Grateful

Last night I saw this rose blooming by my doorstep.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

I had been feeling pretty bleak about the holiday. My life is not what it was a year ago. But when I saw that rose, I paused for a second. That rose must be pretty damn determined to bloom because it’s been downright cold the past couple of nights. It made me think about my attitude.

Yes, one part of my life sucks. But there are so many other aspects that really don’t. I have my kids and my store, my new home and my pets (especially Derby of the magical purr). I have my family and more friends than I really deserve. And I am grateful. For each and every one of these things, I am heartfelt, on my knees grateful.

Sometimes, when things are tough, we forget there are always things to be grateful for. And sometimes if you start counting the small things you have, you realize there are some pretty big things to be grateful for also. And if there aren’t at the moment, then concentrate on the beauty of those small things. Remember, rose bushes start out as tiny seeds.

Happy thanksgiving.

Poem: Invitation by Michelle Garren Flye

It’s ironic that the coldest part of my life thus far fell during the summer I was writing 100 Warm Days of Haiku, but that’s the way life works sometimes, I suppose. At any rate, this cool fall morning I woke up and realized I felt warm again. I can’t tell you why. Again, I suppose it’s just the way life and the heart work.

Maybe now I should start writing warm poetry?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

But I did write one today. And here it is.

Copyright 2021 Michelle Garren Flye

Why Poetry is Nonfiction

Earlier this week, I finished formatting 100 Warm Days of Haiku. Ordinarily, this is where I would begin asking friends and fellow writers to look at it for me. Read and critique the poems, be sure the order makes sense. Look at the pictures and tell me if any of them need to be changed at all.

But the more I thought about what this book is, the more I realized that was not something I needed or wanted to do. This book is different. This book is true.

I have always wondered why poetry is classified as nonfiction, but after writing this book, I realize that has always been true. Poetry captures what is going on in the soul of its writer in a way that cannot be denied.

My 100 haiku were written and illustrated over the course of a four month period stretching from April 1 to July 31, 2021. To put it bluntly, this time period involvedogreat deal of change and upheaval for me personally, and that upheaval is reflected in this collection. There is anger, sorrow, beauty, love, loss and loneliness in this book. And there is also hope.

To give you an idea, here’s the description from the back of the book:

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but is it worth seventeen syllables? Poet Michelle Garren Flye explores the ancient form of Japanese poetry during three months of spring and summer. The book follows the author on a journey of change and transformation that she didn’t expect when she undertook the task, using the spare format of the haiku and her colorful illustrations to express emotions and desires that emerge from the chrysalis of her heart.

As I got closer to the end of the book, I tried to figure out how I would end it. I have never yet ended a book on a sour note. I’m not a tragic writer, and in spite of emotional upheaval, I am not a tragic person. I won’t spoil it, but I am so very proud of the final illustration, I thought I might share that with you:

Copyright 2021 Michelle Garren Flye

For more information, you can find 100 Days of Haiku on Amazon.

Adding Color to Writing

I’m so close to being done with 100 Warm Days of Haiku! It will be my longest poetry book yet. And my most unique book of any genre. I’m excited to share it, and I hope you’ll be excited, too. It’s a book meant for looking at as much as reading. Even UnSong didn’t really manage that.

Illustration by Michelle Garren Flye. Copyright 2021.

So I guess the very reasonable question would be why am I publishing a book that’s as much to look at as to read? I’m an author, not an artist, a poet, not a painter.

Short answer? I like to challenge myself. I like to be more. Long answer? This has been a complicated year in which I came to know a lot of interesting things about myself. I mean, none of us has had an easy year, right? Pandemic, home schooling, isolation, mask-wearing…it’s all a bit much. Add any other complications into the mix and you’ve got the makings of a good, old-fashioned nervous breakdown. And who didn’t have other complications?

My answer for the complications in my life was to dig deeper to find more. I found a lot. And 100 Warm Days of Haiku is my way of sharing it with you. So stay tuned for more information.

Coming soon in full color!

100 Warm Days of Haiku…finished

A glimpse of Haiku 99 before it became Haiku 99. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

I completed 100 Warm Days of Haiku on July 31, 2021. It wasn’t what I started it out to be. If you remember, back in April, I started out full of hope and happiness. I wanted to write something cheerful to bring hope and happiness to the world in a time of darkness.

Well, best laid plans may never be realized. This summer has been a dark, cold one for me. The darkest and coldest I have ever experienced. Some would say I am lucky that this is so. I probably am. I am well and alive. The people I love are well and alive. And yet.

So my beautiful book is not what I wanted it to be. It became a sort of journal of my grief and loss. Haiku is not an easy form. Easy enough to write the correct number of syllables, not so easy to make them have meaning. I believe my life experience this summer gave an unexpected depth to the simple 17-syllable format of each poem.

And there is hope there, too. I am an irrepressible, inveterate, persistent optimist, so of course there is hope. A tiny blossom perhaps, but hope nonetheless, blooming in the weeds of lonely sorrow.

And now I am off to the editing and formatting stages of bookmaking. I’m hoping to have this one out by the beginning to middle of September. But I have my work cut out for me.

100 Warm Days of Haiku Cover (Work in progress)

You know that old adage about not making plans? My summer has been that adage over and over again. I’m living it. Starting on June 1, 2021, my life took a hard turn toward…something. I’m not quite certain what, but it definitely isn’t what I had planned for my summer. (Long walks on the beach, family time, maybe even a vacation for a change.)

Nevertheless, plans for my first full-color book of haiku are still progressing. I’m in the 80s now. And while my warm days have often felt cold, I’m finding plenty of inspiration in what life has chosen to throw my way.

So that’s something.

Today I started thinking about covers. I came up with this one. It seems to suit the book, which will have a definite feel of both beauty and loss. I’m hoping to end it on a positive note, however. Because I’m a positive person and it will take more than this…whatever it is…to keep me down.

Illustration by Michelle Garren Flye. Copyright 2021.

Poem: Dead Dragon

Dead Dragon

By Michelle Garren Flye

There’s a dead dragon curled inside.

He made his home in my chest;

Years ago, you put him there

And then he died when you left.

He’s heavy to carry around,

And he makes it hard to rest—

I think he might have petrified

The way he bounces about,

Like a stone or an ice cube.

Each ricochet off my ribs

Brings back old memories

I wish I could forget.

But maybe it’s all right, you know?

That he’s still in there, I mean.

Maybe even a dead dragon—

Cold…

Hard…

Still…

Maybe he’s better

Than no dragon at all.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Update on…life…with a haiku

Summer. Warm days lazing by the pool, long walks on the beach, spending lots of time with friends and having fun.

If you’re having that kind of summer, I really envy you.

On the bright side, I am making progress on 100 Warm Days of Haiku. I am up to the 70s now in spite of life’s many interruptions. Thank God haiku is only 17 syllables long as that seems to be about the length of time I have to write now.

So don’t give up on me. I’ll regain my equilibrium eventually and hopefully venture back into romance or children’s books or maybe just a longer poem. But for the moment, I shall soldier on with my haiku.

At least it’s illustrated!

Haiku and illustration by Michelle Flye. Copyright 2021.