Cupped in his
hand was a new born fledgling
Recently pushed from the
nest by a sibling.
“Nature is not sentimental”,
He nestled it in his lap and sat there patiently
I asked him, “Is there nothing we can
“No”, he said. “We can only
keep it company”.
I sat there next to him and watched
the little bird die.
In that death love was born.
This was the first of many things that clipped my wings.
There was no need. I never was tempted to fly away.
He had kept doves as a young boy,
And we kept all breeds of ducks, the symbols of fidelity.
There was that time we stopped to watch
The farmer plow his field in the company of hundreds of swans
Who fed upon the upturned seed.
There was that
mountain drive parallel to two swans in flight.
their necks wobbling to the beating of their wings.
are still ducks in that pond at Williamsburg-
In those last few hours I nestled him in my arms and waited patiently
Listening to his last rattle song.
I whispered to him,
alright Precious. You can go. I’ll be OK”.
Now, every time
I drive by the Mennonite farm,
I look for them in the
pond, the swan couple.
I’m upset if one is missing,
and I’m impatient to see it, next time.
always there. I’ve done this for eight years, now.
is not my turn, and I have company.
afraid of anything, and
I only hope that when my time
Someone will nestle me and wait patiently.
Look to the skies and listen. You can hear them, birds on the wing,
Flapping and speaking in their many different tongues.
I particularly like the sounds of the ducks and geese, don’t you?
c. E.D. Ridgell, 2009
The Speckled Palace Green In Fare Williamsburg
I read your journal again
And I realized its time to close
At least until I follow. I’ve completed
That long journey this side of grief.
I love you now as I loved you then.
Wait. I linger here for now.
was lucky and my mind’s eye
As well as my patchwork
Found love yet again. The kids
Up and had three children.
Vital is a grandfather three times o’er.
too Vital is a mountain of a man!
Another chapter or two,
denied you. God does not
Corrugate folds of our design.
It is a mystery and always shall be-
We love. We abide awhile. We die.
Precious. It is a mystery
As to when I will follow to rest
with you on
The speckled palace green in fare Williamsburg.
Thank You Tank Man!
I wanted you to know
We have not forgotten you.
What became of you
Remains a mystery.
Are you imprisoned somewhere,
A worker bee with
one less kidney?
There is no statue in the square,
the news is out there.
Accept these words as a small tribute
To your bravery and courage.
They have not erased you from history.
hidden newsreel of the tank got through
Though you may have
never known it.
The world heralded you as news
Even as your comrades fled, pushing pedals,
Cycling fast to be free from tyranny.
Are you in a grave somewhere,
Or are you the manager of a KFC?
your ashes reside somewhere
In a lacquered box hidden from
Waiting to be spread on Tiananmen Square?
Perhaps you were spared, married,
And had the prescribed one baby-
fat son? I hope so.
You did your country honor
I wanted you to know
Your ancestors smiled as
Your message, delivered before
That tank’s, turreted, red star
the world over-
Echoing yet again,
‘One man can make a difference!
Many men can make a Veteran’s Day.
My country sets aside one day to remember
Its known and unknown heroes.
Come linger with us.
You are not forgotten.
Let us play taps to your memory
As well as to our own sons for
There are no boundaries
cause of freedom.
Thank you Tank Man!
c. E.D. Ridgell, 2007
It Is Not Easy To Be You!
She is not paid to be emphatic,
Unless she uncovers something,
Chases my scent,
Smokes me out-
As I can not help but evade,
Even as I struggle to be caught
through the hedgerows of this hunt.
And so when she looks at me and says:
“I do not think it is easy to be you”,
She garners my attention.
She has me and with such
a simple thing
To have never sunk in.
It is not meant to be easy.
it was meant to be easy.
It is not!
I play the herald to the
For the sake of others, shielding myself.
Never coming into the limelight,
But always the dresser to the star,
king’s man, a ear to his exact word:
“I wish I had your gift for words.
It’s stunning in it’s classical restraint!
Hold out your hand!”
With a pat as with a
fan, I sought to mimic
A queen’s words and thereby
Together into me;
Laertes behind the curtain!
Despite my best efforts though
To test and risk the anger of many kings,
The dagger has never run me through,
No matter how
I tempted it behind the curtain.
The princes have all failed
All the while I was absorbed adding to that
Foundation that was there from the beginning,
And for which she is paid to find the core.
I find myself like Delacroix’s father,
An astute arbiter who guesses the answers
Before the questions have even entered their minds.
I wish I were not right so often. I usually am.
is too easy. It is not meant to be easy.
I thought it was
meant to be easy. It is not.
It is not easy to be me. I find
nothing hard enough
To justify this mimicry and hiding.
“You will never more hear from Herald.”
“If I have played my part well,
your hands and dismiss me
With applause from the stage.”
Like Echoes Off The Canyon Walls
So long as I have a voice,
It will resonate
Like echoes off the canyon walls-
The hopes and dreams
Of the hundreds and hundreds
Of young black children
I was so blessed to teach
In the hopes it would show them that
lives, like all lives, do matter,
And no matter the race or creed
We all are equal in this,
Our beloved country!
c. E.D. Ridgell, 2016
A Lonely, Last Bud to Fall
In a spell that seems so long
tend one after another garden
In a lifetime of gardening.
The precious buds fall one at
burn and decay away.
They are in my memory
And missed each for a passion its own.
tend the garden now aging and failing,
But still I till on, one season at a time.
I am not sure why I garden still.
the lovely buds must Wither and fall.
I do confess I fear I’ll be
A lonely, last
bud to fall!
© 2011 by E.D. Ridgell
Boxing Day, 2015
Every year, I think to myself,
This is your last.
Keep a good Christmas.
Then pops around another,
And I start all over.
I used to say to Russell,
I won't make thirty,
Not with this epidemic
Weighing on my conscience.
Truth is, it is a miracle,
And one to give me pause-
Not in my license, I
But in His intentions.
Why was I spared-
To bury so many others?
Surely He requires nothing of me,
Except perhaps a sincere confession.
Was it to champion
So much cancer? If so,
Swing open those pearly gates.
I've a ticket- first
class, plus luggage!
so old, now,
I sometimes fancy myself wise,
Though no one seems interested in
The meanderings of another naked
was a splendid Christmas,
Though, mark me, it was my last.
I've short goals and with pluck
And a little luck,
I'll soon bid you adieu.
E.D. Ridgell, 2015
Times Have Changed!
I remember my Dad swinging a chicken
Round and round with one arm.
Then laying its head on the end of a block of wood
And chop-pin it off with a sharp hatchet....
I swear that chicken got right up and ran
Round and round with no head at all!
I must have been no more than five.
I was play-in out back, one day,
When I saw a long, slicked-back
worm, it's back raised up
As if taking aim to spit right in my eye.
I ran in and told Mommy and she
out, took a garden how, chopped that big worm up,
Then draped it o'er the garden fence,
Went back in the kitchen
and that was that.
Life and death had little meaning
To a kid so young. I had no real fear of mortality.
One day, me and my friends walked out o'er
Cracking ice jumping up and down at the thrill of it.
walking o'er a long railroad bridge,
With nary a worry of an oncoming train.
I was immortal then but only then.
Times have changed!
c. E.D. Ridgell, 2014
I'm not buying that smile, again.
You're not too big to fail.
I don't need you're next Cold War.
I've got to save an Island;
The Muslim Brotherhood
Is only a threat to McCarthyism.
Have you no shame!
Monica is multi-orgiastic. Have you no
Put your blond bombshell
to bed! The fat lady's not through singing!
© 2012 by E.D. Ridgell
The Galloping Gertie Dog
Tubby the three-legged spaniel
May be gone but he is not forgotten.
Man’s best friend could not swim or fly
And a last attempt was met with
a bit of a bite.
And so Tubby plunged to a doggie
Into the raging waters
below. Nothing of Tubby
ever found but he lives on in the
of the land of the Lushootseed.
D. Ridgell 2019
Pray For Humiliy
Expression and humility.
Peter hit him
the first shot.
Crimson on the Russian snow.
Faith is not apprehended
By reason but by life.
Life does little
else but humble.
It is not made by hitting the mark
But by intense feelings either or.
A prayer is better spent in humility.
Do not pray then to worship
That which is in need
of no such thing-
Pray for humility.
E. D. Ridgell 2019
I used to say to Russell,
“I won’t live to be thirty.”
look at the mess I’m in.
I’m damned if I do.
I’m damned if I don’t.
I don’t know if Russell is alive or dead,
And I’m good at that sort of thing.
be around seventy now.
It’s just something old people
Google names, places, obits.
I’m not depressed or anything-
if nothing else.
A reporter tried to pin
Thurgood Marshal down. Why retire now?
“Because I’m an old man” he answered.
I told Vera not to put me
In a room
without an art sink.
On the third floor, I made calls
And retired on the dot.
I enjoyed that.
Through the grape vine
I heard the kids threw the kiln
Out the third floor window-
be possible but just.
Pity Vera wasn’t under it!
E. D. Ridgell 2019
She’s only a woman-
Fair game to the old feathered buzzards
rule the roost. Set her up.
There’s score cards enough.
Liqueur her up, put it out there-
You gotta put it out there, you know
You gotta put it out there.
They’ll believe anything.
She’s only a woman-
A me too slinger. Serves her right.
Serves the bitch right.
Give her an
abortion she’ll remember.
Public enemy numero uno-
She’s the one. Just another ball buster,
A wrinkled necked Baltimore oriole,
as a loon. Go ahead. She’s only a woman!
E. D. Ridgell 2019
Waiting For The Horsemen!
The highest officials are suspect.
Degradation and dishonor abound-
sullies the ranks and
It’s not politic to poke
or prod their emails.
Fantasy and fear tumble as
Reality shakes for the shapeshifter-
In far-off lands fascism sprouts
saved from a dead century.
Mount Subarus and Kawasaki’s
For a blitzkrieg led by Fox TV
a false front for flattery.
And here come the Horsemen
Riding again from the bowels of history
To once more humble the mighty
trod headlong o’er the needy-
Here come the Russians
Their dancing bears drunk as usual
On cheap vodka and questionable sports
Led by this century’s butch Tsar!
It’s another game of craps but
These dice don’t
Gamblers are warring in the wings
Waiting for the horsemen!
E. D. Ridgell, 2019
It’s Alright To Die. I’ll
We were walking side by side
In a high-tide, wetland of a hot Somerset sun,
And I had warned Tom not to trust the stone slabs,
That top the shallow graves tuned to the tide,
all of a sudden, down goes Tom. Turning,
I spy him stalled
and standing in a shallow grave
Implacable as always with spoon
and melon still in hand
And bent upon finishing his melon.He
How do I forgive God this transgression
on our happiness-
Funnel teaspoon after teaspoon down parsed
The hospice worker apprises the end is near-
I am free to measure the dosage and he intimates
The dying sometimes wait for some promissory permission.
Nie! I cannot help put out that light we worked so hard
To keep lit. That religion we sharebelies such a coarse, and so
I bend down with a last kiss upon his brow and whisper a last lie-
“It’s alright to die. I’ll be okay.”
E. D. Ridgell
She died before the questions.
Where did the popery come from
For one of Wesley’s children
to her catholic grave
In St. Mathew’s graveyard?
told me she was Irish-
Laid it on me from the back steps.
God knows we were catholic,
But how and when, and more importantly,
was I Irish?
I didn’t learn she lost a baby to a fire
I had become an old man, an elder,
And, as usual,
the last to hear anything!
Of a dozen babies only two survived,
And these secrets are buried now.
No matter, if I am half Irish,
It is the English root I gnawed!
Keep your dirty potatoes. No Irishman
loved me as a kid!
They moved me from the country,
the sooty city, and gave me to the penguins,
Just to diagram
sentences, serve on the altar,
And march me to a late communion!
is, I loved and hated it. You do, you know.
a rough and tumble,
Game of stick on a huge, dirt hill,
The incense, the masochism of the confessional-
All that lovely Popery!
Pills In White Boxes
all left now, finally.
I’ve only ever wanted to die alone
from the eyes and hands of anybody.
This is a home in which I am not at home.
The doors swing silently and there are no locks save one.
is my last move, I know. I doubt I’ll need most things
in those brown boxes
they packed and labeled for me.
Where has that white box gotten to, my pills and pictures?
There it is over there. I’ll open it later, if I decide to play with my pills today.
Maybe I’ll cut one or two in two or take two or more...
don’t want to look at pictures today, desperate attempts to recapture
events slowly fading away. Someone just came in and left
Without saying a word.
That’s OK. I’m feeling tired today
What with disappearing and all, fading,
E. D. Ridgell. 2018
Render Unto Caesar
I am sorry you
are not here
To see the oldest set sail,
To bask at the middle’s
To see the tyke kick a soccer ball!
Death leaves a void,
And your’s a cavern-
Time moves on
Even as we dally.
Old age is both harried
You marvel at
And watch your eaglets fly.
The sand drowns down,
The hour nears it’s close and like
My would-be grandfather long ago
I will see Caesar’s taxes done!
D. Ridgell 2017
The Cocksucker Blues
A lonesome boy
With a fine head of hair,
himself inside out-
Hell bent on coming out.
round Wyman Park
Racking up three of four a night,
He was mad as hell at the irony-
One after another notched up to spite.
His straight friends had made a beeline.
No one could abide him.
up and died and
His Mom was long dead!
a cold cement lion
‘Fore the Museum of Art.
He had no place to sleep.
No hole to crawl into.
“Oh where can I get my cock sucked?
Where can I get my ass fucked?
I may have no money
But I know where to put it every time.
Well, I asked a young policeman
If he’d only lock me up for the night.
Well, I’ve had pigs in the farmyard-
Some of them, some of them, they’re alright,
Well, he fucked me with his truncheon,
And his helmet was way too tight.
daybreak and I feel lost and lonely.
I got the cocksucker
Oh where can I get my cock sucked?
Where can I get
my ass fucked?
I ain’t got no money
But I know where to put it every time.**
**Sir Michael Phillip Jagger
Icing On A Fruitcake!
And of all things
I would have thought
No one could
have ever said to me,
She tells me you are dying of
And like Grammy’s favorite,
Red, Christmas ornament,
Imprinted on my mind,
That Billy Jim and I shot
With our wicked pea-shooters
So long ago, I turn these things
that the holes do not show,
And their glow feigns to grace
Sight until someone else
Might grieve their loss, and
me gently down even with these
Tears at such sad loss.
did not take that last call to me,
Saying, yet again, that
you forgave me,
Yet one more time. If it lifted your
Spirit up, in truth, that’s all
I ever wished between us.
For my part,
I was always so much more
In my mind’s eye,
And never just icing on a fruitcake.
I think my life well hung.
it hang as it will,
The best tokens of it to shine
Long after I am gone.
Somewhere In The Trenches
feel I won't be long, now.
We'll be mingling again,
Dust and bone under the footfalls
Of the next in
I haven't heard.
Have you had snow,
And does the drum and fifes
Pass the green? Who won best door?
I hope all worry and fear
For those loved and leave behind
Falls away with the sweet embrace
I hope too you are spared news-
Precious patriot that you
are or were-
Of the tedious rise and fall of caliphates,
Here, there, everywhere the din of protest of war!
Remember, you refused to bayonet
Their silly straw man?
They could not understand a heroism
That refused to shoot the dove!
You wore them down in the end-
Hit the bulls-eye
on the range so often
They just pushed you on,
Never knowing another faggot got his orders.
Rudy who will follow had to go over-
Won the distinguished
service medal under fire.
All my best queers are heroes. I've done the best
To temper an ecstasy for 'Mad Dog' saviors.
I feel I won't be long, now.
We'll be mingling again,
Dust and bone under the
Of the next in line.
c. E.D. Ridgell,
in the trenches of America.
So you drag ass yourself through a lifetime
Of interminable tests
and high-wire risks
Only Spider-Man or Wonder Woman
Could survive only to have some
Cripple of a theoretical
One of the countless Sagan cosmologists,
Tell you there is no proof of or, worse yet,
need of a God, let alone a trinity!
And you ask yourself, for Christ Sakes,
Well who in the hell is
that inside my head,
And who have I been entreating all these
Dog-eared years to save my sorry ass!
I mean give
me a God Damed break, will you?
Never did I feel so close to anyone
As I did before that plaster
Of our Sacred Lady some half a century ago-
Staring up pouring my child’s heart out
the only person I felt could hear
My confusion and bewilderment
At things I just couldn’t unwrap
how I tried. As an altar boy
I felt chosen not to be better
But to serve something clear and unsullied.
I have always been the kindest person I know,
Indeed this world with its strange inhabitants
Still feels alien
to me. I’ve given up ever
Feeling anything like what they call normal.
I dared not say anything in the confessional
fear of God knows what, and the thing was,
I didn’t know what was and
I just worked off of their templates.
I clearly saw Michael. I’ve never
To apparitions. He sat there on the pompom,
White, chenille bedspread until poof, like that,
was gone. To this day, I believe this,
And so to this day I refuse to give
The memory of him, of My Lady,
Or my much maligned faith in God Almighty!
c. E.D. Ridgell, 2016
I feel like God sprinkled me
Bell's pixie dust-
Poof, your Queer!
Poof the magic Cock Sucker-
One of His chosen ones!
Everybody likes me! Somebody loves me!
Well, I'm still crazy! It's still heavy,
not buying nothing-
Never did, and never will!
Their gestures side peripheral notations-
Catch them up and I feel the shame of their
Punch and Judy shows-
Somebody including the lesbo is mimic'n me!
Hush! Hush! Now, don't you cry.
He'll screw her - then he'll fuck you-
William to comply-
Grease everybody up just a little!
Is that a noose round their Persian necks?
Is that them pushed off to fly?
am not worthy
To receive you". I'm preoccupied!
Well do a little blow-
Drink a shit load!
Nothing's gonna wash that
Sweet pixie dust off you're ass!
Shocked are you?
Well then, do us a favor
will ya 'n
Get out of the confessional!
c. E.D. Ridgell, 2016
|RUDY, JE T'AIME MON AMOUR !
Lord, Lay Me Down, Gently Now
drank and drank and drank for months I think
Trying to just find that place, that place for me;
That resting place where I could be invisible-
Where I could just lay flat and still, out of their way.
I lay me down in a corn field and let out a
I cut dead
any shame with another laugh and came to rest.
I reckoned back, when last a pretty boy, I lay on the lawn of Clifton Park
And looked and looked and looked for that four leaf clover, that myth.
lay me down, gently now, on that field of catalpa pods and ash.
Oh, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy but I’m worn down. I’m all used up, ya’ hear?
Let Virginia showers mingle me with my true
Let all the elements do what
they will do for a final metaphor of it.
And what of our souls, Lord? Are they myths, too?
Is there a special place for your chosen ones,
Has this been some
kind of carnival show? Were we their freaks?
"You Could Smell the Whiskey Burnin'
Down Copperhead Road",
So too, we weren't no folk that
so when they went
To land their chopper
On Camp Ground, Churchyard-
Well, we just started stonin' em
Like they do in Syria.
Now Parson Thomas couldn't
Put it clearer. You'll
Set sail. Get out'a here!
We ain't had no call on these Islands
For government or policin'
For four hundred years.
Whether plantin' up a Tennessee Holler,
traps down a Maryland line.
We'll suffer no interferin' or layin' up taxes
We ain't reckon' on payin' no how!
E.D. Ridgell, 2013
Edward Ridgell, Poet
( A true event in Smith Island History,
both Smith and Tangier Island
Have never had any need for policing