Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Northern Lights photo by Lars Carlson 10/24/11
True North

There you were last night,
in my darkness and cold.
Sometimes I think you prefer
to show up in the darkness.
Do we see you better then?
All northern-lighty and such…
sneaking up on us in your glorious glowing eruption of color
as though the trees were not enough.
You had to give us more, didn’t you?
Splashing those diamonds across midnight blue,
dazzling us in the effervesence of living water colors.
They said you were coming…
(just like Bethlehem…)
a light in the sky.
Silently, mysteriously, majestically
displaying your true colors.
Showing off as only you can…
reminding me.

You winked at me.
I saw it.
I smiled and I felt beautiful.
You took my breath away.
How do you do that?
Touching me with your presence
in such a way, that I know
from the twisting of my inner core
that you are the one gripping my heart. 
My love for you cannot help
but spill over in sighs and songs of delight.


Some people are sick of you, you know.
But maybe they are really just sick of people
who hurt people.
And you get blamed for it... crucified even. 
They think you are the church.  But the church is people.
Sometimes I hate being a people.
Those people who hurt others are sick of themselves
and the people who have hurt them, who also hate themselves,
because of people who hurt them, ad nauseum.
They’re all just people
who haven’t found you because of all the people in the way
or they wouldn’t be sick of you …
or worse,  pretend to be you.
They aren’t you.
Oh, to recognize the true enemy.
The confuser and destroyer of your people.
Don’t let me be destroyed Lord.


There you were last night
as you have always been.
Opening my eyes,
calling out to my heart
in the darkness and cold…
showing me
the one true north.

Patricia Spreng

Sharing with Laura Bogess at the Wellspring

L.L. Barkat at On, In and Around Mondays

d'Verse Poets Open Link Night

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Other Throne

Submitting this to d'Verse Poets where the prompt today (hosted by Mark Kerstetter) is to "imagine that person who is other than you, and think about how you might construct a dramatic monologue in poetry..."   so here goes... in my "Other" character's voice...

 The Other Throne read by Patricia Spreng

The Other Throne

My deah,
may ah remind you…
I was heah way befohr you were all thayt.
Sweet and chahming,
alahming I was…

I have my stories.
Some you will neveh heah….
an I learn a thing or two, I did.
Ushully from my own damn mistakes,
tryin to fix things mah self.
But, you so busy thinkin you know it all,
and everybody gonna  luhv  you cause you talk so sweet.

Damn, stop that crap talkin’ sweet to me.
Look at me…
Go ahed. Really  look at me.
Cuz I was you,
and yous gon be me… someday
an ther ain’t no sweet talk eveh gon cover up that fac.

You kids like ta say “been theh, done that.”
Like no one else has eveh been theh or done that.
Oh, you been theh and done that allraht.
Big wallup whoopdee do.
So was I,
and my muthah befor me,
and her muthah befor her.

Open yo eyes girl.
Don’t you dare forget
I have lived through more of yo ‘that’
and been more of yo  ‘there’
than you have eveh even thawd of yet.
Payshion, lust, greed, pain…
I have lived, ...no …
I have survahved through loving and losing
beyond what your tiny head
can even dream.

So don be talkin sweet to me.
Preten’in  ahm some sweet lady I aint.
Just cause I’m old,
an sittin heah in this wheel chaya,
I aint’  sweet.
I mad as hell.
And I don wan be heah.

Do not come bouncin’ in heah
shakin me up with yo sweetness
tellin me when to eat,
or when to clap to those stupid songs you play.
Only one you makin feel bettah is you,
not me.
You cant heah the  music in my head.
You cant see me dancing.
You leave me be.

I have my eyes close
cuz I wan to
and that’s where I be ...
in my dreams.
Cuz this heah is not my realitee.

Take your place girl
and do not wake me.
In my dreams,
this heah ain no wheel chaya…
its my throne.

Patricia Spreng


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why, ... Poetry!

Why, ... Poetry!  Hello there…
I wasn’t expecting you.
You are so beautiful.
Let’s go sit for a while, and talk.
Take me again, the way you do, to places unknown.
Capture me with your words.
Wipe my tears
and hold my fear, undisturbed.
Like old friends with history
who pick up right where we left off.
We are different, you and I,
but we understand each other somehow.
I read you like a book,
and you see right through me
shining light into my darkness.
You know what I’m about to say
before I say it.
That  funny way you talk,
I’d recognize your voice anywhere.
Why, ... Poetry
you are a gift to me.

Patricia Spreng

Joining with:
T.S. Poetry Press who is prompting "Why Poetry?" and
High Calling Focus photography challenge for Contre-jour hosted by Kelly Sauer.
You can find my light photos here http://www.flickr.com/photos/patriciaspreng/

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Living Water 

I paddle along water's edge with the one who walks on it.
In streams of living water
finding evidence of new life in his presence,
though I do not feel it.

I walk to heights of grandeur with the one who is majesty.
Finding mountains of evidence of life among death
in the smallest details.
 know the one who  is so kind,
he gives wings to the smallest seed,
freedom to fly and faith to grow.
Blessed is she who believes without feeling,
trusting her wings are there  

while waiting
in the shelter of his.
Patricia Spreng
Photographs taken by Patricia Spreng at Laity Lodge
joining today with Faith Barista

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God, Me and The Priest

I dreamed in poetry last night,
in words more poetic than I know.
It wasn’t  sexual,
but,  I did keep saying “yes! yes!”
Exuberant over dream words,
that for the first time, may have caused my husband some degree of concern over that trip I took
to a canyon of all places,
with a river
and it was hot.

You were in it.
(the dream, that is)
Sitting across from a priest, of all people
in that laid back, long legs crossed, fingers positioned over your mouth just so,
way of yours,
how telling of you.

I could see your wheels turning
when you said that thing I can’t remember.
But he wrote it down.
I had to hold my smile wide on the inside,
expanding my ribs without breath,
his facial grimace tightening.
“Balance, get your balance!”

I wanted to leap from the edge of my seat 
and shout “No!” in your defense.
But you were so calm,
unafraid of man-made condemnation,
and I didn’t jump, because of it.

The question was heavy.
Your truth was heavier.
We could feel the weight
there in the silence
of the dream…
I can’t remember.

Patricia Spreng

A real dream…  God, me and the priest... go figure.   I waited in stillness this morning,  quietly hoping for the memory of  what he said to come back to me.  I honestly can’t remember, it was gone.  I only remember how I felt.  The same way I always feel whenever I hear the Truth.  Maybe tonight I'll try and get back there. =)
(If you are a psychotherapist, please go easy on me in the comments section.)

Submitting this to d’Verse Open Link Night where you will find the wonderful words of poets.
(Wait…how many words did they tell us at the writers retreat we should use for a short story?)   Heheheh...

Unearthing Legacies

Recently I’ve written on Barlow Lake and my memories there with my sisters.  There are 9 of us girls still living … and the older we get, that number becomes more important, as our only brother died 2 years ago.  Mike was 63 years old (scrolldown for his tribute.)
He was the only one in the world, who could have talked 9 sisters into joining the "Mike Smolenski Fan Club" and, yes, we actually paid him dues.  Now that’s a brilliant brother.  We loved him and his great sense of humor.  He always had some stupid way of making me laugh in the midst of crying over his illness.  I didn’t like that he would use laughter to brush off my sadness …  he didn’t like seeing anyone grieve him while he was in the midst of living.  
My mother is the girl on the left

It was his dream to own our Grampa's property and homestead on Barlow Lake where my mother and her sister’s were raised.  We too, spent all of our summers there and the place is rife with memories spanning generations.  His dream came true and the home remains in his family.
Recently, as some of my sisters and I were visiting there, my manly brother in law from Minnesota took off into the woods with a shovel (yes, we have indoor plumbing) to investigate the whereabouts of our Gramma’s cellar.  Grampa had built it into the side of a hill sometime in the late 1920’s and we had long since forgotten about it.  But when we heard the sound of the shovel digging, we had to go look.  Sure enough, he had found it.  I grabbed my camera.  He cleared bushes and branches away for the rest of the day, slowly "reclaiming the earth-bermed cellar.“  

The outer,  Dorothy Door (think Dorothy and Auntie Em’s slanted cellar door,) “was rotted and gone from its original position and all that remained were the long iron hinges and latch lurking under the leaves and dirt.”  After finding the hinges, and the excitement of discovering an air vent pipe still protruding from the forest floor at the top of the hill, it became an official archeological dig.  

So, the manly Minnesotan started digging, like any manly Minnesotan would.   He dug and flung shovels of dirt and leaves most of the day.   As he was clearing the stairway leading down to the main door, he could see it was standing slightly ajar. 

That's when I had to leave for home, so I’ll let my sister, Minnesota Meg, tell the rest of the story … (all the other quotes are hers too).

"Inside was a small room walled with cinder blocks.  Thin, frayed, brittle electrical  wires gave proof of a room once occupied by light.  The vaulted, concrete ceiling was supported by a steel beam."

(But, wait!  No photos of the inside??? I am toooootally going back out there and get the pictures of the inside. Never send the Artist Meg to do the job of Picture Pat. ; ) ok, go on...)

"In the middle of the room, on a sand floor, standing upright about 3 feet high… was a sprinkler head pipe"….just like all the other sprinkler heads that still remain standing, hidden among the trees and overgrown bushes, all over the grounds of Grampa’s estate.  Lake water once surged from his handmade pump house throughout his self-designed underground system of pipes to quench his lawn that remained forever green through the driest of summers… a still-standing legacy of his ingenuity, creativity, and foresight.  
Minnesota Meg the artist

 “Aaaaaaannnnnyway.....here comes the fun part." 

 (ok, wait a minute... my part was fun...)

"Over in the corner of the cellar were great big chunks of what we thought might be clay because of the sound it made when Ken clunked it with the shovel..... Kathy (Mike's wife) came over and said that Gram used to keep her clay in there. 

Whaaaat?  We knew Grammie was a potter, but her own clay cellar?  Mystery solved!  That explained the sprinkler head that would spray the clay and keep it moist. Any excess water drained off through the super thick sand floor.  Also, lying there on the sand, next to the clay, was a crow bar which we figured Grammie used to break off chunks of clay. I mean, that was cool...thinking of her in there, the last one to use that tool. We bagged some big chunks of clay (enough for two buckets full) and brought it home.

I guess that little underground cellar was always a mystery to us kids growing up." (Yeah, I always thought it was a scary storm shelter.)  "If Mom were here she'd know where that clay was taken from...the lake?  It's quite dark gray, very grainy, but definitely clay.  It will be fun to see what happens to it in the kiln and with glazes, etc.  We have reconstituted  the clay and are now preparing to take it up to the Art Center where our membership allows us to work in the pottery studio."  
I can’t wait to see what she makes me, I told her. (I'm partial to those blue, green glazes... ahem.)
(l - r):  Martha, Roberta, Patricia, Meg at Barlow
Legacies…  Grampa the entrepreneur, builder, inventor.  Grammie the artist, potter and avid bird watcher.  Mom, the wise, lover of children.  Dad, the strict Judge who could laugh at himself.  Mike the dreamer, U.S. Marine, funny family man.  Anne, the distant one.  Mary, the smart survivor.  Laura, the loving worker.  Jane, the singer. Sara, the generous Judge. Patricia, lover of God and monarchs.  Martha, the maker of all things and funny. 

Click here to visit Meg the artist, potter. 

or Click here to visit Roberta, the hand warming creator, re-inventor..

Legacies... they last.  

(click here to listen to Nicole Nordeman ... very fitting... Legacy.)
Patricia Spreng

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No statistician alive
could calculate babies saved
by the number of drunk drivers
who slowed down because of a sign
dangling precariously above car seats
like stupidity,
which, in the event of a collision,
becomes a flying projectile
that will poke your eye out…
boomerangs that come back to bite ya
causing harm or injury
which, oddly, can be determined
by hospitals across America.

Somehow approved by the Chairman of the Bored
who must have been…
but was still able to calculate profits
and forge ahead with the invention of
the car seat shield…
let’s remember now,
Safety First.

Patricia Spreng

Joining with d’Verse Poetics and following Brian’s prompt to write on bumper stickers.  Come and see the other wonderful words of poets.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Barlow, Lake Barlow

I don’t remember wearing underwear at all.
Wet bathing suits, like birthday suits dried on the lines of our bodies.
Drink in those long summer days … on the house... plenty to go around.
Soap at the end of the dock, one bar…
dropped so many times, the sand dried into layers of scratchy permanence.
We exfoliated before any of us knew what it was.
Raft tag and races, belly flops, and nose fulls,
Sailboat, rowboat, motorboat and skis.

Barefoot at waters' edge, high step through snake grass.
Snap perforated pieces apart for hollow, makeshift smokes,
"gotta let it hang like this," from the corner of moist lips.
Embrace the hunt for turtles, frogs, crayfish, and bluegills who loved mother’s pancakes and somehow knew the barbs had been filed down by a woman who was tired and smart.

Race up the hill, in flip flops called thongs, held on tight with your toes.
Lose yourself in mirrored rows of towering pines.
let the smell capture every breath in wonder,
look up and listen to their songs.  Sway with them… for a while.
("Grandpa and mom planted those you know, each one… 80 acres.")
Decades of history shed as cushions, softly crunching beneath every step.

“Run, crawl under the cottage, find a 2 by 4,”
 nail it to a tree and scrawl “Welcome to Tiny Town”…
(it should have read “welcome to your sisters’ imaginations”)
“Run, go get the blankets!”  Throw them over jackknife cut clotheslines tied between trees, stretched out and held down by heavy rocks hauled from the lake.
"We need more rocks!"
Skip along paths raked clear of pine needles to visit ‘neighbors’ 5 or 6 trees away.
A forest neighborhood of tents and girls.
Strap fallen branches to trees that corral stick horses with paper bag heads.
Listen to the stampede ride down the path to the hootenanny circle of empty coffee cans tipped upside down for drums. Sit on a rock and beat them with sticks.
"Jump down turn around, pick a bale of cotton."
Create. Sing. Dance.

Race through the forest to Grammie's house, dodging horseflies,
slamming screen doors and calling "Yoo Hoo!"
Stir the sweet iced tea in her chipped, white pail and steal a sip while corn fritters fry in crisco and butter... as saliva pools in anticipation.
Faces glisten from the buttery drippings of corn cobs,
washed clean by watermelon juice and a forearm.
Taste. Smell.

Skinny dip in the moonlight while waiting, waiting patiently for the fudge to harden… ohhh… the fudge made by the smart, tired woman who was never too tired to make fudge. 
Run from the lake, hold the towel wrapped tight, dripping, ... up the stairs...
sand covered feet dipped in the metal pail of water at the back door.
Carefree as the mice who scurried over rafters to make their nests as warm as ours
in the stained plywood walls beside our beds.
‘Til mother’s trap would snap in the middle of the night,
and there’d be one less playmate in the morning.
Lay on your little bed and listen to the symphony of cricket air.
Peek silently out the bedroom window,  waiting in the dark for momma raccoon to come,
then watch breathlessly as her babies slip quietly from the forest to feast on corn cobs we had licked and other scraps of raccoon delight.
Sleep. Dream. Remember. 

"Show me the way to go home."

Patricia Spreng

Joining tonight with d’Verse Poets for Open Link Night…  where you will find the wonderful words of poets.

Monday, October 3, 2011

giant thank you from the bottom of my heart to new friends at (click here....The High Calling and all the wonderful people there…. I thank God for blessing me with the gift of your friendship, teaching, hospitality, and encouragement.  Here’s more of what He gave me while I was at (click here...   Laity Lodge

For the beauty of the hour
of the day and of the night
every hill and valley
tree and flower
sun and moon and stars at night

Hallelujah, hallelujah, Lord of all to thee we raise
Hallelujah, hallelujah, this our song of grateful praise.

Origingal  hymn lyrics by John Rutter