This Poet's Corner

 

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This Poet's Corner

With Me Abide

Be thee comfy
Like cashmere
Tuck
Kitten
Soft and pretty.

Come thee eager
Into arms
Purr
Kitty
Smooth and fluffy

Rock thee gently
To and fro
Sleep
Kittie
Puss in cream boots.
                   E. D. Ridgell 2018
________________________________________ 

Brideshead, Not!

 

I’m dickering with Rome again-

Googling and kneedling sins for the confessional.

Maybe it’s fear of death,

Except that I’m not frightened.

 

Larry boosted it up, when he went back to Mother Church.

Lar’ never told you anything ‘cept what you needed to hear.

Shortly after, he dropped dead, martini in hand,

Talk about adding just a twist of lemon peel!

 

He’d been viable the other side of sod all,

A mainstay in my arsenal of diddly squat excuses!

In truth I’d done this before, felt the lingering tug,

To go back, change it all around again, to as before.

 

In our case though, where pops up this popery?

Where is the seed? Oh, Susanna? Possibly.

My grandmother could not have been more Methodist

Yet somehow ended up in the arms of Rome.

 

Dad chose to lie in deference to

His grandfather, Captain Wes’ in graves in soil neither’

Sullied by Rome or Islands Out of Time.

All this confuses my head and mildly irks me.

 

Incinerate me and lay me gently down to mingle

With ashes awaiting my company among

The cigar-like, seed pods under our beloved Catalpa trees!

Come on Doc. Bring a Boy home!

                                                            c. E.D. Ridgell, 2015

                                                                 revised 2018

____________________________________________________________________________ 

The Old Neighborhood To Nowhere

I drove through the old neighborhood.
Took photos and drove half forgotten roads.
The one room, brown shingled, school house still stands,
Though I didn't search to see if the path 
Through the woods is still there-
No reason it wouldn't be.
I remember I saw a snake's shredded skin
On that path some sixty years ago-
I was mesmerized and terrorized all at once!

The two room school house 
Has graduated to a church hall,
And the long awaited elementary school now looks lackluster-
downtrodden at having lost its novelty and glamour.
Joey died a couple of years ago having lived a lifetime in that shabby, little shack.

The Walton's place looks a tad better for the siding.
The whole neighborhood Is disappointingly
Neat, tidy, and lacking in that something
Every neighborhood outta have, some sign
Of ever having been new once and full of dreams,
For something better. This place never went anywhere, 
The old, neighborhood to nowhere.
                                                                       E. D. Ridgell
_____________________________________________                             
                                                                                          

<iframe title="YouTube video player" class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zvySlSFk1Ow" frameborder="0"></iframe>

After you watch the link hit the backwards arrow top

left of your page to get back to the poetry site.


Crabbin' Annie

Crabbin' Anne 'gan each day
In a blackened morn,
Baitin’ and pullin’ pot-nets torn,
Cordin’ to rituals of the Bay.

T'was twenty nine,
She broke the rules,
Zippin’ fools;
Blue jeans to shoreline.

Cuttin’ cold
Could not belay
Her widein’ wakey-way,
Man-like 'n too bold.

On time's tide
Crisfield 'cepted
And respected
Cross'd pride.

Times were easy!
Nary bust a stitch
To be that rich,
Big city-rants so busy!

What's one more.
A claw'in along
To the low-tide song
Their dirge to 'fore.
© 2006 by E.D.Ridgell

Creative Commons License
 
 
* Crabbin’ Annie was born on Deal Island ,
Somerset County, Maryland early
in the twentieth century.
In 1929, she moved to nearby Crisfield
in the Lower Chesapeake Bay
bringing her children with her.
Her marriage over, she had to make her way,
just as the depression hit,
closing many markets the fisherman;
mostly oysterman and crabbers,
relied upon for their livelihood,
especially the restaurants
further north in Baltimore.
Despite the skepticism
of the Cristfield community,
especially the blue-jeaned watermen,
she soon more that proved herself,
earned their hard won respect,
and was forever nicknamed, “Crabbin Annie”.
She was the first woman dubbed a
‘water-woman'of the Chesapeake Bay.
© 2006 E.D.Ridgell


Creative Commons License








 

easter7.jpg
Easter 2000-2012

Cheshire Cat

"Who are you?"-
The only thing to muse over,
While I wait for time,
Too fast, too fast, to catch-
Late, again? Always.
Time smiles and dies away.

The date is set in memory
Of a bright, near moon
Casting a shadow over the awe of it.
Oh, but I ache in codeine cups,
Spewing tears out ducts
Down runways, well worn lines-
Aging speedways to the high teas
Of my long, long, journey.

Today, bunnies graze in the lawn
Beyond the windowpane,
While the Mad Hatter in my brain,
Runs in and out, up and down-
A black hole, no rabbit hole,
But another chit out my 
Patch quilted heart,
While musing the
Cheshire cat's having
Stopped purring
Altogether.
              © 2012 by E.D. Ridgell

____________________________________ 

The Turtle Dove

The geese were overhead
Migrating south and making those
Sounds I love so much.
I thought how lucky I was-
You and I, together,
Doing what we loved most,
Following our Bliss.

Geese, swans, ducks,
All forms of fowl
Came with you.
You shared your darkest secret,
Lamenting how you could do such a thing.
You hosted your Dad's touch of sadism.
I knew he burned the whiskers off the kitten-
A strange old Polish man, no evil but hardly good!

Sadly, you related how you took your peeps 
To the zoo for them to care for,
Only to learn later they had fed them to the snakes.
Then, there was Poopsie, that silly Parakeet
You almost threw out with the Christmas tree.
The poor parakeet ended up dying in Sandy's lap. 

All forms of fowl came with you,
You were the kindest man I ever knew.
If ever there was a turtle dove,
It was you my love. It was you.
                                          c. E.D. Ridgell, 2016
___________________________________________________ 

 

On The Sleeve Again!

 

I strolled into your man-cave

And looked around for a change.

I’ve not really studied you in awhile-

So absorbed with myself.

 

I made a mistake

I’d not made for well o’er two decades.

I fell in love. Oh no, not limerence and

Whatever these past years have become,

But the deep, deep, deep vow

I had chanced with him so long ago and lost.

 

I wasn’t going to do that.

I swore I’d not-

And now we’re Oh so much older

And I’ve gone and raised the ante.

Oh, God have mercy on my soul.

I don’t know what I feel most-

Gratitude or fear!

                             E.D. Ridgell 2017

Cape Fear!

Cancer!
Now that I have 
Your attention.
It’s visited mine
Throughout a lifetime.
I cannot help but fear
Next visit is mine!
                                   E. D. Ridgell
_______________________________ 

Taxing Matters!

 

“Are the taxes done?”

These were the last words

Of my grandfather.

 

He and my grandmother died

Just ten days apart o’er fifty years ago, now.

Five decades later, I muse as I render unto Caesar.

 

Grammy suffered horribly.

He kept up the family tradition

And died of a stroke.

 

The mammies were suddenly busy

Stuffing smoked ham with kale,

A Maryland tradition.

 

We were filling up holes back of St. Mathew’s

Fast as they could dig them close by unmarked graves,

Lost babies to Grammy’s salad years.

 

I muse to just how many more tax forms I’ll file-

Tedious American rituals, these

Taxing matters!

________________________________________________ 

Like Sebastian

 

It is a pain

Second only to one far worse.

I hold on, 

And so, I 

Serve people for whom I am  

Of secondary purpose.

 

I keep going

On and on and on

While others drop away.

I am afraid I will be the

Last one standing.

I would have you lay me gently down, please.

 

I am not blind

to your sufferance,.

Humbly and gratefully,

I plea

As I skate boldly

On thin ice.

 

I am always

The risk taker

Trusting  that You,

The Director,

Will keep the measure

Of me.

 

Holy Mary,

Mother of God,

Intercede for me,

A sinner.

Blessed Maria.

Look down upon me.

 

I would that I could

Find a monastery

Where, like Flyte,

I could

Retire from

This field of battle.

Lay me gently down, Lord.

GreatEgretDealIsland.jpg

Dimwitted 

Dozing through the debacle,
Some seeming decline 
Drains my energy. I am 
At the door of depression.

Duplicity drags decisions
Downing down government.
There are drafts developing,
Underscoring a nation’s descent.

The demise of debate
Dopes discourse,
Dodges answers,
Dumbs a demanding press.

Dangers are everywhere,
Divisions grow wider, as
The duped drag democracy
Ever-closer to disaster.
E. D. Ridgell 2018

_______________________ 

 

 _______________________________________

 

Bumming Out The Mourners!

 

What's an old dullard to do?

Publish a peck of poetry?

Nobody reads poetry,anymore, 

You doltish, idiotic fool!

What are you trying to prove?

Why do you feel any need

To do anything at all, 

But lie down on the Palace Green?

 

Finally, gone to rest-

No more worries,

No more decisions,

No more noises under the hood-

No more antiques to 

Push on little or no taste!

Who poked out the discerning eye?

 

I'm sick to death of everything.

I'm sick to death of me! 

I'm sick to death of you!

All who were tasteful are dead or dying,

Or debating there's anything as taste at all.

Grief is become my talisman

And all about me there is discord.

 

 

I'm buggered and never cease,

Hinting at dancing a last waltz.

Shut the fuck up! Enough, already!

Slam that trap door on your endless yelping  

Put a halt to these maudlin musings.

"You're bumming out the mourners!"

You’re sobering up the raven at the wake!

                                         E. D. Ridgell 2017

                                          Revised 2018

________________________________

To He Who Waits Patiently

Is it warm there tonight
Spread o’er a Palace vista?
Is the green cooling down
Ready to emerge at morning’s mist?

Surely you’ve settled in
Since I gently laid you down.
Some sums of the swings of a pendulum,
And they’ll be 
Daintily laying me down 
To surround and abound with you,
Where a Palace spies so faire a view.

Nothing dead has deed to its property
But the public ground is as good
A waiting place as any!
                                         E D Ridgell, 2017
________________________________________________________ 

The Bipolar Suplicant

 

I don’t reach out anymore.

I’ve let the few left slip away-

I harbor myself in a solitary retreat,

Shoring up my tremulous faith.

 

It has been my lot in life

For three score plus

To carry the chains

Of the mother faith.

 

Oh, I glean that sensus devinitatis,

But am loath to risk my soul

To a writ nailed upon a door-

After all this lot usurped Becket’s gold.

 

I’ve known much love

And fidelity too-

But since his untimely death

My clockwork heart beats irregular.

 

I just can’t approach the revision

Without cautious consideration.

“Publish and be damned!”

I’ll not be blackmailed.

 

Everything is sacrifice,

A debt owed to crucifixion.

I don’t question Doc’s

Keeping me harbored in this waiting room.

 

One by one the grains of sand

Trickle and the hourglass runs down-

Soon I follow on the water

And not a minute too soon!

                                               E. D. Ridgell

_____________________________________ 

Richard

 

Richard, you look swell with

A martini in one hand and a tie on-

Properly attired, just as so many years ago,

Polytechnic boys,

“Poly boys are we!”

 

I can exactly recall the last time we parted

In front of a big white house in Mount Washington.

Frank, you, and I would chase girls.

I was still in a straight frame of mind,

Fighting like so many queers then did

Just to sort through confusion not our making.

 

When you heard were you surprised?

People add blame to shame and try to tag you.

Did you tag me? Pity, you!

I stopped compromising.

Learned love, respect but most of all service.

 

I buried my share of dead: bits of patchwork on a field;

An elephant high name on a commemorative, black wall;

Tangled poems of netted memories-

The Lord is my shepherd. He maketh me to lie down

With hot, sweaty palms, applying bandages to pustulant pores.

His law is my law, and my law, knows few boundaries.

                                                                                         E. D. Ridgell

______________________________________________________________ 

 

Junk Mail for The Dead

 

Here is another letter;

Junk mail for the dead.

“This is your last warning!”

Supplement Medicare wants you!

 

Some eleven years ago,

WE skipped a movie,

And took the light-rail downtown

On the last day of open enrollment.

 

I’ll never forget the kindness

Of those African American women

Who did the dialing for me;

Negotiated the bureaucracy.

 

Six months later you were dead;

Spread ashes under catalpa trees,

And I, with my broken heart,

Began the groping through grief.

 

The tank truck of chicken soup,

At last was as dry and empty as me.

My waistline waned away

While the mailbox grew obese.

 

Each sight of your name was a

Jabbing, stinging step back,

Sapping hard-won strength-

Still, I struggled forward.

 

Years later, today’s junk brings a smile.

If the Great and Powerful Oz

Will not let you die, my love,

Neither will I, neither will I.

 

 

 

<!--Creative Commons License-->/"><img alt="Creative Commons License" border="0" src="http://creativecommons.org/images/public/somerights20.png"/></a><br/><a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5

 

 

_____________________________________________________ 

 

Primary Colors is written in the "voice" of a Missouri Raider, a Confederate sympathizer who is actully setting up a 

tradition that would become a horrible and unjust form of murder in the nation throughout the later part of

the 19th c and early 20th. I think the artist here best describes it in the "blues". After listening to the UTube

video just hit the back arrow in the upper left hand corner of your computer to stay on site.

 <iframe title="YouTube video player" class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/h4ZyuULy9zs" frameborder="0"></iframe>

 

Written in the voice of a Missouri,

Confederate raider in 1864

 ______________________________________________

 

Primary Colors

 

Waning bluebells wilt

Another hot, Missouri day

As a red-winged, black bird

Perched on a cattail,

Takes fright and flies

For the closest clutch.

 

A field sways mustard

Backed by a blue sky,

Next a blocking, brown marsh.

 

“Go on, then!

We’ve ruddy deeds to do

Outfitted in our hothouse,

Uniforms of sweaty gray!”

 

Straitaway,

Sighted shots send out

White, puffy clouds

As naked, lead sings through bits of blue

Stained red with their swift stings.

 

Shrilly they cry,

Then die, easy marks for the kill-

Blue prey, with yellow bellies

Spewing and oozing red.

 

All lay dead save two,

White eyed, blue-bellied coons-

Hands flap!

Mouths yap!

 

“Neck them low from

Yonder red bud tree-

Take this hemp rope of pale yellow

That hangs from a readied ring,

Wound round and hung down from

Side my chestnut, steely, steed.

 

Part it evenly. It'll do,

And we’ll be fair in what we share,

As red tongues swell

Outta our high-yellers gone blue,

Collared and yanked to Hell!”

Creative Commons License


There is nothing that has caused me more frustration and, in some cases, outright confrontation,

because some readers do not understand that the "voice of the poem" is not always the "voice of the artist".

The "voice is a vehicle" that can be maniupulated in many ways to do many artistic things.

Here is a clip of Whoopi Goldberg, an artist whom I identify with a great deal.

I think her "Parrot Joke" best illustrates what I'm trying to say...Ed :)





My Islands of Smith and Tangier are Sinking



The salt waters are rarely more than three feet deep
in a hundred mile radius of what remains of the islands,
making for the richest breeding grounds in all the world
for their prized, soft shell, blue crabs. The Bay seems so calm.
Everyday washes a little more away though with an ever faster
beating and tow, an unkind progression, quicker than in the decades before.
The erosion is inevitable and the shrinking so very visible as my beloved
islands of Smith and Tangier, dubbed, “ Islands out of Time”;
islands of the lower Chesapeake Bay,
islands of my ancestors,
islands of my roots,
go sinking.

The communities are shrinking with the young
anxious to escape to the mainland. A few, the hardiest,
do not want to go. It is in the blood, this feistiness:
a tenaciousness born of centuries of holding on.
Those that take the mail boat travel light with
heavy expectations. Some never return but most do,
at least for visits that start at first once a year for the annual camp meeting,
and then become less and less frequent as if to emphasize the receding sands.
They bring back foreign sounding words and a twisted way of thinking.
Everything is said in a straight and unimaginative way.
Speaking in opposites as is the custom is forgotten.
There is a fainter resonance in the Elizabethan “a”s and
they talk so fast, almost in a chatter that takes the breath away.
The cats run under the boardwalks in search of silence
and to escape the mainland smells.

Those that are island bound don’t mix well anymore with these.
The one have nothing but the optimism of the day, the other have
everything in a pessimism of the times. The one drink on the sly while
the visiting relatives no longer know the value of a lie.
The older islanders politely pretend to listen, their thoughts lost in the crab shanties
just feet away. Everyone though comes together in the big camp meeting tent.
These islands are Methodist and Joshua Thomas part of their history.
The name Wesley is still common. These camp meetings
held in the single huge tent have always been the biggest event of the year.
Some things are primary, so sacred they are inviolable.

It is then that the bond is felt again and rekindled. There is no blame,
and even if some forget to speak in opposites, that odd tradition
of saying precisely the backwards version of what you mean to say, the truths no matter how spoken,

straight or twisted round to need unraveling,

they still ring true. They are inherent in things primary that even separation will not eradicate;
values set in the cement of faith, optimism, and an acceptance
that in the end the storm passes and the sun breaks through.

Everything passes away except things primary; things not bound
by any boundaries or no less solid with the caresses of the sea.
They can’t be covered over or washed away.
They are buoys that mark the channels and point the way safely into any harbor,
any harbor you may find yourself sailing into, island bound or not.

© 2007 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Scrooge!

My universe was created with a loud, commercial Bang!-
Advertising rich elements and resources spiraling out to serve you.
These are very profitable if you’ve a stomach for commodity puts. 
Everything living feeds off of something living; dwindling crops, 
More manna from Heaven for me. Eat your fill this holiday season. 
I’ve options on the grocers. The goose is very plentiful and reasonably priced.
Everything dies to be sucked into a Black Hole. Yes, there is a fee for this as well. 
Everybody serves somebody. How do you do, 
My name is Scrooge and that somebody is me!

This insignificant orb is dying quickly.
Only greed can save it.....that’s me. Goodie, goodie!
You’re back is to the wall. Worry, then worry some more.
I’m directly between you and ruin manipulating markets
Until I send you happily skating and sliding for a fall.
Make it profitable and I’ll dip into my many, moneyed, market funds.
I’ll clean up the coal for you at a variable rate. Nothing is fixed.
I’ll gas you up, naturally, when I’ve had my spoils 
From the rich fields of black oil you guzzle daily-
Choking until due to the holiday you come up short, then, self righteously,
Calling  on me, that greedy, greedy Mr. Scrooge.
Stop griping. Everybody’s got a job or a dole check-some have two!  
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor...''
I’ll have my mortgage or my rent or you’ll feel my boot.
Children don’t want to go caroling in the cold singing archaic songs.
They’re whining for the latest iPod and insistent for the Nintendo Wii.
They text you with their lists; you know, like everyone else, they’re busy.
So is Granny and she isn’t baking pies, not anymore. 
Get with the program. What would you have, a real tree? 
Put the cookies and milk under a facsimile. Bah, humbug!
“I don’t make merry myself at Christmas”...a small, spoonful of more gruel.
“Keep Christmas in your own way and let me keep it in mine.”
What’s that you’re babbling? Someone needs a new crutch, tinier than most? 
We’ve a hot, titanium model, adjustable, fresh off our new, Chinese line.
Merry Christmas to You and Yours and a Profitable New Year!
                                        E.D. Ridgell, Scrooge, LLC
                                          ..all rights reserved to me, Ebenezer!
______________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Note To John Locke

 

Seven decades

And my many memories trip

O'er one another as I look back

And reckon on the tally of my life's course

The sum of the parts that have been me.

 

We are not born 

Some blank sheet, but marked

In so many ways 'fore we rise

From that foundation, the mortar and mix

Of familial and social ingredients.

 

There is a yeast to us all- 

"the body too goes to the making the man."

Before you would write your treatise

You must first press your papyrus,

Carve your nib, and stew your ink.

 

Only then can you put pen

To the blank, bleached white sheet of paper!

He did not choose to be the nigger, 

And I did not choose to be the queer,

These ingredients were included with no charge.

                                                         E. D. Ridgell

                                                          Revised 2018

_______________________________________________________________ 

Days Grow Chilly

Chrysanthemums wane heralding season’s end.
Days grow chilly beckoning in
Rituals of gathering wood for firesides to tend-
Musings portend cozy evenings side the kin.

Soon the snows will drift o’er the land
Sculpting contrasts in windy rows that shimmer so.
Skaters cut eights as ice fishermen tan-
Children warm hands round rusty barrels aglow.

But with the cold fears stir
At the fallen twigs too thin
Swiftly tramps hop trains south to avoid her,

As the rich fly in pursuit of the trade winds.

Elephants forage eating the upper greens
Laying low the forests and draining the streams.
                                              © 2005 E.D.Ridgell

                                                 Revised 2018

______________________________________________________________________________________ 

Leftovers

I died some time ago 
But you did not notice until now.
It was inevitable 
And inopportune
So I do not 
Hold it against you.

I just managed the 
Last Rites
Although barely conscious.
My pain was embarrassing 
And distracting
I did not notice your absence.

Try to have a painless death 
If you can manage it.
Have your affairs in order.
Let people know 
What you want done with 
The left overs!
                  E. D. Ridgell 2018
_____________________________________ 

Inca Incantation

The rope bridge
Of woven grass
Rests ready for offerings
Prescribed by the gods
Generations ago.

The gap is wide
The fall deep and deadly-
Nerves taught in anticipation 
For priests to bless 
The toothless woman’s walk-
The eldest stateswoman.
In an ancestral rite from 
Before armor-clad horsemen.

A mountain ritual of
Tribes so high in the sky
As to be inaccessible to
Hooves of invaders-
Bespeaks a tradition
Meandering back to origins
Forgotten but never rued.
                      E. D. Ridgell 2018
_________________________________________ 

So Lay Me Gently Down Now

He’s been dead now these many years
And yet his obit still hangs there
A haunting reminder of 
Just how much I loved him.

I don’t think he ever thought I’d leave,
And it was that complacency that laid the seed.
Decades later I muse on those days,
My days of wine and roses.

So along came the kindest man I’ve ever known.
He clipped my wings as the wood-be priest had warned,
And “I went off to Babylon against  that Nidintu-Bel
Who called himself Nebuchadrezzar.”

In but a little while they’ll lay me gently down 
Under the catalpa trees that were a second home to us
Those many years when God seemed to abide by me and
Before these pancreatic ghosts that haunt me.

Old age is the time for meeting God or a facsimile.
Whether there is a God or not is of little consequence 
To your need for one, and I have need for one-
So lay me gently down now, lay me gently down.
                                                         E. D. Ridgell, 2017
____________________________________________________ 

It’s Media, But Where’s The Social?

 

So that thing I have about taking risks-

It kicks in awhile ago, and I just friend one and all,

Antique amigos, artsy-fartsy sounding names-

Any face or avatar that catches my fancy.

 

At first, there’s the confusion of wading through

Thank-you’s and howdy-do’s.

Each day ya make the rounds, hit ya likes-

Try to cultivate favorites. Thing is, it’s lopsided.

 

A few months in and I realize

I haven’t met many newbies, one or two,

And ya daren’t get too political-

It’s media, but where’s the social?

                                           E. D. Ridgell

_________________________________      

 Clifton Park

 

That it would be here

Around that hub,

The turning of many events

Around Clifton Park!

 

Vividly I recall being

Struck ‘side the head

By an errant softball-

None of the grown up’s cared!

 

On Saturdays,

We young gunslingers

Might catch a Western

At the Hartford Theatre

Opposite the park-

Cowboys and Indians,

Fifties fare for young

TV watchers.

 

Hartford Road, striding athletic fields

Was to become a fixture in the landscape

Of both my early youth as well as manhood-

Shopping an early Sears Roebuck

At Hartford and North.

I remember the Christmas shop,

Top the hill.

That was four decades ago!

 

So I was told, too, Mom and Dad

Had an apartment on North Avenue.

When I was but two or three,

Dad said he’d take me to

The zoo and the amusement park

Top Druid Hill. That was true.

I vaguely recall the barkers in their stalls,

Hanging chads, faint memories

The hub of which was Clifton Park.

 

Grown then, early in my career, go figure,

I taught Art in that stately building,

That was then Clifton Park Junior High School.

I lived near North and Twenty Fourth,

A short drive farther into the city.

I knew the very streets my young flocks

Walked and played in, an early bond to my love

Of Baltimore’s black community-

The fruit of their loin’s strength

I sought to boost up!

 

With spring for dignified graduations,

I would decorate the stately auditorium,

Looking out doors bordering on

The long, stretches of green lawn,

That vista that was and still is Clifton Park!

 

That we should meet, here

Three decades later making our trade

Amiably, differentially-

This of all places, ‘front that blue, cool, city pool

Where I walked summer, camp classes,

From o’er that same building that was

Clifton Park junior high school!

 

I cannot but think

That I will leave this life,

As old as I be, without, somehow

Gazing just once more upon that

Lovely, green sprawl that is Clifton Park.

                                   c. E.D. Ridgell, 2015

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Lorraine 
 
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 
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Prehistoric Pelican!

Just out the back door to the kitchen
Of the house that floated on cinder blocks,
Under which dozens of, wild, feral cats and their kittens lived,
There extended a goodly bit of rough, fescue, grass lawn 
Bordered on one side with a wired in chicken-yard with its 
Hen house ending and blocking any further lawn. 
To the right of this green sliver of lawn was a muddy, stream, the 
Habitat of large and mean snap'n turtles, Ill humored at my 
Constant unrelenting harassment of them with Dick's crabbing net,
Fishing them in and out of the stream, willy-nilly just for the fun of it.

At the very farthest end of that lawn, off and out to the right
Was a single treacherous, wide, plank-board  for crossing the creek into 
Acres upon acres of soybean or corn field. 
Make a left turn here and you were on another's property with still more fencing to your left
Wherein grazed the moo cows who kept to themselves chewing their cud contentedly.
Take this another quarter mile back and you opened up into a hidden cove, isolated
And not terribly big or too unseemly small, perfect for skinny dipping or just pretending to fish.

One day, I remember a huge pelican flew into at tree that was so big I just lay there in awe of it,
Frozen to the ground where I had fallen.
I wondered if I was not to be seized by some prehistoric creature.
All of this and more, I remember today vividly, while I can't remember the grocery list,
Or what's on it or even to take it with me when I go shopping!
                                                                                                         c. E.D Ridgell, 2016
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Costume Jewelry!

Sometimes, I feel like I'm dying,
One dreary day at a time! 
This latest pain 
On the rosary bead of life,
A broken rib, still aches
As the weather dictates,
And I'm groping in
My unkempt bed-
One awful poem at a time.

The minimum wage
Leaves them in poverty,
And we debate
And churn their 
Inadequacies and needs
As if these needed
Any championing.

Where has our conscience flown
On that broad feathered back 
Of that beautiful bald headed eagle, 
The symbol of that state that would
Lift any and all up
To one and the same height?
Where has flown equality?

The bedpans need 
Emptying, again.
The stink has seeped into the 
Sacred halls of congress.
Children are hungry and 
The streets are littered 
With the poor and needy.

Wounded soldiers!
Like open wounds
Mingle amongst us
Ignored as though they
Were not worthy-
Costume jewelry!
      c. E.D. Ridgell, 2014, all rights reserved

 


Big Daddy’s Sage Speech

Modeling a flagging medal
below the Mason Dixon Line,
Big Daddy was given a warm Buckler
hastily chilled by ice cubes snapping quickly.
Big Daddy is triggered at the sound of cracking.
His needs require preparation
and some consideration for denial.

Big Daddy expects applause
if not standing ovations,
so heckling was a surprise
almost as extra large as the expletives
thrown at his second coming.

With seeming aplomb and appropriate
rhetoric prepared for just such an occasion,
Big Daddy, a practiced magician,
commanded the ice cubes vanish
amidst the yanking and yapping of division,
and he got his standing ovation
from the applause of the ever faithful;

their clapping rote,
their shouts no fire works
to further disturb the blueprint
of that cherished hillock.
© 2008 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License


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In Metered Seasons Cows to Keep

A passing spotted cow
With rusty bell
To welcome autumn now
And herald summer knell

The brownly calf in tow
A mindful spring
Is hesitant she go
From Mooma’s harbored wing

As finches faint away
The colors fall
To tart a shortened day
And make the morning raw

In hilly Maryland
The farmers stir
To rustle herd and send
In bovines fore the cur
© 2005 E.D.Ridgell



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Creative Commons License

Potter's Dust!

 

I can't be all that,

I can't do all that!

It's geeked me too high.

All I see are Mama’s eyes.

 

We scurry in the cold, moonlit night- 

Nudge up ‘gainst strangers 

O’er sagging, rusting ironwork

Warming any old, bold, brassy-polished bank.

  

Await a fate, icepick sharp and chilling,

A last stab into a fentanyl rotting carcass- 

Tumble weeding down into

Potter’s dust!

 

© 2018 by E.D. Ridgell

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Duck's Blood

I loved him.
He was my best mate.
We'd risked our freedom together. 
My chest was open to him and my back feared nothing.

We were young Dads with like aspirations. 
Each week we smoked peace pipes together.
We swam naked of nights, cool water on young bodies.
We made art as gifts for one another.

I was young. I trusted as only the young can.
I was naive and cherries were being plucked a plenty,
No less mine. The ropes were twisted and loose ties come unmoored 
No mater the raker. She was so ripe for plucking, she turned my stomach.

In truth anyone could have had her, but why would he 
Make a mockery of his own chaste house?
Why had I wretchedly succored, in manly surrender one unworthy?
What's for you, won't miss you, and he had been for me.
It stings me to this day, and yet, I confess, he still charms me.

The worms feed on her and we are on the menu.
It is all sorted out on the surface.
I am mated properly and happily, and 
He's still in a married bliss that is stable.  
The blood cools with time and with it the duck's blood thickens.
                                                              c. E.D. Ridgell, 2015



CLICK ON THE LOWER LEFT ARROW TO WATCH THE VIDEO

The Robber Barons

First, they moved the noble poplars
and the tall pines,
stripping the hills in only a generation.

Tempered now in greed,
next, they proffered to pitch
their tracks to a greater tender;
these barons of the rails;
robbers with newly purchased “n” rights.
They sent hireling men,
many a former logger and lumberjack;
the hill men, underground
to scout out Salley’s find;
for profits suspected to lie
beneath the bruised,
and full-bellied Appalachians.

In the passages dark and dangerous,
the shaft-sinkers found seams;
black riches beyond greediest expectations.
With industry and speed the company owners,
representatives of barons back East.
soon had the recently discovered seams yielding
rich loads borne out on long tracks.
Too few though were tracking the robber barons.

The wheels turned; whirling in all directions.
It was an era when immigrants proved profitable;
an agitation invested into this brew
of native, negro, and the new
benefited the “Man” and seasoned
the company store still more.
The rich and slick soon had all
in a kind of slavery that incited
a wretched worker, often a family man,
to strike, temporarily shedding
soot stained, hard hats their shiny lamps
symbols of that servitude.

Fields strewn with tents soon housed
the dispossessed united to work
for something fair, anything freer feeling.
They never stood a chance. Strike after strike
failed and in the end they had to await
“Big Bill” trailing his friendly, “Teddy” bear,
both finally checking and tracking
the robber barons.

Victory came in an act.
Robbery that rude and reviled,
successfully railed against
was thought to be relegated by law,
put to past.

History though is too often
a reflection of our future.
Today, many of the great grandchildren
of the hill men are again fooled and won over;
run over, so to speak, by quick change, and
slight of hand, tricksters;
forgetting sacrifices made,
and seduced by a new breed,
so alike those robbers thought to be history;
barons who first paid to have the tracks laid
that proved to be more a burden than a boon
to the hill people of Appalachia.
© 2007 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License




Dealt And Done!

It was that house, that house, 
That some half a century ago,
I walked out on you- then adding insult
To your injury, I came out, burst out
Of the well spun cacoon I was supposed
To stay closeted in so society would not
Have to deal with its irstwhile next of kin.

I burst out in so many colors
At times I thought I'd blind myself,
Took so many risks that I took first prize.
I was a stately Queen in half the allotted time.
I was positively puzzling and emphatically embarrassing!
I was the centipede to a monarch butterfly, my wings so
Beautiful they made nicknacks and trays to show off me!

So there, it's done. Don't tell me that my short stint 
Through your parallel infidelity, ruined your flight.
You nose dived and crashed of your own making.
I'll not mask your infidelity with mine. Mine was 
Nary as homespun and did not smother love 
As completely as your feigned innocence would deceive.
Your denial ain't no Nile for this crocodile not by my reckoning!
                                                                           E.D. Ridgell, 2016
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PointLookoutHotel2.jpg
Point Lookout Hotel Torn Down By The State After Taking The Land For A State Park

‘Up the Road’ from Point Lookout!

I went ‘down the road’ alone
wanting no living company.
I checked out the gravesites at Trinity in St. Mary’s City
and those ‘down the road’ at St. Michaels;
buried Dad’s old Ronson lighter in the Judge’s chamber
and planted tulip bulbs a few feet away
in the recently turned soil of her grave.

I drove down to Point Lookout before going to the house.
The Point’s too changed to care much anymore but I did;
I cared a great deal at the desecrations of what had been
the best memories of a childhood not very blessed.
We’ve ne’er been folk to lay our resentments down easily.
There are fewer and fewer now who remember
the white, clapboard, naval hotel, three stories high,
with its long pier, jutting out over the Potomac,
and the small surrounding community of cottages;
all bulldozed decades ago making way
for black, asphalt, parking lots and sandy, stucco, bathhouses.
It was then they seized the Judge’s land in the name of a state,
we knew more about what parts were wise to waist or waist not. We still do.
Those publican funded outhouses erected in the name of progress
were locked that day against the coming winter,
their graffiti covered, fleck painted walls,
hissing defiantly back at the pushing winds.
It was fittingly chilly even at high noon
on that early November day.
Anger was a warm salve for cold, wounded memory.

I climbed up into the van, said my goodbye
to the ghost made redundant, and headed ‘up the road’
and over the causeway at a speed I remembered Cotton would have dared
and took that curve for a last time and held the road, with a rebel yell;
eight cylinders and gas at three dollars a gallon! Go to Hell!
Ten minutes later I was to the monument for the confederate dead
who died in the prison camp that had existed and vanished
just ‘down the road’ at the Point long before
all that I had just conjured to recollect
was built up and then torn down in its turn.
History has ne’re respected man-made changes to geography.

I’ve read those bronzed names for so many decades now
in search of some connection, just for the sake of community, but to no avail.
They are planted in a garden too far from home left to our responsibility.
The family homestead this last century lies just across the road,
and it is to there I now hesitantly turned to tread
with a unfamiliar fear for the future;
to the old, one room, Victorian school-house
added on and onto, one room at a time, until it had become a nursing home
floating on cinder blocks settling into sandy soil;
shaky pinions but firmly planted with the conviction of an intention to stay.
That stay had now come also, in its turn, to an inevitable end
finished with the sign marked ‘sold’ at the end of the drive.

Surprisingly the door was locked. We had ne’er locked doors.
I broke a window pane and entered through that kitchen
that held such a cauldron of stirring recollections
of family matters played out to an audience of colored women
cooking on black and white enamel stoves
under Miss Sophie’s supervision, her manner intimidating everyone.
Even my formidable grandmother was temperate in her own kitchen.
I won’t dwell on the food; paradise lost.
I took a sad last tour, through the bedroom where I remembered Mary Allen
brushing my Granny’s hair, unbraided to the floor,
and on through to that bedroom where Dad
crossed “over the river to rest under the shade of the trees”.
All the rooms had something to say but in the end it was all goodbyes.

The grounds, mercifully, were much changed. The sty was gone,
the ghost broken up for it’s cypress, the chicken houses long ago torn down.
I ne’er did know what happened to Dad’s beehives that he started
and tended in the cancerous months leading up to his death.
Her garden was there, though, so recently tended
and already so quickly grown over. That’s why I planted the tulips for her
in anticipation of next spring. My aunt always looked forward and ne’er back.
I must try even now past that halfway buoy to master this.

It was done. None of the children cared enough
and in truth it was not practical.
All of us through the years laid down roots too far away to stay.
It was agreed upon. It was done. All including me were
‘up the road’ and too far away.
It was done and gone so quickly. Who wrote, “haste makes waist”?

I drove the length of the drive and stopped at its end
before turning to go ‘up the road’.
Stepping down out the van I scooped up a handful of soil and
‘Little Butch’- ‘Ed, Junior’ put this in his dungaree pocket,
the left backhand pocket reserved in any pants since childhood
for such treasures. I have no idea what I will do
with this rich and loamy soil, but it is a physical memento
of a family’s ups and downs, it aspirations and disappointments,
its happiest and saddest moments. It holds memories and secrets
that will forever go untold. Just canvas the ghosts
of the many dead, naval veterans who still haunt these acres,
or if you dare ask Cotton’s spirit back ‘down the road’
at the causeway curve he finally failed to turn on two wheels,
or try to pry from me all I know. No, it is done.
It is that side of history that is lost with every goodbye.

And so I climbed back up into my fittingly, white van,
made that last turn, and I drove and drove,
‘up the road’, ‘up the road’, ‘up the road’…
forever from Point Lookout
with a heart as heavy as a sink-box decoy.
© 2007 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License


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In Search of Great Grandfather Dize

A scholarly sojourn down pedestrian aisles,
bordered with slight variations in form and style,
and there it is, one more cold marble slab
chiseled with data and dates,
shadowed recesses,
of a hot Maryland sun.

Under this stood,
a lovingly laid out playground
of little plastic toys
in blanched colors
that would not decay or rot.

Between the neatly combed
rows of yellow daffodils stood the
many memories, mementoes beginning with
a blue airplane, bordering a purple dinosaur,
and in a second row a brown pony, and
a pirate’s dagger to pierce the heart.

A little imagination
conjures him up to play again,
his fair, sandy hair, now
resting below in the dark,
unbleached by the Somerset sun.

Death presents the living
with unwanted tests,
whims of the fickle fates;
doling out check-offs
until in the end all are passed.

Stooping to close a last token left open,
the little toy treasure chest
filled with tiny seashells
collected after the recent bay storm,
I continue on my quest
with a heavy and hesitant step,
In search of great, grandfather Dize.
© 2007 by E.D. Ridgell

Creative Commons License
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