Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn Poems

I go back to the scene where the two men embrace
& grapple a handgun at stomach level between them.

They jerk around the apartment like that

Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know
that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

I want to erase your footprints
from my walls. Each pillow
is thick with your reasons. Omens

I dreamt your suicide note
was scrawled in pencil on a brown paperbag,
& in the bag were six baby mice. The bag
opened into darkness,


the imagined center, our tongues
grew long to please it, licking

At the end there were straws
in her glove compartment, I'd split them open
to taste the familiar bitter residue, near the end
I ate all her Percodans, hungry to know

Bees may be trusted, always,
to discover the best, nay, the only

human, solution. Let me cite

It nests in the hollow of my pelvis, I carry it with both hands, as if
offering my stomach, as if it were pulling me forward.

At night the sun leaks from it, it turns cold, I sleep with it

He reads my latest attempt at a poem
and is silent for a long time, until it feels
like that night we waited for Apollo,
my mother wandering in and out of her bedroom, asking,

Leaning from the platform, waiting for a glimmer
to braid the rails

They say you are made of clouds, they say you
are made of feathers, they say you are everywhere
or nowhere—we know you are both. Our flight

on a river, a tree in blossom, one
pink bud—unopened—falls

One boyfriend said to keep the bullets

locked in a different room.

Do this: take two fingers, place them on
the spot behind your ear, either

Here again
at the edge of what was,

Beneath all this I'm carving a cathedral
of salt. I keep

Nick Flynn Biography

Nick Flynn (born 1960) is an American writer, playwright, and poet. His most recent publication is a play, Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins (Faber & Faber, 2008). His most recent book is a memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, (W.W. Norton, 2004). He has published two collections of poetry: Blind Huber, and Some Ether, which won the inaugural PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Further honors include a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2001 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and the 1999 Discovery/The Nation Award for his poem, Bag of Mice, about his mother's suicide. Flynn's works have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Fence, The New York Times, and The Paris Review. He was born and grew up in Scituate, Massachusetts, south of Boston. His parents divorced when he was young and his mother committed suicide when he was 22. He drifted through several jobs before starting work at a homeless shelter in Boston, where at age twenty-seven, he met his estranged, homeless father for the first time. Flynn earned an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University, and teaches part-time at The University of Houston Creative Writing Program. His long-time partner is actress Lili Taylor, with whom he shares a home in New York.)

The Best Poem Of Nick Flynn

Embrace Noir

I go back to the scene where the two men embrace
& grapple a handgun at stomach level between them.

They jerk around the apartment like that
holding on to each other, their cheeks

almost touching. One is shirtless, the other
wears a suit, the one in the suit came in through a window

to steal documents or diamonds, it doesn't matter anymore
which, what's important is he was found

& someone pulled a gun, and now they are holding on,
awkwardly dancing through the room, upending

a table of small framed photographs. A chair
topples, Sinatra's band punches the air with horns, I

lean forward, into the screen, they are eye-to-eye,
as stiff as my brother & me when we attempt

to hug. Soon, the gun fires and the music
quiets, the camera stops tracking and they

relax, shoulders drop, their jaws go slack
& we are all suspended in that perfect moment

when no one knows who took the bullet--
the earth spins below our feet, a blanket of swallows

changes direction suddenly above us, folding
into the rafters of a barn, and the two men

no longer struggle, they simply stand in their wreckage
propped in each other's arms.

Nick Flynn Comments

Gunnar Jauch 26 December 2014

THE DAY LOU REED DIED It's not like his songs are going to simply evaporate but since the news I can't stop listening to him on endless shuffle - familiar, yes, inside me, yes, which means I'm alive, or was, depending on when you read this. Now a song called Sad Song, the last one on Berlin, sung now from the other side, just talk, really, at the beginning, then the promise or threat, I'm gonna stop wasting my time, but what else are we made of, especially now? A chorus sings sad song sad song sad song sad song. I knew him better than I new my own father, which means through these songs, which means not at all, They died on the same day, O what a perfect day, maybe at the same moment, maybe both their bodies are laid out now in the freezer, maybe side by side, maybe holding hands, waiting for the fire or the earth or the man or the salt - If I could I'd let the birds devour whatever's left & carry them into the sky, but all I can do it seems is lie on the couch & shiver, pull a coat over my body as if it were all I had, as if I the one sleeping outside, as if it were my body something was leaving, rising up from inside me & the coat could hold it inside maybe a little longer. –- Nick Flynn Published in The New Yorker, Nov.25,2013

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