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Open up your lungs

July 22, 2018

When I was a kid I used to have these recurring dreams where I would somehow get knocked into a body of water—a pool, a pond, whatever— and couldn’t swim. I’d sink, unable to get myself to the surface. I would hold my breath…and hold my breath…and hold my breath…and just when I thought I couldn’t hold it any longer, a thought would begin creeping into my mind:

Maybe I can breathe underwater.

And so slowly, gingerly, just to test it out, I would allow myself to take a tiny inhale, bracing for water to come rushing into my lungs and drowning to begin in earnest.

But every time, I would tentatively begin to breathe and find I could. It never felt like water. It never felt like drowning.

It just felt like breathing.

I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those dreams as an adult. But I had them often enough as a kid that I can still remember what it was like. I can still feel the fall, because I often fell from a small height. I can recall what it sounded like to plunge from air into the water, what it looked and felt like to become submerged in the dark depths…and unable to save myself.

I can also recall the relief of not needing to.

Maybe it’s an inaccurate assumption that when we’re sure we’re drowning in life, the only way to be saved is to get out of the water.

Maybe…we just need to start breathing.

Uncivil rest

July 19, 2018

This is the room for people

who know which fork is which

and never use bad grammar

or say cuss words

Don’t worry

the man juggling glasses of red wine

won’t spill a drop

The ivory sofas and cream-colored rugs

are safe here

because blood let from razor-tongues

is invisible and

won’t stain the furnishings

And here I am

pressed against the wall

white-knuckled and wild-eyed

heart pounding in dub-step

I want to make a break for the door

but I know there is mud on my shoes

They will track me down

and insist I come back for punch and cookies

I made a mistake and

wore a white shirt one day and

they assumed I knew the secret password

I don’t have the heart to tell them

Nor do I have the heart to tell them

that I could draw them a map

of where the landmines

are buried in this room

It is impolite to speak of landmines after all

just as it is impolite to notice

that everyone in this joint

only needs one shoe.




Sitting on the lid

July 17, 2018

The hardest part of creating a painting is that moment I am in front of a blank canvas, trying to break through the barrier of simply beginning.

“Just get something on it, I urge myself, “just make a start.”

But there’s something paralyzing about that blank canvas.

Most of the time that paralysis is a lump of wordless emotion, trying to pull itself off as indifference or a lack of inspiration. I wonder if that’s ever actually been true, though. The more time I spend in this earth suit on this whirling ball of dirt, the more I doubt it.


I can’t.


I don’t have anything to say.

That’s not true.

But it feels true. Why does it feel so true? Why do I feel so stuck, so paralyzed, by the blank page?

Maybe because I feel the pull of things I can’t explain…and can’t defend. Maybe because I know there is a whirlwind of words, pictures, and ideas that many find frightening and disturbing because they don’t understand them. And I’m acutely aware that I live in a world that is quick to judge what it doesn’t understand.

Maybe…maybe I just have an honesty problem, and I’ve been able to dance around that because I haven’t told lies, so therefore, I’ve been honest, right?

That’s been my story up until now, and I’ve stuck to it.

But it seems that approach is a sure way to get marooned with a blank white canvas and dried up paint.







Dusting off the furniture

July 16, 2018

I nigh drove myself batty this evening trying to update my photo for my blog. Granted, it’s a short trip and I make it on the reg when I’m messing with tech stuff. I finally gave up and asked Mr. Sparky to rescue me, which he did.

I don’t know how long that old photo had been up. At least five or six years. Probably a lot longer. A lot of life has happened since that old photo was new, but over the past several years I’ve written about it less and less, a fact that has caused me much angst. Writer’s block isn’t supposed to last for years.

So does the new photo mean I will be writing more?

I don’t know. I miss writing. I miss the me who used to write stuff. But I became weary of battling for it; it was sucking time and energy I didn’t have to spare. To be honest, I’m not sure that version of Sparky still exists.

That would explain why I can’t seem to write like that anymore, wouldn’t it?

So maybe I will write more, or maybe I won’t. If I do, it may be very different from the 1200+ posts that are already here. Maybe some other version of Sparky wants to have a voice. Or needs to have a voice. Maybe it’s just time.

After all…it’s always time for something.



En Caul

July 15, 2018

It’s a siren song

and I don’t think anyone’s ears

are tuned to it but mine

But I hear it

With everything in me

and a few things that aren’t

I hear it

I am drawn to the gossamer expanse

where the dance of light

plays tricks on my eyes

and I see heaven breathing

but at the sight of it I

cannot catch my own

Suddenly my skin is a straightjacket

and my feet are blocks of stone

I want to run to the barely there

and gather it in my arms

drape it across my shoulders

like wings

But all I can do is stand slack-jawed

at the spectacle of glory

bulging through

the razor-thin membrane

and pray I fall forward enough

to shatter it open.

Hand over hand

March 7, 2018

Day after day

year after year

I stood by the well

and lowered my bucket into the depths

I’d watch it go deep out of sight

until I felt the rope begin to tug with

the weight of everything that

replaced the emptiness that minutes ago

filled the bucket

Then hand over hand

I would pull the bucket up from the deep

out of the dark

and each time as it inched into the light

I would stand slack-jawed in amazement

at the overflowing treasure

that dripped over its brim





They all breathed fire and fancy

as they danced and twirled

and rearranged themselves

into impossible sequences

of beauty and wonder

But now I lower my bucket

into that same well

until I hear the clank as it hits dusty bottom

And I wonder how such depths

become so dry and depleted

I miss the anticipation of discovering

what mysteries each bucket held

I miss the heat and the heart of the fire

And I long ago stopped hoping

anyone would understand

the longing and grief

inspired by an empty bucket

But the bottom line is that

a thing need not be understood

in order to be felt.



Spray paint and whoopee cushions

November 8, 2017

It’s time to rethink rebellion. It’s time to reconsider defiance.

This may scare you, considering it’s coming from the purple-haired chick with the tattoo.  But consider that my hair isn’t solid purple, and I only have one tattoo (thus far), and hear me out, please.

I spent a lot of my life being a follow-the-rules sort of person. In some ways, I still am, because I believe in honoring order and proper authority. But as I look around me, I see systems and cultural habits of brokenness, and frankly, I just don’t dig playing along with that sickness. It’s the dastardly plan of darkness.

And darkness is not the boss of me.

I’m not talking about engaging in denial. Truth is, we have so much to grieve, worldwide. The shootings, the bombings, the violence…the loss of innocence and the cultural upheaval. These are just a few of the painful realities that surround us and demand our attention.

But I’m over it. And I’m weary of the implication that choosing joy is offensive to those who are victims of sadness, whether by choice or circumstance. The whole idea is laughable, but most of us are too confused by the whole thing to dare crack a smile. We can still “weep with those who weep” without losing the perspective that life, even when hard, is good.

It’s time to rebel against the expectation that we live immersed and dripping with negativity. It’s time to stop creating space for hopelessness in our minds and then feeling justified when it shows up at the door and moves into our personal attic space, pooping in the corners and spray painting graffiti on the walls.

It’s time to rebel against the notion that the bad things that happen are more powerful than the good things that happen, and those bad things are worthy of our energy in the form of anxiety, fretting, and Chicken Little-ism.

It’s definitely time to rebel against the notion that we’re powerless against the dark pressures of life.

Because we can fight back. We can fight back with joy.

Joy is a weapon. It’s powerful stuff. It has substance and weight, and in an instant it can snap a chain that was too heavy to move just moments before.

I’m talking about real joy, here. I’m talking about finding reasons to entertain light thoughts, higher thoughts. Refusing to entertain joy-sucking people and situations. And by situations, I mean 90% of what is on your TV and Facebook newsfeed.

The people posting all those cat videos aren’t so far off, really.

Laughter is holy defiance of a subtle but very real evil agenda.

So find some funny stuff…and lighten up, Francis.