SPARK get together | get creative | get sparked! Sun, 11 Feb 2018 23:19:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Nancy Ramsey and KJ Hannah Greenberg Sat, 23 Dec 2017 18:46:47 +0000

“Lake Springtime”
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Inspiration piece

Spring Green
By Nancy Ramsey

Green springs
From the Earth
A sudden, joyous
Blown and swirled
In weather
Winter that hasn’t yielded yet.


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KJ Hannah Greenbergand Nancy Ramsey Sat, 23 Dec 2017 18:43:52 +0000

“Jungle Book”
KJ Hannah Greenberg

Mental Collage
By Nancy Ramsey
Inspiration piece

Laying in the back
Of a ’70’s wagon
Surrounded by family,
Childhood friend.

Insulation fibers
Penetrate unnoticed
As the Jungle Book rolls
On the screen.

Inexorably linked,
Monkeys, insulation,
Wood paneling still
Itch my mind.

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Patty Gordon and Lizzie Parker Tue, 19 Dec 2017 02:35:31 +0000

Patty Gordon
The Process

Regret is a Process

By Lizzie Parker
Inspiration piece

I started things I shouldn’t have. Things I thought I was supposed to do, even if
or perhaps because they put my love for you before my own comfort and peace.
Washing all your laundry. Cleaning up after you, even your attempts to clean
up after yourself. Ignoring the multiplying and growing piles.
Believing you would see what I see – how I see.
For these errors I take full responsibility.

There are days when I wish I could turn back the clock. Moments of clarity
when I know I should walk away. When I think it would have been
best if our lives and things had never been intermingled.
And I hadn’t been buried.

I don’t even have the energy to dig out. It’s easier to just start over from scratch.
I’m not saying I don’t want to hold on to any of it. There are memories here that
I will never let go of and objects that give me some comfort and warmth,
but the majority… It shouldn’t be this way. I shouldn’t have had to wait until
the end to know what it feels like to breathe in my own home.
But now that he’s gone, I’m ready for all of it to go. I did my part.
I lasted even after I no longer loved.

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Susan Burton and Leslie Grollman Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:20:51 +0000

Susan Burton

Leslie Grollman
Inspiration piece

blue light
a pole says
in case people
need to climb
out of a situation
NYC: me on the
A train   three a.m.
I’m not a victim of
the world I see
to drown out
the fear smell
there are blooms
still on Lincoln
Hall’s bushes
the cold nights
not a threat
a yellow hydrant
wears a sign
‘fire use only’
good thing I
don’t own a gun
I might misunderstand
like the time I
thought you said want
two statues loom
like guards
who do they keep
out of my
eye a man’s zebra
shoes walk easy
walk in not
needing the blue
light walk knowing
the blue light is there
if a hunter comes



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Robert Haydon Jones and Diane Mayr Mon, 11 Dec 2017 02:10:21 +0000

Diane Mayr

Inspiration piece

Robert Haydon Jones
Lord Jim’s Little Finger


Lord Jim’s Little Finger
By Robert Haydon Jones

The trouble started when Billy, his eldest son, dug into the family’s scrapbooks, joined and started posting annotated photos of Jimmy O’Hara’s many ancestors on Facebook.

Then, somehow, Billy found a long lost photo of Jimmy’s paternal, great, great Grandfather. He made a copy of it and drove over from the other side of town to present the precious photo to Jimmy.

It is a studio shot. James A. O’Hara is sitting in a coat and tie with John, his son, who is in his early twenties, also dressed up, standing there by him with his hand resting amiably on his father’s shoulder. The older man is in his late forties. He is a very big, rough looking man with huge fists and a florid brush mustache.

The note on the photo reads, “Sir James and son.”

Jimmy knew quite a lot about Sir James through the oral history the family had passed down, but he had never dreamed he would ever see his face.

James A. O’Hara was born in Cork, Ireland in 1810.  He served five years with the Irish Fusiliers with postings in Africa, India and Gibraltar. In 1835, he married Alice Cox in Ennis, Ireland.

In 1836, he and Alice emigrated to Brooklyn. After a few years, James O’Hara trekked west in search of gold. He was a ’49er. One of the very lucky ones. In 1850, he returned from the gold fields of California to his wife and children in Pottstown, Pennsylvania with $40,000 in hand.

They were rich beyond their wildest dreams. In today’s value, they had over a million dollars.

Just six years later, they were nearly destitute. Sir James had lost all the money because….”He crooked his little finger too much.”

This information was according to his grandson, Bert, Jimmy’s grandfather. Bert had the same problem with his little finger. So did all the O’Hara men. Jimmy included.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Sir James had enlisted straight away. He was an experienced soldier and welcomed into service. Five months later, at Fair Oaks, he was wounded in the stomach by shell fragments and given a medical discharge. It was a ghastly wound; he needed more than a year to recuperate.

Then in February 1864, at 54, James A. O’Hara enlisted again. He lied to the Recruiting Officer and swore he was born in 1822. He promised to serve until the war was won and the Union reestablished.

A few months later, he was captured at Cold Harbor. He was sent to Libby Prison, then to Salisbury Prison and finally to Andersonville in Georgia. He died there of starvation sometime in September of 1864. His grave is unmarked.

The photo of Sir James excited Jimmy O’Hara. His great, great, grandfather was a ‘49er, who struck it rich and then crooked his little finger too much… a veteran soldier…a volunteer. He looked like the sort of big man you would want with you in a fight.

Jimmy told Billy, “What really impresses me is that even though he knew what soldiering was really all about, he volunteered. Then, after he was wounded, he volunteered again. He must have really believed in the cause.”

Billy was a child of the 60’s. He was angry with Jimmy. “You don’t know. All you have is a photo and some old records. Maybe, he couldn’t stand his wife. Maybe he needed the money – they were paying a $50 enlistment bonus. Maybe they were offering free booze or cheap booze. You don’t know – but you want to make him a hero because he has your name.”

Jimmy was angry back. Billy didn’t know either — he was so tilted against service that he couldn’t see it as a right thing to do for anyone. “I do know, dear boy, I do. It is logical. If you weren’t so down on the military, you would see it too. Your great, great, great, Grandfather stepped up even though he knew the risks. He was a hero.”

Billy’s face flushed. “How is that possible,” he said. “How could he have been a hero? He wasn’t a Marine like you, Father. All we know is that he crooked his little finger too much. Way too much. Just like you did.”

Jimmy’s rage flashed up and out. “Just like you do now, Billy. Way too much.”

Billy spun around, walked out the front door, got in his car and drove away.

Now Jimmy was flushing. He had done wrong. “Restraint of tongue and pen” were linchpins of Recovery – but once again – his fear and pride had ignited a mouth off that was completely uncalled for.

Poor Billy. He definitely was not in Recovery — and his reward for his kindness bringing Jimmy the photo of the great, great grandfather he had never seen was a merciless taunt.

Jimmy looked again at the photo. Billy was right. Jimmy couldn’t be sure it was the photo of a hero. But what a life! Lord James had survived five years of service and many a battle with the English army.

He had sailed away to America with his new wife. He had journeyed to California and returned with a fortune in gold. He had lost his fortune and then gone back to soldiering at age 51. He had survived a grievous wound and then enlisted again at 54. He was captured and died of starvation in an infamous Confederate prison.

Jimmy had heard the biography before but now the story was different — now that he could see the man it was about.

When Jimmy had enlisted in the Marines, the world wars were over. When he got the chance to get out honorably, he jumped at it. Knowing what he knew now about the reality of soldiering, was there a cause he would reenlist for?

He liked to think he would have fought to end slavery. Would he have reenlisted? Today, the Civil War was still playing out. Millions of people in the U.S. were still in bondage to grinding poverty and bleak prospects.

Jimmy worked as a volunteer at an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. But he could be doing a lot more. Fear and apathy were limiting his efforts.

He suddenly remembered being on the point leading his squad across a clearing. He was half way across when he felt the eyes on him. He was in someone’s sights! He pressed on. He came on a large ancient stone bust lying there in the weeds. It was out of context. Where it shouldn’t be. Would the statue be the last thing he would ever see? Then he was through the clearing and back into the woods.

He would encounter greater danger in his life but he would never be more frightened.

He thought now of Sir James, who had come all that way – only to die quite slowly of starvation. Not the classic death of a hero. But, of course, there was no such thing.

Now the armed forces of the United States were no longer citizen soldiers but rather mostly volunteers looking to improve their lot. In the past, millions had enlisted to defend democracy – now serving in the armed forces was definitely not a cool thing to do.

Jimmy decided to drive over to Billy’s and tell him he was sorry for his snide remark. And to thank him again for bringing him the photo of Sir James. It was amazing how seeing Sir James’s face had infused his old, well known, biography with energy.

Jimmy couldn’t tell for sure – but he was certain Sir James was a hero, even if back in the day, he had crooked his little finger too much. When he felt the Union needed him, he had volunteered. Not once but twice.

Jimmy wouldn’t ever tell Billy – but he was proud of Sir James lying there in his unmarked grave in Georgia. He hoped his grandchildren were following Billy’s postings on Facebook.


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Linda Sorrells-Smith and Kathleen Finn Jordan Mon, 11 Dec 2017 01:24:48 +0000

Linda Sorrells-Smith

Kathleen Finn Jordan

Kathleen Finn Jordan

Clear pools of sparkling drink or swim wonder
Loving the refreshing, the cool, the mirror of sun
In its lively gentle mood giving life
Or hunkered in a tropical storm
Windblown and angry
Whipping land and lake and power overwhelming all
Planetary gift or planetary weapon
Drowning or floating
Swimming or thrashing though the silt
running from home
Water commanding respect
Leaving us wondering and
Praying for the rain to stop as hurricanes destroy
And leave the people thirsty.

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Diane Mayr and Robert Haydon Jones Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:40:23 +0000

Diane Mayr
The Plague


Robert Haydon Jones
Letter from Norway

Inspiration piece

Letter from Norway
By Robert Haydon Jones

Terry Moran had always enjoyed an unfair advantage as a handsome man, but when he returned to civilian life from the hospital with a medical discharge for the wounds he had suffered on his one and only tour with the Marines, he had acquired another very special attribute — he sparkled with joy.

Terry was absolutely delighted to be alive. He celebrated every day. He luxuriated in the shower. He savored his coffee. He appreciated his clean shirt, his underwear, his socks. He loved that he made a very good living as a designer for a famous Advertising Agency. When the pressure was intense, Terry was cool. When his rivals, tried to hurt him, Terry let his work speak for itself. After a time, no one messed with him.

Three years after he returned, Terry married the widow of an officer from his outfit. At 32, Helen was five years older than Terry. They made a stunning couple.

Terry – blond, muscular, was still light on his feet, with a raised, two-inch welt of a scar meandering from below his right ear across his throat toward his left collarbone. Helen was an actress/model who looked like Ava Gardner with a much better body. She was featured in numerous commercials running nationwide. She had three children, a tween girl in middle school and twin sons in sixth grade.

Terry enjoyed their company. And the kids were glad he was there. Helen had suffered when their father had shipped out. He was the only man she had ever loved. Ever. Ever. She was terrified he was never coming back.

She drank very carefully at first and then way too much. Way, way too much. And then pills. And coke. And then a similar sort of progression with men – and women. No one serious. That was pretty easy. Helen couldn’t get enough. She was scary. Very scary.

The children didn’t have the details – but they knew Helen was in big trouble. Then the word came that their father had been killed and grief and peace came to the family.

Many Marines came and all the family. Helen saw them through it all. She was rock steady. Their dear dead father was a hero. He had died for them and for the country. For democracy. For America. Helen gave the memorial flag to their father’s mother. Then life started up again. They went back to school. Their mother went back to work. It was like coming back from a Spring Vacation.

Two years later, Helen and Terry met at a dinner party. Each had been invited as a potential match with someone else. But at the end of the evening, they left together. Three months later, in June, they were married. It was a small wedding. They skipped the honeymoon. They moved to a splendid house in Greenwich. Life was good again. Real good.

Yet people wondered if it would last. Helen had a history. Terry was a very attractive man.

Terry and Helen were well accustomed to being desired. Helen had developed the ability to display a nebulous negative force field whenever a creep (or an innocent) made a play for her. On the rare occasions that failed, she was highly proficient at telling the Romeo to back off. She did so in very plain language. She had never had to do it twice.

Terry had never said no before. Now he just mentioned that he was still crazy in love with Helen and that did the trick. Terry smiled when he said it and flashed his dimples. There were never any hard feelings.

Two Junes after he married Helen, Terry befriended a Norwegian girl in her early twenties. Ingrid sat next to him on the 8:10 train to Grand Central. It was a Thursday morning. Ingrid was an Au Per working in Greenwich going to New York on her day off. She was a blonde beauty but evidently quite used to it.

They got talking. Terry had been to Bergen for a tournament with his prep school Rugby team. Ingrid was just a week in the States. She was meeting up with two friends from Norway who were also Au Pers. Terry made some suggestions. A good lunch spot for a reasonable price. Two museums. He recommended two guided tours. One tour by bus. The other by boat.

Terry worked late that day. He took the 9:09 train back to Greenwich. As the train eased out of Grand Central, Ingrid plopped into the seat next to him. She was happy. Lunch was good. The tours were good – especially the boat one. She thanked Terry. He made some more suggestions. They talked about Norway. He told Ingrid about his wife and family. She told Terry about her family. They lived just a mile from Terry. Her two children, a boy and a girl, were at the same Middle School as Terry’s twins.

Terry offered Ingrid a ride home. In the driveway, she turned toward Terry and asked him to please give her a kiss Good Night. He bent down to give her a peck on the cheek and Ingrid shifted her head slightly and gave Terry a deep, wet kiss that zapped through him from head to toe like an electric shock.

She ended the kiss and got out of the car. “Thank you”, she said. “See you next Thursday.”

It was a long week. Terry felt guilty every day. And excited. What was wrong with him? He loved Helen. She loved him. This was crazy. How cheeky of Ingrid to assume that he would be on the train again next Thursday! She was a friggin Au Per!

On Thursday, Ingrid walked up to Terry on the platform five minutes before the train arrived. When they got to New York, they went straight to a nice hotel. Ingrid and Terry had thunderous sex for most of the day. They enjoyed themselves. They had a lot of fun together. They took the train back to Greenwich. Terry gave Ingrid a ride home.

Terry arranged his schedule so that he had Thursdays open. They liked their hotel. Ingrid asked Terry to take her to museums. They dined well. They went to matinees. They had delicious sex. They went shopping. Terry bought Ingrid little presents. Every once in a while, they overnighted in the city and took the train back to Greenwich on Friday evening.

It was all very pleasant. It certainly did not intrude into Terry’s life with Helen and the children. He was very fond of Ingrid but he did not love her. He loved Helen. Ingrid was his companion. His Thursday buddy. He really enjoyed being with her. She made him feel young. They looked good together as a couple. He was ten years older but they matched up well. On Thursdays.

Ingrid never told Terry she loved him. She did say, “My beautiful Terry – you make me so happy.” But never anything possessive.

Five months of Thursdays spun by and all was well. Christmas was coming. Ingrid was going with her family to California for the holidays. It would be their first separation. Terry was surprised he was feeling anxious about it. He was already missing her! Right after they had the usual delightful sex, Ingrid said, “ Oh, Terry, I would so much like to have a baby from you.”

Terry was startled. “Thanks, sweetie,” he said. “But please let’s not ever go there. Let’s stay friends.”

Ingrid was smiling. “Terry, in Norway, I would have our baby and my Mother would care take. When I get married, my husband would be also the father. We could stay friends.”

Terry jumped up and put his briefs on. He insisted that Ingrid promise there would be no baby.

He tried to get her to cross her heart and hope to die – but she didn’t understand that. So he got her to swear to God, with her right hand on her beautiful left breast, there would be no baby. He asked her to do it twice — and when she did — he jumped back into the bed and they had sex again.

Terry missed Ingrid during the holidays but he didn’t miss her a real lot. He knew she missed him a real lot – and that bothered him more than anything. Then in early January, Terry had to go out to Hawaii for ten days for an important shoot for Ford. He took Helen with him. They went to the Big Island. They had a great time. It was the honeymoon they had never had.

Terry and Ingrid finally met on the morning train on the last Thursday in January. They were deeply tanned. The train was crowded with people standing in the aisles. It was hard to talk. When they finally got in to their room at the hotel, Terry hugged Ingrid hard. He really wanted her. She arched into him and then she stepped back and started to cry. Terry knew instantly what the problem was.

Ingrid was pregnant. Four months going on five. She was afraid Terry would be angry. She was pregnant when she had promised him she never would get pregnant. She would go back home to Norway to have the baby. It would not cost anything. Then her mother would care take. They could still be friends.

Terry told Ingrid not to worry. He stroked her head and kissed her gently. Of course they would still be friends. He undressed her awkwardly. He wanted her so much his hands were shaking.

When she was naked, the white sections of her beautiful tan body inflamed him all the more. He nuzzled her hungrily. She pushed him back and took his clothes off very deliberately. Then they had sex and sex and sex until he couldn’t do it any more.

That was really the end for them. From then on, it was all about getting Ingrid back to Norway with Terry and Ingrid staying friends. Terry kept trying to do the next right thing but that wasn’t easy because when they met, the first thing Terry wanted to do was Ingrid. As she got plumper, he hungered all the more for her.

She quit her job and moved in to the city with a friend from Norway who was studying at Columbia. Her sponsors complained to the Au Per agency but Ingrid didn’t care. Terry visited with her almost every weekday. On Thursdays, they went to their hotel. Ingrid would get upset when Terry left to get the train to Greenwich but they were still friends.

Terry bought her a Business Class ticket to Oslo three weeks out but Ingrid somehow pushed it back a week, twice. She was very pregnant. She was crying a lot and acting strangely. Terry realized she might be two or more months more pregnant than she had told him.

On their last Thursday at the hotel, before her flight on Saturday, she raged at Terry when he left to catch the train. His cab hit every red light. Ingrid beat him to the platform. He tried to reason with her but she raged at him and wept. The train was leaving. Terry got on. Ingrid followed him.

The train was 18 cars and it was jammed. Terry pushed through all 18 cars with Ingrid on his heels raging and weeping. She was screaming at him in English and Norwegian. He had promised never to leave her. What would happen to their baby? She screamed through all 18 cars. When they finally got to the head car, two men got up and offered Ingrid a seat. She sat down and wept. And wept.

In the end, Terry rented a car in Stamford and drove Ingrid back to her apartment. Her roommate helped Terry tuck Ingrid into her bed. She was still crying softly. Terry kissed her on the forehead and closed the door. He never saw Ingrid again.

A few months later he got a letter from Norway addressed to him at the office. It was from Ingrid. The baby had been born, but sadly, the cord had wrapped around the baby’s neck and he was dead. She was still very sad but she was okay. She hoped he was okay.

Terry tore up the letter and threw the pieces into the trash basket.

The years passed. Helen and Terry had a baby girl. Terry was immediately demoted to second fiddle. He didn’t like it.

Three different men and a woman told Terry they had witnessed Ingrid’s pregnant pursuit of Terry on the train. They laughed heartily as they told him. The woman had tears in her eyes.

Occasionally, Terry would wonder about Ingrid. Did she settle down in Norway? Was she married? What about the baby? Did it really die? Or had she just given him a story to be rid of him?

What if the baby had been born? By now, he would be a full-grown man. Did he wonder about his real father?

Then on the Saturday after his daughter’s 21st birthday, Terry opened his mailbox and found a letter to him from Norway.


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Lizzie Parker and Patty Gordon Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:31:49 +0000
Patty Gordon
Inspiration piece

Not Enough P.C.R.W
By Lizzie Parker


I do not see a star-spangled banner of red white and blue
only anger embarrassment and disappointment
lashed by selfish greed and punctured by racism

I do not see the one born out of many
only the taking of sides
the taking up of arms
the taking of lives

I do not see America the Beautiful
only the puffing of a chest and
the shunning of reason
rapidly cooling a star into a

Perhaps because I am not
Patriotic enough to always make lemonade
Christian enough to believe what I am told
Rich enough for change to be unnecessary

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Lisa Kilhefner and Diane Mayr Sun, 10 Dec 2017 15:17:05 +0000

Diane Mayr

Inspiration piece



Lisa Kilhefner


My garden, it is yours to see and touch
and wander into. Watch the posies, calm
along the breath of wind. They mind so much
the day’s surrender to the moon. The psalms
and riddles fill my paper, and my mind.
I can’t escape the words, they chase me through
the lilacs and the daffodils; they find
me where I sleep (and where I don’t). Do you
know how to make them slow in their pursuit? I fear
I’ll always feel them on my back. A sprout
is pushing through the soil. It’s growing clear
that I am locked behind these heavy doors;
still robed in white, I’ll lose this earthly war.

Note: All of the art, writing, and music on this site belongs to the person who created it. Copying or republishing anything you see here without express and written permission from the author or artist is strictly prohibited.

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Diane Mayr and Lisa Kilhefner Sun, 10 Dec 2017 02:59:00 +0000

Diane Mayr
She Speaks Snow


Lisa Kilhefner
New York

Inspiration piece

New York
By Lisa Kilhefner

She sneezes; his heart wrinkles in a metal trashcan
on the corner of the room. He weeps, head heavy
like a New York blizzard.

He sweeps
the hair from her eyes, coarse fingers
graze her velvet brow.

She still has time. He listens, begs
for more, from God, from the clouds.
Her focus wanes, a windchime melody,
his almond eyes.

They move through the Holland Tunnel,
creeping, years before, escaping the city,
the ugly crowds. They are grey on grey,
emptying words onto each other.

She leaves him, then and now. She is white
and he is jealous of the evening sky.


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