National Poetry Month Eve

Tomorrow begins one of my personal favorite months of the year. National Poetry Month. This month has been a big part of my life for several years now, since before I even began thinking of myself as a “Poet”. I started out teaching kids about poetry and how to write it, which is so much fun. Now I’m on a different quest. I’m trying to get rid of the stigma poetry has.

Poetry is not scary.

Poetry is not boring.

Poetry is not difficult to understand (okay, some of it might be, but it isn’t necessarily hard to understand).

Reading poetry can be soothing. Listening to someone else read poetry can be very entertaining.

Writing poetry has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever attempted.

So my quest, this month and, really, always, is to convince people that poetry is accessible. It’s really a part of most of our lives, anyway. When you listen to the words of your favorite song, you’re listening to poetry. And yes, I include rap music in this. (Yes, Bob Dylan deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature.)

This month I’m challenging myself in another way, too. I’m planning to write and illustrate a haiku every day. I may throw in some other types of poetry, too, but haiku will be my main focus. I love the form, and I need practice.

At the end of the month, I plan to publish UnSong, my collection of illustrated poetry. It’s pretty much complete now, but I have some fellow poets and writers still looking it over and offering critiques. Thanks to the ones who’ve already offered their feedback, I feel pretty confident in it, but I’m still working on a few changes.

Anyway, watch this space. I’ll be back tomorrow with an illustrated haiku.

My inspiration for illustrations and poetry often come from the same place. Like this little chickadee.
Illustration by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 30 (whew!) (National Poetry Month): Through the Window

Well, this is it for National Poetry Month 2020. I had hoped my bookstore would be full of poetry all month long. And in a way, it has been. I’ve certainly written a lot of it. And read some (including by NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Greene—and you should too!). And a wonderful friend brought me several new poetry books to read. It’s been…not quite what I wanted (poetry readings and fun times with fellow poets), but I’ve celebrated my love of poetry the best I could in the confines of coronavirus quarantine.

And with that, I leave you with this. Stay well, my friends. And keep reading poetry, and writing it if the spirit moves you. Remember: “To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.” Or so said Robert Frost.

(Note: This is for all the parents and grandparents whose visits from family have been put off because of COVID-19.)

Through the Window

By Michelle Garren Flye

Through the window, I see the squirrels play

I hear the birds singing about the new day—

And you say you’ll be coming to see me

When the world makes travel for you easy.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Looking out the window doesn’t tell me a thing.

The traffic flows past, and I sit alone.

And your voice sounds weak on the phone.

Watching does no good, I know.

Nothing I do makes time slow.

The world continues to spin on its way

Even if I sit here watching all day.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 29 (National Poetry Month): The Storm

The Storm

By Michelle Garren Flye

Remember the year it rained so much

Water stood in every crevice and cranny.

The sky was never blue, just gray.

Like concrete, like it stopped us there.

Then we saw the rainbow and blue sky

And we thought the storm was over.

But it was just a little bit of calm.

And then the real storm started.

First the concrete sky came back

And then it began to move and boil

And rain and wind lashed us until

We cowered inside and watched.

The puddles grew bigger and fatter,

Eating everything they touched

Like some sort of dime movie monster

Until everything was drowned in them.

And then the rain stopped finally,

And we waited to discover

If anything had survived the storm.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 28 (National Poetry Month): Gravity’s Effect on Dance

I’ve become more and more experimental as the month wears on, it seems. This morning I decided I wanted to write haiku because I didn’t have as much time. But haiku won’t always hold everything you want to say. In a way, haiku became gravity on my dance. So I tried a different way. I’m including both. I actually plan to revisit the second of these later on.

#1

Gravity’s Effect on Dance

By Michelle Garren Flye

Walking by a field—

Three birds startle and take flight.

I laugh in delight.

The sky holds their dance

Steps made up of soars and wheels—

Wish to join the feels!

Stuck instead on earth…

Feet firmly rooted to ground…

My leap only a bound.

#2

Gravity’s Effect on Dance

By Michelle Garren Flye

Walking by a field today,

I watched three birds startle into flight

Seeing their dance, I laughed in delight.

The sky held their dance,

The steps made up of soars and wheels!

Oh how I wished to join their feels.

Stuck instead to the earth,

My dance can never leave ground—

My leaps to gravity are bound.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 26 (National Poetry Month): Ditch Flower

Ditch Flower

By Michelle Garren Flye

I’ll take your picture now

For tomorrow is uncertain;

We cannot tell when or how

The future pulls the curtain.

It’s pretty sure you’ll go

Sooner than later, my flower,

For the farmer is going to mow

Ere the clouds turn to shower.

Let me capture your grace

Behind my lens to store—

A ditch is not a safe place;

Soon you’ll be here no more.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 25 (National Poetry Month): when you don’t feel the rhyme

Sometimes the words flow easily and sometimes not so much.

when you don’t feel the rhyme

by michelle garren flye

you say you’re down and just can’t

feel the rhyme

the world off its axis and fallen aslant

you haven’t the time

and life’s hours seem too scant

let the pain flow away instead

to hold us in sway

while an unjust world continues to tread

unless you stay

your hand and find the rhythm instead.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

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