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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Flynn
Nick Flynn
In 1960, Nick Flynn was born in Scituate, Massachusetts, on Boston’s South Shore...
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FURTHER READING
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Related Prose
Poetry & Graphic Art: The Collaborations of Nick Flynn and Josh Neufeld
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Father Outside

 
by Nick Flynn and Josh Neufeld


Click images to enlarge



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.





Audio Clip
March 3, 2007
AWP Conference, Atlanta
From the Academy Audio Archive



Copyright © Nick Flynn and Josh Neufeld. Poem and illustration first published in The Common Review, Fall 2004. Used with permission.
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