New Project Preview: UnSong

Do you remember the first book you ever read without pictures in it? It probably happened about fifth grade, at least that’s when I remember it.

It felt like a mistake, right? You were told to use your imagination to picture the characters and scenes, and I know I learned how to do that. It was so much work, though, I only really wanted to read the same books—my favorites—over and over. When I was assigned a book to read in school, it was almost always a chore, though some of those classics did make it into my favorites stack.

I’ve read plenty of books now, using my imagination to fill in the blanks left by the lack of art, but I started wondering. Why omit the art? Why not provide a few illustrations? Maybe that’s why graphic novels are surging in the marketplace. I know I still love a good comic book.

With poetry, in particular, there’s a definite need for art. Poetry is not just words. Poetry grows from feelings, is inspired by sights, might be as amorphous as a scent.

Other poets, of course, have already discovered what I’m just now concluding. I mean, look at Shel Silverstein. Also, I recently picked up Gabbie Hanna’s beautiful book of illustrated poetry dandelion in a bookstore (ahem, not mine), read the very first poem in it and got tears in my eyes.

So, like I always do, I’m throwing all my thoughts and feelings about something (in this case poetry), into a big kettle and seeing what boils out. So far, I’ve got most of the poems I’m planning to use and a few of the illustrations…and a title.

Possible cover, but probably not. 🙂 Stay tuned!

A Poem for Valentine’s Day

What if Valentine’s Day was a way to renew what you feel instead of declare it?

Daring

By Michelle Garren Flye

Fold up your petals

Don’t dare to emerge

On this not-even-just-spring-day

You’ll win no medals

In the pre-spring surge

Sp don’t dare rush along the way

But maybe the one who meddles

And pushes life to the verge

Daring to jump ahead of the fray

Will be the one who gentles

That which would otherwise scourge

Maybe Love’s daring will keep us safe.

Idiot daffodil. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

A Brief History of Word Processing and a bad picture of a poem

Okay, so there’s this songwriter/musician I follow on Instagram and am a little obsessed with. (His work, not him!) Recently he’s been posting these amazing pictures of new songs he’ll be coming out with this year. They’re all neatly handwritten in a really cool looking journal with rough-edged, linen-like paper, and they brought back memories of trying to handwrite stories and poems in my own journals back before I progressed to a typewriter and then to a Brother word processor and finally to my MacBook.

I decided I should try handwriting again. So I’ve been carrying around a journal (mine is lined because my handwriting goes hopelessly uphill if I have no guides). I’m not exactly sure why, but poetry eluded me for some time while I carried that journal. I think it was fear. I think I was honestly afraid that if I tried to write something in a journal, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Last night, just as I was supposed to begin making dinner, inspiration finally struck and I rushed for my journal and a pen and started writing. What came out of my pen isn’t exactly what inspiration whispered to me, but I don’t think I did too badly. It’s definitely different writing on paper and not as easy for my inner editor to make me rethink things. A good pen makes a huge difference. I like this one, but it’s one I picked up at my dentist’s, so it may not last long. I’ve never liked writing with a pencil (too scratchy), but I may try that next time.

I haven’t even titled this poem, either. I hope I can read it when I go to transcribe it onto the computer. My handwriting isn’t awful, but as you can see, my inner editor did kick in once or twice, resulting in a few scratch-outs.

What this experience did remind me of was that I didn’t start taking my own writing seriously UNTIL I had a computer. Until I could sit in front of a screen and type my words in and erase as necessary and have a finished product that looked like it should, I was almost literally frozen creatively. I had ideas, but when I sat down to write them, they poofed away.

Is my inner editor that strong? Did it keep me from being creative for years by whispering to me that my ideas wouldn’t turn out right if I wrote them out on a legal pad? If so, what would happen to me tomorrow if the EMP finally happens? If all computers are wiped out, will it take my creativity with it?

Maybe I better try writing in that journal more often.

Poem: Taking the Lead

I’ve been entering contests, so I haven’t had much to put up here recently since most contests won’t accept previously published poetry. I wrote this one this morning, though. because my daffodils are already starting to bloom, and I decided I should share it here instead of trying for fame.

Taking the Lead

By Michelle Garren Flye

There’s always one to emerge before winter’s done.

Poking bright petals out to the sun, as if no one will care.

It seems as if the cold air should bring on despair

But you must lead the way, the charge before spring

When there’s still too much bite for the robin’s wing.

Why come out now, oh, little yellow flower?

Why stick your neck out before the seasons change?

Don’t you know you have no real power

And your appearance now is nothing but strange?

The frost will still nip you back when you bud.

But maybe you’re here to bring hope to us all.

Maybe your courage will stir all our blood!

Why wait for the rest of the world to stand tall?

There must be one to lead the way

To hold up the standard and show that we care.

That first soldier marches so we have one to follow

Like the little yellow flower that doesn’t mind cold air

And risks a frosty death in a show of bravado.

Poem: A Hard Left

Make no mistake. It’s not going to be easy to come back from where we are. “Hard” has more than one meaning.

A Hard Left

By Michelle Garren Flye

Safe footing may take a while.

We’ve hovered so long over the abyss

Trembled with fear, mile after mile

Lips stuttering our tremulous wish

Oh, safety, security, sanity, please

Return to us in our daily life

We know you embody the keys

To free us from all this strife

Now we understand how hell feels

Evil creeping in through marble halls

Peril lingers here, flames lick our heels

Darkness still beckons with wanton calls

We’ve landed just this side of hell

We’ve still got such a long way to go

And our journey may not go well

But at least the direction we now know

Stand still a second before taking a step

Gain your balance, then make a hard left.

The winds of change. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Hell at Your Doorstep

Like many, I’ve been watching the developments of the riot at the Capitol Building last week. Probably more than I should…although, maybe not.

You see, at first, I thought it was a bunch of yahoos that overwhelmed an unprepared bunch of basically mall cops. Were the cops even armed with anything but batons and shields? I wasn’t clear. It seemed, at first, like a bunch of rednecks got out of control at a tailgate party.

Over the course of the past week, it’s become very clear, that’s not what happened at all. The rioting crowd was out for blood. And blood was spilled. Some theirs, but a lot of it from the courageous police who were all that stood between the mob and the fragile gears of our democracy.

I think it’s important that we all not only realize this but accept it. Maybe there were good people in that mob swept up by the evil and the hell. Maybe we all need to be on guard because if the events of January 6, 2021 are any indication, hellfire is just a step away.

Hell at Your Doorstep

By Michelle Garren Flye

Hell’s not far away

Pull back the shade

You know it’s there

It doesn’t try to hide

Watch people tumble

Unresisting to the flames

Follow, follow, the light cries

Come and meet your doom

The eagle’s flight wavers

Courageous profiles darken

When hell flames alight

At your very doorstep

Massive gates won’t stop

The press of fiery rage

Stone burns the same

As wooden crosses then

Thorns bleed tears of wine

Drip down marble visage

Don’t look out the window, love

Hell will greet you there

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Echoes: For Our Congress

Echoes: For Our Congress

By Michelle Garren Flye

Angry bangs and steps echo

In hallowed halls

While souls scrunch under chairs

And keep silent

To avoid detection

Anguished texts and last-minute calls

Words left unsaid must be spoken

Because time is suddenly ending

A doorknob rattles

(Is it friend or foe?)

Huddle down, small one,

Don’t grab attention now

The loud crashes might be gunshots

Those screams might be a friend

Don’t react, keep your cries quiet

Until someone calls the all clear

Then hold your hands up,

Follow directions through bloody halls—

And welcome the U.S. Capitol to the ranks

The domestic terror list that includes:

Parkland

Sandy Hook

Columbine

Listen to the echoes

And know what they endured

Because of your neglect.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

By Michelle Garren Flye

Merry Christmas we cry,

Admiring our tree,

Wishing we could fly

But there’s nowhere left to flee.

The soft glow of white light

Illuminates our night’s work:

Vision of loveliness to our sight

While we ignore what’s in the mirk.

It’s the last of 2020,

The year everything went berserk.

We know that our fates

Rest on whatever comes next,

On untested dates

That still may be hexed.

Maybe, just maybe, our lives will get better?

Maybe we’ll get past this year that was cursed?

Whatever lies in wait is just round the corner—

No time to waste, we plunge in headfirst!

Never mind, doesn’t matter; this year’s a goner.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: I wrote the most perfect sentence

Sadly based on real life events.

I Wrote the Most Perfect Sentence

By Michelle Garren Flye

Right there for a moment

The most perfect sentence

Written in an instant

In a flash of brilliance

Nostalgic but not sappy

Surely worthy of award

I was superbly happy

It struck just the right chord

But I was busy with life

Unable to write it down

Settling scores and strife

Bustling about my town

When at last I sat to write

Nothing was left to recall

Try and try as I might

The words had gone AWOL

When words fail. Art by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: I’m a December Tree

I haven’t put anything up here in a while, but I’m hard at work. I’ve been writing, poetry mainly, but the second comic book is starting to take shape. Rekka and Kat will be back. You’ll find out a bit more about them in the second issue. My poetry is getting better, I think. I can’t always share it because I’m entering poetry contests and the rules say “no previously published work” in most of those. My blog counts as “previously published”, I guess (rolls eyes), so I can’t share stuff I want to enter into contests here. Which severely limits me for both!

I wrote this one the other day and decided I’d rather put it on here than enter it into a contest. I don’t know why. It just seemed right somehow. Maybe something is telling me there’s someone out there who needs to hear it right now.