Poem: Motherhood

This isn’t exactly a new poem. It was inspired by my oldest son but over the course of the past year I’ve seen more and more instances of strength in all three of my kids. They’ve been generous with that strength, too, loaning it to me when I needed it. Like a warm coat they take off their own shoulders to place over mine.

So thank you, kiddoes. Without you I wouldn’t be me.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

Poem: Sunfall

It’s been a few days since the end of National Poetry Month, and I’ve been busy writing and editing a newsletter for the store, the literary magazine, my own poetry book…

And today I stopped for a minute and read the news.

Bad idea. Bad. Very bad.

You know how I thought we all rush toward our end? The world is doing that right now. But the end isn’t going to be bright and glorious and swift for us all. It’s going to be slow and painful for the unlucky ones.

Please stop rushing toward it.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 30, Verse 30

And so we have rushed, headlong, to the end. The end of April, the end of the beginning of spring, the end of National Poetry Month, and the end of my renga.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life up to this point. I should definitely be past the beginning of spring. Well established in my, ahem, fifties, however, I’m not certain if I ever had one.

This year, this project forced me to look closely at the spring that was not just happening, but living and breathing all around me. I saw how the flowers bloomed, how they started as tiny buds, but because they knew from the beginning what they were supposed to do, they just did it without question. They spread petals, inviting the visits of pollinators and the gentle brush of spring breeze to spread the pollen that not only makes us sneeze but also carries their DNA to another willing recipient.

The flowers do this because they know what they are meant for. As human beings, we question. We doubt our talents and our abilities and our purpose. This leads to anger and resentment and despair. Most of us never fully experience our spring and are therefore not ready for summer because we’re stuck in that thawing stage at the beginning, unable to fully realize our potential because we just don’t believe.

(As an example, I’m doubting these words even as I write them.)

It’s a difficult thing believing in yourself. Going all in for what you want to do and be. More and more I’m trying to do that. Maybe even at this point in my life, it’s not too late for spring.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 29, Verse 29

Ever considered doing something kinda nuts (nuts just because it’s totally out of character for you, not like dangerous or anything)? I feel like I’ve spent most of my life rushing headlong toward the end and now I want to put on the brakes and just enjoy. I might get whiplash if I put them on too hard, though, so I’m still hesitating. Hesitating while rushing onward.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 28, Verse 28

On Saturday I actually give a fairly long speech about the history of poet laureates. I’m a bit nervous, not to mention ambivalent about closing my store for a couple of hours to do it. But it’s the last day of National Poetry Month, and I’m discovering I actually like public speaking once I get past the scary moment at the beginning—and if I am fully prepared with a written speech that I’ve read out loud several hundred times. This was an interesting one, too. I had to do a lot of research since I didn’t know that much about poet laureates (I had some idea that it came from Greece because of the whole “laurel” thing). What I found was equal parts interesting, amusing, and inspiring. If I wrote the speech right, maybe it’ll come out that way for my audience.

In the meantime, my spring renga is rushing to its close.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 27, Verse 27

No real thoughts today except that I do think my artistic skills are improving lol. This rose, compared to the rose in verse 19, is far better. And the rose in verse 19 is better than the ones I drew in 100 Warm Days of Haiku. Most of them, anyway. Hopefully my art will improve along with my writing. We’ll see. That is always my ambition, at any rate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written the greatest poem ever only to read it a week later and think, god, what garbage…

I guess I did have a thought or two.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 26, Verse 26

The other day I ran across a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “‘Tis always morning somewhere, and above/The awakening continents, from shore to shore,/Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.”

I love poetry. (I might have mentioned that.) But mostly I love poetry that speaks to me at a certain time in my life. I think that’s because poetry is meant to reach inside you and pluck at your soul. I think that’s our job as poets. We aren’t lovers. We don’t play heartstrings. We play soulstrings. This particular quote spoke to me. I hope you find something today that speaks to you.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 25, Verse 25

I think this is the fourth year in a row that I’ve done some sort of self-inflicted poetry challenge on here. Every year, I wonder why. Why do I want to add one more thing to my to-do list?

This year, my focus (that word again) has shifted a little internally. Why do I almost always only write poetry with illustrations now? This renga is a perfect example of how it might be easier to just write the poem. By the time I’ve moved on to the next verse, I’ve forgotten what was in the one before.

But this verse is an illustration of what I love about writing illustrated poetry. Poetry is everywhere. Even in a tiny blade of blooming grass.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 23, Verse 23

I’m better at capturing flora than fauna, so the little critter in this one caught me off guard. I didn’t even notice him until I started drawing. He seemed perfect for this spot in the renga, though. One of those “happy accidents” that happens sometimes.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 20, Verse 20

I’m so happy with the way this renga is working out! I have been flipping through the pictures and reading the verses and it’s hard to believe I’ve written it piecemeal and drawn whatever I wanted each day. (I mean, yeah…flowers mostly, but that’s where I find spring, so…)

Before I started this project, I had three very different projects burning on my mind stovetop lol. Now the other two are safely simmering on the backburner (not forgotten!) and I have a focus. It’s a reminder to me not to let my hypercreativity overwhelm me. Focus. Find it. Don’t force it. But when you find it, you can make wonderful things.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye