Prose Poem: Here Goes by Michelle Garren Flye

pexels-photo-533671.jpegHere Goes

By Michelle Garren Flye

Time for you to take the wheel. I’m tired and lost. You can find the way out. You have Snapchat and Twitter and the iPhone X—all I have is Goggle. I mean Google. And Amazon. Hey, I can buy us a Garmin. Maybe that would help. You know when I was your age, we had Rand McNally Road Atlases.

I don’t know when we got to this point. You an adult and me old. I remember when I looked at the world the way you can now: like it was mine to take. It’s not mine anymore. I failed. I didn’t do any of the things I meant to do. I didn’t fix the environment or get rid of guns or stop wars or any of the stuff I thought I would do. I don’t know how I got lost. Do you?

Can you see the road? Of course you can. Your eyes are young and your gaze is clear. I bet the way ahead looks straight to you. It gets harder later. Find your way now before your vision is clouded with smog and illusion.

Here goes. Take the wheel. Take the wheel and drive.

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not my child, a poem for yesterday’s lost

IMG_1763not my child
by michelle garren flye
not my child
screaming
crying
pleading
helpless
not my child
hiding
praying
cursing
alone
not my child
listening
waiting
hurting
lost
not my child
this time

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A Little Romance for Valentine’s Day

Writer’s note: When I say little, I do mean little. I used to write flash fiction—stories less than 1,000 words. Mine were often half prose poetry, half story. I set out this morning to write one for Valentine’s Day, sort of a little message to potential readers that it’s never too late to find a new author to love.

Other People’s Memories

By Michelle Garren Flye

The letter crumbled in her fingers when she pulled it from the pages of the old book. She smiled. She loved finding things in the old books she bought that belonged to their former owners. She’d once found a third-grade report card of a U.S. Senator in an old copy of The Hobbit. She often found bookmarks, grocery lists, recipes and little scribbles. She treasured these bits of other people’s lives, keeping them safe in a drawer of her desk.

Her husband didn’t like it. He said it was like taking something from a graveyard and would surely bring bad luck. He didn’t understand the draw of the tiny pieces of history she found. But because he loved her, he let it go. And because she loved him, she kept her little crypt of old memories quietly, without comment.

She read the letter and thought about how her husband would like it if he let himself. The book had belonged to an author he admired, so the letter most likely had too. She could leave the letter there, let him find it when she gave him the book. But would he see it as a treasure or a dark omen? A bit of the past come back to haunt him.

Maybe it was her chance to share her love of the old, but in the end, she decided it would be best to protect him from the accidental discovery. And she put the letter away with all her other antiquities, locking the drawer with a golden key.

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Poem: He Asked the Moon

I often try to make sense of world events and reconcile them with a belief in a higher power with little actual success. For the past month the news has been reporting about the super blue blood moon as if it were either apocalyptic or the answer to all our prayers. I wasn’t fooled. I’ve been taken by that sort of thing before. It’s just a moon in the end.

But it made me think, and when I think, I often write. And so in honor of yesterday’s super blue blood (on the West coast) moon, and dedicated to anyone who’s ever wished on the moon with my sympathy:

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Super Moon and Street Lamp

He Asked the Moon

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

How do you judge us?

He asked the moon.

Hanging in the black sky, cold and alone…

From your vantage you see all—

You watch and you judge.

 

Why don’t you do something?

He implored the moon.

The wars, the famine, killing and fear…

The deaths of the innocents—

Your gaze never wavers.

 

Who are you, anyway?

He cried at the moon.

Your silence is deafening, your light so cold.

Your powers are limitless—

You control the sea’s dance!

 

What would you have me do?

Replied the moon at long last.

Your world is foolish, but it’s not my affair.

You think it’s my choice to watch

Your self-obliteration?

 

Look within for help, man,

Advised the moon with indifference.

Have you no fellows who feel as you do?

Appeal to them for relief—

I was never meant to care.

 

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Poem: The Gift

For absent friends and family.

The Gift

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

it’s a Gift, she said, holding it tight.

why don’t you open it? i replied.

oh no, she laughed, you don’t open it.

 

i studied the golden wrappings,

the shiny, shimmering bow.

what do you do with it then? i said.

 

for answer, she breathed and laughed and cried—

she played and lived as the Gift slowly faded.

but she held it like a treasure the whole time.

 

only then did i see my own Gift bound in gold.

i wondered how i hadn’t noticed it before—

though i’d held it until its light had gone.

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Soldiering On: RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

“Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.” —Ursula K. Le GuinSeattle rose

It’s hard to express the sorrow you feel when a hero dies. Ursula K. LeGuin was one of those people for me, and it’s funny because I’d never really thought much about her until she won the National Book Award a few years ago and said four words I’ll never forget. “Books are not commodities.”

Oh yes, I thought. Writing is art. Writing shouldn’t be directed and commercialized. I’ve always felt that way. And yet, it is. Publishers hold the cards for the most part in the world of writing. Publishers decide what gets published based on what they think will sell—and too often in today’s world, publishers decide what gets written.

It’s a chilling thought that a handful of corporate conglomerates might decide what books you read, isn’t it? It sounds more like a dystopian fiction than reality. And yet…it does happen. I know of writers who long to write a particular story and go to their publishers with it and the publisher doesn’t like it. It won’t sell. How about writing this instead?

And an idea dies.

Maybe it won’t sell. It’s certainly been my experience as a self-published writer that very often my ideas don’t sell. They’re well written. I know I’m a good writer, and a lot of reviewers (not all, but a lot) agree. They’re well edited. I am meticulous about that. The formatting is not as professional as, well, a professionally published book, but my books are certainly neat and clean and readable. But whether it’s because the publishers are right and my ideas are not sellable or because I don’t have a publisher’s ability and know-how to market them, my books are most definitely not bestsellers.

The one thing I can take pride in, though, is that my books are my ideas, born of my dreams and written in my words. Without direction or influence from a dystopian corporate world. That’s what self-publishing has done for me and countless other writers who’ve gotten their words out there in spite of doubting corporate publishers.

Rest in peace, Ursula K. Le Guin. We heard you. And in the end, what more can a writer ask for?

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How to Save a Boiling Frog

The day after Donald Trump’s election was a tough one for me. Like many, I had believed it was a done deal. President Hillary Clinton was supposed to be a thing. I was supposed to wake to a better, brighter tomorrow.

I hadn’t slept much. Before I went to bed, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I saw it in the stunned faces of the broadcast journalists who just hours before had been crowing jubilantly about Hillary’s chances. But now we all knew different.

America had done the unthinkable. America had elected a man who, by all accounts of every expert the media could conjure—economists, politicians, career military men, four-star generals, the intelligence community and even psychiatrists—according to every last one of these “experts”, this man was not fit to lead.

And yet.

I got up at my normal time, though it certainly seemed as though life should have come to a halt. I nearly cried when I looked into my daughter’s eyes that morning. But I didn’t. I let them all go to school and I sat down in my office and began searching for hope on the news sites I’d haunted for months. It couldn’t be real. But it was.

Throughout the day, I cried, I cursed, I thought of friends who would be affected by this man who somehow had been elected to the highest office of the land. What would happen to gay marriage, to the right to choose, to the environment? Oh dear God, what kind of world would I be sending my oldest into in just a year and a half? How could I protect my family from this?

And how had it even happened? How could the world be so different from what I’d believed it was?

I know now that the same thoughts were going on in the minds of many men and women throughout the nation.

As the days and weeks wore on and the inevitable became obvious to all of us, we turned rebellious. The popular vote count grew more and more disparate in favor of Hillary Clinton. Donald J. Trump didn’t win that election. We had pulled it off. Hillary won. She won among educated voters in populous areas. The problem was, she didn’t win among rural voters in states where voters were more spread out. Trump won those. Hillary won in Charlotte and Raleigh in my own state of North Carolina—but the state turned red anyway because she didn’t carry my less-populated county and many of the other mostly rural counties in my state.

Rebellion built and carried us through the inauguration. We laughed at the man who we not-so-affectionately dubbed “45” when he claimed his crowd at the inauguration was the biggest ever. We posted pictures of the record-making crowds who turned out for the historic Women’s March next to the pitiful crowd of supporters who gathered to cheer the president they had elected.

For my part, I marched. I mailed postcards. I called senators and wrote senators and I raved on Facebook and Twitter, just as I’d done for months before the election.

And in spite of this, 45 began the onslaught on my country that I’d anticipated. He appointed unqualified people to posts they should have been disqualified for. He rolled back environmental protections and, in June, pulled the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. At various times throughout his first year, 45 insulted and/or angered Australia, Mexico, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the entire continent of Africa. Germany, France and Canada have expressed distrust for his ability to make the right decisions.

Our closest friends and allies do not trust our president.

But that’s not all. Through Twitter, 45 has continuously needled the U.S. intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Justice, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, his own Secretary of State and Attorney General, members of Congress, and, especially, the media. His lack of faith and knowledge of what truly makes America great has revealed itself time and again and each time I thought, Surely, this time the American people will have had enough. Surely Congress will act and we’ll be rid of this despot.

And each time, I was proved wrong.

Meanwhile, day-to-day life continued. I went back to writing about happy things. Love, romance—fantasies that lifted me out of the carnage I saw 45 wreaking on our government. And I found that as day-to-day life settled in and we were dragged from crisis to crisis—North Korea, the media, the Russia investigation, white supremacists, the Islamic State, North Korea, the media, immigration, mass shootings, climate change, Twitter wars, racist obscenities in the Oval Office, repeated denials and alternative facts—it all became a comfortable blur as I adapted to living in a world of turmoil.

And then, three days ago, while our nation celebrated 45’s one-year anniversary in office with massive protests against him—the government shut down. And suddenly, despite the constant shouting about who is to blame, there was relative silence from 45…and I realized something.

We the People are in huge trouble. We’re like the frog in the pot of water whose temperature has been turned up so gradually he cooks before he realizes he needs to escape. The media has been so busy bombarding us with so much information about so many scandals and crises, we’ve grown numb to it. We’re cooking slowly, but we’re not going to realize it until it’s too late.

And so I pray for some ice to be added to our pot to delay the inevitable just long enough. A Congress that proves it can unite to face down evil. (I’ve seen glimmerings of hope here, though not enough.) A midterm election that Democrats somehow manage to sweep. Or—the iceberg it seems absurd to pray for because if we hit it, who knows what will happen to our democracy—Robert Mueller’s investigation turning up the smoking gun that finally brings down 45’s evil, autocratic regime.

No matter how we cast our ballots, we’re all cooking in the same pot. And unless we all jump out of it together, we’re most likely going to need that iceberg to save the boiling frog.

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