Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Wish 2013

The ongoing chaos over the ACA, its failed website, failed rollout, and ongoing allegations of deception and misleading by our President and his misuse of "periods" has been a continuing source of poetic responses in the form of blogs ( ) tweets ( and comments. Today after seeing the pardon of the Turkeys and smiling over the use of the name Popcorn (a favorite treat of this poet), it seems more appropriate to send the muse out in favor of Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for and we have an innate capacity to give of ourselves, our dollars and our time to those less fortunate and even better to bring to the political table a sense of honesty, respect, civility and compromise to name but a few attributes our politicians on both sides of the aisle are in short supply.
        Hope you enjoy this poem. Happy Thanksgiving to all and to my new found Oregon beating friends, the Wildcats of the University of Arizona, please defeat the Sun Devils this Saturday.

A Thanksgiving Wish
Before the family and friends begin to arrive,
A brief moment to sit down and take a quiet five
As the aroma and warmth fills each nook and space
Before the dishes and recipes begin falling into place
Before the turkey thawed the day before from the oven the table will grace
In those quiet moments on Thanksgiving a time to ponder and reflect
The blessings that troubles and adversities will always reduce and deflect
Much more than the bountiful succulent caloric stuffing repast
No, the blessings for the soul and spirit that were meant to last
To each the blessings are like snowflakes unique and pristine
Gently touching a soul today blessed to be tranquil and serene
We may be a nation still divided and the aisles are like moats
Slowly, surely saner heads will prevail--after all we are all in the same boat
After over 300 years, we possess and practice amazing freedoms still
For the tyrants still in this world to swallow, it  must be a bitter pill
Many of us still suffer across this great land
Yet in times of trouble, we are quick to give a helping hand
For Thanksgiving is not a one  word only on what you receive
But two and without the “giving”, all “thanks” are soon to leave
The world is still a dangerous place, but the Winds today only whisper, do not howl
This day let your spirit and soul be in peaceful smile, no hint of frown or scowl
When the dinner is finally done and the turkey tryptophan excess reigns
Enjoy the pleasures of family and friends, let not that comfort wane
Black Friday will be just another day and in the malls serenity you will not find
Only crowds frantic for bargains and sales, a stress perhaps best left behind
Happy Thanksgiving for the blessings you have and in giving choose to bestow
Not just today, but daily from the early rains of spring to the winter falling snows

Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

© November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On to the Westward Patrick M. Ridley

Today, November 19, 2013, the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Address was a day for the Alaskanpoet to be reminded of his own mortality. After enrolling for Medicare Supplemental Insurance, in going through some boxes containing old files, I found the eulogy for my father  I wrote on the plane from Seattle to Petersburg. As I enter the early winter of my life on reflection, I realize I have been blessed in certain areas--a grandfather was poet and whose works I will publish, a mother and father who were also poets thought sadly I am still searching for examples of my father's work and last but not least a young son, a freshman at Stanford who has received my muse genes and the muse genes of his paternal great-grandfather and his paternal grandfather and grandmother.  Poetry to me is a direct path to one's Higher Power and spirituality. My father's eulogy is below. I hope you enjoy it and whether you live your life in prose or in muse, live it in zest and with a purpose

On to the Westward Patrick M. Ridley
Almost 50 years ago, Thidwick-the-big-hearted moose in this room I did recite
Encouraged by my parents, trying to memorize each day and late into the night
It is only fitting that I should eulogize in verse not about Moose Moss or antlers on a Harvard Club wall
But rather about a man who was admired and loved by us all 

We have had problems with funerals since Antony came to bury not to praise
Whether planned or unexpected, the loss and mortality comes in a misty daze
When a stranger or distant friend, it’s easy to give the hugs and find the right accolades
As a departed’s life passes quickly to a festive wake from a funeral parade 

But if a parent is the one summoned through death’s one way portal,
A link to life is severed, chill whispers that the child, too, is mortal
It may be easy to eulogize a mother who is usually viewed by a son as a saint
But a father is never perfect, some rough edges, a canvas with many shades and hues of paint 

My father’s life has finally ebbed, the tide of life never to return
Now part of the Southeast rains, Sitka Spruce, and muskeg ferns
A station owner, vet, deckhand, cook, accountant, poet, Irish—he led many lives
Not a complete marital cat, he was blessed with only 4 wives 

Around the world as a seaman at 18, the U.S. after the war, fueled by a wander lust
Alaska is where he set his roots; here were the people he would love and trust
My father knew not the meaning of material greed
His only true wealth was the acceptance by this town’s old breed
He never ran a bank, but his wallet would never close
Always proud to be Irish among the Norse and let his shamrock show
Lois W, Ira II, Torun, Rex, Westerly Charles W, Bernice A
Just a few of the wooden ladies plying the sounds, straits and bays 

A brilliant mind, no crossword he could not complete
No misguided tax audit he could not defeat
Big Tobacco could have used him on whether nicotine could addict
60 years of smoking, slowed down by a stroke and he willed himself to quit 
Nobility to him was the fisherman, farmer, and logger without which we could not exist
Anymore than a boat would not capsize with a 50 degree list
To him there was only one major test
Live life as a friend to all with unrestrained zest 

It has been 36 years but there is an image I will hold until the day I die
Landing in Scow Bay with Kurt standing tall and my father nursing a Harbor Bar black eye
A full life of generations of friend and even as some of whom may shed a tear
Think of all the pols and bureaucrats with no more Ridley letters to fear 

Christ was a fisherman, so they must fish on the eternal seas
Whether under power, with strong arms or an ocean breeze
Whether with seine, trawl, pot, net or baited trolling or halibut hook
Listen to the whispers of the passed old breed ‘Patrick, you’ve been away too long our friend and master cook 

On to The Westward, may your soul pass through the Land of the Midnight Sun
To the peaceful tranquility of misting rain, swaying spruce and never-ending salmon runs

©  1999 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Marine Corps Birthday Sparks

      November 10, 1775 marks the founding of the United States Marine Corps in as might be expected in a tavern, Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. One of this nation's first oxymorons must have been that of all people a Quaker, a religion known for among nonmilitaristic ideals such as the refusal to participate in war and its adherence to teetotalism, Samuel Nicholas, an innkeeper, was instructed to raise two battalions of Marines in Philadelphia. The tavern’s manager, Robert Mullan, was the "chief Marine Recruiter." Prospective volunteers flocked to the place, most likely enticed by cold beer and the opportunity to join the new corps.
       Since that founding the Marines have become a warrior legend, the new Spartans and symbols of bravery usually unmatched in the field of human conflict. Of 3477 Medals of Honor that have been awarded, Marines have been awarded 297.  On this day the Marines will celebrate their birthday with a cake, cut by a sword signifying the warrior class with the first piece to the guest of honor, the second piece to the oldest marine who passes it to the youngest signifying the continuation of the training, skills and tradition of the Corps.
        In October of this year we witnessed yet another senseless shooting at the Sparks Middle School in Nevada. Two people were killed and two students were not fatally wounded. The adult who died was a teacher of Math and I won't use the term former or ex Marine as the essence of being a Marine is lost only on the day you pass from this world. A veteran of two tours in Afghanistan Michael Landsberry a 45 old math teacher at the school died trying to protect his students
         This poet does not know what was inscribed on his tombstone, but his surviving wife said it best: "To hear he was trying to protect those kids doesn’t surprise me at all,” she told the newspaper. “He could have ducked and hid, but he didn’t. That’s not who he is.” Thank God for men like Michael Landsberry and the U.S. Marine Corps.  

                 Marine Birthday Candles May Spark But Are Not Blown Out

November 10th is the birthday of the U.S, Marines
Well known as an elite combat fighting machine
We all know about Belleau Wood, Iwo, Heartbreak Ridge, Beirut,  Khe Sanh
Miles of white crosses and stars on too many flag dotted lawns
Semper Fi is not just a slogan or spin but a interwoven indispensable creed
Brave men and women in uniform that for us went to die and to bleed
Who among us knows of the minor battle of Sparks?
Not much of a battle that any history of the Corps would mark

Sparks is not what an army would seek seize and then hold
No tactical or strategic value for Marine lives to be sold
Just a Middle School full of young minds
On the path of learning, leaving childhood behind
Only a few days to go before costumes and treats of Halloween
When a young gunman of 12 with a handgun appeared on the scene
Michael Landsberry, a former Marine with two Afghan tours
Without hesitation, Semper Fi for his students’ safety to insure

Marines even those no longer in uniform and without a rifle
Do not hide, or cower or shake and fear they will stifle
Semper Fi and with his body he gave all that he had to give
He died as a human shield so his students could live

A hero to those children, a hero to us all, a credit to the Corps
A Marine will never run, even if knocked down will come back for more
Semper Fi, you may retire from the Corp but the Corp stays within you deep  inside
Honor, sacrifice, duty, valor, bravery and a never ending sense of unmatched pride!
The Hymn is right and when we mere mortal arrive at Heaven's scenes
We will find its streets patrolled by United States Marines 

© November 11, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet