If more poets wrote like Jack Ridl, more people would read poetry. Reading a collection of poems by Ridl, you feel as if you are sitting in his living room, or across the table at a bar, or roaming through a trail in the woods, just listening to him spin tales. The tales are not necessarily stories, although he does that as well.
Like many great poets, Ridl tells tales which make us see exactly what he sees, but in a whole new way. I let my two dogs out every morning, but after "The Dogs' Door Is at the Far End of the House," I'll never watch them go out the same way again. Like every dog owner, he watches them trudge into the morning heat or a drift of snow, day after day:
"I wonder if they wonder what waits
on the other side. They never complain
or balk. They walk, let go, find their
momentary stay against the coming day."
One of elements of Rid's poetry which differentiates him from other poets, is his humility. He is not trying to save the world through his poetry. He is not even trying to understand the world through his poetry. He is trying to live in the world through his poetry. As a result of this humble approach, he does indeed bring understanding and glimpses of salvation to all that is around us.
Throughout his other works, and this one is no different, Ridl also displays a welcome sense of humor. You can almost see him standing off in the corner with a wry grin on his face, watching something unfold. In "My Wife Has Sent Me An Email," we see a tender exchange of checking on the coffee supply at home and signing off with love.
"I am sitting in
our living room, laptop on my
lap. She is sitting in her office
upstairs. We are emailing
in our own home."
It is not a diatribe against the inhumanity of technology. It is someone chuckling to himself over his own use of it. His humor can be more straight forward, as in "'Moose. Indian.' --The last words of Henry David Thoreau," where he rethinks what those words could be.