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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Struggle

Though my formative years were forged amidst the rural grandeur of West Central Missouri, most of my adult life has been spent as an alien, dwelling in modern suburban communities.

 I hope that once again I am cradled by fields, forests, and streams.  Currently, however, for my wife and me, job locations and the practicality of short commutes have tipped the scale to logic over desire.

There are obvious benefits inherent to suburban living.  I by no means cast stones at those who are completely fulfilled by such lifestyles.  However, I am living proof “you can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man.”

  In the confines of my neighborhood, the “country within me” hungrily manifests itself if given the slightest opportunity.  In a desert of manicured lawns, asphalt, concrete, privacy fences and automatic garage doors, I eagerly embrace whatever remnants of wild creatures that are tenacious or comfortable enough to grace my property.

  Nighthawks, sharp-shinned hawks, great horned owls and foxes have all buoyed my spirits with unexpected, temporary stays at my little chunk of suburbia.  These creatures are to me, an oasis of wild escape from the barren sands of domestication.

Two winters ago, a kestrel roosted every night below the gutter over our backyard deck.  The beautiful little falcon became so accustomed to my wife and me that we could pass by eye to eye, at arm’s length, without alarming him into flight.  This past winter we were disappointed when he did not return and we wondered about his fate.

We’ve never had to wonder about the purple finches.  Early every March, they not only announce their return through their presence and buoyant song in our blue spruce, they also, to us, reinforce the fact that the official advent of spring is not far off.  The seven-foot spruce affords us easy access for viewing the developing clutches.

Last year’s finches did not fare well.  When I noticed a couple of days of inactivity at the tree, I investigated and saw the three tiny, featherless chicks dead in the nest.  Not deterred, a mating pair was soon back with more eggs in a nest built inches below the original one.

  These chicks were coming along quite nicely until an uninvited crow made his rude introduction.  I witnessed the tail end of the slaughter, instinctively running outside to drive the marauding behemoth away.  Too late, the damage was done.  The nest was empty – plucked clean.

As I reflected upon the fragility of the lives just ended, I pondered whether or not I should have attempted to intervene in the first place.  Who was I to deem young finches as more worthy of life than a hungry, survival-savvy crow?

  A hardened outdoorsman, I was irritated that I had allowed emotions to creep in, compelling me to attempt to tame the very savagery so intrinsic to the natural order.  I wondered if the country within me was yielding to a softer, feebler mindset. 

It’s March again; the finches are back.  Are these the same birds of last year...the year before?  It doesn’t matter.  The struggle is the same.  But, I am different.  I will not, in weakness, interfere.  I will not eradicate the nest-building efforts of the common, sometimes loathed sparrows that have also staked claim upon the spruce.

 The sparrow and finch nests are within a foot of each other and may make co-existence difficult.  That’s o.k. - God’s eye is on the sparrow, too.  Besides, difficulty is nothing new to the finches.  Unlike so many people, finches are not hobbled or overcome by such things as past loss, devastation or current competitions.

Ten feet from the nest tree is the neighborhood sidewalk that dissects the front of my yard.  It is a conduit for joggers, school children with i-pods and cell phones, mothers with toddlers in strollers, and all manner of people seeking the exercise that such a flabby, tame, suburban existence does not provide.

  This year in Utopia, as people pass by the tree feeling safe, secure, and confident that no wild beast will tear and disembowel them, a few feet away, the finches are mounting yet another life or death struggle.

  As the female diligently broods in concealment, the male proudly perches atop the uppermost bough of the battle zone he claims as home.  His song may fall upon the deaf ears of most passers-by.  And logic may dictate that his tune has not changed.  But, to me, he sounds more beautiful, more soulful, and more resilient than ever.

M. G. Sparks

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Old Man Ford's Place

Old Man Ford’s Place
In the nineteen-sixties, Old Man Ford was well into his eighties.  He lived alone in a faded-white, three room shack.  His place was out of sight – a quarter mile off of Pink Hill Road on the ridge of a timbered hill in eastern Jackson County, Missouri.  The driveway to this secluded dwelling had never been graveled and was simply a wagon trail that had been entrenched up a steep hill years earlier, with two deep ruts exposing the underlying reddish–brown clay soil.  A dingy, unpainted outhouse stood twenty yards from his home.  His water came from a nearby well.  Neighboring rural children hiked through fields and forests to visit him.  They plucked peaches, pears, apples and apricots from his orchard.  At this time, he was frail and sometimes bedridden, but he always welcomed children into his home.  He spoke of days gone by and the wild creatures he had seen and hunted.  The children loved hearing his stories, whether true or embellished, of Jesse James, the Ford brothers, and an unrecovered stash of gold hidden by Quantril’s Raiders in the vicinity.  The old man died decades ago.  His humble home later burned to the ground.  The land he farmed and hunted is some of the most spectacular in the state.  The Missouri Department of Conservation acquired Ford's, and adjacent parcels, in 1978.  The land is now known as Burr Oak Woods Urban Forest and Nature Center.
For the majority of Mr. Ford’s life, Pink Hill Road ended at the entrance to his property, one mile west of 7 Highway in Blue Springs.  Forty-five years ago, urban sprawl necessitated the completion of this road to Independence, thus dissecting the northern and southern halves of what would later become the preserve.  Pink Hill is an apt name for the road that is ablaze with Redbud blossoms in April.  The winding road slashes through some of the most impressive areas of the forest.  Viewing this geography through a car window is best appreciated in winter’s absence of foliage.  At this time of year, huge gorges, rocky creek beds and massive limestone bluffs – all so inherent to the entire park – are unveiled.  The meandering creek passes under the road twice.  Flowing gently westward, this waterway, except for an occasional field, is enveloped by pristine, virgin hardwood forest.  Numerous oak species prevail, both in size and frequency. Many are quite gnarly and rugged looking.  Shagbark hickory, walnut, and locusts with thorns sharp and stout enough to punch eight inches into a man’s chest cavity are also common.  Magnificent, stark-white sycamores grow on slopes above the creek, enticing the eye away from the comparative drabness of the surrounding environment.
Spring affords rich, rapid growth for roadside plants.  By early May the redbuds, like the rest of the trees, are completely green and leafing out.  Several hundred yard visual revelations are no longer available to passing motorists.  The trek through this bottomland will be much the same until late June when a different sense will be stirred.  Ripening vegetation along the slow moving and sometimes stagnant waterway emanates a heavy, dank, organic smell that is certainly earthy, but by no means aromatic.
The best way to experience the park, however, is to explore by foot.  The north side of the park (Mr. Fords side) has no man-made walking trails.  Seldom will a person see another human.  If solace is yearned for, it can be found here.  If a one-on-one encounter with a wild beast does not occur, your wild side can still be tantalized and preached to.  To the trained eye, signs of deer, turkey, coyote, fox and bobcat are everywhere.
The south side, in one solitary man's opinion, though scenically quite grand, no longer equally captures the glory of the place.  Man-made walking trails and shelter houses have been constructed.  Foot traffic is regular and animals will be seen, but so, most likely, will other humans.  What the south side lacks in regards to a person’s potential solitude, it makes up for in ease of travel.  Staying on the trails, a person is spared the physical anguish of stomping laboriously through the brush and being ensnared by blackberry and gooseberry briars or contacting poison ivy.
A main attraction to Burr Oak is the Nature Center.  This expansive, ruggedly handsome building has a modified cabin look.  It contains an auditorium for outdoor related events.  A huge aquarium holds indigenous aquatic species such as turtles, bass, crappie, gar and catfish.  Numerous mounts of native mammals and birds are on display here.  The back wall of the facility was designed with ample, large, glass windows, which provide bird watchers an up-close and personal view of the numerous nearby bird feeders.  There is always a large and varied array of birds to be seen as one looks to the north. 
            The north was special to Mr. Ford.  It was not only his haven but his livelihood.  Eighty-year old men remember former days when the baying of the hounds and the crack of the rifle meant Ford had another coonskin to sell or that he was putting dinner on the table.  One middle-aged man that lived in the vicinity at the time can still remember his own childhood – falling asleep to the comforting, yet strangely eerie and soul-stirring, melodic vocalizations mustered by sixty pound Red-Bone and Walker Coonhounds.  By that time, too old to hunt, Ford was living vicariously through his dogs.
            Today, Old Man Ford’s fruit trees have long since decomposed.  Now, others steward his land.  Strangers invade his stomping grounds.  What used to be his for sustenance, enjoyment and solitude is now the public domain.  State sponsored special hunts reduce the numbers of turkey and deer.  Mushroom and blackberry hunters pick him clean.  But those that new the old gentleman are sure he would be pleased.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Old Friend

Old man Ford, your orchard's dead,
your three-room shack's in shambles.
Your memory lives within my head,
but your farm's just briars and brambles.

Old man Ford, I can hear 'em bay,
runnin' through the hollers in a bygone day.
Runnin' through my nights while as a boy I lay-
like your Walker hounds you've long gone away.

Old man Ford, I still roam your hills,
as I'm carried along as the spirit wills.
Like a wild song soothing all my ills,
lofting down the slopes as the valley fills.

As the valley fills with the cool of night,
as I tread on trails that were your delight,
as the screech owl wails, as the white-tails fight,
as the shadows come with the full moonlight.

Rest easy old man, I still hear you call,
you knew me then when I was not so tall.
I'm back again to absorb it all.

M.G. Sparks

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Penises and Bowel Movements

I just walked downstairs and overheard my wife talking on the phone to someone about sleep deprivation.  She said she thought she knew all about the subject in college, but now she says she had no clue then because it did not involve a screaming baby.  We are more popular on the phone now because we have a screaming 5 week old.

Nancy was cackling up a storm as I walked into the kitchen where she involved me in the conversation she was having with a former colleague of hers.  The woman illuminated scenarios that could develop for us with our baby.  She shared how her currently 2 and 1/2 year old toddler told her, with the utmost sympathy, that he was sorry SHE did not have a penis.  There's a kid who's secure in himself.

I'm back upstairs typing this as I hear Nathaniel crying; in eleven minutes it will be 4 hours since he was fed.  Don't get me wrong, he's a good boy even though at 4:30 AM today as I was feeding him in a comatose state (me, not him) he began straining and arching as loud gutteral noises flowed from his larynx or pharynx or whatever it's called (again, I'm not going to look it up right now.)

Moral of the story - make sure the diaper is on snugly or you will get goo-like feces on your groin, belly and wedding ring if a mother lode ever comes your way.  The little whipper-snapper.

I hope getting such goo on my wedding ring is not symbolic of what the stress of this child will do to our marriage.

Surely it is not.

Monday, March 7, 2011


OK -  I was going to get something off of my chest but the weekend interrupted me.  Oh ya, now I remember; I was talking about the womb and conception.


Give ear barren land, to the dirge from the tomb,
your infants, they wail, as they're torn from the womb.
Cry out little ones, cry out and lament,
through a choice not your own your life is now spent.
Though your anguish is felt by the One from above,
your killers below never knew such a love.
They thought you a burden to hamper their stride,
it's because of their selfish hearts that you died.
In eternity's future if you look in their face,
they will flee the encounter and turn in disgrace.

M.G. Sparks

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Olympian

"I can't really remember if I was in the Olympics ever."  By randomly raising that point to my wife, I made her giggle for a while...not sure why.  I try to make cashiers giggle.  Sometimes successfully.  I've gone to Wal-Mart and with a flat affect and kinda stupefied look on my face, handed the check out person my Chopper Shopper or Pet Food Savemart cards.  When they inform me that the cards won't do me any good, I put a hurt look on my face, pay and leave.

I've messed with fast food drive-through cashiers too.  When sticking my credit card towards their window, as they try to grab it I slightly jerk it quickly around so they miss it a few times, as if I have the shakes.  After a few seconds I unveil a playful looking countenance and they usually laugh.  A little levity never hurt me until a couple of weeks ago.

I was in one of those desperate, I'm in a hurry, "Oh look, here is a conveniently located Taco Smell" quandaries.  I did my silly little credit-card jerking performance, but it was obvious by the look in the eye of the young lady who had greeted me in broken English that she did not see the humor in it (there WERE 4 or 5 cars behind me).   Further, I think my, "Hey, I was just playin'" got lost in translation.  She went in and I saw her say something to the person preparing my 3 tacos.

Later, I discovered that each of the taco shells was in ten or twelve broken pieces.  Hmmm, I guess my truck needs new shocks...and no, this is not going to morph into a country music song.  I was raised in the country and I don't think in my entire childhood I heard my family of seven utter words such as pickup-truck, coffee or honkey-tonk as much as you would hear in a week on a country radio station.   

Anyway, back to the it anyway or anyways?  If you can go anyway, isn't the implication that there are many ways you can go or wouldn't we just say oneway instead of anyway?  The assertion is obviously the plurality of choice available to the way chooser...isn't it?  But please, whichever way you choose to go, wake me up before you go-go 'cause I don't plan on goin' solo...Wham! 

Adding an "s" to an already plural verbal image is gravely similar in severity to a double negative in mathematics, but trust me, there's not a dang thing positive about jackin' with human language like that!

Anyways...I was going to talk about the Olympics but the Nathanielator is crying for his bottle; it's been 3 and a half hours.  He's gone from 6 to 9 pounds his first month out of  the womb.  Thrive baby, thrive!!  Huh, uh, uh uh I just said womb.   I did not say "first month on the earth" because that was ten months ago, silly, at the time he was his mother's womb.

Hmmm....I may have to get something off my chest tomorrow and it won't be the Olympics.  I don't think I was ever in them anyway.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

White Bird

It's only fitting around the first of March, as male and female birds are hooking up, that I write about them.  I was pumping eighty dollars of post "Egypt's not gunna take it anymore"...amen!... gas into my  pick-up when I heard what I thought to be a red-winged blackbird singing his breeding season's best.  I had not heard or seen Red Wings since last fall.

Upon investigation, I noticed 5 male Red Wings sitting atop the power  line twenty yards away as my truck consumed liquid fuel.  One suitor was more boisterous (he must have kicked some bird-butt for the privilege.)  Nevertheless, the lone, less brilliantly adorned female seemed more interested in discerning why I kept staring at her than why 5 male blackbirds had gathered around her.

I noticed as well, driving around the metro that day, that red-tailed hawks, pigeons (both pigeons were pure white - pretty cool by the way) and waterfowl were pairing up.

In Kansas City, it's unusual to see one pure white bird unless it's imprisoned in a cage for viewer enjoyment.

The two white pigeons got my wheels turning and I fondly reminisced of a white bird I met in my youth.

White Bird

There was a boy of city birth,
and summers half a dozen.
He moved unto a wilder earth,
where friend and foe were cousin. 
A raven dark and evil,
a Hawk of regal white.
One master of upheaval,
One Master of delight.
The boy was young and tender,
how would his life unfold?
One bird would try to hinder,
One Bird would try to mold.

The raven swooped in fiercely, with loud and haughty cries,
he was a source unto the boy, of terror from the skies.
The Hawk was calm and peaceful, He'd light upon a tree
the evil bird would change his tune, he'd see the Hawk and flee.

As if a roaring lion, the raven through the years,
would try to find an opening to cast his doubt and fears.
He found the boy alone, on a dark and wooded path,
the Hawk was not in sight; he'd strike the boy with wrath.

Descending with his venom, his claws and beak to pierce,
twilight's calm was shattered, by a shriek both loud and fierce.
Black plumage now exploded, as Talons hit their mark
As Lightning from the heavens- White Bird, impaling dark
The Monarch struck his wicked foe, and pinned him to the ground,
he held him there until there was no movement, was no sound.
There would be other ravens, but the Hawk said, "Not to fear!
Confront them, son, with courage, and remember, I'll be near."

M. G. Sparks

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pearl Watching

Actually I have not written anything on Pearl Watching yet but it rhymes with Squirrel Watching and Girl Watching so I thought it would be fun to trick you.  Who wrote the book, The Pearl, anyway?  Was it John Steinbeck?  My Internet connection is screwing with me right now so I am not going to Google the subject to find out.

I remember reading The Pearl when I was 10 or 12.  It was good; about some Mexican baby (I think) who was stung by a scorpion.  Interesting that my baby is 4 weeks old today.  I would have a new perspective if I read the book today.  I hear my wife giggling next door in the "baby room" as she bottle-feeds Nathaniel.  It brings me joy.

We love it when he gets "milk drunk."  As his belly fills up he begins falling to sleep.  Sometimes his eyelids close.  Sometimes they pretty much stay open and you can see his eyes rolling around as it is evident he sleeping/dreaming.  She plays soothing classical music while he feeds and she is convinced Mozart is his favorite.  She says he smiles more in his milk stupor when Mozart is playing.  It always makes her giggle. 

I'll see if I can come up with something for "Pearl Watching" on a future post.  I'm gunna take a nap before I head off for a 3 O'clock job interview.   Things have changed.  We think it would be best if Nancy's mother (very kind of her) would watch the kid so I can bring in some money.  It's $480 a month just to add him to her insurance.   $200 a month for my cobra rates.  $680 a  month going out now that wasn't when I was bringing in money.  Not cryin' here...just sayin'.

Catch you tomorrow.

Girl Watching

I came upon a man in sand,
along the beach he'd made his stand.
He laid and watched the girls go by,
they pleased his flesh, they pleased his eye.
Bikini's pink and blue and yellow;
these were the things that drove this fellow.
I tried to shake him from his trance,
the sand was higher than at first glance.
As he would gaze and lust and drool,
the tide did play him for a fool.
I told him, "Man, you'll lose your life;
you'll lose your children, you'll lose your wife!"
I said I'd help to dig him out,
but as I tried he'd scream and shout.
He told me, "Leave!  You block my view."
It was then I knew the man was through.
A final wave did seal his tomb,
a sandy coffin was now his womb.
The sorry sap had watchd too long.
Can we now gain from where he went wrong?
Perhaps there is a moral here -
that we should keep our eyesight clear,
and not become desensitized,
to what parades before our eyes.

M.G. Sparks

Monday, February 28, 2011

Squirrel Watching

I realize that right out of the chutes, I hit you guys with two heavy duty blog entries.  Evolutionary theory - sorry for making you think I was going to blow myself up and die.  And, the harrowing tale of a turtle's near death experience in which we were all concerned that he would die, for after all, he was obviously no ninja.

However, death and the fear of it are integral parts of this planet's experience.  I have to keep it real and play the literary cards I am dealt (I've seen a lot of crap in my life) while walking through this world.  Furthermore, look at the plots of Shakespeare, movies and books.  The possibility of death or hardship creates tension and inspires the pen of many...

Poor little Spunky, the thinly-coated, reddish-brown neighborhood Dachshund had an obsession with squirrels.  Not much bigger than one himself, I always wondered what would happen if he caught one.  You take a big ol' buck squirrel who has had a few years building his muscles leaping from branch to branch and running from neighborhood dogs while all the while he was feasting on protein rich acorns.  Throw him up against a pampered 5 pound pooch and see what happens.  I know who my money is on. 

Spunky should have given up on squirrels and left them alone a long time ago.    But, as he aged, I think he felt his reputation was on the line since he had never caught one and was continually bombarded with such tree rats as they infringed upon his territory....

Squirrel Watching

I came upon a dog in snow,
just what he saw I did not know.
So still he sat, so long he stared,
peculiar sight but I doubt he cared.
His sole concern was in a tree,
the upper branches where squirrels might be.
I watched the tree but found it bare,
no squirrels or varmints hiding there.
I'd never seen so strange a sight,
so I came back real late at night.
Beneath the moon he held his pose,
still pointing skyward with his nose.
Life is harsh with many woes;
that stupid pooch had simply froze.
'Twas the strangest thing I ever saw,
maybe next spring I'll watch him thaw.
The moral of the story is;
avoid a fate as sad as his.
Patience is a virtue, true;
but we must know when we are through!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Turtle

Genesis 1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

So it was written, so it has been, so it shall be.  But, let not this most favored creature status go to our heads.  And let us not wield our swords of dominion callously.  For, after all, God could have made all of us opossums, slugs or turtles.

Typically, we humans resist compliance with Divine instruction.  But, the mandate to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth preaches to the choir of our hedonistic souls.  Copulation and earthly conquest somehow come easier to us than turning the other cheek and dying to our own selfish desires.

Man's dominion over pre-existing ecosystems sweeps steadily on as he "fills the earth".  As he dictates the new order of the natural world, innocent life forms are often capsized in his wake.  Each new subdivision, mine included, has displaced or killed hosts of native creatures.

In my travels on area roads I have taken to heart the aftermath of numerous automobile-animal encounters.  On one such trip a certain resident recieved a stay of execution,

Belly-up, a foot or two from the center line of the road is probably not what the turtle had in mind as he set out to cross to the other side.  I can only surmise that a passing vehicle clipped him with a tire and popped him air-born.  Gravity and the hard asphalt bounced him around to his "resting" position.

Helpless, the best the reptile could "hope for" was another precise, glancing tire blow that would flip him upright.  More realistically, however, one of the frequent, large construction or asphalt trucks - which have little wiggle room on the narrow two-lane road - would pancake him into an organic Frisbee.

Never really in to Frisbee, I turned around at the next intersection and headed back to the turtle; apprehensive of what I might find.  To my relief, he was not physically damaged - still lying there powerless, undignified and exposed.

To the south, the direction from which he fled - bulldozers and earthmovers busily raped his former terra firma as a new housing edition was underway.  To the north was what the turtle percieved to be an oasis of escape, but it was simply the outskirt of of an established housing edition; man-made berms sodded and speckled with transplanted sumac, shrubs and pine.

As far as ecosystems go, this one was surreal and hollow like a studio desert scene from an old western TV series.  To add insult to the turtle's near injury the place was entitled one of those incongruous names like "Deer Run", "The Forest" or "The Wilderness."

Stopping my vehicle, I got out and plucked the "clammed up" shell-dweller from the gravity of the road.  Exercising my God-given dominion, I subjugated the creature to the bed of my pickup.  He would not be road-kill this day.

I drove him a few miles to a less congested area.  Taking him in hand, I walked through the field of a man I did not know, to a patch of timber in which I'd never been.  As the late September cicadas belted out their monotonous, unified, two-syllable swan song, I placed that community's newest resident on the forest floor and walked away.

As dusk fell in this fallen world, I departed, longing for the day when the Good Shepherd rules; a day when lions lay with lambs, and turtles always make it to the other side.

M.G. Sparks

Friday, February 25, 2011


I am compelled as I originate M.G. Sparks' blog, to ponder a more important origin.

Let me get this straight.  Billions of years ago, before the dawn of man, a gargantuan, lifeless blob of unknown origin or purpose was floating around as it frittered away its light-years.  For reasons unknown, this blob of lifeless mass spontaneously exploded in space, chaotically fragmenting into innumerable stars, planets, galaxies and solar systems. 

Out of this devastating melee arose the orderly, synchronized universe we know and love today.  Oh - I see, order was spawned by disorder.  This makes sense.  I've seen lots of explosions.  Often times the matter that is fragmented, pulverized and vaporized by the blast transforms itself into what would seem to an uneducated layman to be an engineering marvel.  Yep, there's just somethin' about an explosion that puts things in order.

Just for kicks, I've blown up a couple of automobile junkyards.  I was amazed at the newly created symmetrical objects that came raining back to earth.  From just one violent, powerful, disseminating blast a previously lifeless mess of elements including drive trains, tires, upholstery and dirt, was changed into all manner of useful creations such as wristwatches, basketballs, compasses, amoebas and such.

If a little junkyard blast can create a round basketball, it's no stretch to believe that the "scientifically" speculated "big bang" blast could have created, among countless other wonders, a round earth!

Likewise, my  junkyard explosions proved that watches and compasses are not always as well engineered as first believed.  They can sometimes come about by random, mindless forces such as an explosion.  Therefore, it's no stretch to believe that the earth's marginally more complex synchronicity of planetary alignment, gravitational pull, seasonal preciseness, etc. resulted from a chaotic, designerless...POW..."BIG BANG".

The guy that first came up with the Big Bang Theory, whomever he was, was no idiot.  Obviously, at some point he became evolutionarily superior to men of his time.  Perhaps he, like the first exploding space mass, was jump-started by his own "big bang" experience - a harmonious restructuring of sorts.

Maybe someone violently beat this guy over the head several times with a big steel pipe.  These "big bangs" experienced by this "scientist" probably caused a new chaotic but superior alignment of his cranial contents, thereby transforming him into a visionary genuis!  New and improved, our scientist - who again, was no idiot - garnered an intellectual prowess that could better understand the complex origin of life on earth.

Wow - I'm convinced this "big bang" theory is no theory at all.  I'm ready to snuggle up to a lit stick of dynamite just to see how far I can climb the evolutionary ladder.  The sky's the limit!

M.G. Sparks