Nick Flynn


Life Is Sweet


For the next few
years we might

need to live in
some kind of

aquarium, something
semi-transparent &

lit by those blue
lights, maybe

some of those
unnatural pink

rocks along
the bottom . . . but

I can’t see us

contained in an
aquarium unless

it were, you know,
the size of an

ocean. Still
I worry sometimes

how everything can be

turned into a poem

or a movie,
something that can be

walked out on . . .
even Life

Is Sweet, by the end
we fell in love

with everyone, by
the end the straight

sister tells
the suffering sister,

I hear you, you know,
at night

& we knew how much
it meant, just to be

& then it was over,

an uneaten cookie on
the couch

between us. I don’t know
what else we thought

might be there

maybe just that we’d be
alive & still,

you know, moving around
inside this world.




If I Speak for the Dead I Must Leave


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.



Nick Flynn, poet and playwright, is also the author of the best-selling memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. A member of the creative-writing faculty at the University of Houston, his work has won two PEN prizes, a Guggenheim fellowship, and been a finalist for France’s Prix Femina. I Will Destroy You, his next collection of poems, will be released later this year. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.

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