Day 21: Happy National Poetry Month

Today we have another poem written from a poetry prompt. You can find the prompt list here. I chose the first one, which says:

Grab the closest book. Go to page 29. Write down 10 words that catch your eye. Use 7 of words
in a poem. For extra credit, have 4 of them appear at the end of a line.

Fun! I work in a bookstore, so it was, actually, hard to figure out which book was closest. I actually have four poetry books sitting on my desk, but it didn’t seem right to choose those. So I looked to my left instead of my right and found a copy of Where the Red Fern Grows. I don’t know about you guys, but that book scarred me for life. I’ve been afraid of axes ever since.

It has amazing words in it, though. I found these on page 29:

  • shaggy
  • sigh
  • jackets
  • patched
  • sycamore
  • pokeberry
  • mountains
  • comb
  • cloth
  • spiderweb

Needless to say, it was not difficult to form a vision with these words to prompt me. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. Much of my life is colored by those years. I related to all of the words in this list…except pokeberry. But I do like the word!

Anyway, this is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy:

Memory Bank
By Michelle Garren-Flye

Spiderwebs hang shaggy
from dusty doorframes
in this old house
in my mind.
I keep the memories
I treasure there:
winter coats laying 
on the oil stove to warm
before we step out 
into cold mountain air.
We laugh when the polyester
scorches, leaving small holes
on the interior
that no one can see, anyway.
I discard the patched up jeans
that made me sigh
and the battles with the comb
in Mama’s hand.
It’s best to forget some things.
I do love buttercups. Photo and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye

Day 20: Happy National Poetry Month

The eclipse was on my mind all day yesterday even though I couldn’t watch it. I remember the total eclipse in August 2017 very well. My family made an event of it, bought the silly safety glasses and sat outside to watch. It was fun. What fascinated me the most was the way the sun cast crescent shaped shadows. I loved those. The whole experience was magical, like night and day meeting and declaring a truce.

In other parts of the world, they got to see a pretty cool eclipse yesterday when the moon exerted her power over the sun for a short time before moving on. That’s why I wrote this poem. However, as you know, I’m a fan of K-pop and yesterday Moonbin, a member of the Korean group Astro, died unexpectedly at the age of 25.

I’m not a huge Astro fan but I did know who Moonbin is, and K-pop fandom is like family (or a cult), so yes, I was shocked and sad when I heard of his death. It felt like someone close to me had died. I can’t imagine how his real fans felt. So I changed the last line a little bit and I’m dedicating this poem to him.

The Power of the Moon
By Michelle Garren-Flye

Watch now.
This is where you’ll see.
Day belongs to the sun,
but watch!
The moon drifts between
and dims the light…
Remember the last time
when all the world grew dark
on a cloudless day?
I never told you, but I peeked
and then I was afraid
so I watched the crescent shadows
cast by the leaves
until the sun returned.
But I couldn’t help but wonder:
What if the moon decided not to move?
What if he stayed? 
From 2017’s eclipse. If you know a K-pop fan, check in with them. Chances are they’re not okay.
Photo and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye

Day 18: Happy National Poetry Month!!

Did you enjoy yesterday’s live poetry reading? I’m actually thinking it’s good for me to do stuff that’s not terribly comfortable for me, so I’m toying with the idea of keeping it up. I’ve tried recording myself reading poetry, but there’s something about the live aspect that makes it a little tougher. I mean, you’re basically just talking to the whoever shows up. I’ve never been a great conversationalist…

Anyway, moving on, today I have not one, but TWO poems for you. Yay! National Poetry Month has definitely shaken something loose in my brain so I can think poet-like again. Or maybe it’s spring, which definitely inspired these two poems, which started out as one poem, but I realized they’re actually companion poems.

I hope you enjoy.

***

Springlight

By Michelle Garren-Flye

 

I’d like to be the light you see

when clouds part after rain—

transform leaves into glistening green glass

and reveal jewels on flower petals.

Can I be that for you?

I want to be the sunrise

at the end of the long night,

blooming over the horizon,

spilling into the fields

and onto your face with a soft shimmer.

Will you turn to me?

My desire is simple, really:

to be a glimmer of hope,

a shimmer of sunlight,

a ray in the darkness of night.

Is that what you want, too?

 

 

Springnight

By Michelle Garren-Flye

 

I want to be the night

closely covering you,

a breath of a caress

graying out the day…

so you can leave it all behind.

You won’t be afraid of the dark

when the Dark is me, will you?

I’ll let the stars sparkle

and the moon set a path for you

so it won’t be all black,

but you’ll find comfort in me, too,

a rest the day cannot provide.

Fear has no place in me

because you will not be alone.

Cuddle up in me,

I’ll be your blanket,

silvered by starlight

and delicate dreams.

 

Spring is glorious! Photo and poems copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye

Day 17: Happy National Poetry Month!

I didn’t do a live yesterday and I seriously considered not doing one today but decided that’s the coward’s way out, so…anybody wanna join me on Instagram? I’ll keep it short.

Look out world, I’m going to read poetry!!

Day 16: Happy National Poetry Month

So yesterday I posted a failed sestina. But what I didn’t realize was it could always get worse. My second try was so bad I named it “Take 2” and I haven’t even gone back to work on punctuation and capitalization. If you’ve ever read the children’s rhyme about the old lady who swallowed the fly, then the frog to eat the fly, then the cat to eat frog, well, that’s what Take 2 is like. I can post it here for fun. Shall I? Why not? This is all about learning, right?

Take 2

let me tell you a secret

it’s beautiful like a rose

although filled with regret

you told me a lie

when we stood in the rain

but still I decided to stay

why should I stay

I dream of places so secret

and getting lost in the rain

until the sun’s rose

reveals that lie

you told without regret

I cannot help but regret

the decision I made to stay

even after I knew the lie

that you tried to keep secret

by handing me a rose

all covered with rain

here comes the rain

and it fills me with regret

that I can’t find a single rose

or a real reason to stay

but it’s still a secret

that you told me that lie

don’t we all tell a lie

when we stand in the rain

we keep it a secret

so that we won’t regret

but do we stay

or follow the compass rose

follow the direction of the rose

or choose. Instead. the lie

we never know unless we stay

if it will always rain

and that, I guess, is my regret

after all, it’s not a secret

if you regret the lie you told

come find me in the secret roses

where I stay, living in the rain

Truly awful. Sestina three is slightly better. I chose the words at random. I’m not sure why it’s a murder mystery/ghost story set in South Korea (okay, my fascination with Korean drama and K-pop probably influenced that), but it’s definitely better.

Han River

Meet me by the Han River

where no one looks like me.

But I’ll carry a yellow rose

and you can wear a white coat.

That’s where I can tell my tale

of love long lost and buried.

Meet me where seeds are buried

asleep on the banks of the river.

Are you sure you wish to hear my tale?

it’s really only about me.

There’s no real way to sugarcoat

or exchange my yellow for a red rose.

It’s been a while since I rose

from where they thought I was buried

and stood without dress or coat

at the edge of the Han River.

I’m not sure why you linger with me

just to hear this tired old tale.

They thought I’d never tell the tale

of how I was deceived by his rose

and how they tortured and murdered me,

dug a shallow grave and buried

me there on the frozen banks of the river

where ice had begun to freeze and coat.

I saw a beaver shake water off his coat

and I whispered him my sad tale

before he slipped back into the river.

It was winter then, there was no rose

of any color where I was buried

in this icy wasteland where they left me.

You say you’re only here to help me,

you in your beautiful white coat.

Do you know where the dead are buried?

Do you know how to tell my tale?

But we watched as the sun rose

above the banks of the Han River.

The same river where they buried me…

I can’t pin a rose on your white coat…

My tale ends here where I am buried.

So that’s where I am with sestinas. It is definitely not my favorite form I’ve tried, but it is the most challenging. I didn’t think it could get harder than villanelle, either! Will I continue writing them? Tune in tomorrow to find out. In the meantime:

Day 15: Happy National Poetry Month?

Today, I fail.

Well, it was yesterday, really. I flopped. Hard. While looking for a poetry prompt to write about, I came across these very interesting ones. (I’m totally not blaming the prompt here, but my lack of skill.) One of them was to write a sestina, a form I’ve never tried before. Several others included the normal “write a poem with these words in it” along with a list of words. One of these was “fire, spice, burn, chill, tangled”. I loved those words. (Note the past tense.)

Welp, I decided I was going to write a sestina using those words (plus one I chose) as the end ones for the six lines of the six verses a sestina is made up of. Easy, right?

A word of advice for would-be writers of sestinas (although who does that to themselves these days—besides me?): read a few sestinas first before wading into the fray. Sestinas are madness. Not only do they use the same six words at the ends of the lines for all six verses, these words have to be in a particular order. It’s like the Mad Hatter designed a poem.

But some people can make it work so elegantly! I read some sestinas after I wrote my hot mess. The good ones are beautiful and tell a story you’ll love listening to. I looked at my mess and laughed.

Part of the secret of sestinas, I believe, is to choose the right words. I haven’t quite figured out what words those are yet, lol, but I’m going to try to write a sestina with these words for tomorrow: secret, rose, regret, lie, stay. I chose these words myself, so I can’t lay the blame on anyone else tomorrow!

Anyway, if you want to wade your way through my hot mess, check it out:

Hell

By Michelle Garren-Flye

 

I want to run away from the chill,

find a way to add some spice

to the ice that holds back the burn.

Each moment I become more tangled—

break to gaze at a tarnished star—

and race headlong into the fire.

 

I feel it in your touch, this fire

that may at last unfreeze the chill.

I’ve wandered too far from my Star

living this life without spice

in this web of lies so tangled.

Let’s just watch it all burn.

 

Why say chill out when I want to burn?

Of course, the heat is hottest in the fire

but maybe it will loosen what’s tangled.

Let me leave the web that chills.

It’s not impossible to live without spice

but you’ll never make to the stars.

 

Are tears enough to add spice

when you find yourself all tangled

and there’s no one around to start a fire

to light the way—a nearby star

may guide you but it will not burn

and you’ll feel the wind’s chill.

 

Hot and cold become entangled

and the light of the distant star—

so hot when it leaves home may chill

as it crosses space, loses its burn.

Banish me into the fire

sweetened with ginger and spice!

 

Essential to life is warm spice;

in the scents you can be tangled.

The smoke will lead you to fire—

a flame in my heart like a star.

Take a moment to watch it burn

then return to the everyday chill.

 

A tangle of herbs may produce spice

to add a burn to dispel the chill

but nothing matches the fire of a star.

Today I fail. Tomorrow I rise. Photo and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye.

Day 14: Happy National Poetry Month!

Good morning! Today I’m presenting a fresh poem, but it’s actually one I wrote yesterday. I revised a bit this morning. And it’s all about this:

The world is a Monet painting. Photo by Michelle Garren-Flye

That’s what my yard looked like day before yesterday. Gorgeous, right? Absolutely. I love flowers. I especially love wildflowers. But spots of it were well over ankle-deep. I do not like snakes (I mean, I’m okay with them in theory, but since one killed my dog, I haven’t been super fond of having them near my loved ones). I also don’t like rats and mice in the house and keeping your yard cut back is essential to discouraging pest infestations.

And so I cut my yard. As much as it pained me to cut all those beautiful flowers, I did it. Because I’m a grownup, damn it. Sometimes that sucks.

Massacre

By Michelle Garren-Flye

I mowed my lawn yesterday,

painful as it was to cut down buttercups

and crowpoison and violets.

I picked a few to make a bouquet,

but the rest I had to let go,

sacrificed to the mower’s blade.

Tell me please, what else could I do?

Rats love weeds and grass

and don’t care if flowers contribute

to the refuge they require.

In shadows, snakes slither through,

so the overgrowth must go!

And still I knew I would miss

the cheerful heads I decapitated

so I stole a moment to admire

Nature’s beauty I must erase.

A masterpiece of color and scent

nevertheless met its fate.

The bouquet I picked from my backyard.
Photos and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye.

Day 13: Happy National Poetry Month

I’ve never been reliant on poetry prompts before, but this month they’re really helping me out. I’m not doing the live writing today because I’ve already had a thousand interruptions, but I will tell you this is a fresh poem I wrote from a prompt I got here. It’s number 22, and, just as I’ve never liked relying on poetry prompts, I especially (usually) despise prompts like this one that give you specific words to use.

And yet, that’s the one that caught my eye. As a nod to the fact that I am definitely not always right, I used the prompt words for the title. I hope you enjoy this one. It’ll probably be in my book of love poetry. Possibly with a different title.

new rain card chance

by michelle garren-flye

i’m putting pieces of me together everyday

finding them in unexpected places

maybe i lost a small one down a drain

that i’ll find again in the rain

my mother sent one to me in a birthday card

i neglected to open until now

this search takes a toll it’s really hard

but with every moment i learn more about

how to check the hard-to-reach spaces

behind shelves and above cupboards

there’s no telling how far the bits of me strew

when my heart broke into a thousand pieces

i doubt i’ll find them all before i die—

I can replace what’s lost with something new.

I mowed my lawn yesterday, painful as it was to mow buttercups.
Photo and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye

Day 12: Happy National Poetry Month

Good morning! It’s 10:15 a.m. and I’ve just gotten settled at my desk with a cup of coffee and no idea what kind of poem to present you with. So I’ve decided to try the live poetry writing again. I kind of enjoyed that. Much more than I enjoy my live poetry readings, lol.

So I’m off to find another poetry prompt.

10:23. I found one. It’s not going to be an easy one to write. You can find it here. The prompt is: Write about neglect.

10:30. Sorry. Got distracted by my cat. I’m back.

Neglect (working title)

By Michelle Garren-Flye

How long since I looked at you?

You’re withered, turned brown,

no more blooms of blue,

lonely face droops down.

Mama shifts in her chair,

I know she’s in constant pain—

but the nurses did her hair.

(10:44. I have customers so going to have to take a break.)

(10:51. Where was I? Oh yeah.)

Mama shifts in her chair,

I know she’s in constant pain—

but the nurses did her hair.

And I’ve been away too long.

Walk away for a while,

forget to answer the phone

or water the plant

or leave someone alone.

(10:55. More customers. Might be interrupted again…)

Mama clings to my ginger hug,

her body so delicate, my own

health felt like a rude insult.

This old hospital is killing me.

(11:20. I was right. I was interrupted. Multiple times.)

When the mourning’s over, though,

drop the dead into the trash bin

even as tears track down, slow

when you remember the body so thin.

(11:32. First draft finished. Going to see if I can do a rewrite now.

(11:56. I finished it. And ouch. Read if you want.)

Neglect

By Michelle Garren-Flye

How long since I looked at you?

You’re withered, turned brown,

no more blooms of blue,

lonely face drops down.

Mama shifts in her chair,

I know she’s in constant pain—

but the nurse did her hair…

and I’ve been away too long.

Walk away, pretend it’s only a while,

forget to answer the phone

or water the plant

and leave someone alone too long.

Mama clings to my ginger hug,

her body so delicate, my own

health feels like a snub.

“This old hospital is killing me.”

When the mourning is over, though,

drop the dead into the trash bin,

even as tears track down slow

when you remember the body so thin.

Photo and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye

Day 11: Happy National Poetry Month!

Once again I went to the internet to find a poetry prompt this morning. This one came from Poets & Writers and is highly appropriate for me although I did tweak it a bit. It says to write an ode to your favorite singer, placing them in a particular moment in time.

What better prompt for someone who can’t get through a day without listening to K-pop, right? I didn’t write this poem to anyone in particular, though. It’s more an ode to the genre, which is why the title is “Noraebang”, the anglicized word for the Korean word for “Karaoke”. It literally means “music (norae) room (bang)”, which is what I try to imagine my head is sometimes. An empty space that I fill with the good feelings of the music I’ve filled my life with.

Music is a funny thing. It twines itself into our memories and feelings. I reached a point in my life where a lot of the music I had enjoyed for a large portion of my life was too twisted into a part of my feelings that I needed to get away from…and then K-pop happened. A genre of music that is mostly positive and was completely new.

It helped me rebuild myself. And that’s what this little ode is meant to share.

Noraebang

By Michelle Garren-Flye

When I can’t sleep

I listen to you instead:

turn up the music

and you fill my head.

Push out all the doubt

that plagues my soul.

Fling off the loneliness,

allow me to be whole.

It’s only a sweet moment,

this stolen away time,

but for that space I feel

as if everything rhymes.

A photo I took at my first K-pop concert (Stray Kids) from last month.
Photo and poem copyright 2023 Michelle Garren-Flye