Saturday, April 2, 2011

Is he really writing about birds again?!

I don’t like bullies anymore than you people that aren’t bullies like bullies.  But I don’t think that starlings are bullies.  I just think they are trying to eke out a living in North America.  They did not ask to be brought here.

Some Englishman brought a lot of them here against their will and released them in Central Park back in the 1800’s because he missed them.  What a wussy. The guy should have just turned the page and moved on.  Look what happened.  They’re everywhere.  Millions and millions.  Maybe trillions and jillions.  What a fiasco.

Yesterday I watched a starling drive a cute little downy woodpecker from my wife’s suet feeder.  Today I watched a starling drive a robin – yes, robin - from her suet feeder.  I admit, I have not done an intensive case study on such battles but even to watch a couple of them I was disturbed.

My patriotic juices flow when watching American birds dominated by foreign invaders.  Where’s a Cooper’s hawk when you need him?  Hey, wait a minute, none of us but Indians can truly complain about what is indigenous and what is not.

I don’t hate starlings.  I admire their tenacity.  They just need to leave our little downy’s alone.

M. G. Sparks

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cry Baby

I bet that soft-spoken PBS artist could have soothed a crying baby in his day (I believe he died a while back).  You remember him…the white guy with the brownish Afro who would simplistically and effortlessly craft impressive landscape paintings before our eyes in thirty minutes.

How he could make one stroke or sponge blob look like sixty-two intricate leaves still amazes me.  But it was his voice that I was trying to mimic this morning as my baby boy cried.  I was always intrigued as to how he could speak to his paintings so softly and gently and we never once thought he was gay.  He just seemed like a tenderhearted man.

I’m not as tender as my wife nor do I have a bosom.  This morning as my boy cried in my swaying arms I wanted to be more female-like and console him as effectively as my wife.  It sounds stupid but I raised my voice a couple of octaves (no one else was around) and started speaking tenderly to him. 

It was then that I thought of that artist guy.  So I started speaking like him to my son, hoping it would shut the little bugger up.  “There, isn’t that pretty?  We’ll just brush in this sweet, cute shrub on the valley floor.  Every shrub needs a friend; we’ll give this one a rock…oh, that’s nice.  They’ll get along wonderfully.  Let’s swing that glistening, happy little creek over here to the shrub and the rock.  Isn’t that beautiful?”

Then things got weird.  I became repetitive, surreal and mantra-like for a couple of minutes, saying insincerely, “It’s a shrub…and a rock…and a happy little creek.  It’s a shrub…and a rock…and a happy little creek.  It’s a shrub…and a rock…and a happy little creek.  It’s a shrub…” all the while patting my little guy on the back as I attempted successfully to keep him from crying.

Then, something told me that I sounded more like Sally Fields’ sadistic and demented maternal figure in the movie Sybil (“...and the spoons and the spoons and the people…”) so I stopped.  It was about this time that my little guy erupted into a cry.

I don’t know if my stupid little song freaked him out or the fact that I stopped singing it.  I’ll never know; I’m not doing that again.

M. G. Sparks

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Impersonator

I met the prince along the way,
his soldiers not beside him;
into my world he did stray,
no men of war to guide him.

Outside his kingdom’s walls I find,
he’s lame and nearly blind;
he struggles in the wilderness,
he’s not the outdoor kind.

I am the beast he toyed with,
with me he was amused;
my sorrow, the result
of the power he abused.

I am encaged no longer
behind his iron bars;
in this domain I’m stronger,
although I wear his scars.

He stutters and he stammers
as I look him in the eye;
a frightened boy before me,
it seems he wants to cry.

This pompous, regal lord
could be unto me, prey;
yet the beast that he abhorred,
now lets him walk away.

He limps back to his throne,
back to his hollow glory;
the prison that’s his own –
he's an a story.

M. G. Sparks

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Broken Dreams & Broken Knuckles

My new son scares me.  If I make it to 68 he will be 20; I bet he could whip me then if he wanted to.  He may whip me by the time he’s twelve.

I say that because of my concern for his random flailing and throwing punches around.  I’m already seeing increased muscle tone in his delts and arms.  I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be a pack leader of some sort. 

His eleven pounds can even be asleep and still erupt with several lightning-fast, violent, air born combinations.  Powerful combinations.  Where does this rage come from?  Am I the cause?  My wife?  Does he wish we hadn’t adopted him?  He’s a half-breed like me and Cher and that leads to a lot of pent up rage, broken knuckles and broken dreams.

And that’s not to mention how he kicks with those little chicken thigh legs of his.  It’s a good thing he doesn’t have spurs like real chickens or he would tear me to pieces, especially while I try to apply a clean diaper - that guy that invented Velcro was pretty slick.  I don’t care what they paid him; it wasn’t enough.

I love every one who gave us baby clothing at the showers but the 36 little metal jobbers that I have to re-snap at 4 in the morning without my contacts in, while he is kicking out his best Michael Phelps breast - strokes make me feel like a clumsy buffoon as he screams and writhes around all over the place.

Nancy loves those little outfits but I have to admit I sometimes opt for my fail safe swaddle since my left fingers are less than coordinated in semi-darkness on moving targets after my C 5-7 spinal injury. 

And no, baby boy, my frustration is not lessened simply because you are wearing an outfit that says “cute” and has a monkey on the front or, “I love my daddy”.

So, my prodigal son, I don’t know what your plans are for me but one day you may discover that I enrolled in a mixed martial arts class shortly after you kicked your momma in the face.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Birds, Rivers and Creatures....Oh My!

Three weeks ago I saw an add in the paper for a job that pays substantially more than what I had been making.  When I got out of my truck to apply I noticed, on the last day of February (my son was born on the first day of February during a blizzard), that a mating pair of red tailed hawks was circling together perhaps a football field high in the sky.

The outfit I was applying for operated a plant a stone's throw from the Missouri river.  The semi-rural environment, but more specifically, the grace and beauty (I'm really into raptors) of the birds put me at ease and made me wonder if they were a sign from above.  I was asked to come back the next day for my first interview.

The next day as I drove along Front street in the sunshine I noticed how green the head of a mallard drake was as he paddled a small waterway with his lady.  Was this another sign?  This was my second trip to the plant.  I felt it went well and was asked to come back for a final interview the next day.

On my final trip to the river, two pure white pigeons flew in front of my truck.  Another sign from above?  Three trips - three mating pairs.  Come on; these had to be signs from above.  And white pigeons sound a little Noah's Ark-esque.  I felt confident that the ship of financial salvation was just around the river's bend.

I didn't get the job.  The above statements are 100% true.  The following is conjecture.

The birds were signs, but only now do I understand the truth of their prophetic symbolism.

The hawks were symbolic, as they circled together for food, of my wife and me since I am unemployed and we don't know how we will pay for our next meal.  They might as well of been death buzzards on the Sarengetti.

The green head of the mallard was symbolic of the green envy I hold so dearly towards those who are employed right now.

And the pigeons, there were two of them ya' know.  They represented the fact that the hiring bosses must have thought that I was twice the pigeon as anyone else who came to apply.

Oh yea, and since my son was born on the first of February and I arrived at the river on 28th of February, I believed that my son and the job would be bookends for the month.   Just shows to go you.  Well, at least I got a poem from the river.

Passing By

When I looked out on the river,
I saw a creature floating by.
He had a message to deliver,
from the earth, the stars, the sky.
He pulled ashore and walked up to me,
he made a sign there in the sand.
He raised his hand and thereby slew me,
and now in death I understand.
And now in death I float the river,
passing empty people by.
I'm that breeze that makes them shiver,
though they couldn't tell you why.
Though I try to spread the message,
it always falls upon deaf ears.
Beneath this superficial visage,
lies the torrent of my tears.
So in life I walked as dead,
yet in death I'm made alive.
The creature's words ring in my head,
too other worldly to contrive.
You take care when at the river,
when there's no one else aroun',
or like an arrow through your liver,
I'll raise my hand and strike you down.

M. G. Sparks

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Second Day of Spring

Me: "Man, it's windy out there, honey.  I started raking those leaves but they blew all over the place.  I'll try it again tomorrow."

My wife, thirty minutes fate would have it that the big gusts had subsided: "It doesn't seem that bad; I'm going to go out and work in the yard."

I'm tellin' you people - when I was out there I saw a Pepsi can blowing down the street 20 miles an hour and my leaves WERE blowing every which way.  Listen to me; it made no sense to try to rake them!  True, I have been less than industrious with the stresses of a new baby and my own unemployed self pity party, was windy.

There was another southerly breeze coming from Oklahoma seven years ago.  I was in the Missouri woods when I found a deflated red object in a thicket with a little kindergartner's name and school address attached to it.  The impetus for the once helium inflated balloon was for children, coaxed by adults no doubt, to tell people to stay drug free.

The following is a copy of a letter I sent to a little guy named Braden.

Dear Braden,

My name is M.G.  I am 42 years old.  I live in Kansas, with my wife; she teaches special education to children from kindergarten through 5th grade.  She thinks it’s really cool that I found your balloon and am writing to you.

I work for UPS – you have probably seen our brown delivery trucks.  Do you know that, like you, UPS also delivers packages and messages by air?  Your message came to me by air; about 200 miles of air!  Good job, Braden!  I wonder if your balloon, when it was really high, came close to bumping into one of our UPS planes.

Braden, on Saturday, November 6, 2004, I found your balloon at 10:00 in the morning.  I was bow hunting for deer in a patch of woods that is, and will forever be, very special to me.

When I turned 6 years old – about your age – my family moved to the country in Missouri.  I still drive from Kansas to Missouri every chance I get.  Sometimes I hunt for mushrooms or blackberries; sometimes I hunt for deer or turkey.  It’s always good to see my parents, and they know how important the woods are to me. 

The first few years of living in the country, my family and I had no county water line.  Our water was pumped from a spring way back in the woods.  History teachers have seen this spring and believe it was likely a gathering place for Osage Indians hundreds of years ago. 

There used to be a small, wooden, 10-foot by 8-foot pump house that covered the spring.  As a boy I sometimes went with my dad when he worked on the pump. 

Once, I opened the pump house door to enter and right in front of me was a 6-foot long, thick-as-a-man’s-wrist, hissing black snake!  It scared the heck out of me!  Dad jumped in front of me and grabbed the snake close to its tail.  He quickly pulled the snake out of the pump house, whirled it several times over his head like a lasso, and threw it 50 feet through the air!  It hit the ground with a thud.  I just kind of stood there, wide-eyed, with my mouth open.

Black snakes aren’t poisonous, but I’ve heard that their bite can hurt and become infected.  I’m glad my dad was there to protect me from that snake when I was a boy.  I’m also glad, Braden, that you have caring people protecting you from drugs; letting you know that drugs can hurt you much more than the bite of a nasty, ole’ black snake.

Braden, I’m proud of you for deciding to stay drug free!  I’ll think of you every time I go to my most special place - the spring where Indians once lived, where I still roam, and where Braden's red balloon fell to earth.

Best wishes,

M.G. Sparks

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Steal

One snowy Saturday when I was about 8, I was at the Ben Franklin five-and-dime on Main Street in Blue Springs, Missouri.  I was “being me” but the store owner found no humor in my actions.

I grabbed a target point arrow (those places sold pretty much everything in 1970 - Sam Walton must have taken notice) and thrust it savagely, business end first, to my belly in an attempt to make my sisters think I had just impaled myself.  I bore on my face my best tortured, “I’m dying” look.

My Shakespearean endeavor had no effect on anyone but the store owner.  I was not aware he had been watching me when he, for various reasons, quickly came to sternly reprimand me.  My mom was a few aisles over and knew nothing of the encounter.

Initially humiliated, I became emboldened.  Embarrassed in front of the very sisters I was trying to entertain, I found solace in the fact that my mom was impervious to the situation.  With my little feelings hurt, I focused on retaliation.

I thought to myself, “Oh yea, tough guy?  You got the drop on me when I wasn’t aware of your surveillance, but let’s just see what happens when I go all reconnaissance on you.”

I started watching the guy and when he was fixed upon other customers I grabbed a pretty little one-ounce vial of red, artsy-craftsy-like paint and stuck it in my pocket.

When we all arrived home I stayed outside to pour the crimson liquid in the snow – it looked quite pretty.  All the while I felt like I had just won a war – or at least struck a blow at Ben Franklin.  Nevertheless I did, before going inside, kick surrounding snow on top of the crime scene to hide the evidence.

This all happened before Close Circuit TV was a mainstay and such crime shows as CSI – but I think I could still pull it off today.  

I’ve never stolen anything since – fortunately, I’ve been told that that crime doesn’t pay.

M. G. Sparks