“Can We Know?” by Jack Ridl

Jack Ridl


After nibbling at his food,
our old dog’s sleeping
again, breathing heavily.

We say, “Well, he’s old. Maybe
that’s all it is.” The birds come
to the feeder. We don’t know them.

We assume we know our dog
who barks when it’s time
for his walk or to pee. Was

it because of us and biscuits
that he alchemized from
abandonment into one of us?

Damn anyone who calls us
sentimental for our years
of loving him like family.

We believe in the comfort
of his wag, his lying every night
amid our long and given marriage.

No one asks for loneliness.

from Rattle #60, Summer 2018
Tribute to Athlete Poets


Jack Ridl: “I was a point guard, the last ninth grader to start on a varsity high school team in Pennsylvania until years later, when anyone could play a varsity sport. I was also a shortstop, good enough to play on a traveling All-Star team with the likes of Dick Allen. My father was the basketball coach at Westminster College where his team was ranked number one in the country in 1962 and toured South America. I, as an entering freshman, played on that team. In the mid-’60s, he became the head basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh where he also invented what became known as The Amoeba Offense, a variation of which every team from third grade to the pros now use. The recipient of many coaching awards, my father was likely the greatest influence on my being a poet—not in choosing to be, but because he instilled in me a love (believe it or not) of practice and discipline. Working to get a line just right is a joy compared to dribbling for an hour with your left hand every day and fielding bad hop ground balls into a late evening.” (web)

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