Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Rerun – Fly on the Wall

This week’s rerun dates to January 11, 2011 and the subject of flies (seems appropriate for summertime). Flies in poetry may not be common, but I'm sure you're familiar with Emily Dickinson's famous poem "I Heard a Fly Buzz."

I heard a Fly buzz - when I died - (591) By Emily Dickinson

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 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 –

This week we're going to work with a "fly idea," but our treatment will be different from Emily D's. We've all heard the expression "fly on the wall." The meaning of the phrase suggests the ability to observe a situation without being seen or heard.

This isn't a new prompt idea, but it's one with lots of possibilities, and the challenge this week is to take yourself – in the form of a fly – into an unusual or emotionally charged place to tell what you see and hear. The idea is to become virtually invisible but nonetheless present.

1. You may "become" the fly and speak from the fly's point of view (persona/personification).

2. You may go back in time to observe yourself in a particular situation from your past.

3. You may eavesdrop on a conversation you were never intended to hear.

4. You may be anywhere, at any time, observing people and listening to what they say.

5. Your tone may be serious, humorous, or ironic.

To begin, imagine yourself as a fly on a wall. Where are you? What do you see? Who is there with you? What do you hear? What insights into a situation do you have from your unseen/unnoticed perspective? What can you (the fly) explain about human behavior in the situation you observe? Is there a situation in which you (the fly) can offer insights into your own actions or personality? What do you learn when you (the fly) observes you (the person)? How may the fly become a metaphor?

Some places to consider for your wall: a cocktail party, a wedding, a masked ball, a birthday party from your childhood, the midst of an argument, a classroom, a divorce court, a funeral parlor, a room in an altered dimension, an empty house, a cruise ship, a bar or pub, a tent deep in a forest. 


  1. This is another great one, Adele! I love Emily D.

  2. Emily Dickinson is always inspirational. This is a great summer rerun!