Poem: Why He Knelt (for Colin)

Why He Knelt (for Colin)

By Michelle Garren Flye

A man kneels in a green field.

Father, help me find the way

To fight the power they wield,

To make them know what they

Don’t fathom: simply why I kneeled.

Years pass and he is condemned

To life, but not on the stage he sought.

Until the news is overwhelmed

By the injustices he warned about—

And we recall what he did contend.

Kneeling at work seems little enough

When you look at the news today.

His gentle defiance is practically fluff

And a much less destructive way.

(Ignored injustice can get rough.)

What can you do now, you plead.

What service can you provide?

Listen to what they cry and heed—

It may be time to take a side,

And in the black earth, plant the seed.

And if all else fails to satisfy

To your knees you should fall.

The act we can’t expect to justify,

But what we can do is simply all

Kneel and know exactly why.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

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

Poem: Wheee! (Happy birthday to my daughter)

Wheee!

By Michelle Garren Flye

You test the top of the slide

And yell, “It’s slippery, Mommy!”

At first I think you’re scared to try,

But next thing I hear is “Wheee!”

I know how right you are.

Time is slippery, too, I think.

Each second echoes in my heart

But they pass within a wink.

My child, you’re growing too fast—

I know soon you’ll need to be free.

I feel I’m watching you slip past

And all I hear is “Wheee!”

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Wisdom of the Baby Bird

Wisdom of the Baby Bird

By Michelle Garren Flye

Like an eagle or hawk soaring

We want to leap into the sky!

We don’t know what waits;

We just know we want to fly.

Hawks dive onto their prey,

Seagulls wheel above the sea,

Eagles may drift along drafts

Our senses cannot perceive.

Maybe turn our eyes instead

To the baby bird in the nest.

Standing precariously on the edge—

He’s waiting, not taking a rest.

Take a leap of faith—oh yes, let’s do!

But only when the time is right.

Stretch the wings out first—

Take a short practice flight.

Only then will we grow stronger,

Only then will we avoid a plunge

Headfirst into a maelstrom

Of dangers we cannot dodge.

Juvenile owl waiting the right moment to fly. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye
Pissed Mama Osprey. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

It’s Magnolia Time (poem): Mourning the loss of refuge

My bookstore has been a lot of things for me from the time I took it over in January. The realization of a lifelong dream. A haven. A happy place for me, and I hoped, the art community and book lovers in my town. One thing I didn’t want it to become was a place of negativity, and I refused from the beginning to allow politics in the door.

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, but the worst for me so far is that it has taken that from me. In order to preserve a healthy workspace for myself and avoid the potential of taking home something horrible to my family, I asked that my customers wear masks in the store. When it became obvious just the asking wouldn’t work, I began requiring them. If a customer arrived without one, I provided a simple handmade one to them. My customers were very agreeable about this. I began to relax. I began to believe that the people in my town, regardless of personal beliefs, were well bred enough to honor my rule.

Yesterday, that belief was shattered. A customer turned away when I told them masks were required in the store. Another argued with me that masks did no good, using talking points I’ve heard on conservative news outlets. The CDC has an agenda. Cloth masks are useless and will only hold germs against your own face, not protect you. I didn’t tell him that was the point, that I wanted him to keep his germs to himself. I asked him to leave.

And that’s when my store stopped being a refuge. I went home and cried because I’d never intended for this to happen there. I hate that it has happened. I hate that potential customers who might enjoy the otherwise welcoming atmosphere in my little store may now just go to Amazon or Books a Million. I hate it, but I can’t help it.

And so today I mourn the loss of the chance to share my refuge. I will continue to require masks until the danger of COVID-19 is gone. I realize many won’t come into the store if I do. I will miss them.

It’s Magnolia Time

By Michelle Garren Flye

Yesterday she was just a bud,

But today she’s purest wonder

against leaves of darkest green—

out of reach of all but the worthy.

It’s magnolia time now, folks,

and she knows what that means.

She’s got the strength she needs

to survive the stormiest weather.

The toughest of flowers, nothing

easy or giving in her breast.

She reigns above your head

because magnolias won’t be plucked.

A gale won’t blow her down,

no man’s hand can push her around.

She’s here to stay, so get used to it

because it’s magnolia time.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: Seagulls

I saw seagulls this morning. Though I live near the coast, I don’t see them often here. I’ve been longing to go to the beach, but it hasn’t happened in quite some time. These gulls reminded of one of the things I love about the beach. The freedom. I actually had my camera, but was so spellbound by their flight, I didn’t take any pictures. I’ll be sure and do that when I go to the beach for a week or two this summer.

Seagulls

By Michelle Garren Flye

I watch the seagulls wheel and sail,

Spitting their free cries into the sky.

What is it like to know so well

That feeling of being so high?

Oh, to spend all my time in flight,

To dance all day on summer breezes,

To fling myself with all main and might

Into heaven’s divine, feathery creases!

But I’m bound to earth’s filth

And know in my heart nothing

Will entice God to impart the skill

Of etching sky with tip of a wing.

Not a seagull. Photo 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