Driving Toward Sunset on July 2nd

Driving Toward Sunset on July 2nd

I’m driving in my Jeep tonight. Our Jeep.
     Doors off, no top, the sky open and growing dark.  

The air is a combination of backyard barbecue
     and 4th of July fireworks already in bloom.    

I want to feel this moment and let songs    
     I selected sway me. I venture west alone. 

I try to let the music pull my mind away from business     
     and buildings. I’m speeding with only passing glances 

through their glass-front windows. I’m not a stranger
      to giving in to the wind and the music in isolation. 

So many 4th of July celebrations spent without  
      my children or friends. A sacrifice I made to save myself 

from a future with the wrong person. For ten years 
       of solo bike rides I was determined to find my own way 

to the Missouri River. A sometimes winding path 
      with freedom to sing out loud or laugh or cry 

and change my mood with each new song. Tonight 
       neither the stereo nor the calendar have power 

to sway me. My thoughts are steeled with you, my love, 
       and the bike path you have planned for our 4th 

together—we’ll ride a stretch of the Missouri 
       I’ve never seen up close before. Your promise to me 

that I’ll never have to spend another holiday alone
        is the only music I hear tonight. 

And that music is calling me home.

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Covid Sunset

Covid Sunset

…The sky is alive
with the sun. Light rays reach
for flat cotton hovering above fields
in the distance.

I step outside—peer past neighborhoods
of perfectly spaced roofs. Rows of houses
with people inside, together or alone.
Light curtsies to her dark lover
and blushes. I watch their embrace
and am swaddled in insignificance.
I’m always halfway home

here. I sip from a full cup
as a chorus of colors
follows the sun’s slide
out of view.

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Sunday Morning Song

Sunday Morning Song

The house is alive
while I sleep.

I wake to new dirty dishes
piled in the sink.

I tread lightly
through the early morning
to keep the house asleep.

I think with my fingers
tapping on a tiny keyboard,
scrunch my face
at all the backspacing.

A robin sings
out my window
and I’m content
to hear it


It’s not Friday, but this morning when I was thinking about writing and first drafts I was sad to realize I have not written any new poems since January. I’ve been journaling a lot and mostly working on revisions for school but no new poems have emerged. So I wrote a poem today, to try and make myself feel better.

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ShySpark Gets a New Name

As I approach the 10 year anniversary of my beloved ShySpark space (October 22), I can’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to share my words. I’ve shared the puzzle pieces of my life which often take on the form of poetry as well as my past woes, hopes for the future, and sometimes even my crazy dreams. Yes, this space has been a home for many thoughts through my ups and downs and it has been (and will continue to be) an important part of my life and my process.

I am, however, also excited to be entering a new phase of my life which has come about because of some big changes: Marriage, a shift in life and career goals, and a desire to effect more positive change in the communities that I am a part of. Change is difficult sometimes, but I choose to continue to take every day as it comes, with gratitude and love in my heart.

In light of all of that, I’m thrilled to be promoting the new me, Shyla Shehan, with a new personal website:  shylashehan.com

Take a peek, iffn you are interested and friends, please please please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!

Thank you to all who have visited, taken time to read my words, commented, and liked my writing. I appreciate you! ❤️❤️❤️

Take Care of Each Other,


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Sometimes words dry up
like soil in drought.
Unearthed clumps
of rust brown clay feel like rocks.
Clenched in a fist
they turn to dust,
slip through your fingertips
and leave a pile of dry grit
on cracked ground.
Ushered away
by a mild July breeze
without a trace. No record
they were selected, held,
turned over in the palm.
Like hourglass sand,
they’re gone.
You can’t remember
what happened in 1998—
nothing left from the sift.

Other times are a raging storm. The swell
comes suddenly as a cumulonimbus emerges.
A siren somewhere in Nebraska fires up—
you recognize it but you’re never prepared.
You stare at a green-yellow sky
as it gets darker—unable to look away.
You watch the formation of the vortex
like scanning a car crash on a busy highway—
pulse quicker at the thought of broken bodies,
exposed bones, and blood.
Nothing you remember more
than the taste of blood in your eyes.

A rogue cumulus the color of Gotham City
spirals counterclockwise. It collides
with a volatile wall-cloud racing northeast
at a 40 mile per hour clip. It rips a hole
in the dense grey gauze and rain spills out,
pearl white peas spill out. Your marbles,
guts, and all of 2016 rains down.
Bleached walnuts crack windshields
a half a block away. They break the reflection
of sky, but you don’t move. You need this disaster.
This is the very definition of need.

The ground saturated, rain
collects in pools at your feet.
You dance in the swell, open your throat
and drink it in giant gulps. It grows deep—
you find a boat, grab an oar, and give in
to the urge to sing.

You ride it.
You ride up and over each wave.
You brace for impact each time the bow
of your craft crashes down. You don’t stop.
You ride it. You ride it out
until it subsides.

When the bottom of your boat scrapes pavement,
you fish a white walnut off the sidewalk
and squeeze it in your fist. Like a rock—
it doesn’t yield to the pressure.
You squeeze tighter. The cold stings
your palm and fingers.
They become red and wet
and this.

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Open Window

Open Window

I’m sitting by the window watching wind blow,
watching time go, watching cars
go by. The street noise and the taxicabs
can’t seem to reach me here.
What if one day all the cars below were stopped

in the gridlock and people all got out and started taking
started walking home or somewhere else they wanted
to go? Would she have written that note
that day and gone out the window?
Would she have been thirty two
flights above
thirty something, loving nothing
throwing herself away to change her life?

Would he have gone out the window
after her? Would we?
Or would we end up by a stream
with flowers in our hair.
Would we find peace is not having to decide
instead, work on watching birds fly
or the sunset, holding on
to life instead of learning to let go?

Would we discover what we lost
when we lost our way climbing through the gridlock,
climbing higher inside a starirwell
paint chipping off the metal handrail
to this 32nd floor apartment window.


I initially wrote this on Thursday January 17th, 2019 during one of many sessions with a group of like-minded writer friends who are all amazing writers and truly wonderful people. It was inspired by a prompt of the day  “Outside the Window”, which was one of those “365 prompts for your year” kind of sites.

There are a few stolen/partially modified lyrics from a couple of songs I really dig. One of which is Cake’s song “Guitar” and the other from the Violent Femmes Song, “Out the Window”, both of which I always think of when there is some mention of “out a window”.  I am not quite sure other than that how to give credit where credit is due.

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Portentous Man

Portentous Man
His speeches are portentous
pedestal stepping
hands waving in grandiose circles
finger wagging from his tongue
eyes on fire with conviction.
He means what he says
without question
without introspection
without compassion.
A herald in the eye of the storm.
This poem was inspired by the word of the day on wordgenius.com. The photo was also acquired there.
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What’s In the Mirror

What’s in the Mirror

It’s morning again and I’m looking in the mirror.
Natural curls of my hair cling to each other in fluffy waves on top
and tight, smooth spirals underneath.
I flip it forward, in front of my shoulders,
check the length,
and then flip back again
admiring how it looks better
after just waking up.

I stare a little too long
and try to squash the argument
about why I can’t feel the same
about the rest of me
and begin to wander
the brown, unwashed streets of
“something’s not quite right”.

Something inside of me is throbbing
and aching and winding up and unwinding.
Could it be my heart?
Could it be too heavy?
Or my mind stretching
to get itself around some external thing
like the sky being too big
or the possibility of a world without a sky –
some existence where the words “blue”
and “rain” and “clouds” and “wind”
are met with the furrowed brow
of incomprehension?

What if it’s not me at all
but a different girl? Katie
who I barely know
who was raped last week, on a date
and wrote a poem about it
and posted it on Twitter
who I have laughed with
over giving the finger to the moon
who I now want to reach out to,
and stand next to in solidarity
or maybe just hug.

Or what if it’s that other girl, Charlotte
who I used to know
who finally died of the cancers
that crept, like time, through her body
and sank jagged teeth into her bones
leaving behind two babies
who will only remember their mom
as a person fighting for her life.
They won’t know the 20-something,
strawberry-blonde girl, full of energy
who hung out at Billy Frogs on Fridays
after work drinking cheap vodka crans,
laughing at stupid things
and splitting nachos
who I can’t hug, because she’s gone.

Or what if it’s that other girl, Z
who I know so well because I gave birth to her
and she’s getting ready to fly
and the sky is impossibly vast
and could collapse in on itself at any moment,
strands of air clinging together as they spiral
down and crash into the earth
and leave her drowning in a dirty brown sea
with nothing blue or green to hang on to.
My mind flinches and stops
on that cold, dead end street.

I can’t stop time
or un-melt the polar ice caps.
I can’t save anything or anyone
from the certain doom that happens naturally
when human beings are involved
because they are inherently selfish
and sometimes only think about things
like how their hair looks
when they first wake up.

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The Paper Shredder

The Paper Shredder

apathy enters, unannounced, stage left
demands a spotlight
a flipped switch
a mislabeled outlet
a mischievous 3 year old
a love letter
accompanied by an old photo with no names on the back

imaginary, invisible strips of paper and rose flesh
scotch tape
and hours hovering,
recovering from hunching over
unrequited aching joints
unrewarded good deeds
unanswered calls
unsung, unwon,
Some things just aren’t meant to be


This poem has been accepted by Z Publishing House and is now published in the anthology, “Nebraska’s Best Emerging Poets 2019”.

To purchase a copy of the book, which is a collection of poems by 10 different Nebraska based authors, please visit the Z Publishing website at:
Z Publishing House Featured Collections


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Mind the minor gaps in memory –
traverse across them as dust
caught in twilights gaze.
Behold regret
found in spaces between the light.
Take a walk with awareness
and embrace time,
a gift from an Indian giver.
Find freedom in the chaos of a windy mind, let go.
Soar up, and away like a kite.

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