Poem 23 (National Poetry Month): Stay

Inspired by the juvenile owl I saw perched next to his nest in my backyard while his parents chased away the hawks that saw him as prey. As well as my own experiences letting go

Stay

By Michelle Garren Flye

I know the wild world calls—

You want to spread your wings;

But, stay, a little longer, dear.

Put off your springtime flings.

Trust me when I say to you

I remember feeling that way—

Like I’d burst if I didn’t leave

To dance on the wind and play.

But stay, a little longer, dear;

There’s no need for you to rush.

There are dangers you don’t know

That all your dreams may crush.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 21 (National Poetry Month): Waiting in the Wings

This morning it occurred to me that the whole world is really “waiting in the wings” if, as Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.” Of course, that made me realize how much I miss the theater. “My” theater, one of my happy places, is being renovated during this unscheduled downtime, and I’m thrilled for the possibilities. I’m also a bit worried because I don’t know when we’ll be able to get another production on the stage, even though we do plan to. But plans don’t mean much right now, do they? Will our cue ever come? While we wait, though…

Waiting in the Wings

By Michelle Garren Flye

We’re waiting in the wings,

Listening for our cue.

It’s dark while the lead sings—

Only one spotlight will do.

The scene goes on forever…

It’ll never be our turn!

The ensemble is just extra,

Of little to no concern.

Oh but when the time comes

We’ll burst upon the stage

With light and color and costumes

The audience to engage!

We’ll flit about the floor,

Dance steps we memorize.

No one will dare snore

When our chorus arrives.

But now we wait in silence

Hoping we’re in tune.

We give each other guidance:

Our cue will come soon.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 20 (National Poetry Month): Soul Snakes

Soul Snakes

By Michelle Garren Flye

There’s a barrel of snakes in the corner.

I’ve given each one a different name.

Take a look but do not get much warmer!

They are poison, this is not a game.

This one for instance, he is black and white.

I call him Prejudice for he can’t believe

Anything a bit different or unlike

Could be okay—he just can’t conceive.

His best bud is Racism, you can guess why.

Look there at the green ones, that’s Envy and Greed.

Wrath is a slippery one, he’s really too sly!

Indifference is this one, he ignores when you plead.

They’re all mixed up in my big melting pot,

Writhing and twisting, living in your heart.

(They usually find they can pick their spot.)

Decaying the human soul is their only art.

But look I have an experiment to show!

If I add this big one to the pot here

The others will ever more poison grow—

And that’s what you can expect from Fear.

Not a poisonous soul snake. Just a pretty little racer I saw this morning. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 19 (National Poetry Month): Haiku Poem

Haiku Poem

By Michelle Garren Flye

Wildflowers grow fast

Where the lawnmower neglects

To stop their progress

Pink, white, violet

Mix it up on the roadside

Bumblebees’ delight

Forget a bit more

Let nature’s course continue

Color eases thoughts

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 18 (National Poetry Month): Walking Outside on a Windy Day

Walking Outside on a Windy Day

By Michelle Garren Flye

I walk outside to the wind waiting for rain

a fluttering clash quickly dissipates

so when I turn my head

I see only a single feather

twirling down

the only evidence that remains

of the maelstrom

before the storm came.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 17 (National Poetry Month): COVID-19

I considered titling this poem “Lasting Effects”, but I prefer the blatancy of this title instead.

COVID-19

By Michelle Garren Flye

Don’t do that, it will make you sick.

Don’t go out—don’t even try.

The virus is out there, it’s too quick,

You can’t outrun it, you can’t defy.

But what if it never ends?

What if we’re stuck this way?

There may be no amends

If the virus is here to stay.

Fear has found a place of assembly,

Even in the hearts of the brave.

Soldiers cannot fight this enemy,

And maybe there is nothing to save.

Maybe this is what we’ve earned

Through years of war and strife—

When we’ve never really learned

What’s important in life.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 16 (National Poetry Month): Lost Days (For the Seniors)

Like many I fell for a Facebook trend recently which consisted of posting your senior photo in support of this year’s graduating class. I don’t actually have my senior photo anymore because it was a few years ago, but I do have my old yearbook, so I pulled it out and took a pic of my old photo. And posted it with some encouraging words for this year’s seniors who are basically missing out on a pretty fun part of their lives while we take our corona break.

But I started thinking. Was that post more about me than it was the seniors? Probably. I mean, I looked good at 18. We all looked better than we do now, let’s be honest. I got a lot of nice comments on the photo, too, and those are always good. But how in the hell was it supposed to make today’s seniors feel better?

So, as an act of contrition, I wrote a poem, and not just any poem, either. An Italian sonnet, which is widely regarded as a difficult form. Here goes:

Lost Days (for the Seniors)

By Michelle Garren Flye

Just a worn out page in an old yearbook,

A memory captured in a photo.

Days gone by in years long past, but lo!

Posted here now for you to take a look—

To show you we know what you forsook.

Has anyone ever been dealt such a blow?

Taking your freedom, knocking you low.

But we’re here with you, do not be mistook.

Wait! Is it possible we are in the wrong?

What is an old photo but a memory kept,

An experience savored in celebration?

This is what you’re denied all along.

These lost days are what you have wept—

While we make posts of self-congratulation.

A more appropriate photo for quarantine. Enjoy the little things. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 7 (National Poetry Month): Mother’s Storm

April 7, 2020

Mother’s Storm

By Michelle Garren Flye

The storm hit us finally, with a smack—

A big, backhanded, whack.

We didn’t know quite what to think.

Why would Mother do us this way?

Why cast us into the fray?

Why would she push us to the brink?

And yet rain poured, and the water rose.

We were in it up to our nose.

And the storm, we found, was the link.

We figured out Mother wasn’t just mad,

No, our Mother was downright bad.

She wanted to blind us, wanted us to sink.

That’s not in a mother’s nature, it is true,

But when she’s thrown askew,

Mother Nature will kill without a blink.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Peace and Rubble (is this how we go?)

Humans, as a whole, have a difficult time seeing clearly beyond their own noses. I’m guilty of it, too. Some have a gift of empathy where they not only see clearly what is happening to others beyond their own experience, they feel it, too. These poor creatures are definitely the exceptions.

Look at what’s going on now. Here in southeastern North Carolina, we’re dealing with the restrictions that COVID-19 has placed on our entire nation, we’re watching the news and seeing the numbers tick steadily up—but the people around us don’t appear to be sick. Maybe some of them are, but their cases must be extremely mild. We know that there are more cases out there and we could be next. We know it, but we don’t, for the most part, actually feel it.

And so we go on about our lives. We’ve taken up new hobbies, returned to old ones. The kids go to “online” school every day. Some of us are chafing a little at the restrictions. My kids can’t see their friends. My oldest is missing the second half of his sophomore year at college. But over it all, right now (and it may be short-lived), I have a feeling of profound peace. I’m not rushing anymore. I’m not feeling guilty for devoting so much time to the theater work I love instead of making dinner for my family. I have time to fold laundry and wash dishes. I’m enjoying this unanticipated vacation.

And I know it shows a lack of empathy that I can feel peaceful right now. Maybe this is the end of everything, maybe it’s the ruination of our country, maybe it’s the apocalypse. Anyway…

Peace and Rubble (is this how we go?)

By Michelle Garren Flye

If this is the way we go, I think it’s the way I choose:

Family all around, safe in our home, with love as real

As the things I care about—the only things I have to lose;

Maybe that’s wrong to say but it’s the way I feel.

It’s an odd war we’re fighting, of that there is no doubt.

The enemy is hidden, you can’t even see the rubble.

There’s nothing to show on the nightly news, no bout

Of bombing or flattened buildings—maybe that’s the trouble.

Instead of fighting, we’re asked to sit still and quiet

Don’t go out, stay home with your loved ones, they say.

There’s a special joy in that if you’ll only find it,

A life you’ve not given yourself time to live—until today.

Poem: Unstoppable (an ode to art)

When this whole coronavirus thing started, I mourned the theaters closing down, the canceled basketball seasons, the silenced concerts. In my mind, art is what makes us all who we are, whether we make it, appreciate it or resist it. That’s why repressive regimes cut art funding. That’s why freedom of expression is the first freedom lost and the last to be regained. Art pushes boundaries governments don’t want to be pushed, and when it’s given up voluntarily as it has been in the Covid-19 crisis, I sometimes worry it won’t return easily.

And yet.

Art is still happening. Theaters are finding ways to stream plays. Musicians are offering live stream concerts. Sports fanatics are getting their fix by watching classic games. And this got me started thinking. Art has always found a way. It always will.

Unstoppable (an ode to art)

By Michelle Garren Flye

It squeezes through the cracks.

Look there, at that wall, solid brick

Built to contain, to hold back, to keep out.

Sturdy and solid, at least eight inches thick…

But don’t lose concentration, don’t turn your backs!

I tell you, if you do, it will creep through the cracks.

It’ll ooze through the tiniest of the littlest of spaces.

And what harm can that do, I can just hear you ask.

What harm can a little bit do, even in the worst cases?

I’m glad you asked, because it’s likes poison in snacks.

It’s the sneakiest of things, when it slides through the cracks.

No one understands just how serious it is.

It will decay all our rules, promote thought and reflection.

That kind of thing will spell the end of all this.

Maybe it’s time we start to make tracks.

You can still stop it! Maybe pile sticks into stacks?

Or chew up some gum to stop the hole fast?

As a last measure, you can hold it back with your hands?

But you’ll feel it squeezing, creeping, oozing past…

There’s no way to keep art from getting through the cracks.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye