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This Poet's Corner


Georgia Gal!

I am the old waterman’s shepherd

Guarding this empty and vacant house

In the company of scents grown weak,

Some of his lot, some not.

I have no way of naming these-

Each and everyone is in confusion 

Including me.

He and his breed are gone now.

One day they sped away in the dust of the

Twirling-footed, big boxlike things

Emptying the house of everything

‘Cept for fading smells and scant trails

floating about, haunting the property.

If I walk in the day or bark in the night,

My scent is long gone. What is left of me

Betrays no trailing scents.

I lie in my shallow hole by day

Only to come out at night to chase

The living lightning bugs away.


I once dragged my hind legs 

Whimpering loudly, until

A strong scented man, 

one of the waterman’s pack,

Shot something, quick, slick, and sharp 

Into my furry hide spurting away my pain. 

He lay me gently down

Into this hole with tears drowning down.

Did he mean to cover me from the cold 

I no longer feel?

I miss the old waterman, and

I gaze to the end of the drive

Hoping to see him come home.

One morn, many summers ago, 

That fast footed breed

Came quickly and rudely put my old man

Into a white, box-like thing,

With a twirling, red, lighthouse atop it.

They sped the waterman and his scent away 

Too fast for me to follow.

He never would have left me

Without so much as a pat.

I know that and 

I am a ghost in confusion!

Before he grew old and bowed o’er,

We used to walk the sandy beaches

In the brisk, early morn, before we breakfasted,

He on his stool, me at my bowls 

On the clean, linoleum floor.

He was particular about wiping my paws and

He was the only one who clipped my nails.

In a time when anything on me was still growing.


The scents, smells, and feelings

Seem to be fading and yet still I miss

The old waterman that cared for me 

As  I guarded him.

I do not like it here, but something tells me

That it will not be long before

And I can leave my sandy hole.

Somewhere someone remembers me and 

Until all memory of me is gone 

There is no possibility that I can break free

To run up that road in search of 

Some misty cloud that is the old waterman 

wherever he may be trapped too by memory.


We'll walk and run the beaches again, 

Just he and me free again-

Forget us! Forget us! 

For pity sakes, remember us no more!

                                    c. E.D. Ridgell, 2008
                                                                              Revised 2018 

Emergency Exit Only!

Again, a long hallway with many doors,
All leading into empty rooms without windows.
The naked lights of inexpensive fluorescence 
Hang down like yellow nooses.

It was just another alley in a moonlit night,
So long ago in search of the mother
Who flew the coop. You've encountered
Abandonment before. You've walked with the rats.

A decade later it was an alley in Bolton Hill,
The lit liquor store, a beacon in the night.
How did I ever find the strength? From where 
Down there in the gut did I pull up hope? 

I'd muster up and out, flee that hallway,
Only to wander down another, always with
Those empty rooms under the shabby, yellow lights.
There never was a room with a window and a way out!

The wallpaper seems to be fading,
And those lights, not out altogether, flicker.
The air is heavy and it's harder and harder to breath,
There's always that door at the end of the hallway.

The one marked "Emergency Exit Only"!
                                                 c. E. D, Ridgell, 2014


If Truth Be known!

My mother,
God rest her soul,
Taught me well how to worry.

That’s why, exist or not,
I need God.
Somebody must shoulder my burden.

It’s still hard for me to turn it over-
The control.
I want to steer with my many resentments.

That would neither be fair
Or, if truth be known,
Very good for my soul.

I’m a sweetheart of a man,
But no stranger to sin-
Just your everyday sort of a man!
                              c. E.D. Ridgell, 2016

My Liberal Bleeding Heart!

…and you would not shoot the dove
…and you would not stick the straw dummy
With your soldier bayonet. The ‘Sarge’
Kicked your sorry ass all the way back to the barracks
…and still you would not comply, my gentle brave heart!

You were so gentle with birds; pigeons, downy ducks, and geese-r
All these were a part of my time with you, dead but never lost. 
I have it here locked in my heart, my liberal bleeding heart!

I think of you a little every ensuing day, and the last day of March 
Still marches o’er this broken heart, my liberal bleeding heart
...and you would not shoot the dove, no, not you, my gentle man.
You were the bravest of the brave and the gentlest of men
... and you would not stick the straw dummy, but you would
Stab my heart, my sorry ass of a liberal bleeding heart!
                                                                       E.D. Ridgell, 2017

My Shrouded Little Taylor Haven


You feign a crusty bravado,

Seemingly independent,

So sure and strong willed.


You mask some hurt,

Inherent to the middle

Or a cicatrix of some breach in our bastion.


It is of little matter,

For such sweetness cannot be sequestered

Behind guises of chagrined affectations.


You are not camouflaged from Pop-Pop

Who sees and notes your cloaked signals-

Fortifications against seemingly, shaming dregs.


Life will not be half as hard as you fear,

And all of us with the x-ray eyes

Will stand guard in the wings till your fears subside.




It Isn’t Death I Fear!


It is its lynchpin, grief,

That I disdain, deriding

That void that cannot be filled.



His warm embrace as he bit my cheek-

That playful way he had of embellishing

The most normal act with that physiognomy

All his own, that roped and tied

My reluctant heart down.


That way she had of tilting her head just so,

The one eye stepped forward so slightly before the other,

All above a beguiling smile, that every so often

Broke out into that charming laugh

That pursued and wooed me.


The way she arranged her baby dolls all in a row,

So that she could pick which next to hold,

And rock in her sweet little arms

While mimicking her mommy.


I have not forgotten the gravestone I came upon,

With all the little plastic, play trucks, tanks, and planes

Some grieving parent must have strewn about the stone

So that their sandy haired, little boy could play

Like any other pharaoh.


It isn’t death I fear. Death is simple. It is the wake

Left behind that would engulf any who love me as much as I them.

Would that I could not leave you so, but in my selfish way,

I would have just a few espouse me. I am too much the coward, now,

To live completely alone. Would that I could have you unfettered,

I swear I would. It isn’t death that I fear. It isn’t death… 

                                                                                                    E. D Ridgell


Footfalls O’er Hallowed Ground


Our footfalls

Marched us a foot or so

Atop the topsoil of buried ruins of the 

Prisoner of War Camp at Point Lookout,

As we’d hopscotch the tick grass

Down to the Potomac side the peninsula

For one of several swims each day.

A small contingent of

Barking, bumping, colliding collies 

Flanked our wood-be Sherman’s march to the sea.

Barefooted with large trailing towels,

Our singular necessity the morning’s swim.

We only had a vaguely planted idea

We marched on footfalls o’er hallowed ground.


Little did we know one day

The Feds would return to push us off

What before they sought to cover up-

All ‘cept the beacon of a stalwart light house-

Our home, suddenly theirs by 

Some eminent, domain, Yankee travesty!

Down came the stately white washed Victorian Hotel

That wined and dined, white uniformed Naval officers,

Who paraded their bejeweled ladies o’er deep, plush carpeting-

All our simple but much loved homes, cabins, and cottages

Were forfeited by these aforesaid Northern rights.

Decades later now, the state has it’s tourist site

And the rich revenues it makes on what to some 

Are footfalls on hollowed ground.


Ah, but rock me in the ages,

It’s all blue and gray history now,

Nothing is so clear as defeat,

And what with the wars of our forebears

Finished and done,

We’re all as one again; north, south,

Black, white, and parts native foreign and in between! 

                                                             c. E.D. Ridgell, 2015


Elizabeth, Why?

Every so often I remember

And comes the question,

Elizabeth, why?

I think I’ve answers

These decades later,

But they trigger quizzing-

When Larry told me,

I asked why.

He implied abuse.

He told me that

When you’ve a gun

The thing is a given.

Our shrink would know,

But he was obtuse-

I saw Larry cry only once.

There had been an attempt-

With the results of the Minnesota,

You two huddled in whispers.

My test lies folded somewhere.

It painted me perfectly-

You were right to be frightened.

There is the image of you

Standing in the tub offering

Your temple to the decision.

Your father walking dead

Suggested that Randy join you-

Even Larry needed help with that!

Randy remarried.

I fell in love and

Lost him to natural causes.

A lifetime has gone by

And I still quiz-

Elizabeth, why?

                       E. D. Ridgell

Sweet Virginia

We had come to that place
A farm where you could 
Wipe the shit right off your boots
Looking for pot or hashish
I don’t remember which.

In my malaise of denial
I knew nothing of your deceit
Ignorant of changes to come-
Karma well earned
But no less unkind.
Your sin is yours.
My sin is mine.

We were nothing if we did not risk.
We wore abandonment like 
Come hither talisman fitted suits. 
There were many warnings.
You ignored mine.
I ignored yours and so
We both cop’d the shit!

                           E. D. Ridgell 2018

Walton’s Mountain                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

All through this long life all I wanted was for

Walton’s Mountain to be real-

A real place, a real family-

Some semblance of normalcy.


 I tried. I searched and searched,

But to no avail. There is no mountaintop

With that cozy house with the long kitchen table.

Those places are Hollywood false fronts.


My grandfather wanted nothing to do with me.

The old man just sat in a chair with the other

Nursing home residents, oblivious to my gestures.

The old boozer might as well have been thin air!


My grandmother whose bosom I remember

As so warm and cuddly was wrenched from me early-

My first but not my last robbery at the hands of Cancer.


I remember her crying out in pain, asking why, oh why?

My Daddy, he was a sailorman and like so many

Sailor-men he liked to wet his whistle.

All the men in the family including me


Were far too good the whistle players!

My Mommy was loving and a little

To close for comfort…they call it silent seduction!

I asked God not to take her away, and so she promptly,

Was carried away to Cancer!


I swore off women, altogether,

And married a good man and as soon as I fell into his deep embrace,

Sure enough in came riding one of the Horsemen.

He died of pancreatic cancer!


My daughter up and tells me one day,

My first and last wife is dying, and with trepidation I ask what of?  

“Pancreatic Cancer”!

Now surely, you would never have heard that on Walton’s Mountain!              

                                                                               c.  E.D. Ridgell, 2014




Toronto is Reggie, 
Did you know that? 
A real beat- 
A sweet rhythm! 
Shake your hips, 
Be Hawaiian! 
I remember now, 
She took hula lessons. 
Everyone talked behind her back! 
That kitchenette was a roundtable 
Of backstabbing gossip. 
Her hubby supplied the firewood. 
His mother stoked it!
                 c. E. D. Ridgell, 2014 

Cowy Tweet and Sowzy Tweet and Liddle Sharksy Doisters!


I remember sinking into the first deep depression, in the sixties

On a transit bus on the way home after fleeing the scene to see

Richard Burton in "A Spy Came in From the Cold".

I knew I was unhappy and I knew it was right to be so,

But sad, oh so sad, because I didn't want it to be so.


I paid attention as life ran along and along,

And I noticed I'd go in and out of depression

As regularly as was fitting- and then some,

For I'd fallen into knowing it was natural to do so,

But sad, oh so sad, because I didn't want It to be so.


With time, I learned to temper these depressing times,

With snacks, with scotch, with sex, with smoke, with anything

To take me off the never ending coaster ride, I couldn't jump from;

brainwashed into thinking it was a sin to do so,

But sad, oh so sad, because I didn't want it to be so.


Now here I am older, but no wiser, and, yep, depressed again,

Despite all of their pills, and any thrills I might conjure up

To avoid the pain and confusion at life's ups and downs-

And, yes, again, such a long ride latter, I'm right to be so,

But sad, oh so sad, because I don't want it to be so.


Around and around we go, and where we'll land

I do not know but, "Mairzy doats and dozy doats

And liddle lamzy divey, a kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?"

Again, I am here, inverted and low with every right to be so,

But sad, oh so sad, because I don't want it to be so.

© 2012 by E.D. Ridgell




Like Sebastian, I Am Only Ever Wounded!

It is a pain
Second only to one so far worse.
I only ever held on anyway,
And so now I am again
Serving people who I am only ever
Of secondary purpose.

I keep going on and on
And on and on,
While all, the others drop away.
I am so afraid I will be the 
Last one standing.
I would You lay me gently down, please.

I am not blind to 
Your sufferance and I am most
Humble and grateful,
But bid me one last plea,
I am as always on thin ice,
Skating much too boldly.

I was always
The risk taker and You
That unpredictable Director.
Somehow, I keep the faith,
But You know
The depths of me.

Holy Mary, 
Mother of God,
Intercede for me, a sinner,
While I am as repentant
As I am. Maria,
Look down upon me. 

I would I could
Find some Tunisian monastery,
Or some such place of Flyte,
But mine is a dissimilar 
Final field of battle.
I lay me gently down, here.
                  c. E.D. Ridgell, 2015 

Bless Me But I’ve

…this deep empathy 
And with it a peace-
Awakening on forgiveness
Of everything and everyone.

To that degree perhaps
I approach that elusive force
That I hope is He Who changeth not
It is as crippling as it is sustaining.

I feel so fragile I might break and 
Fear besets me even as I feel a peace 
In an acceptance echoing Wilde
On musings of a peaceful repose in death.
Impatience tugs at me 
To see the thing through
‘fore I might endure so much
As the whiskers of loss.

I beg leave 
To be so selfish as to
Plead to please
Lay me gently down.

Abide with me,
I am as afraid to stay
As I am to leave-
Fickle weak in my dotage.

Bless me but I’ve…
                                E. D. Ridgell 2017

No Title Necessary!

I didn’t used to vote all the time.

Lately, it’s at the top of the agenda-

It needs motivating. 

No! It needs passion, 

A bit of anger. An act of treason! 

I’m no slouch in my patriotism. 

It’s as corny and as old as is my 

Aging constitution. I love my country; 

It’s mixed up mythology, it’s rebellion, it’s distrust  

Of outside intervention. I condone every 

Rationalization. I echo every war cry of 

Refutation off of it’s bloodied, canyon walls.  


For every action there is a reaction. 

The force is forever forward marching. 

The revolution burns and brands every true citizen,  

No matter his misdirections. It is about spirit.  

It is the flight and fight of the eagle, 

Each feather storm tossed from out some other nation. 

There are some votes that come from the gut of me! 

No reasoning is necessary. It is primary to my roots, 

Vomited up from the blood and guts of my forefathers. 

Don’t lecture me or mine on freedom, 

Ancestors of Hershey Bar totting, well meaning boys

Who dot this earth under the white crosses of a faith  

And conviction to match any you might catch out  

Of some Norman Rockwell painting! 

                                           © 2010 by E.D. Ridgell




I Long to Arise Your April Fool

Every year I slip a little more,

Gain another year. I am gradually dying. Is this unnatural?

Since your death, I've been down so many hallways

All leading to a locked door. I am tired of turning doorknobs.

Is it not alright to tire? I need papers to assure

I do not become a vegetable in someone else's garden.

So many people use me I can no longer discern their motives.

I am a pawn, the least important piece on their chessboard.

I bristle at the interference. Everyone is loosing.

Is loss not the key to eternity? I only yearn to tinker with words,

Putter in my garden, watch my eaglets fly-

To die, and then to join you.

Many people choose to love me. I am grateful.

I can not define love. It comes in many forms. I still love you.

I try to do no harm to anyone. I comfort in an uncomforting world.

I peruse old magazines in doctors offices and

Try to be creative at avoiding as many funerals as possible.

I hide away your hats and jeans stuffing them in drawers.

Memories have a way though of opening out in everyway.

I look in the mirror to see an aging man.

I am not afraid of the darkness of no reflections.

I loved you more than I could explain to anyone.

My business is words and words still fail me.

In the end it is all the same. I'm talking to ashes.

With luck I will soon intermingle with your

Settled ash and crumbled bone. I long to lie with you

On the Palace Green where once we walked so often

In love's greatest denial, that it can never be interrupted.

I'm tired of hopping to this hard, hopscotch game

Played on chalked lines fading ever so slow.

You called me an angel. Well,

My wings are clipped. If life was fair-- It isn't.

Every last day of every March is so long and hard.

I am tired and whiny-- to my bed. Sleep is the best part of this day,

And in truth I long to arise your April Fool. 

© 2008 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License



The Lawn Grows Green


Under catalpa tees.

How long have you lain waiting?

I am just a little ways away.


I’m so tired. I’ve lived a whole other life

Since you’ve been gone-

Grandchildren three, a newly minted lover,

A host of would-be friends mostly dead or dying.


The Song Of Bernadette fell flat,

And a poem penned for a private scoffed o’er-

Al Snyder’s boy dead in Iraq-

Lindell dead and buried in Johnstown.


Two President’s and a traitor later

I’m spent and dog sick of the lot.

The nation grieves even as the lawn grows green-

And I? I come to you a broken-hearted patriot.

                                                             E. D. Ridgell, 2018

Crow Crows At Plath

After reading the poem about Hawk,
I reckoned you my favorite. I still do.
I used it as a template for 'The Eagle',
And I didn't do badly, not by half.

They've unearthed your privated poem,
About that final night, when Sylvia would
Have the last word, sending everything toppling.
That's done though, and the fumes floated away.

This work, of yours, is like the way I whittle, 
When carving up tedious shoves and tows,
And I'm pleased and smug, that a man's man,
Matches my prosy parsing of an adam's apple.

The empathy and pain echo throughout,
And I marvel at you're mind, even as I feel
The depth of your struggle to wrestle
The anguish, hurl it down, and pin her!

E.D. Ridgell, 2012

Plaster Memories

I'd kneel and gaze up at her-
These were my innocent years.
I'd go the rote routine, but when
Transfixed by that loving smile,
I spoke from the heart, asking her,
If she'd look after me, and
Act as a go between. I just
Knelt and stared and felt 
Comforted. As a little boy,
This was Madonna Mia.

Now stripped of both our false
Fronts, I feel like I have plaster dust 
All over me, and I'd hock you in a minute-
And yet, tucked deep inside there's still that
Wanting of lost innocence, and a
Kneading, needling, needing for motherly whispers,
Mumbling gibbering 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,
Had come and gone, she just stood there
Like a statue gone cold as stone marble.

Thirteen years later, now, in some twisted sense, 
She's still there, standing there, a silent ghost
Staring in vain; that former self, that woman,
Herself, 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, that train,
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.
Christmases fall away each in turn,
Cross over and whittle the tree, just so-
The newer ornaments, their turns to
Twirl, aglow, from limb-tip to deep bough.

Worries wax thin, fears lesson-
Each day dawns anew to savor what remains.
Things age, fade; comes the twilight,
Look there into the distant night;
Patient Reaper, crooked finger, cocked,
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
Trust 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 
Koch's horsemen can't patch
Humpty Dumpty back together, again!
He's fallen down, but never you mind.
The Senate's passed another pipeline-
Moved it closer to a Presidential veto.

My mother was born in South Dakota.
The faded photographs sure look pretty,
In one she's caught in a Kodak moment,
Smiling out from a fresh water river.
They want to lay this pipeline right
Through South 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.

My 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 score
And grateful beyond all measure.

Receive me into Your embrace,
A penetrant petitioner
Entirely at Your bountiful mercy.
                        c. E.D. Ridgell, 2015


I hate it when bad things happen to good people.

I do a lot of hating. Nobody ever said it would be fair,

And it has not been fair, not by a long shot.

Democracy is the pursuit of truth.

It is the search for fairness though that should 

Drive social and political discourse, even if 

They can never be fully attained. Democracy is pliable.

Democracy is the pursuit of truth.

Compromise is baked into Democracy. Democracy 

Should safeguard the rights of all, especially the 

Right of a minority to one day become the majority.

Democracy is the pursuit of truth.

Democracy too, is fragile. It needs the majority’s 

Tacit approval if it is to survive. Power is needed only when 

Democracy fails or is threatened by interests inside and out.

Democracy is the pursuit of truth.

                                                                        E. D, Ridgell 2019  

[There Always Will Be An England]from the newsletter of the Jane Austen Society-
 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.
                                                                © 2010 by E.D. Ridgell  



Daddy Said So!

I was promised ice cream

And so it would be alright-

Daddy said so!

I remember falling down, twirling,

Round and round into

A candy cane, striped tunnel

Just like Alice in Wonderland.

In the hospital- Franklin Square as I recall

I traded ice cream for something called tonsils.

This was OK though ‘cause

Daddy said so.

Beside the road, pouring out of the Studebaker,

Each was in a tug of war,

Trying to pull me to them

At the expense of the other.

My childhood moved on in this way,

Mommy devoting the time while he plied the sea.

I trusted instinctively it was going to be alright ‘cause

Daddy said so.

                                                               E.D. Ridgell, 2017

He 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.”

Not missing the awe and wonder that is,
and unable to grieve this transition
nor fear the transmutation of it,
it does not fall into a black hole.
A gentle essence in a cataclysmic cosmos,
it is sometimes misunderstood,
but this imperfect being passing by
has malice for nothing, and carries its secrets
into the purifying fire
for the metamorphosis anon.
© 2008 by E.D. Ridgell

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I Have The Honor Of Telling You



Pop-Pop might be going to jail-

I don't have to tell you he’s innocent. 

He coasted into a bumper at one mile an hour 

Tried to reason with emotion but 

Emotion called the police 

Who lowered the Catch-twenty two. So be it!

Pop-Pop will go lock-lock 

Before he'll spend one penny 

Of your education. 



Too much of this world 

Is a sea of selfish scheming. 

Take my example and always rise above it.

Always walk the walk. Always show up. 

The law and justice are not the same thing. 

Honor can and should be constant- 

Know that your grandfather loves you and 

Never will fail to champion your side. 

In end the only thing that matters is kindness.

                                                        E. D. Ridgell 2020


Another Chucky Cheese Birthday Bash

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.

Can you smell the many pizzas baking in the big ovens,
with all that wonderful cheese melting atop the lot?
© 2008 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License

Sourthern Maryland Traditional Stuffed Ham

So Many Hams, So Many Hams

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.

Lillian is 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.

I’m waiting on the call that will summon me yet again down that road
to where the Chesapeake and Potomac collide.
Aunt Betty that is to me like a second mother is slowly but surely slipping away.
The salt cured ham has been ordered.
Lillian has agreed to come and cook it;
so many kale stuffed, salt cured hams,
so many hams,
so many hams.
© 2007 by E.D. Ridgell



That Ice Cream Cone in Salisbury


It was the seventies,

And we were heading back up the road.

I was anxious, driven, and still reeling

From days coping with Dad.


I looked at you napping

In the passenger seat,

Checked out our sleeping baby in the car seat;

And I sighed and thought how much I loved you both,

And how sorry I was at refusing to stop for an ice cream cone,

Instead, pushing up through, and past Salisbury.


I thought of how mean that was

And what I'd do if I ever lost you.


I lost you just a year or so later,

Shocking the shit out of you when

With angry tears, I asked you if you wanted me to leave.

You said yes, but I don't think you really meant me

To go- to break vows,

To leave you. I had to. I loved you.


Now, you're gone for good,

Without any bitter last words-

But I know you never really understood,

And although I tried and I tried

You never really could.


Some forty years later and I'm still so sorry

I didn't stop for that ice cream cone in Salisbury.

                                                © 2012 by E.D. Ridgell



“…And Kissed the Wild Waves Whist”

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.

Bury all bitter strife. Fair thee well.
Comb the beach, carefully,
Lest anyone tread on any of our favors,
Or in anyway tempt back The Ghost of me
From my contented place in purgatory-
For I swear by my God I’ll not need use
Of any Prince of Denmark!
“Remember me”
© 2009 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License

Juror ‘53'

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.

On a bum's hunch, we went to one more doctor
For one more test! What's a pancreas?
He was dead in three months.

Had to come out again did ya?
Had to? Yea, ya had to.
It doesn't stop, ya see?
It isn't fair, but I can at least shed
That much of them,
Knowing there's no healing
The shame that binds me.
It doesn't stop, ya see?-
Not for Juror 53. Not for me.
© 2012 by E.D. Ridgell





Tom dubbed you Gloria Swanson,

Seeing you carry away gladiolas

From the Syrian Mosque.

That you were an act of grace was always evident.


You started sorting lines before I did.

You stopped at the DAR;

Grand-mothered your loved ones in,

All between bridge games.


I shoveled just a little deeper;

Found that link, followed the yellow brick road.

I delved into the blue veins. I rattled bones under armor.

I took it beyond the pale. It was the least I could do.


Now it hangs around our necks

A long necklace of names and personalities,

Divers and sundry histories,

Not to be worn as adornment but to firmly ground us.


You go to rest, at last, with him-

The young artist, the husband and father

Taken too soon-his lineage Fairmount,

Oriole, Deal Island-fair, fair, faraway England.


I started my line, my lineage, when suddenly,

Our ancestral graves were bumping up against one another.

Coincidences- too many, don’t you feel-

One of those meaningless miracles with meaning?


He was Maryland, the sandy gritty, high tide smell

Of marshy Maryland. I am Maryland.

Your only daughter’s only daughter is Maryland.

The great-grandchildren are washed-way sediment of Maryland.


But you were so much a link in a longer line of history,

Henrico County- Williamsburg Virginia.

How came you to be born in Texas?

What in the hell were you doing in Elizabeth, New Jersey?


What of Delmarva? What of the Governor's Palace?

There are so many questions we leave unanswered,

By right, by neglect, by our tightly held secrets;

Those secrets that would explain so much.


Tom lays within the green, cut, Green, waiting.

I could not help shared roots dug into my ground or was it vice versa?

Did I trigger memories of your heart’s deadening?

So many troubled years before-did I trigger secret sorrows?


Two artists from the same school, one a husband,

Another a fast fleeting son-in-law? It was eerie. It was awe.

We may have been more entangled than we know.

I have my secrets. I am the lonelier for them.


I’m grieving a whole bloody peninsula

On the other side of the Bay,

That he with the sudden, broken, beating heart,

May have shared veins to that now closed artery.


Remember Exmore?

You and Dad could not have been more different,

And yet there was a connection. Well, one obvious thing,

But it was more than that. You were of the same generation.


I have a photograph of you at Exmore walking back from the Bay.

You were happy, but you were lonely.

I realize now that Dad was lonely.

Everyone is lonely at the core.


It all means less and less, I know. Even to me, I no longer need.

I just wanted to say farewell. Now, there is one less scribe.

We will carry on. We will root out and record some of those secrets.

You now are privy to the greatest secret of all.


Unless the dead do read, you will never see this,

I did not want to burden you. I have never wished to be a sink box decoy.

I write this for time to come, a reflection of time gone by. I scribe.

It is meant to honor you. The long journey of life is over.


Have no fear for those left behind. Pray for us.

Your worldly pain is over.

Thank God, hey? Anyway,

Well done, Wanda! Well done, indeed!


                                   © 2010 by E.D. Ridgell



Unsettled Again,


I find myself talking to you as though you are here

Even now, ten long, drag-assed years later.

I keep going. It’s thirty two years now

Since we drove South like Sherman to Savannah.


We bought cased glass with no idea what we were doing

And made plans. I don’t think we ever knew how

Wonderful it would all be, partners in all things.


You once said, things last longer than people.

Did you have to prove it? I know now how things are

Imbedded with stories, imprints left by finger touches long gone;

Spirit and mystery, the lost and forgotten-the haunting souls of things.


Your dungarees with the hole in the knee

In the bottom drawer of the desk there

Mean more to me than any of the things left dwelling in this house.

I still march things down their long, long, roads of existence;

Things that will last longer than me-

Things that lasted longer than you.

© 2009 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License



Abide With Me


Sometimes the way seems impossible.

Then be indomitable and

Rise to your greatest potential.


Take the negative and cast it aside.

This world is drowning in hero’s 

Mostly Unrecognized but there.


Most tribes believe in God or gods

Some force to help them through-

Some greater power.


If you cannot find one just

Reach down and pick up a rock and 

Label it God. It’ll do. 


Whether there is a God is irrelevant. 

The need for one is not.

I need one!


My God claims no rights over you.

It is only when He does,

We have troubles. 


Look to history.

It is written and well documented

Time and time again.


Beware of Voodoo doctors,

Pushing their fake

Elixirs, potions and ointments.


Practice your faith in whispers.

Be not a witch or a warlock and 

Ignore any you encounter.



In all matters religious

Live and let live and what is more 

Do it quietly.

                                                   E. D. Ridgell.


What made me do that? Look for your obit?
It's been, how many years?
I think of you everyday, 
In little patches and pieces, the way one does.

I don't even know how much you liked me,
Not that I ever pretended much.
You never let anyone in,
For fear of being hurt. I understood.

You said you loved Thom,
And I believe you believed that,
Although I never saw any evidence of it.
Who was it that told me you and 
Edward had a falling out?

For the life of me,
I don't know who it was.
I don't think it was Thom.
We didn't share very much, and I was shy
He tried for some such to-do, afterward, 
But I wasn't up to it. What was her name, Edie
Never reached me, and I only learned of your death,
Second hand- a second hand rose as always,

As my Tom would have said, it just would have 
Bummed the mourners out, you know?
I didn't move in your circles, whatever was still 
Circling. I should have thought Randy would have 
Come into play, but he never ever 
Had anything to do with me, you know?
Why? I don't know, Larry, I honestly don't know.
                                                  E.D. Ridgell, 2013

When All Is Said And Done

I finally found the 
Strength to tap my finger down
One last time to stir again
Memories too personal
To share with any but the dead.
Like Tom, cancer left you
Emaciated but still like 
Him you forced a smile.
Indeed, I was loosing
My mother to the killer,
When I met you beside 
The football field of Overlie
High School. Later you
Felt, I fear, that it would have
Been better if we'd never 
Met at all. Like most things
Between us, when all is said
And done, I couldn't disagree 
With anyone more, and I think
In your heart you would agree
When all is said and done.
E.D. Ridgell, 2013

Life's Celebration

I knew today the disease means to kill me?
It wants me to fight it, to fiddle with it.
I am an old man with better memories than bad.
Things are good today. Better to go soon,
While life is good than to let death
Catch me in one of life's inevitable valleys.

I know nothing of God, except that I've
Struggled to stay on the side of His angels.
What others said of me were never of great concern.
The bigoted were always in the wings, but
Never in His wings. They get their fetters ruffled
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 
As He 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 You!

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 love you!

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!

I ask of Mount Calvary, moving my pawn into play.
You block me with a bishop. I am no match for you!
You’ve never asked for anything. You’ve always served what others
merely mimic, and what I have too little depth to fathom.
Pray for me.
I will come as soon as I can bear to;
this confusion she calls “that stage of life”,
hangs over me, incapacitates me, numbs me. I am so angry!
I come bearing poems too often written with a sink-box heart.
I come bearing that heavy cross older than the Mount.
I come bearing Christ or some such guise.
The effigies of man cast shadows over my garden altar,
but you know that. You know me better than myself.
Oh Shite! But how I love you!
© 2009 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License

"Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.” - Alexander the Great

"I am for those who believe in loose delights, I share the midnight orgies of young men,
I dance with the dancers and drink with the drinkers." – Walt Whitman


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