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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 4, 2018.
About this Poem 
“I generally have a problem with anthropomorphizing, with what’s called the pathetic fallacy, forgetting that we are all part of the deeper mystery of the natural world. I think our minds are the limits of what is measurable. I sometimes think that everything is measurable, yet the fact that a killdeer does this dance fills me with unspeakable sadness and joy.”
—Nick Flynn
 

Killdeer

You know how it pretends 
to have a broken wing to 
lure predators away from its 
nest, how it staggers just out 
of reach . . . if, at this moment,
you’re feeling metaphorical, 
nest can be the whatever 
inside us that we think needs 
protection, the whatever that is 
small & hasn’t yet found its 
way. Like us it has lived so long 
on scraps, on what others have 
left behind, it thinks it could live 
on air, on words, forever almost, 
it thinks it would be better to let 
the predator kill it than to turn 
its back on that child again, 
forgetting that one lives inside 
the other. 

Copyright © 2018 by Nick Flynn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Nick Flynn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn

Born in 1960, Nick Flynn is the author of the poetry collections My Feelings (Graywolf Press, 2015), The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands (Graywolf Press, 2011), Blind Huber (Graywolf Press, 2002), and Some Ether (Graywolf Press, 2000), which was the recipient of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award.

by this poet

poem
When you see us swarm — rustle of

wingbeat, collapsed air — your mind
tries to make us one, a common

intelligence, a single spirit un-
tethered. You imagine us merely
searching out the next

vessel, anything

that could contain us, as if the hive
were just another jar. You try

to hold the ending, this
2
poem

 

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2
poem

Try this—close / your eyes. No, wait, when—if—we see each other / again the first thing we should do is close our eyes—no, / first we should tie our hands to something / solid—bedpost, doorknob— otherwise they (wild birds) / might startle us / awake. Are we forgetting something? What about that / warehouse, the one