Poem: The Why of the Drive

“There’s lightning in the sky, I’m on the run

As an overwhelming urgency explodes.

All my life been waiting to arrive.

It’s not the destination, it’s the drive.”

—Jason Wade “Paper Cuts”

So goes one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite musicians. I’ve loved this song since I first heard it…well, last week. It took me a whole week to realize how appropriate this song actually was.

You see, I think those words are very true for most humans. We’re not called a “race” for nothing. All my life, I’ve been racing for one thing or another. To get an education, to get a good job, to have a family, to reach a point in my life where I’m totally fulfilled. Waiting to arrive. I’ve been lucky enough to achieve many of my goals. Some have escaped me. One in particular—to create a story that will capture the imagination of more than me—still dances just out of my reach.

But I’ve reached a point in my life where I wonder if maybe that might not be best.

Alan Shepard, the first man in space, emerged from his capsule and said, “Man, what a ride.” He’d achieved his dream. He’d been to space. Guess what he did then? He started trying to get back to space. In 1971, he commanded Apollo 14 on its mission to the moon, where he became one of the few who have walked on that gloriously inhospitable surface.

Man, what a ride.

I will never stop trying to string together words and now pictures to make that story that will suddenly become the story everyone wants to know. It’s my journey. I may never reach the end of it, but I have to believe there’s a reason I’m on it. Maybe when I reach my end, I’ll know for sure what that reason was. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.

The Why of the Drive

By Michelle Garren Flye

You start out fresh, focused and free

The window rolled down to feel the breeze

But you tire as the miles roll endlessly on

Each one passes but seems ever so long

Exhaustion sets in, dragging you down

You may nod off and miss a whole town

Muscles ache, discomfort draws your sighs

Why did you start this, your heart cries

But then you round a curve and know the why

You see it ahead where mountains meet sky

A creek bed that wanders hither and yon

A prairie or seascape that feels like a song

Oh God, help me enjoy the beauty you send

Even if it means I don’t make it to the end

Don’t take me away before it is gone

Just let me be where I know I belong.

By Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Gen X

I’m not sure where this came from except my frustration and angst boiled over a bit this morning. It’s sort of an apology to my kids. Give it some thought. Do you owe the next generation an apology?

Gen X

By Michelle Garren Flye

Let’s face it, we fucked up.

So long as we had our bite and sup

We didn’t care who had their way—

We just didn’t have that much to say.

The environment crumbles without our care;

Others struggle—we know it’s not fair.

But those others aren’t us, so why fear?

For them we will not shed a tear.

“We’re so laid back” is what we brag.

“We’ll leave it to others to piss and nag.”

The younger generation will have to fix

The mess we made when we were in the mix.

Retirement looms for us all now.

We’re almost ready to take a bow.

Our children shake their heads in wonder

At the world we’ve left torn asunder.

“Good times,” we say with wanton cheer;

“To better days,” we raise our beer.

All that’s left is to watch it burn

As we patiently sip and wait our turn.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Happy Release Day, Hourglass! Let’s do this, an origin story.

And just like that, Flye Gee Comics is born. LOL. Mainly because, like everything else I do, it’s with a “just go ahead and do it” mindset (I didn’t steal that from Nike, btw, I’ve been like this for a while now).

It’s really funny the way this came about, though. The origin story is important in comic book lore, so here it is in a nutshell. I fell in love with manga (My Hero Academia in particular). It reminded me of reading comic books. I started thinking how cool it would be to have my stories illustrated that way and realized I always have a vision in my head while writing anyway. And those visions are often not scenes, exactly, but like a particular aspect of a scene. For instance, I might write a scene about two people having a serious conversation while one drinks water, and the picture in my head is of when that character sets the glass down. The ripples in the top of the water.

Like a comic book frame.

Not being an artist (at least not a really good one), I started wondering if I could do at least part of my comic book with photo manipulation. Yeah, that could work. I’ve been playing around with the concept of poetography (a poem paired with a photograph) for some time. And if I based my comic book story off some of my poetry, I could incorporate three or four things I love in one thing.

Okay then. Let’s just go ahead and do it, I thought.

I’ve shared some of my journey on here. You’ve seen early versions of the illustrations. I’ve improved some of those. I worked really hard to format it into a book. I treated each page like an individual work of art. I finished the ebook version first, then fought my way through the formatting of the print version. I proofread and marked up and printed and proofread again. I corrected margins and found odd marks on some of the illustrations that I swear I didn’t put there. I removed those. I learned how to do speech and thought bubbles. I played with different fonts and ended up using three different ones. I finally decided it was good, so I ordered author copies. And yesterday a box full of them arrived about two weeks early.

So I decided I’d just go ahead and do it.

And that’s the origin story of Flye Gee Comics. I’m playing around with ideas for Issue 2. Stay tuned because chances are I will go from concept to publishing with little warning.

Let’s do this.

Poem: Craving Heart

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Sometimes I’m attracted to a particular thing or sound or food/drink for no particular reason that I can name. My craving may attach itself to something I’ve known about and/or liked/loved for years. But all of a sudden, that’s all I want in my life.

What is this? It’s like a pregnancy craving. With my first son, I wanted milk all the time. Great, right? With my second, I wanted sweet tea, which sucked because I was living in Maryland at the time, and the only place to get good sweet tea was Bojangles. Thank God for Bojangles! My daughter was a different matter. I craved protein—in the form of hamburgers and steaks.

While I was pregnant, I figured cravings were trying to tell me something. I figure the same thing about these life cravings. Right now, all I want to listen to is Lifehouse and all I really want to read is manga/comics. I prefer drawing to writing, unless it’s poetry. What is my body trying to tell me?

Maybe it’s my spirit. Maybe it’s a type of spiritual pregnancy craving. I’ve completed my comic book (I’m moving away from calling it a graphic novel on my son’s suggestion), so it’s not that, but I can’t escape the feeling that my cravings relate to what’s happening in my creative life. In some way I can’t honestly name.

Craving Heart

By Michelle Garren Flye

Amorphous at first, like the moon’s touch,

Then filling the mind and life.

What is it you long for, want so much?

Sometimes sharp as a knife

Other times soft…you’d never hurt.

Give it to me, you whisper,

Give, and it’ll quench your thirst.

Resist you? Oh, that, I’d never!

I know how you get, my craving heart,

When I attempt to ignore

The insinuation of your persistent art.

No, I’ll surrender to wanting more

Of whatever you say I require.

I’ll see where this craving leads,

I’ll follow the road of desire—

And allow the nourishment of your needs.

Poem: Atypical Autumn…and a graphic novel update

We’re in the middle of autumn here in Eastern North Carolina. What does that mean? Beautiful trees and fire in the fireplace at night?

Hell no.

Most of our trees are evergreens, I think. We have a very few deciduous trees mixed in. But there are a few. And you catch glimpses of other color here and there. Temps are still averaging around 80 degrees although we’re no longer sitting on the Devil’s front porch (upper 90s). Still, there is beauty, and after living here for sixteen years, I’ve figured out how to find it.

Atypical Autumn

By Michelle Garren Flye

A fall like no other

With colors streaming

Like wild things at a party

Look there and there

Crimson poison ivy scales

The evergreen’s bark

And the pink magnolia seed

Gathers a fuzzy coat

Before it erupts to scatter

Scarlet hearts to unsuspecting birds

Spring and summer linger

In lemonade lantana

And late roses

If tradition is what you seek

Look to the dogwood

As its leaves brighten and fade

Chrysanthemums will blaze

And you might find a maple or two

But don’t expect too much

Atypical autumns don’t behave

The way you want them to

You have to adjust yourself

To see the beauty that’s there

And not wish for what

This season cannot be.

And with all that said, I should also add that I have recently completed edits on my graphic novel. Yeah, I know, that was fast! It feels weird that it went so fast. I think that’s the way things are when you’re driven to finish. Being completely self-published, I don’t have actual “deadlines”. Once I wrote this story, though, I knew I wanted to share it and my vision of it. Being able to do that in a visual way was very exciting to me. I’ve never been able to do that before except with my poetography. 😉 So, I’ll go ahead and announce that the kindle version of my graphic novel Hourglass is for pre-sale now on Amazon. The print version may take a little longer, and I definitely think it will be worth waiting for. I mean, who wants to read a comic book on their phone, right?

Graphic Novel Update: More Pictures!

It seems I just can’t NOT share my excitement about this ongoing project. I’m up to about eighty pictures now, and I’m still going strong. I’ve been experimenting more with drawing people as well as places and things. I think it’s working out…

“What do you do with a gift?”

Of course, my strength remains in the words, but I have had fun experimenting with drawing things like fire, too.

“Why would you think all the fire in the world is yours?”

I know, of course, that my pictures will not be the works of art I see in other graphic novels. I am not truly an artist. Most of what I’m doing is photographic manipulation. My strength is really in the five poems that are in this book. And the story I’ve woven around the poems and pictures. I am hopeful that they will find a place in the hearts of readers.

Graphic Novel Update: With Pictures!

I am about a third of the way through the pictures I will need for my graphic novel. I haven’t even started the formatting process, which I imagine will take a HUGE amount of time. While drawing, I’ve found myself rewriting, too, which is probably a good thing? Time will tell, I suppose. Anyway, I told myself when I got to this point, I’d share a little more with you. So here goes. Here’s a picture I drew with a tiny excerpt:

Sometimes her dreams are worth watching. Art by Michelle Garren Flye

I know my art is very basic. 🙂 I have never claimed to be a real artist. I’m using photographs I’ve taken mostly, the little artist models of people in different poses for others. My imagination is supplying some of it, but a lot is simple photo manipulation. Although I am rather proud of this one:

Art by Michelle Garren Flye

That one started off as a photo but quickly became something different. I’m not even certain where it will fit into the scheme of the graphic novel, but you can be sure it will be there.

And finally, the slightly updated cover by Farah Evers Designs (cover illustration by Barb Williams) along with the actual blurb for the book. Remember, this is still months away, but I have made it this far…

In a world in which sickness, storms and earthquakes fill the news with a darkness so black the television screen doesn’t even light up the room anymore, hope seems like a long way off. But for Kat Archer, this year is a year of great gifts. Like shining points of light, she finds them all along her path, and they lead her to look for more…and a greater desire to share the gifts of hope with others. Rekka, a mysterious being whose job it is to guard his “Listener” Kat, is caught off guard when her talent suddenly blossoms. He fears she will be caught by “the machine”, an evil entity that seeks to shut down free thought and unique expression. Can he keep her safe in a world where she may be the greatest hope humanity has left?

Poems: For RBG, For Courage and Sing!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last night affected me more than I thought it would. She was one of those rare people that you know you’re just lucky to share this planet with. I think for a lot of women, she was a monolith of courage and wisdom that should never be knocked down. But death finally managed it. Of course I wrote a poem for her.

For RBG, For Courage

By Michelle Garren Flye

Do not think she went gently
Her fight fought
Perhaps she knew we are ready
To live as we ought
And when the night crept up
She looked at it straight
Her body frail as a china cup
And knowing she was late
The strong spirit that kept her here
Knew what was in store
Her heart beat ceased to thrum
Beneath the collar she wore
But legacy cannot be lost like crumb
We know the energy spent
We will carry on in her wake
For RBG, for courage, we women
Will follow the path she staked.

It occurred to me that RBG spent her entire life living courageously. She was a lion among women. I live in an area of the country where some women still follow their man’s lead, completely and subjectively. What the man wants, the woman provides and she’s lucky to do so. It’s these women I often write for, not women like RBG. It took me a long time to get to the point I’m at now. It’s always possible to find your voice, no matter how old you are. Find it now and…

Sing!

By Michelle Garren Flye

If I’d just kept quiet or spoken

Only butterflies and moths and pretty things

We would still be whole, unbroken

But I spat out the dragonflies with glass wings

And you couldn’t face I had awoken

So now we face each other across the springs

Without affection or even a token

Of what used to be before I chose to sing.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

A New Creative Path?

Whatever else 2020 has done for me—to me?—it’s definitely forced me to take a serious look at what I’m doing with my creative life. Do I really want to continue writing romantic fluff for the rest of my life?

Nah.

I’ve got something much fluffier in mind.

Actually, it’s not. That’s the other thing I’ve discovered. I used to adore comic books. During my teenage and college years, I devoured Micronauts. When I was a kid, Richie Rich was the bomb. If I wasn’t reading them, I was rummaging around my older brother’s room looking for his most recent purchases. I stole them quite often and returned them much the worse for wear.

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, my daughter recently returned me to this world rather forcefully by introducing me to My Hero Academia, the anime. Binge-watching all four seasons of that (and even writing a fanfiction or two in that universe) not being enough, I also picked up the manga. And something clicked.

Why not do my own graphic novel?

Oh indeed. Why not? Why not paint the Mona Lisa or sculpt Michelangelo’s David? Why not build a suspension bridge or a skyscraper?

For one thing, I’m not an artist. But my daughter is. Hey, daughter, want to draw a couple hundred pics for a graphic novel I’m going to self-publish and probably not make any money off of? For FREEE?

Yeah. That was her answer.

But the itch wouldn’t go away. I have the concept. I wrote the story (which, as a bonus includes some of my poetry). And guess what? I’m now drawing. It’s interesting to say the least. I’m using my photographs, some basic drawing techniques and making a lot of mistakes. My daughter taught me how to use Ibis Paint and is serving as my “Art Director”.

And, as luck would have it, a lovely and talented watercolor artist Barb Williams (http://www.findjoywithwatercolorpainting.com) came into my store shortly after I conceived of the idea. We started talking and she wound up painting the cover illustration for my soon?-to-be graphic novel. I sent that illustration on to my cover designer, the delightful and multitalented Farah Evers (http://faraheversdesigns.com) and I now have this to announce:

More information to come. Stay posted to my blog for sneak peeks and previews. It may be months before I get this whole thing put together!

Poem: The End of the Dream, or Burning Hell

If you’re one of those who thinks God will save us from any mess we get ourselves into, so we can do whatever the hell we want to do, I hope you’re right. Maybe that’s not enough, but I do hope you’re right. On the other hand, I can’t help but think, well, if I was God, I would’ve thrown up my hands and walked away from us idiots a long time ago. And where does that leave us now with our planet on fire, inadequate leadership, a virus killing thousands per day and no way out? I know where it leaves us. It leaves us at the end of all that has nurtured us for so long.

The End of the Dream, or Burning Hell

By Michelle Garren Flye

Here we stand at the end of the dream.

Where do we go now?

I see no shining trails leading us away

From the end of all we know.

From bloody skies and boiling streets,

There is no rescue to come.

This horror we’ve concocted here

Is what’s left of our home.

Yes, the dream is gone, and rage takes over;

I feel it under my skin.

It crawls in through my open mouth

And makes its home within.

Fire and famine, fear and sorrow,

Burning hell takes over.

The nightmare has only just begun—

No one’s coming to wake you.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye