The Swamp of My Subconscious


I sprawl out over the sun-baked earth as if shoved. My hands burn from the scrape, and my face lands flat on its side.

I get to my knees and blow dirt from my mouth. All around me is a barren wasteland. No vegetation or shade exists except for the thin dark clouds that block the sun’s warmth. The ground is a jigsaw of bleached mud, and there is no wind.


Behind me is the thick iron gate of my consciousness. I don’t bother turning back; there’s nothing for me there.

I stand with shoulders slumped, alone in the familiar unknown. I shut my eyes tightly until my eyeballs throb. A muffled scream of frustration shudders through my body, and I pull my hair with my fists.

Even here, I can’t fully express myself. My pain and madness dwell too deep, like a volcano erupting at the bottom of the ocean. It passes quickly, and the tears evaporate before they can stream down my cheeks.

I look up to the sky and see nothing but endless grey. I sigh deeply and start the journey again.

I’m tired of this trek. It’s aimless and exhausting and repetitive. The same visions run through my mind as I put one foot in front of the other. I look ahead and see a shadow in the distance.

Instinctively I point myself in that direction, I know it’s probably pointless, but I can’t think of anything better to do.

A thought comes to me as the shadow grows bigger.

“Is this it?” I ask myself.

Something like hope flares in my chest, and my stout legs propel me a little faster.

I smell humidity, and my tongue begs for moisture.

The shadow comes into view. It’s a swamp. I stand on its edge, letting the moist air caress my face. It smells dank and mysterious, but it’s a welcome relief to the dry nothingness at my back.

Trees twist and tangle with each other; the space between the massive mossy trunks is black as pitch. The buzzing of mosquitoes, the long croaks of bullfrogs, and the strangled screech of some unknown animal bring sweat to my brow. Still, I yearn to explore, to make some final stand at the last secret of my scoured unconscious.

I have to see what lies within.

I push aside a giant spiderweb and step onto the spongey muck of the swamp’s floor. Mud sucks at my feet with each stride. My shirt clings to my body with sweat.

It’s surprisingly still in here, and close. I push through until the trees start to spread, and I stand at the edge of an inky black bayou. In the middle is a small island.boat-2-1553001-639x852

I’m not surprised to see a battered aluminum Jon boat leaning against the arthritic trunk of a Cypress tree. I wrestle it onto the water sending ripples across the surface. I grab the paddle hidden beneath the roots and climb in.

It’s like paddling through molasses. My shoulders ache with each stroke. It doesn’t take long before the hot sting of sweat streams into my eyes.

I run aground on the island. For some reason, I hurry onto land and look back to see what’s following me. I see nothing. The shore has disappeared, shrouded in mist.

The island rises behind me, so I turn and begin to climb. I crest the little hill and stop in my tracks. Four Frogmen stand there as if expecting me. They are seven feet tall with long muscular legs and arms wrapped in multi-colored skin. Small tunics cover their waists, and each holds a long spear with feathers hanging below the tips. Huge mouths frown at me, and their bulbous eyes stare unblinking.


The one in front has green skin mottled with black and gold spots. He points a long amphibian finger at my forehead. Electricity shoots from the tip, hitting me on my forehead above my nose. It knocks me to the ground.

I get to my feet quickly, and we stare at each other again. They look at each other as if passing some unseen communication. I pull a knife from my waistband and crouch.

“A fight? Is that why I’m here? Come on then!”

The bullfrog in front steps forward on his webbed feet. Two golden balls sit at the hinge of his jaw, reflecting the dull sunlight. He drops his spear as the others spread out in a straight line behind him. They begin to croak rhythmically and pound the butts of their spears into the ground.

He raises his arms to the sky and springs forward. He covers the thirty feet between us in one leap. I look up as he descends, thrusting my knife into the air. His hand whips my arm to the side. He lands on my chest, pinning me to the soft earth.

His strong hands hold mine over my shoulders, and he opens his gigantic mouth as if to swallow my head. I twist one arm free and slice the soft white flesh of his belly. He croaks and rolls backward. I do the same.

I rush him headlong, letting out a primal war cry. He uses his gigantic frog legs to shoot forward, his eyes squinting in focused determination. We collide, his bulk knocks me to my back. I plunge the knife into his ribs. He opens his mouth in my face, and his tongue flashes out, wrapping around the blade. He swallows it down in one quick movement. His hands surround my face like a vise.

“Why?!” I scream.

His eyes soften a little somehow, then his tongue lashes out again. It wraps around my head and across my eyes. A burning sensation erupts behind my eyelids, and I scream.

He lets me up. I thrash around blindly, swinging my arms and spinning in circles. I claw at my eyes, trying to wipe the reptilian spit away. It doesn’t work, and the pain brings me to my knees. I lay defeated writhing in pain.

“See,” says the bullfrog, “Open.”

“It hurts!”

“Open. See.”

The pain has scrambled my brain. All I can hear is the croaks of his brethren. It drowns my senses; I have no choice but to obey. I force my eyes to open, and the pain disappears.

I rise and look out across the swamp. The mist is gone. Everywhere I look, I see life. The trees glow with energy, and my ears burst with the sounds of insects and animals. The black waters teem with life.

I sob uncontrollably as tears stream down my cheeks. I look to my guide. An aura of red and gold light surrounds him. I run into his embrace and feel the warmth of his body healing me.

He pushes me away, kindly, and removes a golden ball from his jaw. He presents it to me, and I accept it. I swallow it down in one gulp. My body transforms.

“You,” he says as he sweeps his arm, presenting the swamp.

I nod. I understand.

He returns to the three Frogmen. They thrust their spears into the sky. As one, they leap high and dive; I see their light streak below the surface of the water in opposite directions.

I gather my new legs beneath me and jump into the bayou. My slimy skin lets me slip through the water with ease. I plunge quickly and push off from the bottom with a mighty extension.

I break the surface of the water like a missile. The clouds part as I ascend. The sun shines on my face, and the air cools my skin. I hang for a second before dropping. I see the swamp is a mystery of hidden living things and its power throbs below me. I hurtle downward at incredible speed. The bayou rushes towards me, and I hit the surface of the water like a nuclear bomb.

I’m the epicenter of a massive shockwave. The swamp explodes outward, and a tsunami of water and living things rolls over the barren wasteland of my subconscious returning life to all that was dead.

I paddle the boat back to that great iron gate and open it. My frog skin sloughs off my body.

I return as a man.

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC

The Unwritten Page


Tonight I say good-bye to an old friend.

I’m not sure why I feel so sad about its passing, besides the fact that’s just the kind of guy I am. And yes, I find it strange that I personify inanimate objects the way I do. I don’t deny I’m a romantic.

I say it’s strange because I’m not a keeper. I curse the clutter that surrounds me. I’m always looking to minimalize and reduce whenever possible, yet I mourn the loss of a rusty old car or a plastic popcorn bowl. I know those things meant something to me. They were there for me when I needed them to be just what they were.

Some things have a way of elevating their importance in my life.

The leather-bound journal I received from my wife two Christmases ago is one of these objects. Blank pages make my imagination soar; they give me the power to create from nothing. Once written, they safeguard the words and images my mind concocts. It’s an old friend always willing to listen to the darkest of thoughts and provides the most honest reflections.

There were days last year I did nothing but write in those pages. I unlocked desires and rid myself of guilt. I began to transform my life in that messy mad-scientist way new beginnings always manifest themselves.

The book itself is beautiful. A thick leather cover surrounds weighty blank sheets that absorb the ink like a sponge. An embossed tree and Celtic looking designs remind me of the sacred relationship between man and page and pen.

I cherish this journal.

This Christmas, I was given a new journal. It’s just as inspiring as the last, but it’s different. No designs adorn its exterior, and the pages burst with compacted lines. A place to put the date sits atop the header, and a thicker leather thong wraps around it.
The significance of these details engages me. Why has this particular journal been gifted to me now?


Structure; it’s the next stage of my development. The blank page allows me to wander, but the lines give me discipline. Dates remind me of the shortness of life that now is the time to get started. A plan is in order, and the tools are there for me.

The road to living the life I desire might be on these pages; to make them real, I have to write it down.

Where it takes me next will be an adventure.

Write. Discover. Unlock.

-Mike Sposito Owner of Spowerks LLC

Isn’t There More to Life Than This?


Coffee, decades of pot-lucks, and just a hint of mildew permeate the cold white-washed concrete walls. A slow moving line plops spoonfuls of  hot food from an endless line of casseroles. Arthritic hands wrap around steaming cups of decaf and elbows come to rest on heavy folding tables covered in cheap plastic table-cloths.

Ah, the “coffee-and” gathering of the Catholic church lyceum.

I sit on a brown metal folding chair making small-talk about chicken salad and cupcake frosting. After ten minutes I start to squirm. I hate small talk. It’s forced and uncomfortable to me. I look out the window at a blue skied day that I could be enjoying, but no, social conventions force me to the church basement.

“Isn’t there more to life than this?” 

How many times have I asked myself this question? How many times have I felt trapped in a situation I didn’t want to be in? How many times has boredom and conventional existence made me feel like I was wasting my life? I should be exploring, adventuring, traveling, tasting life.

We head outside. It’s Palm Sunday and a local farm has brought two donkeys in honor of Christ’s arrival to Jerusalem.

I check my watch wondering how long this will take. My youngest is whiney and clingy, but my oldest wants to ride.

I watch him mount Jesse James, the smaller of the two donkeys, as he goes on a slow walk around the side yard of the church.

When he’s out of earshot he throws an arm into the air and waves it around in a circle like a cowboy about to lasso a stampeding bull.

I snap a picture of him and suddenly I’m struck at how beautiful a day it is. It’s Spring at its best. The sky is blue with just a few puffy white clouds. It’s warm enough for short-sleeves but the steady wind keeps it from getting uncomfortable. The grass has turned from winter-brown to a verdant green, and the smell of emerging life hangs in the wind.

I smile and wave at my son, once again amazed at the lessons he teaches me. Mike has the ability to make a two minute donkey-ride into an adventure. He shares his gifts of enthusiasm and imagination without shame or apology.

It’s infectious.

How much has my yearning for “something better” blinded me to the incredible beauty that surrounds me? When have I truly shared my gifts for the benefit of others? When was the last time I sought to inspire instead of waiting for inspiration? 

“Isn’t there more to life than this?”

God, forgive me for asking that question.


-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC


The Carpenter’s Son

We were in Lowe’s for two hours today.

Cedar or pressure treated? 

One raised garden bed or two? 

1x6x12 or 1x6x8?

At one point, around forty-five minutes in, an employee came over to check on me as I stood there frowning slightly and staring up into the rafters, “Need any help?”

“Hm? Oh, no man I’m just converting cubic feet to cubic inches in my head. You know…topsoil.”

We drive home with a pick-up full of wooden planks. My wife is chatting away next to me about work but I’m barely listening. The 4×4 post is staring at me in the rear-view mirror.

A hot uncomfortable feeling creeps up my neck and a knot twists in my stomach. I’m gonna have to cut that post seven times.

Seven. Straight. Cuts.

I can’t cut straight.

Table saw? No. Bandsaw? No. Hand saw? Hell no.

I don’t know what my block is. My measurements are ok, my pencil lines are straight, I’m comfortable around machinery, I even have a little table that clamps the wood down for me. 

My youngest sees a DIY project afoot and his excitement is palpable. He helps me carry the wood into the garage, hands me screws, and asks me questions. He’s amazed at the speed-square and spends most of the time making X’s on the wood and tracing straight lines.

I muddle my way through the cuts, (I tried the reciprocating saw this time. Honestly, what did I have to lose?) and in an hour of work the garden beds are complete.

It feels good to make stuff.

It feels really good to make stuff with your son for your wife so she can enjoy her hobby.

I wonder if this is why God chose a carpenter to be Jesus’s step-father. 

There isn’t a ton about Joseph in the Bible, but you get the sense he was a good dude. He takes care of his pregnant wife with a child that is not his own. He escape’s a king’s persecution and trots across the hot desert via mule. Not a great honeymoon, but he doesn’t complain. 

I thought of him today when I was with my son dodging splinters in the garage.

I like to think of Joseph in a shed or workshop with his son. He sands for hours. He measures and re-measures. Hammers pound nails and saws drone on in the summer heat. Did he curse when he got a splinter? Did he offer his son a swig from the wine jug after finishing a table and chairs when Mary wasn’t looking? Did they let out long sighs together as the cool water of the river washed off their sweat and sawdust?


Joseph gave his son something even God could not. He gave him the experience of a working man. It isn’t easy to get up early every day. There are deadlines to meet, materials to buy, tools to sharpen and unhappy clients. It’s tough to find the joy in your work, but carpenters are true artisans. They have vision and patience. They push through the sore muscles and bloody knuckles.  Their reward is to look at that table or cabinet or chair with the tired happy feeling of a job well done, or a slap on the back and a heart-filled “Attaboy!” They are the few that can look at a rough piece of lumber and know the beauty and usefulness within it’s knot filled flesh.

Maybe this metaphor is a stretch, I don’t know. What I do know, is that the simple boxes I made today will have dirt and seeds in them tomorrow.

And from there, life.

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC



3 Gifts


  1. The Sun

A close relative of mine is hospitalized. It’s one of those horrid encounters where something small becomes more and more serious. It’s a tough week of ICU and “let’s watch and see,” comments from the doctors. Things  improve then his blood pressure dips. Blood pressure improves then his fever spikes.

He’s middle aged, a father, a successful man, but here he lays on a bed of ice, hooked to machines and gazed upon by the stern countenance of wary doctors.

He turns the corner and a wash of relief floods the family. As quickly as it starts, it finishes and his wife sends us a pic of him snowblowing the sidewalk the next day as if to say, everything is back to normal!

But a change occurs.

I see him at a family function. I’m on the couch and he stands in front of me. 

“I went outside today and just stood in the sun and let it warm me. I’ve never done that before in my whole life.”

He looks a bit nostalgic as he says it, maybe for the years lost not enjoying the simple embrace of our life giving star, maybe just a longing for the feeling it gave him that day.

But when he looks at me I see happiness.



2. Compassion

The start of March Madness brings with it a slew of bloody noses in my house. Not a day  goes by without one of my sons standing in the kitchen, hands out wide, leaning over the floor saying, “Uh, dad, I have a bloody nose.”

My days on the rugby pitch and the wrestling mat have made me adept at nostril-plugging and the crisis is usually averted within a minute or two.

One night, my youngest goes to bed, but I let the oldest stay up to watch the Sweet 16. We sit in the tv room yelling at the screen and oohing at long three pointers. Amidst the clamor of the game the baby steps down off the stairs. He’s crying with a bloody nose. We rush to him and clean him up but he is inconsolable. He says he’s knees hurt between sobs. Maybe it’s a growth spurt or he’s over tired, or maybe he just feels left out of the excitement.

I kiss his head and say, “Why don’t you watch with us for a little bit?” He nods and sniffles. 

“I want Michael.”

His brother perks up and lifts up the blanket next to him. Benny scrambles underneath and cuddles with him. Mike wraps an arm around him and tells him how he hates bloody noses. He pats his head and just sits with him.

He’s asleep in minutes. Safe and comforted.


  3. Direction

I buy a suit. I’m dreading the process. The sales people are high pressure and the tailor gives a few too many “hhhm”s for my liking, but thirty minutes later I’m swiping my card.

I feel good when I leave.


I’m not sure it’s a real epiphany. There are so many decisions I feel I have to make, I often feel paralyzed. “What if…” dominates my mind and makes me second guess everything.

I have reached the point where I say, “Enough.”

Apply for the job. Do the workout. Start the diet. Read the book. Buy the suit. Do something.

As I renew my faith I’m struck by this idea of direction. Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves, helping others, accepting help, letting go of fear, loving more freely and openly,…all of these simple yet life changing actions require direction. A step away from what we hold onto so tightly.

God’s path is winding and long.

But the direction is forward.


-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC


Faith, Fear and One Mother of a Tornado

Image result for tornado

“It’s the tornado siren take cover!”

The huge crowd surges forward. They scatter over the wide flat land as I run for the line of trees ahead. There’s a small house or shed sitting there. I know it will offer little  protection, but what choice do I have?

I get inside with three other people. I look at my surroundings. The shoddily built structure sags to the right and the walls are nothing more than a series of decaying wooden slats. I look through the rectangular hole that was once a window.

It is the largest, most awesome, most terrifying thing I have ever seen.

It stretches from ground to cloud. It is the dark angry grey of a savage sea. It swirls and churns, eating the ground before it. I see it and I know there is no escape. It is moving too fast, directly towards us, and it is too wide to run from. 

I’m frozen with fear. The only thing I can do is stand there and face the terror, somehow this calms me and steels my nerve.

My mind clears. I stand up straight and watch it come.

It’s twenty feet away when it’s cut in half. The anger and darkness of that horrible funnel disappear. I look out the window to the right to see if it’s changed course. No, it’s gone, but a final updraft grabs a teenage girl. She’s sucked two hundred feet into the air like a particle of dust in God’s vacuum.

The wind loses energy and she’s dropped, I know the impact will kill her. In the two seconds this happens I feel I owe it to her somehow to watch this transpire. I can’t save her but maybe I can be with her somehow. Maybe I can connect to her by the sheer will of my emotion and a quick prayer. Maybe my heart and mind can cross the space between us to give her some form of companionship before she feels the cruelty of unmitigated violence.

She is a foot from the ground, and something stops her. It’s an invisible caress of power. It catches her gently and lifts her a few inches before laying her on the grass. It looks like when my wife would put our sons down in the crib; soft and gentle and loving.

I’m amazed and my heart feels warm. Sunlight fills the air. I watch a few others lifted and placed on the ground, and suddenly I know, deep in my soul, inexplicably, everyone survived, everyone is saved.

Deus ex machina.

Then I wake up.

So begins this morning.

I lay back on my pillow still a little out of breath, trying to piece it all together. 

The swirling destruction of a tornado is an apt metaphor for my mind. Goals, desires, worries, fears, safety, legacy, and the millions of thoughts that swirl through my consciousness often send me running for cover. I seek any protection I can find, no matter how shoddily it’s built.

How many times in life have I felt this way? That things have become so big, the inevitability of my destruction is imminent, that there is nowhere left to run?

Is the dream a premonition? Is my mind screaming at me to watch out!

No, the answer comes to me unceremoniously: 

I was saved when I let go of fear.

Others were saved when I was with them in spirit.

God is with me, always inside me, always around me, and that is what brings me serenity. I don’t have to solve every problem and most of the time I can’t help those around me to my satisfaction. I watch them get swept up, and I can only pray and send them love.

In this Lenten season as I meditate on Christ’s sacrifice I can’t help but feel that is the lesson of the Passion. By dying for our sins, he says to us:

I love you. Let go of fear. Pray. Send love.


-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC





God on the Uptown 1

Image result for 59th street subway

The subway station at Columbus Circle is massive. It’s three levels deep, and spreads beneath 59th street like a giant ant colony. The 1, the A, the B, the C, and the D converge here, the halfway point between Brooklyn and the Bronx via Manhattan. Uptown, downtown, even crosstown commuters flood the station running for connecting trains.

In the summer of 1999, I was one of those runners. I had a little job in midtown working for Fordham’s Public Affairs Office, and I lived in the Bronx with my brother.

New York is brutal in the summer, especially underground. There is no air conditioning in the stations, and the only relief from the oppressive heat is a warm rush of foul smelling air pushed ahead of speeding trains. 

The heat and the stench is not the only inconvenience. At Columbus Circle there is a staircase so long and wide and steep, I’ve seen tourists stand at its base just looking up, mouth agape. 

It’s on these stairs I hear an angel.

The voice cuts through the screech and rattle of dozens of underground trains. It rises above the din of thousands of hustling commuters. It stops me in my tracks.

Though my train is ahead and not below, my curiosity gets the better of me.

I descend.

There on the landing stands a large Asian man. He is singing an aria in a language I suppose is Italian.

It is beautiful.

A small circle has formed around him. Strangely, there is no open guitar case asking for donations, no sign asking for help. He is just there, singing and playing a keyboard.

I watch the people around him, as I often do, running for their trains. More than a few pause and listen and smile before continuing on, others stay to watch. The performer has no idea. His eyes are closed. He is dedicated completely to his work.

Sometimes performers from the Metropolitan Opera House do this. They find a public space and perform free of charge just to practice, just to share their gifts. 

Below this impromptu opera, at the bottom of the stairs is a woman and a stroller. 

I see her hair matted to her sweaty forehead and the slumped shoulders of an exhausted parent. I go to her, but I’m too late.

A man in an expensive business suit grabs the front of the stroller and together they make it to the top. Without a word he sets the stroller down gently and continues on to his train.

I’m struck.

I’ve seen this scenario, at this station, a hundred times before. Silk bloused business women in high heels, sweaty men in tee shirts, college students wearing back packs, all grab the stroller, all make the ascent together. She never asks for help but someone always does.

She yells out a “Thank you,” and they wave, or say “No problem”, never looking back.

It is beautiful.

I think of that staircase as I get reacquainted with my faith.

The little church in our town, Saint Columba, is small and simple. I went there this morning. 


There is no mass and the door is always unlocked, so I go in. I take some pictures of the stained glass and the altar. I say a few prayers and listen to the quiet.

When I open my eyes I see a statue of Mary. Next to her is the Corporal Works of Mercy. On the other side is Joseph and the Spiritual Works of Mercy.


It is an interesting moment for me. Here I am alone in a dark quiet church, praying and enjoying the silence, yet before me are two lists urging me to get out and start interacting with our world and people in need.

In the midst of scandal and atrocious evil it’s been hard for me to go to church, to even say I’m a Catholic. I’ve become the “I’m more spiritual than religious,” person, filled with mistrust and disgust. In the church’s ongoing struggles I find myself feeling righteous. I feel validated that I question the Vatican to the point of disbelief. Who are they to tell me what to do, what to think, what to believe?

Questions swirl through my mind every day, but I don’t think sitting in a dark church is getting me any closer to a solution. I need to start living Christ’s example; by finding the good that does exist in the Church’s teachings and take action. 

I’m nervous that by taking this stance and renewing my faith, I am somehow distancing myself from some people. I hope that isn’t the case. I want you and I need and I love you.

If you stay with me I can offer you companionship.

Whatever our identity, whatever our belief, whatever our burden, it’ll be easier to climb that staircase if we lift together. We each have gifts to share and a song to sing.

If we’re lucky, and we push through the noise and the heat and the foul stench, we may just hear an angel.

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC