Poets Nick Flynn and Matthew Dickman

It’s been awhile since I shared some of my favorite poems, so here goes.  These are poems by the incredibly talented Nick Flynn from his book Some Ether (also the author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City which was turned into the movie “Being Flynn”) and Matthew Dickman from his All-American Poem book of poetry.  Amazing shit, read on.

31P1EPJ8GDL._SY300_Nick Flynn (Some Ether)







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


& scatter.  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.


***poem by Nick Flynn


all-american-smNow for Matthew Dickman’s poem “The Black Album” from All-American Poem






Black like my sister’s black eye an imaginary father

gave her, so now she is forever beaten

by the absence of men, her pupil,

black like a record is black.

Black like my coffee mug but not my coffee

for I drink it with cream.  For I walk out

onto the beach and bless the black bottoms

of the boats, for the plankton glow

inside the black sea like white blood cells.

for music and poverty are the great regulators of the world

when white kids in Kansas are bumping Tupac

from the windows of Ford pickups, working

in the canneries, dreaming of LA: raving and mad

between the turntables.  The more I listen to Jay-Z

the more I’m reminded of Led Zeppelin,

The Stones, how they begin to live

the same life.  How they need each other like organs

from a greater body.  And then there are the black

keys Mr. Mozart bent into sound

so the people in the castle would have something

to move them, when outside the sky was black

and so was the moor, someone walking

across it, lost in his own suffering,

but a part of everything, the bog, the moon, the man

on the moon with his black dinner jacket, his teeth

bright black and earth below with its factories

pumping like a dog’s heart pumps after its owner

drives up, opens the door, calls out its name.

Black like the buttons on your grandfather’s coat

and black like the suits we wear

when our grandfathers die.  I’m telling you

it’s hard to tell the rivers apart from the hills, the super-malls

from the ma and pa’s when I feel them both

so acutely.  Black like licorice used to be

and black like the lace bra Susan wore

beneath a baby-blue t-shirt

and how I would take her to the mat like a wrestler

and how she would keep her black boots on

so that now when I think of black boots I am no longer thinking

of Neo Nazis or soldiers but bedrooms and bedposts.

She had a black pair of handcuffs with feathers

so that it looked like a black bird of submission.

For she was good when bound up

by black leather belts, for what we did

we did in the black voice box of evening

and in the morning the light came in

to touch her where she slept, drooling on the pillow.

David wrote “I don’t know,

now, if any of us get out of this.”

And I’m not sure any of us would want to,

the world coming together, crashing

around us, while we drive through the forests of Vermont,

listening to The Black Album, blasting it,

and the black bear that leaps from the road onto the tree

like a heavy black star, so that later

I would think of blackberries growing off

the freeway, the way you feel when you’re moving

along like a train running, furious, on all this black coal.


**by Matthew Dickman


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