24 March 2007

Liz's Prompt for the Week of March 18

Had a difficult time with this one. Yeah, well, it is what it is.



The nurses enter my room,
not necessarily in white
But no less crusaders,
Trying to corner a minotaur,
Pills rattle in their pockets like bones.
You haven't noticed much difference
(not that matters anyway)
Between the times you swallow
And the times you pretend,
Hiding the pretty colors
Beneath tissue boxes in the pink plastic bin.
It's just that sometimes
You're the princess on a throne,
Your body swathed in silver,
People come and go,
Kissing your sandals, burning herbs,
Adorning your fingers with emeralds,
Your arms with torques of silver and gold.
And that sometimes
You really are the minotaur,
Ferocity growing with every needle poke,
Every sonograph, electrocardiogram,
Magnetic resonant image,
Every sunshine voice attached to cold fingers
That promises this will just take a minute.
The doctors must be somewhere,
In the VIP lounge,
Driving a fast red car with top down,
I never see them.
Just these nurses,
Who enter the labyrinth
Of my room, clenching their teeth
Just a little, before steeling themselves
To face a princess, a demon.
Just swallow.

19 March 2007


Nick Flynn

Father Outside

A black river flows down the center

of each page

& on either side the banks

are wrapped in snow. My father is ink falling

in tiny blossoms, a bottle

wrapped in a paperbag. I want to believe

that if I get the story right

we will rise, newly formed,

that I will stand over him again

as he sleeps outside under the church halogen

only this time I will know

what to say. It is night &

it's snowing & starlings

fill the trees above us, so many it seems

the leaves sing. I can't see them

until they rise together at some hidden signal

& hold the shape of the tree for a moment

before scattering. I wait for his breath

to lift his blanket

so I know he's alive, letting the story settle

into the shape of this city. Three girls in the park

begin to sing something holy, a song

with a lost room inside it

as their prayerbook comes unglued

& scatters. I'll bend

each finger back, until the bottle

falls, until the bone snaps, save him

by destroying his hands. With the thaw

the river will rise & he will be forced

to higher ground. No one

will have to tell him. From my roof I can see

the East River, it looks blackened with oil

but it's only the light. Even now

my father is asleep somewhere. If I followed

the river north I could still reach him.

Copyright © Nick Flynn