SPARK http://getsparked.org get together | get creative | get sparked! Fri, 12 Jun 2020 00:19:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Kamika Cooper and Urmilla Khanna http://getsparked.org/spark44/kamika-cooper-and-urmilla-khanna http://getsparked.org/spark44/kamika-cooper-and-urmilla-khanna#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2020 18:16:23 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17748

Kamika Cooper
“my healer”
digital photography/illustration
response

 

Art and Science in Medicine
By Urmilla Khanna
Inspiration piece

“Jonathan has an earache?” I said in a half-angry voice as I took an emergency phone call from Mrs. Martin and fumbled to turn on the bedside lamp. It was three a.m.

“Yes doctor, I am sorry to disturb you at this hour, but he has been crying non-stop all night. I have given him Tylenol every three hours instead of every four as you usually recommend, just to help us get through the night, but it has not helped at all.”

I heard Jonathan’s wailing in the background and my anger turned into empathy. I listened to mom’s story and assessed the situation. Jonathan had been well and had been playing outdoors for long hours that day. It had been a hot and humid week in Washington D.C. He did not have fever, cough, cold or sore throat. The pain came on rather abruptly, sometime after his shower in the evening.

“Well, you have two options. You could run him over to an emergency clinic or would you rather wait to see me in the office. I could see him the first thing in the morning,” I said.

“If I take him to the emergency room, I will probably not be seen for three or four hours, anyway. I’ll call your office and come see you the first thing in the morning,” mom said.

I was in my office at nine the following morning, browsing through the day’s schedule. Mrs. Martin walked in soon thereafter. She was carrying four-year-old Jonathan propped up on her shoulder, her face anxious, her hair disheveled.

“Let me get you settled in a room,” the nurse walked the patient into room #3. She often referred to this room as the room with a view because it had a large picture window. Jonathan’s piercing cry penetrated through the walls and closed door of the exam room. I knew I had to attend to him right away. I came to the doorway of room #3 and spoke directly to Jonathan. “I am going to come and see you in just a minute and mom and I are going to see if we cannot make your pain any better.” Hearing my voice his howling changed to quieter sobs. “I’ll be with you as soon as I can,” I reassured him.

I collected his chart, my stethoscope and otoscope and walked in to see Jonathan. He was sitting on the table clutching on to his teddy bear and blanket. His eyes were red and swollen, teeth chattering, face smudged with tears and mucus. I let a few minutes go by letting mom vent about her fretful night. As I stood listening, I was wiping tears off Jonathan’s cheeks. He blew his nose into the tissue I held up for him. Next, I helped him lie down, covering him with his blanket and tucking his stuffed toy beside him. I ran my hands over his brow and hair, gently massaging his scalp, giving him more time to settle down. Now I looked at his throat, his nose, his right ear and finally went to the offending ear. There was no surprise for what I saw. He had a flaming red and swollen ear canal, making it impossible for me to view the tympanic membrane. He had external otitis, commonly known as swimmers ear, a very painful condition. The warm humid summers of Washington DC area are notorious triggers for this kind of yeast infection in children’s ears.

I explained it all to mom and discussed my treatment plan. I would pack the ear canal with a wick soaked in a medicinal ointment. The child continued to listen intently.

“I’ll ask the nurse to get the tray ready and I’ll be back shortly,” I was now speaking directly to the four-year-old. Before I left the room, I took another moment to explain the procedure to Jonathan in a language that he would understand. As I spoke, I was stroking his limp forearm and clamp, sweaty belly. His anxious eyes were no longer a stream of tears.

As I was stepping out, he sat up on the exam-table, smiling. “Can we go home now?” he said to his mother. “My ear is all better.”

That ear was a ball of fire and was surely extremely painful. I had felt the stinging pain myself as I was examining him.

Jonathan had taught me a lesson that I have never forgotten—the healing power of touch—a lost art in present day medicine.

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Shalini Rana and Diane Mayr http://getsparked.org/spark44/shalini-rana-and-diane-mayr http://getsparked.org/spark44/shalini-rana-and-diane-mayr#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2020 00:10:55 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17773

Diane Mayr
“Risible”
Inspiration piece

Failing Sunburst
By Shalini Rana
Response

The first laugh I loved
galloped in a broken body:

Brother’s silent open-mouthed grin, ready
to swallow me whole in a sea
of small sailboat teeth.

Eyes squinting from the upward weight
of his cheekbones.

As his facial muscles gave up, and
it became too hard to look alive—
Laughs were the cobbled remains of light in his eyes.

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KJ Hannah Greenberg and Seth Leamer http://getsparked.org/spark44/kj-hannah-greenberg-and-seth-leamer http://getsparked.org/spark44/kj-hannah-greenberg-and-seth-leamer#respond Mon, 01 Jun 2020 19:15:35 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17776

Seth Leamer
Inspiration piece

Kaorog’s Companion
By KJ Hannah Greenberg
Response

Kaorog regarded his tentacles. They were turning purple. Whereas that hue was lovely, it was, simultaneously, an indicator of illness. Physical maladies, as all of the denizens of his world knew, derived from unbalanced emotions.

He scanned the lobe, which was located above his beak, and which was responsible for his feelings, to discover the cause of his condition. He was sad. In fact, the mollusk was miserable. The pet with which Tarog had gifted him had died.

The creature hadn’t seemed broken when it had arrived. More accurately, when Kaorog had received it in a sealed carton, along with an instruction booklet (which Kaorog suspected that Tarog had scripted), it had seemed unspoiled.

At the time, Kaorog had merely skimmed the booklet’s pages given that he had been so excited about owning a wee one. He had, thereafter, flashed red and yellow for a long time. Ordinarily, only the most popular members of his consortium possessed such companions. That is, only youths high among the social echelons could coerce others of their kind to obtain those small, encased mammals for them.

Fortunately for Kaorog, Tarog, who was neither an outcast nor the most popular fish, that is, she was a fairly typical female, had a crush on him. Consequently, although Kaorog knew that he was taking advantage of her by accepting her unsolicited gift, he also believed that he was not manipulating her. Meaning, the little monster that Tarog had presented to him was his to keep without any interchange. Irrespective, Kaorog’s buddy, Brog, had had to remind Kaorog to take the pet to the consortium’s exotic animal doctor.

When Kaorog had done as much, he had been scolded by that specialist. Apparently, removing little brutes from their shiny, glass-fronted vessels, even for a moment or two, can kill them—the atmosphere which Kaorog and his kin took for granted remains lethal to outworlders.

Even had he known about that problem beforehand, it’s likely Kaorog wouldn’t have been able to prevent himself from exposing his two-legged friend—he had quite desperately wanted to touch the miniature beast. After all, fluffies were alleged to be therapeutic and Kaorog needed much healing as Tarog had tried, multiple times, to cuddle him.

Yet, when he had hoisted his manikin beyond the lid of its home, that little critter had turned blue and had nearly stopped breathing. Hastily, Kaorog had stuffed it back into its box. For almost a sun space, Kaorog had refused to even look at it. Besides, that pet was nothing more than a leftover from some lowly octopi’s harvests.

More exactly, every so often, tinned lunches were sent to their quadrant. Most of his peers had never weighed why such nibbles were sent to them or who was sending them. What’s more, most of those adolescents cared little that the metal-wrapped tasties were supposed to be harvested only by the impoverished. Individuals whom felt entitled also culled them. Tarog, for example, had styled herself as a being that deserved those delicacies.

Kaorog sighed. His purple tinge remained. He next reflected on Brog’s warning.

“Never saw one before. But remember, food can’t be your chum.” Brog had cautioned Kaorog before directing him to the vet.

Tarog, contrariwise, had furnished Kaorog with no suitable counsel. Rather, upon presenting the critter to Kaorog, she had simply twitted something about food serving as a way to a potential mate’s heart. Kaorog had been bewildered by her remark because he knew that both his heart and his crop sat within the security of his mantel, but he could not imagine how they might be associated.

Regardless of Tarog or Brog’s sentiments, Kaorog’s animal shriveled. Hours after being restored to its sealable container, it had shed its skin. It had sloughed both its lower and its upper layers of blue, leaving only a funny, bubble-like casing, which covered its mantel.

Most worrisome was that no new blue layers grew over the tiny fiend’s appendages. Worse, the pet had picked off the row of shiny bits that had been part of its upper body;s covering and had tried to eat them. It had retched horribly.

At the same time as Kaorog had considered that, perhaps, his pet was hungry, he had done nothing to address that presumption since one does not feed food. Even so, he fretted. On the one tentacle, it could be that the metal casings in which such treats arrived were a source of nutrition to them, enabling them to remain fully succulent when collected. On the other tentacle, maybe he ought to call the vet to double check if it was possible to feed food. On a third tentacle, such a call would use up more of his limited funds and would do so on a thing with anyway a life expectancy of just a few days.

Amazingly, Kaorog’s would-be snack lasted half of a week. In fact, it was only after it had eaten the stuff lining its case and had clutched its body that it had died. It was subsequent to that incident that Kaorog’s tentacles had tinted purple and that he had pushed all thoughts about his short-lived buddy out of his mind. He hadn’t even bothered to eat it.

Sometime later, Kaorog mounted the back of Tarog’s mantel. She conveyed “I told you so,” regarding their pairing, with sixteen different gestures. Subsequently, she devoured Kaorog. Despite the fact that Kaorog had successfully broken off his hectocotylus, which had remained lodged in Tarog, she had been unsated.

No matter. As per norm, Tarog died shortly after laying her eggs. Both she and Kaorog had actualized their lives’ purposes.

In any case, during the time when they yet breathed, neither of them discovered the nature of the consortium’s imported munchies. Namely, neither they nor any of their kind came to realize that they had been chowing down on mariners who had had the misfortune to be captured while exploring the oceans’ greatest depths in submersibles.

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Jennifer Fendya and Jenny Forrester http://getsparked.org/spark44/jennifer-fendya-and-jenny-forrester-2 http://getsparked.org/spark44/jennifer-fendya-and-jenny-forrester-2#respond Mon, 01 Jun 2020 04:23:28 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17735

Jennifer Fendya
Unmasked, and kisses”
(digital photo, 2020)
Response

Care and Concern in the Time of Quarantine
By Jenny Forrester
Inspiration piece

You ask, “Can I get you anything at Costco?” and I know I should let you believe you care, let you see yourself in this good way, but here’s how you can help.

Don’t talk shit about me behind my back.

Don’t undermine my confidence, my accomplishments, or my relationships.

But sure, I guess you could get me one of those big bags of chocolate chips.

Thanks.

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Jenny Forrester and Jennifer Fendya http://getsparked.org/spark44/jenny-forrester-and-jennifer-fendya-2 http://getsparked.org/spark44/jenny-forrester-and-jennifer-fendya-2#respond Mon, 01 Jun 2020 00:59:54 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17719

Jennifer Fendya
“HIHOWRU”
(Digital Photo, 2013)
Inspiration piece

 

A Friend Flattened My Narrative
ByJenny Forrester
Response

We’re walking along the creek. He’s just had chemo. He never complains, mid-western, older white man. He points it out. I wish he would not use the word “complain” and I wish he would feel free to have his full range of human experience through it but also, he’s the one with cancer not me. We met while volunteering at the library. He brought me flowers on Mother’s Day, So thoughtful. Sweet.

He says, “I’ll try to get through your book (the memoir I wrote), but the first sixty pages is like all those B movies from the 70’s.” My book I had thought of as, “Trailer Trash Republican Childhood,” until I figured out how problematic that was as I wrote and wrote and wrote in and behind and under and through all the years of writing it. I wrote my memoir, scene-driven, about the idea of Womanhood, the definitions of things, about the idea of American, the idea of Republican, the ideas placed on our humanity, value, sexism, and in the end, racism through the lens and life of the only perspective I have. My own.

Anyway. Other than flattening my narrative after I’d so carefully created an arc of it, he’s been really kind to me.
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Jay Young Gerard and Lisa Nielsen http://getsparked.org/spark44/lisa-nielsen-and-jay-young-gerard-15 http://getsparked.org/spark44/lisa-nielsen-and-jay-young-gerard-15#respond Sun, 31 May 2020 23:46:53 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17713 Jay Young Gerard
“Golda”
Response

Another walk, alone
By Lisa Nielsen
Inspiration piece 

I saw a rose half buried in the sand
and it still haunts me
was this a love letter to the ocean
or a memorial for a love that drowned

all i know is that
A rose by any other name
still breaks your heart
and
some of us are not so easy to love

do these walks alone mean something?
they don’t bringing me peace, just calculations:
8,352 steps roughly 2.5 miles, roughly an hour of me wondering
when i can go back home

At one time people smiled, now, as a show of kindness
we lift up our masks to cover our faces if we pass too close.
i top this off with hello, sometimes thank you
with a hesitancy bordering on desperation, I want to ask how are you doing?
is there someone at home that loves you?

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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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Lisa Nielsen and Jay Young Gerard http://getsparked.org/spark44/jay-young-gerard-and-lisa-nielsen-16 http://getsparked.org/spark44/jay-young-gerard-and-lisa-nielsen-16#respond Sun, 31 May 2020 23:41:40 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17709 Jay Young Gerard
“Threadbare”

Inspiration piece

thoughts while twirling angel hair
By Lisa Nielsen
Response

it’s been a long time since
i’ve let anything marinate overnight
soaked in garlic, parsley, lemon
intoxicating the house

is it strange that pleasure can still exist
that pungent parmesan can erase all thought
except thoughts about cheese

i now take long walks on the beach
i appreciate the loud chatter of waves
i can no longer hear
people
they are few and far between
like some unwritten law

i smile and wave

a girl looks at me but doesn’t wave back.
she is using both hands to hang onto her father
who is walking towards the ocean

 

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Marilyn Ackerman and Kathleen Finn Jordan http://getsparked.org/spark44/marilyn-ackerman-and-kathleen-finn-jordan http://getsparked.org/spark44/marilyn-ackerman-and-kathleen-finn-jordan#respond Sun, 31 May 2020 21:47:09 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17703

Marilyn Ackerman
Response

Flatten the Curve
By Kathleen Finn Jordan
Inspiration Piece

This dark and cloudy day in time of isolation
Mimics the inward – outward silence
As all stay in to flatten a curve
The stranger amongst us – a tiny executioner
Reaching out for friendly habitat
Steals into the reaches of warm hands ungloved and
Noses, eyes and mouths unmasked
To what end this strange time
as weeks melt into months
And nature at large springs into color here
Refrigerator trucks load up with dead in New York
And Italians sing from balconies and cry in kitchens
Politicians tweet and speak to huge audiences
at certain times of day
At others thousands zoom in for a look
and chat with family, friends and fellow travelers
Graphs, predictions and numbers fill screens
and are watched carefully
As medics cry out for protective equipment and
The silences of the streets and parks die
In the tumult and beeps of the icu
Bleak contrasts as all stop
and some reflect
On the world we have crafted
All working to flatten the curve
Wondering when and if a return to something else
is possible.

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Kathleen Finn Jordan and Marilyn Ackerman http://getsparked.org/spark44/kathleen-finn-jordan-and-marilyn-ackerman http://getsparked.org/spark44/kathleen-finn-jordan-and-marilyn-ackerman#respond Sun, 31 May 2020 21:38:26 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17700

Marilyn Ackerman
“Covid Cat”
Inspiration piece

Covid Cat
By Kathleen Finn Jordan
Response

Covid Cat – copiously churlish
The haunting harmonies of the chanting birds and rustling trees
Usually his music of the day, usually the only silence breakers around
Are no longer present.
His home has been invaded. Everyone is home.
His usual superior social distancing is no longer possible.
Screens blare; his boxes are upended by humans exercising,
Incoming calls from several phones splinter the rooms.
The night time also is no longer his
His midnight stealthy investigations no longer clear routes
Covid Cat is not pleased
Outside the constant rain and wind cloud his special sunspot
Where his curled quiet repose pleases him.
Covid longs for a galloping sparseness…
For all to leave.
For what was to be again.
For all to be soaking in their own sounds
Moving in their outside-the-home spaces
For his social distancing once more to be restored.

 

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Dominic Mazzilli and Amy Souza http://getsparked.org/spark44/dominic-mazzilli-and-amy-souza http://getsparked.org/spark44/dominic-mazzilli-and-amy-souza#respond Sun, 31 May 2020 21:09:29 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=17695

Amy Souza
Inspiration piece

Dominic Mazzilli
Response

Mad, Crazed, Insane, a hundred whispers surround the painter, but he does not listen, there is no time. He dashes and rubs and swipes, soon his hands will be completely indistinguishable from his work. He takes up his buckets and, Splash! He sends a swelling wave of golden yellow from left to right. Splash! He counters it with a furious, rosey red: right to left. After sending a blurred yellow atop it with quick, undefined dashes, the background is complete. Does yellow lay waste to the cowering red? Does red triumph over the infinite yellow? Who knows? No time.

Swishing up and down, left and right, like a spider weaving a web he creates the shadowed ghost of a net, half constructed bonds, are they for him? Are they simply catching dreams? Are they sifting the gold in which they sit? Who knows? No time.

He barely hesitates before he takes to the sea of red, trailing new lines and circles of red with his most recent path. He jots a short, strong horizontal dash the color of coal, below it a vertical twin: is it a T? Truth then? A Test? But he dashes another below it, now the bottom of the figure resembles a sailboat: a journey? A storm? Before his mind can process these ideas he he dashes a F without its top to the right and a splotch of white below: a bird? A daisy? Who knows? No time.

He now takes his black paint adorned hand and slaps the wet canvas over the figures, he is not sure why, wishing to ponder this action, but then he is off again faster than ever. Dipping his fingers in a sky blue he dashes a quick curve, isolating the top right corner, ready to burst off elsewhere. But, this time he does pause: why did I do that? He wonders, it is a lonely blue line in a sea of red and yellow, barely the width of a finger, lonely like he is. No time.

He dips his hands in that coal black, and paints. Five black, demanding rings down the middle, they burst from the color in a fury of darkness, perhaps they are chains, or armor, perhaps the rings of a circus or the circles of life, perhaps wedding bands or the eyes of god. They intersect and collide, he does not know why or what they are, but he paints them, he only knows they are important. He goes round and round, always tracing them faster and faster, making them even more demanding, they burn into his soul yet he does not stop, only going faster still.

And then he falls, collapsing from exhaustion as though he is clothing that just lost its contents, hitting the hard floor below and crumpling under his own weight. A smile plays across his lips, and as he slips into the strong embrace of sleep, the last thing he sees are those five dark rings.

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