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Practicing to Walk Like a Heron

Poems by Jack Ridl

Publication Year: 2013

In Practicing to Walk Like a Heron multiple-award-winning Michigan poet Jack Ridl shares lines of well-earned wisdom in the face of a constantly changing world. The familiar comforts of life-a warm fire in winter, a lush garden in summer-become the settings for transcendent and universal truths in these poems, as moments of grief, sadness, and melancholy trigger a deeper appreciation for small but important joys. The simple clarity of Ridl's lines and diction make the poems accessible to all readers, but especially rewarding for those who appreciate carefully honed, masterful verse. Many of the poems take solace in nature-quiet deer outside in the woods, deep snow, a thrush's empty nest in the eaves-as well as man-made things in the world-a steamer trunk, glass jars, tea cups, and books piled high near an easy chair. Yet Ridl avoids becoming nostalgic or romantic in his surroundings, and shows that there is nothing easy in his celebration of topics like "The Letters," "But He Loved His Dog," "A Christmas List for Santa," and "The Enormous Mystery of Couples." An interlude of full-color pages divides Ridl's more personal poems with a section of circus-themed pieces, adding visions of elephants, trumpets, tents, sequins, and sideshows, and the uniquely travel-weary perspectives of jugglers, trapeze artists, roustabouts, and clowns. Practicing to Walk Like a Heron unabashedly affirms the quirky and eccentric, the small and mundane, and the intellectual and experiential in life. This relatable and emotionally powerful volume will appeal to all poetry readers.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Cover

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pp. c-i

Half-title

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pp. ii-iii

Title

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p. iv-iv

Copyright

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p. v-v

Dedication

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pp. vi-vii

Contents

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pp. viii-xi

Acknowledgments

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pp. xii-xiii

“Write to Your Unknown Friends”

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pp. 1-2

1. From Our House to Your House

It’s Hard to Know Where to Begin

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p. 5-5

From Our House to Your House

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pp. 6-7

Growing Up in a Small Town

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p. 8-8

Easter, 1948

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pp. 9-10

Hands

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p. 11-11

Ridl Was Once Spelled Hridl

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p. 12-12

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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pp. 13-14

My Father Was in Love with Peggy Lee

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pp. 15-16

Open to the Psalms

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p. 17-17

The Steps of Pittsburgh

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p. 18-18

It Wasn’t Folklore

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p. 19-19

Thinking of Yahweh During a Winter Thaw

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p. 20-20

On My Parents’ Sixty-fifth Wedding Anniversary

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p. 21-21

An Afternoon Visiting My Mother in Assisted Living

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pp. 22-23

The Days

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p. 24-24

A New Beginning

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pp. 25-26

The Letters

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pp. 27-28

Fractals: A Nocturne

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p. 29-29

Searching Again for My Father

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pp. 30-32

2. The Enormous Mystery of Couples

Suite For the Turning Year

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pp. 35-39

On Going with My Wife to Her Doctor

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pp. 40-41

The Enormous Mystery of Couples

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pp. 42-43

Theme and Variations

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pp. 44-45

Oh I Suppose

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p. 46-46

Here in the Time Between

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pp. 47-48

Practicing to Walk Like a Heron

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p. 49-49

Some Notes Taken While the Media Try to Come to Terms with the Life and Death of Michael Jackson

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pp. 50-51

With

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pp. 52-53

Morning Rounds

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pp. 54-55

Christmas, the Execution of Tookie Williams

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p. 56-56

The Neighbors

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pp. 57-58

William Blake’s Hiccoughs

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p. 59-59

After Talking It Over

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p. 60-60

Just Before He Had Another Panic Attack

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p. 61-61

Mid-October Morning

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p. 62-62

Ron Howard’s on the Cover of AARP

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pp. 63-64

Take Love for Granted

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pp. 65-66

My Wife Has Sent Me an Email

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pp. 67-68

A Quiet Study in Black and Gray

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p. 69-69

Speaking Objectively in Winter

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pp. 70-71

Raking the Duck Weed

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p. 72-72

Putting Away the Santas

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pp. 73-74

Hardship in a Nice Place

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p. 75-75

The End of This Year

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p. 76-76

Have You Heard the One About?

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p. 77-77

It’s April and It Should Be Spring

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p. 78-78

Epilogue

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pp. 79-80

Interlude: “Hey Skinny, the Circus Is in Town!”

Circus: Late Summer

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pp. 83-84

Outside the Center Ring

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pp. 85-86

Grouse of the Circus Boss

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p. 87-87

After the Lion Tamer

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pp. 88-89

Sequins

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pp. 90-91

Daydreams of the Catcher of the Queen of the Air

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pp. 92-93

Suzie

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pp. 94-95

The Death of the Queen of the Air

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pp. 96-97

Circus Cook

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pp. 98-100

The End of the Fat Lady

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pp. 101-102

Death in the Dog Act

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p. 103-103

The Children of the Lion Tamer

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pp. 104-105

Roustabout

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pp. 106-107

Clown

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pp. 108-109

The Balloon Man

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pp. 110-111

Night on the Circus Lot

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pp. 112-113

Winter Quarters

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pp. 114-116

3. The Hidden Permutations of Sorrow

The Two Chairs in the Garden

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p. 119-119

What Are You Supposed to Do Anyway?

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p. 120-120

Within the Moment of Indefinite Suffering

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p. 121-121

The Hidden Permutations of Sorrow

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p. 122-122

Listening to Chopin in Early Winter

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p. 123-123

At the “As the Spirit Moves” Poetry Reading

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p. 124-124

Instead of Planting Roses

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p. 125-125

The Man Who Loved Mulch

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pp. 126-127

After Midnight: Insomnia’s Solace

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p. 128-128

A Man I Know

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p. 129-129

“Moose. Indian.”

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p. 130-130

Several Old People Are Walking by Our Window

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p. 131-131

A List of Possibilities in an Uncertain Order

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p. 132-132

He Brings Home Everything

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p. 133-133

Monet’s “Winter on the Seine, Lavacourt”

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p. 134-134

Preludes

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pp. 135-136

Another Puppet Show

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pp. 137-140

The Reunion

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p. 141-141

The Dogs’ Door Is at the Far End of the House

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p. 142-142

The Artist to the Canvas

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p. 143-143

A Christmas List for Santa

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p. 144-144

But He Loved His Dog

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pp. 145-146

A Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

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p. 147-147

The Yearling with the Broken Leg

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pp. 148-149

Another Day in Your Life

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p. 150-150

The Knitters

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p. 151-151

Drinking Black Tea Early in the Morning

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pp. 152-153

For Lenny

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p. 154-154

A Generous Welcome

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p. 155-155

After Spending the Morning Baking Bread

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p. 156-156

Return to a Place I Don’t Remember

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p. 157-157

The Heron

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pp. 158-159

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc


E-ISBN-13: 9780814335390
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814334539

Page Count: 176
Illustrations: 1
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Made in Michigan Writers Series

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