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Feb 15 · 61
Chameleon of Faith
Ron Sparks Feb 15
they tell us
having an open mind
is the stake against the
vampire heart of
stagnation
we must discard
what we know
and who we are
because what was
truth
yesterday is today a
lie
I like that - to
be the same man tomorrow that
I am today is terrifying
but then again - I'm a man
who orbits
nothing,
a chameleon of faith,
a kaleidoscope of
swirling belief that is never
still long enough to
find myself
Jan 2019 · 2.7k
Send Nudes
Ron Sparks Jan 2019
Send me nudes, you said
I sent you my naked
truths instead -
An unfiltered and unapologetic
glimpse into my heart
my innermost self
That part of me that so
rarely sees the light
of day much less the
judgement
of another soul
In the end, staring at my
demons, at my fears, and
my weakness you
failed to see
my strengths, my beauty,
or my integrity
You looked into the
abyss of me and
blinked
Jan 2019 · 564
Bravery
Ron Sparks Jan 2019
Bravery
I thought I was brave
with the scars to prove it.
My legacy -
   broken bones,  split knuckles,
   black eyes and loose teeth.
   Adulation and respect.
I fought  both man and isms
Never backed down.
But a black man, driving
an Uber taught me the truth of
true bravery.
Harassed, insulted, threatened by
a low-life passenger,
  white racism covered in a cheap suit and tie,
he refused to take the bait.
He denied himself the pleasure of
      justified violence.
He told me his story -
and anger for him, righteous indignation,
crashed over me in furious waves.
I admonished him for not
confronting that mans ignorance
   with a closed and determined fist.
Never back down, right?
Gently, he spoke the truth of
   black men in America.
His eyes caught mine in the rearview mirror.
You, he said, are innocent until proven guilty.
Protected by a system that
oppresses me.
I am guilty - period - and would be lucky
to be arrested, not killed,
  in a confrontation with that bigot.
So he did nothing, let the swine in a tie
off at his destination,
and drove on - leaving that pig to
wallow in his hate.
His bravery earned him nothing.
No adulation. No respect. No recognition.
Nothing except another day of life.
Another day with his family.
In contrast - my lifetime of bravery.
A pale reflection, when set beside his truth.
He was brave, not I.
My self-styled bravery, forever
tainted
by my privilege.
May 2018 · 441
Tortured Calculus
Ron Sparks May 2018
l stand in awe and
   disgust
as l watch evangelical
Christians subject themselves to
moral gymnastics
trying to
  reconcile their faith with their
fear and hatred.
They place the teachings of Christ
on a virtuous scale alongside
the words,
    the actions, and
           the deeds
of the politician they elected and
somehow
they find a way to proclaim
balance.
That kind of
     tortured calculus
is as impressive as it is
repugnant.
Ron Sparks May 2018
Someone put an
     asterisk
in the Constitution and the
Declaration of Independence
when we weren't looking.
They added terms and conditions,
the ones nobody bothers to read
until they're ****** by them.

We live in the 'Land of the Free', asterisk.
We have the right to free speech, asterisk.
We can practice any religion, or none, asterisk.
We have the right of Life and Liberty, asterisk.

Rich, white, men know that the asterisk means
'for me, but not for thee," as they smile and
waggle their eyebrows at one another.

We live our lives surrounded by asterisks.
Truth lives in the asterisks.
May 2018 · 459
Only the Godless
Ron Sparks May 2018
The best men and women
in this life are not the
holy
or the righteous. They
are not
found in the
church or temple.
We live in a world
where religious
virtue
is conflated with
bigotry, racism,
and hatred.
Only the godless are truly
good.
Dec 2017 · 468
The Silence in the Mirror
Ron Sparks Dec 2017
A man and his child were
gunned down In my
neighborhood today.
My community did nothing -
leaving the blood-soaked street
as the only reminder of
mankind’s capacity for violence.
l did nothing except
gnash my teeth at the
****** of a small child and
wonder if l lived in the
wrong neighborhood.
l look at myself-
the silence in the mirror
reflects my face
but not my
hypocrisy nor the
agony of my
screaming heart.
Dec 2017 · 712
Another Junkie Died Today
Ron Sparks Dec 2017
Another ****** died today,
his blood steaming, cooling, in
Pittsburgh's winter streets.
The pale, blue, afternoon sky,
moving too soon into night,
settled darkness on the day,
and on the junkies life.
This all-too-common narrative,
the background noise of our lives,
fails to stir our outrage.
Crawling on top of the man,
as he gasps his last,
his seven-year old son.
They die together, son cradled
in father's embrace.
Both riddled with bullets.
And still, the community fails
to find the outrage.
A black man's death means
nothing to a society conditioned
to judge his worth by his vice.
The death of his son means
even less.
Dec 2017 · 342
Flip
Ron Sparks Dec 2017
My green-eyed first wife -
fiery temper and hair to match -
slid the wedding ring on my
finger.

Twisting on my knuckle, it
never left my hand.  I grokked
with certainty borne from intuition
that BAD THINGS would happen
should that tri-colored gold band
leave my touch.

Years, a decade and change, passed
and one day I took it off and set it
on the bed beside me.
For two seconds I was fine, but then
I couldn’t breathe.
In a panic, I put the ring back on.

But

I put it on backwards.

BAD THINGS happened.

Weeks later, soul-weary and
tired of constant fighting
I remembered my
misstep and I
flipped the ring on my finger.

Things got better.  But now I knew.  
Like peeling blistered skin after a sunburn,
I couldn’t stop.

Flip. Fight. Flip. Make up.
Flip. Scream. Flip. Sweet nothings.
Flip. Slammed doors. Flip. Makeup ***.

I forgot which direction was safe and
which was dangerous.

That marriage - that ring - is gone now.
I’m married to a blonde angel now
with a temper as cool as her hair; who
loves me more than I deserve
and knows me better than I’d like.

From day one, I refused to let the
flip
of the ring mar my new marriage.  

I flipped it on my wedding night.
I flipped it the next day on my honeymoon.
I flip that ring every day,
daring
it to curse me again.

Another decade has passed,
I flip my new ring daily.

And cringe a little each time.
Dec 2017 · 613
Whiskey, Hockey, and Slaves
Ron Sparks Dec 2017
The Penguins are playing tonight
I have a belly full of high-quality
whiskey,
a fine cigar between my fingers,
and a pleasant buzz dulling my
constant anxiety.
The announcers play-by-play,
constant and frantic,
blares through my 70-inch television
adding artificial drama, but I like it.
I'm surrounded by my
precarious middle class wealth
while thousands of
slaves suffer and die in Lybia.
But I’m drunk, oblivious, and happy that
my team
just scored
Nov 2017 · 352
Fleecing Me For A Fiver
Ron Sparks Nov 2017
his hipster beard -
mandatory accessory for this
gentrified borough of Pittsburgh -
leads him back and forth
from the kitchen to the tables

he serves more tables than he should
I wait too long for my
overpriced salad
as he drops a plate of greasy wings
in front of a table of oblivious
professionals who
judge him
find him wanting
without ever looking up from their phones

a small bead of sweat accompanies him
when he drops off my check

I pay with a twenty and he brings me back
a ragged five and a one-dollar bill.

I know what he did.  ****.

god ****** hipster server trying to fleece me
playing on social pressure
betting on pocketing that faded fiver
that he did not earn from me

I force him to break that Lincoln
I tip three bucks
because I ****** well won’t let him get the best of me

my indignation is an all-American righteousness
so much so that I forget -

forget I paid four times what the salad was worth
forget he doesn’t see a penny of that profit
forget that he makes less than three bucks an hour
forget that without tips he won’t make rent

I forget all of this in my pride at catching a huckster
who just wants to keep the lights on
one more day
Nov 2017 · 984
Sharing the Sidewalk
Ron Sparks Nov 2017
I walked out of my office today at noon
and slid into the stream of pedestrians -
the hipsters stroking their beards,
the pale professionals blinking in the sun,
mothers pushing strollers through the crowd
with more skill than a racecar driver

before I knew it, I walked past my lunch destination
I kept walking - and watching
the people of my town share a sidewalk
without attacking one another

for a moment I was tempted to take a picture
post it on online,
make a socio-political statement;
if people from all walks of life
can share the sidewalk
can we not find common ground?

I left my phone in my pocket - decided against
adding my unnecessary opinion to the
manufactured outrage
that is the sad truth of social media

I smiled at a pretty lady pushing her baby
she smiled back
and we shared a brief human moment
I kept walking
Nov 2017 · 373
Monster with a Penis
Ron Sparks Nov 2017
there he is
a monster with a *****
but that’s redundant

all monsters have a *****
all penises are attached to monsters
right?

so  there he is
a monster at fifteen

a predator
walled away - kept from
the good people of the world
by police, bars, most importantly
social shaming

we have no room for monsters now
zero tolerance
and punishment is more
satisfying
than education

making examples of a monster
is the best way to cow all monsters
right?

and this monster,  he will serve nicely
a warning -
marked, shunned, condemned -
on display to all other
monsters
who would
snap a girl’s bra strap
Mar 2017 · 492
The Flicker
Ron Sparks Mar 2017
"you are
so beautiful,"
I said, and then wept when
the uncertainty flickered in
her eyes
Jan 2017 · 388
Untitled
Ron Sparks Jan 2017
lost in his phone
that businessman
misses the sunset
Jun 2016 · 1.2k
Shedding the Ghost
Ron Sparks Jun 2016
(note - This is a haibun; a Japanese writing form that combines haiku with prose.)*

Two days on the road, two thousand miles on my motorcycle. Hard miles; my *** so sore that every bump in the road brings biting pains up my back and down my legs.

I’m riding alone. No highways. No hotels. Camping in fields and eating in greasy diners. Seeing the America not available to the Interstate. The real America. I’m rough riding across the continent and this isn’t a mid-life crisis. I’m on a mission.

There’s been a ghost haunting me for five years. And yesterday, somewhere on the back roads of Nebraska, I left that ghost, the ghost of my cancer, behind. The specter of death that lingered on me, over me, and around me after excision of the tumors is finally gone.

Contrary to opinion, ghosts are heavy. With mine gone, I ride through the night – the stars and my newfound peace my sole companions. I stop only when the false dawn begins to turn into the real thing.

serpentine road
​curves into the sun;
  my throttle opens

The country diner I find myself in front of welcomes both me and the morning sun. I’m tired, sweaty in my leathers, and covered in road dust as I enter. And I’m deaf, the roar of the road is still loud in my ears.

I tell the waitress I take my coffee black – as black as my soul. My joke falls flat; what comes from my mouth is a rough growl, thanks to a dry throat. It earns me dark looks from the other diners. The ***** biker with no manners.

I have a moment of tired reflection and then I get a visitor to my table. An old lady, dressed in her Sunday best, moves with slow deliberation and takes an unexpected seat across from me. Her frail hands wrap my grimy ones in a cool and gentle grip.

Her eyes, framed by a wrinkled face that smooths as she smiles at me, capture mine before she bows her head and prays loud enough for all to hear. “Lord, please help this young man find his way. He’s lost, alone, and needs your guidance to help cleanse his heart and his soul.”

She kisses my hand and, without another word, stands again. There’s a reverent silence as we all watch her sit back down at her table and take a bite of her breakfast as if nothing exceptional had just occurred.

I look out the window as the rising sun reflects off of my bike, thinking that, here, maybe it wasn’t really that exceptional at all.   And thinking; lady – I’m not lost; I’m finally finding myself again.

red cardinal
alights upon my bike –
  notices me
This is a haibun; a Japanese writing form that combines haiku with prose.
May 2016 · 1.1k
Anxiety Haibun
Ron Sparks May 2016
You've been here before.  You woke up today and realized that the stress, the angst, and the foreboding that you've allowed to rule your life is there by choice.  You've gotten lost in the spiral of anxiety, again.

If it's not your health, it's your money.  If it's not the money, it's your kids.  If it's not your kids, you're worried about past life choices and how they will affect you tomorrow.  Your fears line up at the door, wrap around the block, and await their turn.  Your door is open to them all and you don't deny them.  You let them in.  

Once they are inside, you wrap your fears around you.  They’re a welcome smothering; a wearying security blanket of trembling phobia.  They are as familiar to you as they are distressing.  These constant, restless, companions are more comfortable than the unknown.  

Today, though, you stare at the line of fears and realize that something is missing.  Happiness.  Contentment.  Acceptance.  These are conspicuous in their absence.  And you remember an old Cherokee tale.  You have two wolves engaged in eternal battle inside you; one is fear and anxiety and the other is peace and serenity.  The strongest is the one you feed and you've been feeding the wrong wolf.  

You've done this your entire life in a self-centered, selfish, guilt-ridden, indulgent, fashion.  You wallow in the darkness because you're afraid you don't deserve the light.

You know you’ll feed the right wolf today.  But can you do it tomorrow?  

  mighty river;
the fish navigates
​as it will
Haibun is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal.
May 2016 · 288
Untitled
Ron Sparks May 2016
red cardinal
alights nearby -
  notices me
May 2016 · 1.2k
Full Flower Moon
Ron Sparks May 2016
full flower moon
in its halo
a space station
The Full Flower Moon is the full moon seen in the month of May.
Apr 2016 · 1.1k
Jupiter and the Moon
Ron Sparks Apr 2016
on this cloudless night
pushing through the Pittsburgh haze,
daring to present themselves,
entwined in cosmic tango, are
Jupiter and the Moon.
the bands play across a
diluted Jovian face. while the storm
    rages on
the lunar rocks and craters,
perfectly visible imperfections,
cast petulant shadows -
reminding me that
from destruction one can
   still find beauty.
Apr 2016 · 2.6k
Steamy Beads of Sweat
Ron Sparks Apr 2016
steamy
beads of sweat
between her dusky *******
little rivers of pleasure
that collect in her navel
and threaten to spill with
each exhalation
distract me long enough
to avoid the
     little death
that look in her eye
seen only when
riding me
or on the back of
my motorcycle
    reignites my
passion and
all too soon
    I die
Jan 2016 · 1.7k
I'm a Throwback, baby
Ron Sparks Jan 2016
I'm a throwback, baby
     atavistic and masochistic
I'll pay for dinner and
  I'll hold the door
you can complain and
     vilify this good guy
but I can take it.  Your
feminism does not and can not
     impel or compel
me to forgo my manners because
    you
        can't
           tell me how I should
                expect to respect
          you
Jan 2016 · 428
You Didn't Save Me
Ron Sparks Jan 2016
when I met you
I was broken not desperate
you didn't save me
I didn't rescue you
I didn't beg and you
                    didn't bow
my heart and my soul
covered in scars -
some still angry and red -
didn't repel you
and yours, tattered and
covered with wounds
          long healed -
imperfections that made you
          wondrous to behold
we met as equals and so
fell equally in love
and this, my bride, is why
we will
         endure
Jan 2016 · 1.1k
Techno-Control
Ron Sparks Jan 2016
I command it all
with imperious verbal commands
automation through the ether
my lights come on
the television, voice activated
spoken queries answered by the
computer in my home
    - sports scores
    - weather
    - news
    - reminders
vibration of my vocal chords
compels my thermostat
orders my groceries
and plays my music
I am the master of my domain
and yet now, more than ever,
I control
    nothing
Dec 2015 · 399
Untitled
Ron Sparks Dec 2015
Red cardinal
rooting for seeds to eat
  avoids yellow snow
Dec 2015 · 504
crystal tears
Ron Sparks Dec 2015
crystal tears -
getting very wealthy
on alien grief
Dec 2015 · 571
pixie wings
Ron Sparks Dec 2015
pixie wings
arachnids donate
   their gossamer
Dec 2015 · 1.1k
that satellite
Ron Sparks Dec 2015
that satellite
is wearing a cape!
  super moon
Dec 2015 · 526
E equals
Ron Sparks Dec 2015
E equals
MC^2?
    -- the tachyon laughed
Nov 2015 · 274
My Tomb
Ron Sparks Nov 2015
I live
yet walk upon
my tomb. I long to fly
up there and escape my coffin;
this Earth
#cinquain #poem #micropoetry #nasa #space #poetry #pittsburgh #poetry #death
Nov 2015 · 2.8k
Untitled
Ron Sparks Nov 2015
brittle leaves
swirl in circles
behind the motorcycle
Oct 2015 · 919
Wear a Bathrobe
Ron Sparks Oct 2015
Wear a bathrobe
when beating the keyboard,
when borrowing words from your muse;
Let the stale air in the
dim room
form as
     fragrant
beads of sweat,
thick with whiskey,
on your brow
Wonder if what you're
     writing
is poetry or ****
Proceed to not care and
write, write, write baby
because at the end of it all,
when the words are used up
and you've sobered up,
someone will tell you
     it's ****
and someone will tell you
     it's gold
But you don't give a ****, do you?
You just
     reach for the whiskey
bottle and ask your muse
     for some more
Netflix and chill
But hey, wear that bathrobe;
     it gives you character
Sep 2015 · 812
Addict
Ron Sparks Sep 2015
the sting
of the needle
brings both pleasure and pain;
i’m addicted to getting new
tattoos
Sep 2015 · 1.4k
Chess with a Young Marine
Ron Sparks Sep 2015
at my age
drinking whiskey
with young
Marines
is a poor choice
Decades of practice
and years of experience
keep me seemingly
sober
for longer -
I beat my nephew at
chess
in five moves
bragging about my skill and
prowess
but really, my nine shots
to his
three give me an
unfair advantage;
I’ve learned to handle
my whiskey
I mock these young
soldiers
for their lack of
stamina,
knowing all the while
they will wake at
0600,
run three miles,
and feel great
while I will
sleep
until 0900
and feel like
**** all day
Aug 2015 · 543
Untitled
Ron Sparks Aug 2015
the leaves fall;
my jasmine tea
scents the air
Aug 2015 · 581
Surrender
Ron Sparks Aug 2015
she lies on the bed facing me
the curve of her hips
giving shape to the
blankets

her bare shoulder and arm are
bent at a gentle angle
as she lightly runs her
fingers
through my hair
her tattoos a vibrant
splash
of color on her alabaster skin

half lidded eyes take me in
and she sighs, a Mona Lisa
smile
on her lips

A million thoughts run through my
mind, my manic mind,
while she caresses me in complacent
bliss

How did I end up here
with this woman
with her perfect peace contrasting my
inferior and harmful
psychosis -
my constant battle with myself
and the universe

How can she love me
a man
who screams in defiance
at the tempest
while she spreads her
arms wide
and turns her face into the
rain and glories in it

My thoughts swirl
and clash
with the outward serenity
of the bedroom

And this is normal for me

The surprise comes when,
in a single moment
of clarity,
in between one manic thought
and the next,
I sigh with her
release the knot in my chest -
say “**** it” and
kiss her eyelids

I join her in this
perfect
moment of contentment

even as she wonders at my
sudden exclamation
Aug 2015 · 499
Scab
Ron Sparks Aug 2015
the scab
cracks and bleeds
dead skin covering
raw flesh
a painful mistake for the
entire world to see
I want to peel it off
savor the exquisite agony
be done with it finally
but the wound is too recent
I'm not ready to be rid
of you
quite yet
Aug 2015 · 1.0k
My Turn
Ron Sparks Aug 2015
she lies
     amid a twisted and
       sweaty sheet
  a goddess basking in
     naked glory
  her silky wetness
     coats my beard,
     white and hoary
I grin,
     lay next to her,
   in mild conceit
as her body
   trembles in final throes
  of lascivious
     ******* delight
  low purr from her
    lips
  as my passion ignites
she gives
     me the look that I
     cannot oppose
     pushes me back,
  her head
     between
  my legs, a
   playful bite
  lets me know it's
     my turn
Jul 2015 · 825
Poltergeist
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
the man
who lives above
stomps, bangs his doors again
I wish he would realize he died
last week
Jul 2015 · 1.3k
Little Nugget
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
little
nugget, wide-eyed,
hairless, with red-faced wails;
you just ate - why are we awake
tonight?
Jul 2015 · 10.9k
Cancer Anxiety
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
to live
     every day
     in morbid dread
sharp cold spikes
     driven deep into
          the chest
anxiety
  conditioned,
  learned, pressed

screams

     in my head,
          and yet
               remains unsaid
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
ballad
from the eighties
vibrates my car speakers -
for a moment I'm reminded
of you
Jul 2015 · 452
Dance with Bullets
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
young men
dance with bullets -
spill blood and fight in war;
sent to their deaths on the whims of
old men
Jul 2015 · 1.2k
Hope & Despair
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
disease,
poverty, war -
hatred and bigotry
everywhere; yet each day birds
still sing
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
i was already dying
   when I met you
the
     cancer
eating away at my body
one
  cell
     at a time
for a year, in clandestine
   hostility
my carcass was animated by only
        the hope of love
        a yearning for
            something sensed
            not seen
     but then
    your aspect fell
       upon me
  savage, yet serene
proclaiming your love
   with all that you were
and the
       healing
           began
Jul 2015 · 1.3k
Priorities, priorities
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
dolphin slaughter
   in disingenuous and exquisite
Japanese inlets
hunger as an epidemic
   in the shadowed corners of
the world
putrid and rotting flesh
rampant disease
gmo crops making us all
     fat
these are things to
          worry
about, to fret and rally over
   yet here
I sit, wondering in
      mild horror
why I write better poetry
with
    two
       shots
of whiskey
  in my gullet
than when I am sober
Jul 2015 · 860
Against the Dark
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
in the center
of my garden of thought
is an
     inky black pool
an obsidian mirror that ripples
     and grows
with each
          and every
hurt, pain, and torment I endure
circling the pool
     my verdant hopes
     my violaceous loves
     my carmine furies -
their blooms crawl, intertwine, creep
  in a mass of emotion and impulse
      pushing ever against the center
where my garden meets that
     ebony pond;
a barren desolate blight
  of decay and hopelessness
the vivid chromaticity of my
   emotion
in perpetual campaign against
          the void
        that forever
    threatens to
               consume
                    me
Jul 2015 · 588
Summer Sweat
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
summer sweat
hugs my whiskey glass;
runs down my back
Jul 2015 · 2.2k
Death at Dan-no-Ura
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
his frail form
offers a salted tribute
to the warriors lying
dead and dying on and under
his geta.  A thousand
clacking sounds rise up
into the stormy seas as
these tiny samurai know
defeat once
again.
The Samurai Ghost *****, or heike crab, was used by Carl Sagan in Cosmos to illustrate evolution and survival of the fittest.  The battle of Dan-no-ura immortalized in the Tale of Heike was a pivotal moment in Japan’s history, which established the first military dictatorship and resulted in the death of a child emperor.
Jul 2015 · 1.3k
The Upshot Of Insomnia
Ron Sparks Jul 2015
the false dawn
banishes
     false hopes
of finding sleep
ahead of the rising sun
transient glow accompanies
     first blush birdsong
the cardinal's aubade
     ushering
          greeting
     the brush's first stroke
across the canvas of night
twitching limbs
     bloodshot eyes
          nonstop freight train of thought
               all
                    night
                         long -
these afflictions allow me
to witness the lonely beauty
     of today's sunrise
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