Poem 10 (National Poetry Month): World of Fire

World of Fire

By Michelle Garren Flye

It’s hard to inspire

In a world of fire.

It’s best to prevent

Such a common event.

If day to day life

Is uncommon strife

The world fails

To hear your wails.

In a world of fire,

Down to the wire,

Very little impresses.

Even your caresses.

Every day a travail

No way to set sail

No way to escape—

This is your fate.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 9 (National Poetry Month): Inspiration Comes After the Storm

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

A walk after rain is often enlightening. A walk after rain in the spring never fails to bring to mind e.e. cummings. A walk after rain while thinking of e.e. cummings will either bring inspiration…or make you feel like a dullard. I’ve had it both ways, but I still like to try.

April 9, 2020

Inspiration After the Storm

By Michelle Garren Flye

Shhh.

This is my favorite part.

After the storm,

When the world comes back to life.

Listen.

The birds sing their

Survivor song.

I walk quiet

Through the mud-

Luscious world

Cummings warned me about.

Careful. Feel it?

Desire.

For the words

For the waiting photo

For inspiration—

But all I see is the mess after the storm.

Leaves and branches

Cast aside,

Petals litter

Wet pavement.

My dog stops to watch as a bird bathes in a puddle—

But I didn’t bring the right lens.

We walk on…Oh,

Where is my balloon man?

But wait.

Listen.

Shhh.

I hear him now.

Or maybe it’s a frog.

No, look.

That leaf is new.

That rose.

That puddle with petals

Of the dogwood tree

Drowned inside.

Oh yes.

This is my favorite part.

Inspiration always comes after the storm.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 8 (National Poetry Month): Spellbound

April 8, 2020

Spellbound

By Michelle Garren Flye

I stopped for the butterfly,

Spellbound by his splendor,

As if he were dressed in finery

At an event where I wore jeans.

Sunlight sparked jeweled wings,

Black and gold speckled shade.

Magnificence in the midst

Of common beauty.

He took no notice of me

Though I froze in place

To make way for his jaywalking.

He just fluttered by,

Leaving me foolish,

A heart-deep longing

He woke in me.

Out of focus, but maybe that’s best. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 6 (National Poetry Month): Mortality

April 6, 2020

Mortality

By Michelle Garren Flye

Immortal words are hard to match.

Immortal actions impossible to catch.

Mere humans cannot hope to fight

What Gods defeat with a show of might.

Yet we plod on, we persist in trying.

Some may even come close to flying.

But most of us remain on the ground,

Our wings clipped, our feet earth-bound.

Do the Gods of Olympus laugh at our effort?

Do they snicker as we grovel in the dirt?

Or maybe some of them can’t help but admire

That rain and wind cannot defeat human fire.

Mortal deeds may be undone over time.

Statues fall, paintings fade, words fail to rhyme.

But persistence in spite of defeat impresses,

And that alone accounts for our successes.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 5 (National Poetry Month): Light

Light

By Michelle Garren Flye

I see you.

Falling, gliding, from the sky.

You slide across a spider web,

Amazing feat of parkour.

Skating across the water,

Dancing, dazzling.

You skip nimble from ripple to ripple.

Even when the curtains are shut, you sneak in.

Sometimes you hurt.

Maybe you don’t mean it, but you do.

I turn away, close my eyes against the tears,

But they come anyway.

You never fail me, though, even in the darkest night

And bleakest day, I can find you.

I see you,

And that’s your gift.

Light. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 4 (National Poetry Month): Everything Grows (for the Bard)

An attempt at a sonnet, sort of a sonneninzio, inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 15:

Everything Grows (for the Bard)

By Michelle Garren Flye

Everything grows, according to Shakespeare—

From the smallest microbe to the tallest tree.

Everything rushes to ends we all fear,

Hurrying along to the only way to be free.

What happens to us in the end, do you think?

What happens at last to the things that grow?

When life’s grasp loosens on eternity’s brink,

And we find ourselves caught in the universe’s flow.

What mysteries might we at last resolve?

Some say we fade, less important than we thought.

But maybe we find our way to finally evolve?

Into something better, something we’ve always sought.

Whatever happens, we can’t deny the bard was right.

Everything grows, everything rushes into the night.

Everything grows. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 3 (National Poetry Month): Zoom…Zoom…Zoom

It’s my oldest boy’s birthday, so I’m taking a break from the depressing stuff and celebrating him. Happy birthday to my son.

Zoom…Zoom…Zoom

By Mom

Time flies when you’re having fun, or so they say,

But I can remember each individual day.

From the time you were born,

The last day diapers were worn,

From taking your first step,

To each and every time you wept.

The joy of you has kept us wondering what’s next

From the moment you drew first breath.

It’s not always easy, in fact life can be hard.

But you’re up to it, Josh, you’ll do your part.

Hang in there, have faith, and I know you’ll see

Just how much happiness a good life can be.

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: An Empty Bookstore

I know how lucky I am. I get to go into a bookstore every single day. In these coronavirus days, that’s something special. Admittedly, I know this time is a setback. I certainly never imagined I would end up closing down for weeks and possibly months this soon after becoming the owner of a bookstore. But life’s lemons make sweet lemonade if you know the recipe, and for me, that recipe includes a lot of books and time.

Today, I will go back to the bookstore. I will sit behind my desk and do paperwork and hope the phone will ring. I will spend some time dusting and rearranging shelves. And I will spend some time just sitting silently. But I won’t be alone.

An Empty Bookstore

By Michelle Garren Flye

An empty bookstore is still quite full.

Just sit silent and listen for a minute.

You’ll find the characters of another soul

Acting stories for your entertainment.

Look there! It’s Hazel from Watership Down!

He’d best watch out, McGregor’s not picky—

Peter Rabbit escaped and ran into town,

And farmers say all pesky rabbits are tricky.

In a quiet corner, the Little Women gather.

Meg, Jo, Amy, Beth dream dreams of future days.

I wonder what they’d think of today, whether

Marmee would approve of our wayward ways?

Curious George flies a kite with Paddington Bear,

Ignoring Jekyll’s Hyde lurking in the shadows.

Scarlett O’Hara ponders which dress to wear

While Atticus Finch seeks to deal legal blows.

Over yonder lies Dracula’s coffin in state

And don’t forget to check in on Miss Havisham.

Now that you’re ready to flee, just wait—

Anne Shirley is here with green egg’s Sam.

The longer you sit quiet in this empty place

The more peopled you’ll find it is in the end.

You know, you can do the same in your own space?

Books are all you need to make a friend.

Out of focus

Focusing on one thing at a time makes it difficult to see the big picture. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Today I sat in my silent bookstore hoping for the phone to ring with someone wanting to take advantage of my Covid-19 remote shopping option. The silence is of my own making. I closed to the public at the end of last week. It felt like the right thing to do.

It’s very difficult right now to know what the right thing to do is because it’s difficult to know what to focus on. Medical experts who say this epidemic will not end well if we don’t continue to isolate ourselves? Government hopefuls who expect real life to echo the movies and miracle cures to materialize out of thin air? Economic brains who anticipate the further shutdown of the economy to be more catastrophic than thousands of deaths?

And truly, it’s hard to see the true danger. It’s invisible until it hits you or someone you love. The medical community understands this. They’ve given us the tools to defend ourselves (wash hands, don’t touch face, remain socially distant), but they warn if we don’t use them, the effects will be devastating.

The truth is, though, this silent and invisible enemy will be the most devastating one we’ve ever faced if we don’t listen to facts. Scientific facts—something we’ve been trained to disbelieve in our recent alternative fact universe—are what can save us, but how likely are we as humans to listen now that so much is at stake? Our lives depend on it, but are our pocketbooks more important?

What do we focus on? We can’t focus on any one thing, really. We have to see the whole picture. All at once and from every angle. And know that what we don’t see—the invisible—can harm us.