COMMENTARIES ON BARBARA “SPARKPLUG” O‟SHEA
Serious social and political commentary can be downright boring. The Captain Talking Heads sound the alarm, the troops line up predictably, the battle is joined, the Horse Cavalry charge in from all sides, waving flags of Truth or Die or Politically Correct. Ho-hum, we yawn, hitting the television mute button, knowing full well what is being said. It is just plain stupefying. Barbara "Sparkplug" O'Shea comes along and smacks us upside the head. Yo, she says, listen up. We've been down this road before, ya buncha nincompoops. Indeed, in No Name, Vol. II, she writes "Backwards marching ants/are leading the way/to underground civilizations…” and we can picture instantly the swaggering shock and awe nonsense of just one of our most recent aggressions, plunder and conquest embedded as they are in the American psyche. In this little zinger of a poem, there is no indication that there are any lessons learned, but reading her smart jabs is a lot more interesting than the droning of the media. But O'Shea doesn't just point her pen at foreign conflict. She doesn't flinch at all in Train Station, 5 a.m. when "this Louis Farrakhan wanna-be had been pacing around/shouting and insulting people for several minutes..." and racially blisters a seat-mate before his parting blast "YOU HONKIES STINK!" In her early-morning commuter world, no one makes much sense, just like the larger world around them. O'Shea's intelligent, caustic pieces are light-hearted in tone and packed with chuckles as one reads along, but when she brings the hammer down, there is no mistaking what she thinks is going off the rails. I can't wait for more of her punch.
- WREXIE BARDAGLIO