Day 5 #NPM15 – I heard a fly buzz

Today I decided to follow a prompt from In short, take an Emily Dickinson poem, remove all her linebreaks and punctuation (especially those fun dashes) so you just have a paragraph of prose. Then reline it, feeling free to add, modify, or delete words.

Here’s my version of her “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—.”

I heard a fly buzz when I died.
The stillness in the room was like the still-
ness in the air between the heaves of storm.
The eyes around had wrung themselves dry,
and breaths were gathering firm for that last
onset when the King be witnessed in the room.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
what portion of me be assignable,
and then it was there, interposed—a fly
with blue uncertain stumbling buzz
between the light and me—
and then the windows failed—

and then I could not see to see.


And the original

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portions of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –


I’m not any sort of Dickinson expert and wasn’t particularly familiar with this poem, so for me it was quite easy to reline it into something that felt more modern (i.e., I wasn’t “stuck” in any familiarity with the original). It was interesting to see where I used a couple of dashes in the same place Dickinson had. Some people get distracted by her dashes; I get distracted by so much capitalization as well, so I had to get rid of that.

All in all, the relining of the poem allowed me to stop reading it in such a sing-songy way. As a result, Dickinson’s original words (with one minor adjustment) struck me as remarkably contemporary.

Hear Tell No Lie And Hear Direct (NaPoWriMo Day 30!!!)

Hear tell no Lie and hear direct—

Defeat in Straightness stands

Too dark for our robust Despair

The Lie’s grotesque demands

As Darkness to the Elders teased

With obfuscation mean

The Lie must uncloud suddenly

So every beast be seen—


Today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo: Find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite. For example, you might turn “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” to “I won’t contrast you with a winter’s night.”

I was pretty happy with how well this turned out. And of course, here’s the original from Emily Dickinson.

Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind—


It’s been a pleasure, all. Thanks for prompting, playing, and reading along. Happy NaPoWriMo!!


And I’m linking up at dVerse for the first time. Have been lurking for a while and decided it’s time to participate. 🙂 Go check it out for lots of great poetry.

The September Heights – Day 20 – Lights

Does Autumn’s Light tell

All the Truth—for surely it

Tells it brightly slant—

Emily Dickinson daguerreotype
(Photo: Public Domain)

Emily’s original poem


Haiku Heights is hosting The September Heights, a haiku-a-day challenge with a daily word prompt to be used as a theme and/or in the haiku. Today’s prompt is “lights.” Click through to check out more haiku or to add your own.