SPARK http://getsparked.org get together | get creative | get sparked! Tue, 25 Sep 2018 22:21:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Victoria Nessen and Jenny Forrester http://getsparked.org/spark38/victoria-nessen-and-jenny-forrester http://getsparked.org/spark38/victoria-nessen-and-jenny-forrester#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 00:14:04 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16825

Victoria Nessen
Response

Untitled
By Jenny Forrester
Inspiration piece

I dream I ordered a kitten snake online. It comes in a box, curled – snake body with a hard plastic Hello Kitty head. The instructions say, “This snake has not been fed for easier transport. Feed packet included. See inside.”

I say to a blur-faced dream friend, “I’m not really sure why I ordered a black kitten snake. I’m afraid of snakes.” They laugh.

I feed it from the packet of Snake Awake.

I close the lid and wait as it bumps and thuds. I step back. Unfurling, it pushes up through a box flap and smiles, becoming soft black fur – a Hello Kitty tuxedo snake. I love it. We smile at each other, his tongue flickering through his wide pink smile.

I wake up, catch my breath, panic – my CPAP mask flung off. It’s claustrophobic. I have flung it aside in exchange for freedom of movement. And Pip, my tuxedo cat on the pillow, has pawed me awake. I imagine him watching my stopped breath. I know he saves me. I feed him.

I have severe sleep apnea – the doctor says it’s severe. He said even if I lost weight, I’d still have it. My oxygen levels drop below 82% during both lab tests. I think of the song, The Gambler, “And the best that you can hope for.” I could die in my sleep. That was one of my mom’s favorite lines of all the country songs we sang in my wide sky childhood.

We hadn’t understood depression.

My grandfather sent biblical quotes for support and inspiration, transformation – often regarding communion and the consumption of the lord’s body as opposed to other bodies. It matters whose blood and whose body you consume. He was a tyrant, my mother said. Authoritarian, believing in the physical disciplining of children, the purity of religious fervor, chastity, a certain kind of punitive charity, a holding to the authority of parents over children, the tie and wool suit, corporate employee with stocks in IBM, known to have contributed to the cataloging of human beings during World War II.

When I first moved to my apartment by a shallow pond, I dreamed of snakes and saw snakes and it was a time of snakes, actual snakes shuddering rage at the unfairness of the metaphor. I dreamed smiling snakes, coiling, strangling snakes. Fangs. Alone after thirty years of never being alone as an adult. “I’m going to die,” I said often. “I want to die.”

I’m poison, I said to the mirror.

My claustrophobia is this:

Twelve boys trapped in a cave – some parts are water-filled, narrow, they’ll need oxygen masks. I study the diagram for as long as I can breathe before closing it.

Two and a half miles in, multiple passages. Darkness. The government of Thailand is going to leave them there for four months until the rainy season is over.

My mom died in a cave. She died cave diving. She appears at my shoulder, sitting behind me as we study the diagram – her ghost self and I. She doesn’t say much. Our communion now is telepathic. You know if you speak to ghosts, too. She says, “Oh.” Each day. It’s oh, like despair. Oh, like, no. Oh, like there are families waiting for their children.

I can’t wear my cpap. So much air. Rushes of it.

I see the boys in diagrams being pulled and pushed through narrow watery spaces. They’re drugged, I read later, to keep their panic at bay.

My mother says, “Oh.”

We cry. I couldn’t save her. She leaves. I don’t know when she’ll return.

I go kayaing with Amy on the Taulatin, a shallow, wide river with tree-filled banks under a bright blue sky and we hear many coyotes crying when a siren screams along the road on the other side of the trees.

I’m burnt crimson and peel – long pieces of skin, “I’m a ssssnake,” I say, considering the politics of the day, considering the whiteness that is my skin and kin.

I want transformation, being the body and blood of my grandfather. I’ve sought communion. Transformation through communion is what I’ve received. I’m grateful.

But now, shedding everything, shedding even my desire to be different than I have been, than I will be, being a snake shedding is blind confusion. It’s sensitivity. It’s pain. I want to be someone who can sleep and breathe at the same time, but I’m not. I may never have been.

So, I’ll be what I’m becoming. I sprinkle Snake Awake and aloe on my snake skin. I consider whose body I consume, whose blood. I seek shaded spaces. I wait. I strike. I transform.

I’m another kind of snake, I tell myself, not the kind my grandfather was, but I’m poison.

I’m counting on it.

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Jonathan Ottke and Diane Mayr http://getsparked.org/spark38/jonathan-ottke-and-diane-mayr http://getsparked.org/spark38/jonathan-ottke-and-diane-mayr#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:09:17 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16819

“Contra Fear”
Jonathan Ottke
Bricks, threads, silver beads mourning dove feathers
Response

Contra-Frost
By Diane Mayr
Inspiration piece

Stone
wood
wire
brick
ever
higher
ever
stronger.
Fear’s
the
real
fence
precluding
every
neighbor.

 

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Anya Drapkin andKathleen Finn Jordan http://getsparked.org/spark38/anya-drapkin-andkathleen-finn-jordan http://getsparked.org/spark38/anya-drapkin-andkathleen-finn-jordan#respond Fri, 14 Sep 2018 23:34:59 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16804

“Hot and Dusty”
Anya Drapkin
Response

Fall and Fire
By Kathleen Finn Jordan
Inspiration piece

Zucchini flowers melting in my mouth

As virtual reality images dance in my head

It gets dark earlier day by day and

I feel the summer dripping thru my fingers

The sun arabesqueing away from my bones

It’s almost time for Burning Man

And desert moments

Though I must be satisfied with the exhibit in the city

pre-death pre-fire

As I write names on blocks of wood to be lighted in the Fall

In a Nevada desert

Whispering in the wind and seeking significance.

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Rusty Lynn and Urmilla Khanna http://getsparked.org/spark38/rusty-lynn-and-urmilla-khanna http://getsparked.org/spark38/rusty-lynn-and-urmilla-khanna#respond Fri, 14 Sep 2018 23:29:00 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16800

“Sadistic Love”
Rusty Lynn
Response

Sadistic Love
By Urmilla Khanna
Inspiration piece

Bartan-wali, her name was Bhairavi, came at her usual time to wash the previous night’s dishes and do a few menial chores around the house. The year was 1946 and I was around ten. Mother had just finished her bath and morning prayers and was watering her Tulsi plant in the courtyard. Bhairavi greeted her with a namaste.

Mother looked up in response. “Dear Lord! Look at your face,” she said, surprised. “Why is your eye so swollen and cheek all black and blue again?”

Bhairavi pulled her sari palloo further over her forehead and face. She smiled coyly as she walked past Mother and into the kitchen, wafting an odor of stale sweat and sex.

“What happened to Bhairavi, mummy?” I asked, noting the discoloration hidden under the folds of her cotton sari.

“You don’t need to know. You will understand by and by—when you grow up,” she said.

I was tired of hearing such remarks. I wondered when I would grow up enough to understand. My curiosity about the human body had been aroused at a very young age. When I was four and would swallow an orange seed, my brother could convince me that soon I will have citrus coming out of my nostrils and a strong trunk will grow at the other end. This will root me to the ground and I will never be able to move. He pointed to the orange tree in our yard. Although I was old enough to understand that he was just teasing and that such things could not be true, I was never sure. I wanted to grow up and find out exactly what happens to a seed when it is swallowed accidentally. And now, here is Bhairavi. I am curious why her eyes are dancing in pleasure in spite of the left eye appearing painfully swollen and blood-shot.

I stayed within earshot.

Bhairavi picked up the basket of dirty utensils and crockery from the kitchen and brought it to the wash space in the courtyard.

“Why don’t you tell me? Did he do something again?” Mother insisted.

Bhairavi, seemingly inattentive to Mother’s queries, began to arrange the utensils in the order in which she liked to wash them. She preferred to work on the brass, copper and stainless-steel pots and pans first and then get to the more delicate and breakable items such as cups, saucers and dinner plates. She made a scrubber from the outer strands of a coconut shell and dipped it into soft ashes collected from the embers of a cow-dung-burning-brassiere. She scrubbed and washed the dishes to a bright shine and laid them on a hemp cot to sun-dry. A rooster began to crow and taking cue, the chickens came fluttering into the courtyard. They bobbed their necks back and forth as they pecked at the grains of rice, dal and other scraps of food that floated in the drain at the edge of the courtyard.

“He beat me real good and hard last night,” Bhairavi said finally, bringing up the same coy smile and joining Mother in the sunny courtyard.

Hearing her remarks, Mother was not particularly alarmed, but I was intrigued. Her injured face should have brought on anger or sadness, but Bhairavi was smiling. I wanted to know more. I wanted to grow up, study medicine and understand such behavior.

“You know what I did?” She stood tall beside the hemp cot, facing Mother, her hands on her hips. “This morning, I crushed all the bangles from my wrists and left them at the doorstep.” She showed her brown plump forearms. A few tiny puncture wounds with ruby red beads of dried blood reflected bright in the sun. She had smashed her glass bangles as a threat to her husband that she was leaving him—something customary in the tribal culture. “When he wakes up he will learn his lesson. He comes home late every night, reeks of alcohol, beats me and then sleeps. I am not his property. I can easily find another man.”

“It does sound like a good resolve,” Mother said. “But you have said the same thing a thousand times and have always gone back to him.”

Bhairavi flashed the same coy smile.

She continued to work for us for several years. Her story of taking a beating from her husband repeated itself. When I grew up I tried to find answers. I turned the pages of my text books in psychiatry. I was finally able to give her condition a name—Sadistic Love.

 

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Jay Young Gerard and Lisa Nielsen http://getsparked.org/spark38/jay-young-gerard-and-lisa-nielsen-13 http://getsparked.org/spark38/jay-young-gerard-and-lisa-nielsen-13#respond Fri, 14 Sep 2018 23:19:56 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16785

“It’s Hard to Remain Neutral”
Jay Young Gerard
Response

Lisa Nielsen
Inspiration piece

The gathering of flesh and blood

I am wearing one of her blouses
that I am cautioned not to stain.
Warnings always come with crazy eyes

that retreat me to submission and silence

So this is my family, I think,
as my eyes scan the table
Plates are passed
and sighs of anticipation clink
with Chianti
I am a novice and so is she.
Suddenly I am engulfed with a gush of affection
as if someone whispered in her ear,
“this is the part where you say ‘I love you’,
get a little mushy, ham it up, it’s what mothers do”
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Gena Stutzman andAlyscia Cunningham http://getsparked.org/spark38/gena-stutzman-andalyscia-cunningham http://getsparked.org/spark38/gena-stutzman-andalyscia-cunningham#comments Fri, 14 Sep 2018 23:16:28 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16790

Alyscia Cunningham
Inspiration piece

Abundance
By Gena Stutzman
Response

Take a deep breath,
See the interconnections.
Sunshine calls to trees.

I come to you even in the small things
In twigs and moss and bark.

Branches call to birds.
Birds call to sky.

I come to you even in the small things
In plump berries ripening
on vines within your reach.

Woodland mouse delights
in the these gifts-
a patch of sunlight,
plump berries on the forest floor.

Sunlight cascades through trees.
The trees sing for joy.

 

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Azro Pratt and Angi Lewis http://getsparked.org/spark38/azro-pratt-and-angi-lewis http://getsparked.org/spark38/azro-pratt-and-angi-lewis#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 23:58:35 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16775

“Checking on the Owls”
Azro Pratt
Response

Checking on the Owls
By Angi Lewis
Inspiration piece

Every day for weeks that August,
we rode our bikes down the road to check on the owls.

There were two downy young ones
and their watchful mother.

We saw the young ones only a handful of times.
They sat on separate branches, perfectly still
except for the strange turning of their heads.

We saw the mother once.
She swooped low around the corner,
then disappeared.

We rode a little farther and stopped.

I caught sight on her on the branch of a fir tree
where she sat fixed, focused.

Later,
when we hadn’t seen the owls for several days,
and we figured they’d moved on-
we still rode down there.

We still said we were going to check on the owls.

It came to mean looking for what presented itself:
the cottonwood leaves flashing like coins,
the dark thread of the creek,
and pieces of torn sky, hung between the trees
like scraps of blue paper.

 

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Cathy Pratt and Pippa Possible http://getsparked.org/spark38/cathy-pratt-and-pippa-possible http://getsparked.org/spark38/cathy-pratt-and-pippa-possible#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 23:27:10 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16767

“Blurs and Bulges”
Cathy Pratt
Response

Of Blurs and Bulges
By Pippa Possible
Inspiration piece

“Is that all you have to say to me?”

There is a silence.
A silence
blurs and
bulges.

“I didn’t know you would be here.”

He bursts
out eagerly,
makes me
listen
closely
to every
word.

“You could still have welcomed me.”

“I do”
He erupts in
a deafening yell.
A deafening yell,
elongates into a
sweeping,
brassy,
kind of
stretching
roar.

“Whatsamatter, you?”

No
one
dares
leave
for
even
a moment.

“How are you?”

I have
missed this.
Missed his
every
other
busy
pleasant
sound
as well.

“Don’t you like it?”

We make
eye contact.
Eye contact
blurs and
bulges.

“I don’t mind a bit. I like it.”

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Lo Bloustein and Marla Deschenes http://getsparked.org/spark38/lo-bloustein-and-marla-deschenes http://getsparked.org/spark38/lo-bloustein-and-marla-deschenes#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 00:54:26 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16760

Lo Bloustein
Response

Poem 4
By Marla Deschenes
Inspiration piece

As a woman about to bring child into this world,
Every night, I am haunted.
As the day’s news flashes across the screen
In a world so seemingly full of hate and violence,
I question my decision to make a whole new life
Who will inherit so much evil
And be forced to learn to survive
In this world, devoid of trust and goodness.
I worry every moment
That he is nestled in my womb
Worry that he is growing and changing
In the healthiest of ways.
What will happen when I must relinquish him
To that place called school
Where children bring in weapons
And have no grasp of the precious thing called life?
What have we done to our children?
And will I do it, too
Not knowing
That my efforts to desensitize him from pain
Made him nothing but unfeeling and cold?
There has to be a better way
Than teaching our children fear and violence
To never to be able to flourish and grow
Instead always on the defensive.
I want to raise my son to love
To see the good I try to see in others
To never be afraid
And to never believe that the world
That flashes nightly across TV screens
Is the only reality
That exists.

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Lisa Nielsen andJay Young Gerard http://getsparked.org/spark38/jay-young-gerard-and-lisa-nielsen-12 http://getsparked.org/spark38/jay-young-gerard-and-lisa-nielsen-12#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 08:56:19 +0000 http://getsparked.org/?p=16755

“Sun Moon Play Me”
Jay Young Gerard
Inspiration piece

Chaos
By Lisa Nielsen
Response

I keep bringing you upon myself:
tectonic plates rumbling
with turn of the century pipes and ancient tree roots.
The walls crack and the foundation erodes, now
even the deepest part of my loneliness can’t bear to be alone.

chaos is your rising sun,
the displaced are sprinkled across the sky
while you scoop up guts and entrails like spaghetti before
throwing them to the imaginary onlookers at your insignificant parade

I hopscotch over
Puddles of ooze
Insisting there must be a way
To meet in the middle
But really I’m just dreaming of a safe place to land

 

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