Nick Flynn

I admit you haven’t heard from me
in a while. In me there’s a little liar.
And a little thief. And a little whore.
Forgive me—while writing these words
I was lost in a trance . . . the sky wild
blue, fruit trees jeweled with ice
. . . if not

for what I’d promised, I wouldn’t be here
at all. You were with me when I found that
box in the basement—opening it was like
entering a room & having (at last!) someone else
breathe for me. No one, as you know,
sets out to lose their mind. This poem began
as a secret—not from you, I didn’t know you

then. Now, it wears its shame like a halo.
Please, take it, rip it up, put it in your glass.
We can watch it dissolve.

Photo by Macu ic on Unsplash

if only


If Only They Could Bottle This Feeling
Nick Flynn
Pages torn from magazines,
taped to the walls – a sunset,

a puppy, a tree in
a field — all of it more real

than these words. Our kiss

stretched a wire
from your hands to my skull, I fell

inside, mouth first, head
first… if I

was made of paper I’d have
burst into flame. If only they could

bottle this feeling, I thought
& then they did.

for the dead


If I Speak for the Dead I Must Leave
Nick Flynn

You opened my mouth
& filled it

with stones, for days
then weeks then

years, we swam until we
couldn’t, like

horses, our bodies,
little noises—

now this now this—

until it didn’t make any
sense . . . . Did we really

believe that

if we could just return to
the source & fully

we might then be able
to sink back into it? I

woke up in a boat once I

remember, I opened my mouth
& then, little snake, you

were gone. I didn’t know
you might not

come back. Once I

could say I’d never kissed

who is now dead, once

that was true, as if
my lips were a cure, as if death

wasn’t the only reason we
got into that boat. It

held us for as long as
it did, that’s all we can say,

until it didn’t.

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

beg for it


Nick Flynn

or the day after, I’ll press my

mouth to your scar & run
my tongue along it

so I can taste how you were once
opened, so I can know where

you never closed. Each

scar’s a door, we know
that—I want to whisper into

yours, I want my hands

to hover over it, I want you
to whisper please

I want you (please please please)
to beg for it.