S. Clay Sparkman – Five Poems


He keeps the moon in his car

The waltzing fool, he keeps the moon in his car.
He pulls stars from the sky like a man plucking
fruit from a low hanging tree, parts them gently and
relishes the creamy white flesh within. A glint and

a wink and the star is gone, but the fecund sky won’t
miss it. And the waltzing fool, he laughs and he laughs,
for he understands that the earth may feed us but will
never dissolve the hunger. A ladder to the starry

sea above–constructed of dew drops on a still wet
morning–should be considered by those who are
earthbound. Or perhaps a rocket of crab grass and
vine will provide a vessel for the journey. Or sometimes,

a wayward arm that reaches out of a dream to
touch something out there–this will do. The
object of course, as the waltzing fool will tell you,
is to walk on the earth while you dance on the sky.


All that I am

All that I am is
the ripple that I make, the
splash, the roiling wave,

the slow erosion,
as I pass through the lives of
fellow travelers.

All that I am, you
see, is the soft whisper that
marks your beating heart.


A possible fix

Everything depends upon
a mother walking her child
home from school,
hand in hand,

the child
into the future.

If you want to make the
world a better place,
hit pause.
Photoshop out
all the rest.

Hit forward,
and let the world resume,

a path toward


Russia, 1991

In St. Petersburg, I was so alone.
A guy with a backpack and the desire to
conquer the world.

Among far away strangers,
I wandered. Darkness came out to
greet me. My posture reflected the

weight of my despair. I searched
the crowds for recognition, for a hint
of knowing, but came away empty. And so

I resolved myself to my great alone-ness.
Which is why I could not comprehend
when I looked up through the window

from within the subway car and saw you
smiling from the platform, enshrined by
the immensity of your offering.

I knew of course that you could not be
real. And still, I smiled back at you in that
instant as the train pulled away.

Years have gone by, and that train
still leaves the station. And I ask myself:
Are you still standing there?


With a Penan Indian in Borneo

I said, “How far is it to the next village?”
He said, “five hours, four if we walk strong.”

I said, “Is my pack too heavy for you?”
He said, “No.”

I said, “What’s that sound?”
He said, “The Cicada. It’s the loudest
creature in the jungle.”

I said, “Except for a clumsy foreigner like me.”
He laughed a little and did not disagree.

I said, “Why are there so few men in the villages?”
He said, “Because they have had to leave. They
take jobs in the city, and send money back home.”

I said, “How many of your people still remain on Borneo?”
He said, “We don’t know. Maybe a thousand.”

I said, “Are any of them still nomadic?”
He said, “A few.”

I said, “Why do your people look so healthy in this place?”
He said, “Because the ones who get sick all die.”

I said, “Do you love the jungle?”
He didn’t answer,

and we both walked on in silence
toward the next village.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

There is not a thing, a person, a place, or an idea that isn’t beautiful. We are constantly surrounded by beauty. The challenge is not in finding beautiful objects and conditions. The challenge is in learning to see the beauty in various objects and conditions. It is all a matter of perspective. And this is why poets and artists bring value to our lives. They are our Beauty Guides. They teach us how to see the beauty in specific things, and in the process, they conribute to our abilities to personally discover the beauty in all things.

Of course, some beauty is more easily seen than other. I don’t need a poet or an artist to show me how the Taj Majal is beautiful. The Taj Majal *is* art! And could it be, there are too many poems attempting to show us that love is beautiful? (Who would argue otherwise?) But perhaps a poet can help me to see the beauty in a leaf floating on a lake at sunset. Or in a broken hearted person watching that leaf float on the lake at sunset. And maybe we need the artists and the poets most of all to seek and find light in the very dark spaces. One might ask, “What is beautiful about a young girl dying of cancer?” Well, there is beauty there if we are prepared to open ourselves to it.

One thing I am sure of, even if I can’t explain it: Beauty, love, humor, and suffering–they are all various manifestations of the same underlying stratum.


S. Clay Sparkman was born in Portland, Oregon. A book of his poetry was published as A Place Between Two Voices (by Tabor Hill Press). He has spent much of his life bouncing back and forth between a more conventional existence in Oregon and a less conventional existence exploring and living in an eclectic smattering of places upon this orb. He is married to a Chilean woman, and considers Chile to be his second home—maybe his third. He currently lives and writes in Nicaragua, where he shares an ancient colonial home with his wife, Veronica, his 12-year old son, Javier, his dog, Lola, and his cat, Torcha—along with many geckos, snakes, scorpions, and things that go “bump” in the night.”