Poem: On the Screen

What’s happening right now breaks my heart because it was preventable. In fact, it was being prevented. Our Kurdish allies are fighting and dying. Mothers are losing their children. Tiny babies lie in pools of blood, covered in dust. And it’s all because a few men made decisions that meant their lives meant nothing. Life is meant for more. Be outraged. Be angry. Be sad or regretful or depressed. Be anything but accepting of this tragedy. Life is meant for more than ending on our television screens.

On the Screen

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

From across the world we watch as death rains down.

How can we know what to feel?

Safe in our kitchens, our warm homes, our towns—

Not part of the pack anymore.

 

Broken bodies litter the earth but it’s so very far away.

You run, and we don’t miss a meal.

Dust and rubble clear, but your sorrow never may.

Meanwhile we watch the news at four.

 

We shake our heads: Nothing I can do, nothing to be done.

Our hearts go out to your appeal—

But tomorrow’s just a day for us—another day in the sun.

And we’ll check the headlines of course.

 

Across the world, an ocean away, with only the media to guide.

As your hearts’ blood spills

On pavement stones and runs down the mountainside—

Life is meant for more.

 

Poem: Kisses of Steel and Love

Kisses of Steel and Love

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Blow a kiss to the wind, she said.

What good is a kiss? I replied.

Kisses are free to drift—just feathers.

What good is that in a world of hate?

 

Blow a kiss and find out, she said.

Open yourself to the world, embrace

Its sharp edges with your heart.

Blow kisses of steel and love.

 

Blow kisses to stop hate and fear,

To staunch the flow of tears and

To shield us all from the pain.

But I saw the fault in her grand plan.

 

I might blow kisses of steel and love

But pain is a bullet and it flies direct,

While kisses float aimlessly away

Like fluff and prayers on the wind.IMG_6992

A poem for a friend

For Pam

By Michelle

Oh my brain just couldn’t comprehend

But my treacherous heart heard the news

And held it close and took it in

Oh today is gray because you’re gone

Taking your light and helpful spirit

And you won’t be coming around

And oh my heart keeps reminding me

You’re gone.

Oh my friend what you’ve left behind

Has more value than words can say

More than most with twice the time

Oh the legacy of a loving life

The warm work of hands that care

Reminds us soon we’ll see the sun shine

But oh my heart keeps telling me

You’re gone.

Happy birthday, Dickens Magic!

dickens-magicHappy birthday, at long last, Dickens Magic! I feel like I’ve been waiting forever! And what better way to celebrate my latest book in my magic series than by indulging in a little of the magic of the day?

I try to release my magic books on Halloween for a couple of reasons. First, it’s Samhain, the day the Celts believed the veil lifted a little between this world and that of the dead. It’s a sort of “in between” time and magic abounds. For instance:

  • Bat magic. Bats are messengers. Did you know you can send a message with a bat to the other side of the veil on Halloween? Just ask when you see one out and about tonight.
  • Spider magic. Don’t squash spiders on Halloween! If you find one inside, it’s probably a dead relative come to visit.
  • Black cat magic. If you find a stray black cat curled up on your doorstep, don’t scare it off. It’s there to guard your house against evil spirits. Or it’s a witch’s familiar sent to spy on you.
  • Jack-o-lantern magic. You probably have one guarding your front door. My favorite legend of the jack-o-lantern comes from the Southern Appalachian Mountains where I grew up. One of many “Jack Tales” I read and heard over the years. I especially like the one from Richard Chase’s timeless collection. In this version, Jack the troublemaker made the first one when, after tricking the devil into agreeing not to take his soul to hell, he was also refused entrance to heaven. The devil, taking pity on poor, homeless Jack’s soul, tossed him a coal from hell and Jack put it into a hollowed out gourd to light his way as he wandered the earth. If you haven’t read the Chase collection, it’s available here: Jack Tales.

Second, it just so happens that the master of escape magic, Harry Houdini died on Halloween. Even he couldn’t avoid the inescapable clutch of death, it seems. Or could he? Toward the end of his life, Houdini was alternately fascinated and disgusted by the “mediums” of the day. He spent a large amount of his time studying their tricks and exposing them.

And yet, he and his wife Bess promised each other that whoever passed away first would find a way to contact the other with a secret code that spelled “Believe”. So, after Houdini’s death, Bess arranged a seance on the anniversary of his death every year until her own death, after which it was taken up by other believers.

I wonder about the death of Houdini. What better way for an escape magician to cross the veil than when it is, by Celtic belief, at its thinnest? And surely, if he so desired, he could escape that veil. Yet so far, no one has heard from him. If you’re curious about this year’s seance, you can find out more here: Houdini seance.

Maybe this year he’ll tell everyone to buy Dickens MagicIt’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, you know. He and Dickens shared a real interest in the paranormal. More about that later.

For Santa Fe High School…and all the others we’ve failed since Columbine

As a parent of teenagers, my heart breaks at these high school shootings and the texts exchanged between parents and children during them. In a way, this is found poetry, based on actual text messages, though I changed the wording so it could be between one parent and child. Please, please, when November comes, think about how long it will be before you are the one who receives that first text followed by the next desperate If-I-die one.
A Last Tenuous Connection
By Michelle Garren Flye
Someone shooting in the school.
I love you.
I’m coming.
Don’t. We’re on lockdown. You might get hurt.
My teacher is dead.
OMG. Stay quiet. Stay safe. On my way.
If I don’t make it, I love you and thank you for everything.
Don’t talk like that.
I’m so scared.
I know you are. I’m almost there.
No matter what I love you.
I love you too.
I’m here. Where are you?

Lessons of a Favorite Teacher: Like a String of Christmas Lights

pexels-photo-632205.jpegToday I found out that my favorite teacher passed away. Mr. Goins was 75 years old, and I never told him he was my favorite teacher. He was the first to teach me the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of journalism, the first to encourage me to check my sources and back them up, the first to impress upon me that journalism is facts only—my opinion and my point of view do not matter in true journalism.

Mr. Goins was too kind-hearted to be a journalist, but he was the best of the best at teaching it. He led the little band of would-be journalists who made up our high school newspaper The Broadcaster to multiple awards. In fact, it was while attending a ceremony to receive one of these awards that I first stepped foot into Howell Hall of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And I knew I would go there and get my degree in journalism. And I did.

I’m luckier than most. I managed to finagle my way into the job of editor of The Broadcaster during my senior year and I helped found The Purple Fridge, the literary magazine of our high school, which Mr. Goins also agreed to sponsor. So I worked closely with this gentle soul who guided and advised and helped, but never ordered. He never yelled, though once or twice I think we all saw those bushy eyebrows flare over the gold-rimmed spectacles he wore. And sometimes he’d take those glasses off and rub the tear-drop shaped indentations on his nose very wearily.

I’ll never forget going into The Broadcaster office—Mr. Goins’s classroom—after school to ask him a question and find him, more often than not, kicked back in his chair with his feet up on his desk smoking his pipe. He’d drop his feet to the floor and motion for me to take a seat nearby, puff on his pipe and listen, think, and answer. He was never to busy for a student.

I never thanked him for that. I never told him he inspired me to pursue my writing career or that I still remember his journalism lessons like they are Christmas lights strung along the journey of my writing career, lighting my way. But they are. His lessons live on in my life, and I treasure their light. Thank you, Mr. Goins.

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.