Haiku study continues

Seriously. What does make a haiku good? I know it when I read it. I know it when I write it. I’m still trying to get to the point where I feel I can do it consistently, though. Here’s an idea:

#40 (eh)

Pretty pink roses

What secrets do you keep there

Beneath your petals?

#41 (not bad)

Dragonfly swoops low

Lands on water’s smooth surface

To meet Reflection

#42 (s’okay)

Lie here beside me

Look at the clouds and dream

What do you see there?

#43 (maybe?)

It rustles the brush

Stalking the moonlit midnight

Fearful manifest

#44 (not bad)

Hard to remember

Winter in mid summer heat

Ice when all is fire

#45 (love this one, but I made it a full poem)

why would you think all

the fire in the world is yours

you are left with ash

#46 (eh)

Light shines in the rain

Love awaits us in those walls

Home sweet home again

#47 (not bad)

Smell of fresh death floats

On hot wind with crackly leaves

Fallen trees are mourned

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Ash

Ash

By Michelle Garren Flye

why would you think all

the fire in the world is yours

you are left with ash

tiny candle flames

will not light your way to bed

the wick is all gone

firelight burned long ago

leaves only the stench of days

already gone by

and i claim the sun

as my own personal lamp

i’ll leave none for you

look in the ashtrays

search the burned out homes you left

as a memory

dig your way into dust

and cinders, the residue

of the lives ruined

when you claimed the light

and the fire and the passion

was yours for taking

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: No Edges

No Edges

By Michelle Garren Flye

I decided to be edgy much too late

Soft living makes soft edges

And those are just curves

Rounded spaces don’t agree

With razor sharpness

Anyway

So I’ll just go on preserving

Circular surroundings

(Circles have no end, no beginning

They mean forever

And a day

But that’s too long for anyone sane)

And leave the sharp spears

To the young people

Those who can still afford

To poke holes

Where they don’t belong.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Thirteen Haiku

I’ve been studying haiku and how to write it, what it’s supposed to mean. It’s interesting. Haiku used to seem like an incredibly easy format to me. It doesn’t have to rhyme. It’s just a certain number of syllables and lines. Turns out that’s not really all haiku is.

By reading some original Japanese haiku from Matsuo Basho, I’ve learned that there’s more to haiku than just counting syllables and lines. It’s more about the feeling you are left with at the end of the poem. So haiku isn’t so much about what’s there as what’s left. If that makes any sense.

Anyway, here are thirteen haiku I’ve written over the course of the last few days. I’d love to know if you have a favorite. Do any of them leave you with anything?

#1

The gardener prunes

But new growth won’t be restrained

Bright green emerges

#2

Fireworks entertain

But divisive words excite

Rebellion looms near

#3

Stained glass wings hover

Glory in the hot summer

Swoop fast, stop away

#4

2020 sucks

plague, famine, deluge and war

make a new start now

#5

it’s the halfway point

the race isn’t won yet

can we just restart?

#6

Heartfelt empathy

Pain from any side will hurt

Shut down the spirit

#7

No lightning tonight

Just rain falling in the pines

Sounds lonely alone

#8

Dark voices cry out

I search for them in the sky

Black wings spread, take flight

#9

Crows call murderous

Shrieks splitting the morning light

I listen and smile

#10

Desirous waking

Leads to newspaper reading

This day just the same

#11

Stay home to be safe

Wear a mask, don’t go out there

Life is lived this way

#12

Spiders don’t frighten

But dark doubts creep up on me

Fear takes over life

#13

Disaster movie

Background characters await

Saving grace. The end.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: My True Name (for the NRA)

My True Name

By Michelle Garren Flye

Horrible, beautiful monster,

Come here into my embrace.

It’s only with your care

I feel I will win the race.

watch, watch, watch

be always on guard

behind your camouflage

ready to do your part

And then it happens—so quick!

Safety is naught but the feel—

The cold, the smooth, the slick—

Dangerous sensation of steel.

stalk the enemy, be ready

they’re coming for you now

fight the bastards…steady

into their midst you plow

But it’s blood, not rain that falls

When the shooting starts.

Patriotic freedom palls

And before me a red sea parts—

beautiful monster, you cry

shall I whisper in your ear?

Death is the name I go by

and when you call, I’m here.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

poem: hope

hope

by michelle garren flye

just when all is lost and

the warriors are all gone

leaving dust and bones

swirling at my feet

“look here” you whisper

and I turn to find a rainbow

arching over ruins

as if growing from death

it sparkles like magic

made from diamond tears

wept by poets for politicians

abandoned in the quagmire

it’s a gentle misdirection

and I a willing participant

in your ongoing seduction

of whispered promises

I surrender to your will

surely nothing can be needed

when hope springs from death

and arcs over destruction

surely this is a sign—

the one we’ve waited for

that life will be better soon

that there’s always hope

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Don’t burn the bookstore your ancestors fought for.

Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, “Reading is a way for me to expand my mind, open my eyes and fill up my heart.” That is indeed what reading is for many today. But it’s also a privilege and a right that human beings of all races had to fight for.

Before the invention of the printing press, only the upper classes had books to read. They were just too expensive for the common folk. Too busy surviving plague and poverty, many of these people never learned to read. Bibles, especially, were kept to the clergy and the church, mainly because they were the only ones who could read it in its original Latin. God forbid that the lower classes read it for themselves and start thinking and interpreting religion for themselves.

But then came the English translation of the Bible—which was banned for that very reason. It was smuggled into English hands by determined bibliophiles, but William Tyndale, the translator who lived in exile in Europe in order to complete his life’s work, was executed.

Of course slaves were not allowed to learn to read. Not only were there no schools for them, it was against the law to teach them in most slave states. But learning finds a way. Some slave owners allowed their slaves to learn to read as part of Christian education, and some educators found interesting ways around the laws, including a floating school on the Mississippi River.

My point here is that all cultures and races have fought at some point for the right to read and write, and in an era such as the one Americans are going through right now, we need to preserve every last bit of that right. Our president threatens social media and the press, bookstores in Minnesota are battered by protestors and looters, and all of this is happening against a backdrop where independent bookstores and small presses are struggling for survival anyway.

So my plea is this: Don’t be part of the forces that would oppress you and take the light of knowledge away. Don’t burn the bookstore your ancestors fought for.

Today’s anti-information, non-factual age is a dangerous one for local bookstores, the media and science. In the end, it is up to us to make certain our heritage and ways of life are preserved. Protect what generations of every culture have fought for. Keep our bookstores open.

Poem: Rain and Shine (for Chris)

Rain and Shine

By Michelle Garren Flye

When did it rain?

I never heard thunder

Or wind or raindrops.

When did they fall?

It must have happened

Behind the scenes

While we were busy

Doing something else.

Something important.

Raising kids, living life,

Paying bills…surviving.

I didn’t know it rained.

Just like so many other

Things have happened

In the background.

It’s funny how you start:

Focused on each other,

Certain nothing will change.

But then it does.

Work and family and life

All change you.

And rain falls unnoticed

Until you see the puddles,

And then you notice the wet

And open an umbrella.

Only then do I see

A gardenia has bloomed.

Sometime in the night

It burst from the bud

In pure and splendid beauty.

Would it have bloomed

If the rain hadn’t come?

If we’d watched all day

In the sun, would it appear?

I don’t even know if it matters.

Drops of rain cling to the petals,

Magnifiying a single ray of sun.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Happy 25th and 18th: An anniversary, a book and a poem.

Today is, in a very real way, a very big day for me. It’s my 25th wedding anniversary and the day I officially release my 18th book.

Thank you.

It’s hard to celebrate right now, as I have good reason to know. My 50th birthday fell right at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. My son and my daughter also have celebrated birthdays. Today I have no actual plans to celebrate. I once envisioned a busy day full of well wishing friends for both my book and my marriage. I mean, not as many people make it to their silver wedding anniversary as used to, right? And quite a few authors never see 18 books with their name on the front.

But celebrating is hard right now. People are still sick, still dying. I’m working hard to make sure I’m not one of them. I have nightmares that my family is. And life goes on.

And still, I am happy to announce the publication of my 18th book, Magic at Sea, the seventh book of my Sleight of Hand series (and still a standalone, so you can read it even if you haven’t kept up with the series!). And I am happier still to be married to the same wonderful man for twenty-five years. Rain or shine, we’ve had them both.

Rain or Shine

By Michelle Garren Flye

When did it rain?

I never heard thunder

Or wind or raindrops.

When did they fall?

It must have happened

Behind the scenes

While we were busy

Doing something else.

Something important.

Raising kids, living life,

Paying bills…surviving.

I didn’t know it rained.

Just like so many other

Things have happened

In the background.

It’s funny how you start:

Focused on each other,

Certain nothing will change.

But then it does.

Work and family and life

All change you.

And rain falls unnoticed

Until you see the puddles,

And then you notice the wet

And open an umbrella.

Happy anniversary to my patient, supportive, loving husband. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Yes, my next romance novel takes place on a cruise ship.

There’s no such thing as really good timing, I’ve found, but bad timing? Oh yeah.

So go ahead and giggle. Yeah, this is some of the worst timing ever in the history of publishing in general. A romance novel on a cruise ship? I can pretty much guarantee you no one else is putting this out.

As I’m putting the finishing touches on it, I find myself questioning other things, too. Simple things like handshakes and hugs. A kiss on the cheek from a friend. And, well, love in general.

How will Covid-19 affect writing about romance? I have no idea. I haven’t actually tried it. If it’s a transient thing, which we all hope, it won’t, obviously. But if the times change, as I’m scared they will, will I have to take that into account? Will courting be done via Zoom or Facetime? How will anyone fall in love that way? Love has to do with sparks, and I’m not sure the right kind can travel over virtual reality.

I imagine people like me will continue to write about what love and romance once were for a long time. We’ll either become outdated as humans evolve and learn to fall in love in different ways or we’ll serve as a valued reminder of what once was and hopefully one day will be again.

Whatever the future holds, I maintain that the sea is and always will be a source of romance. Whether the big cruise lines ever come back or not, love on the sea will always be a thing. So, in a couple of weeks (15 days to be exact), I’ll welcome Magic at Sea to my Sleight of Hand collection.

Anybody want to go sailing?

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye