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Nick Flynn


Bag Of Mice

I dreamt your suicide note
was scrawled in pencil on a brown paperbag,
& in the bag were six baby mice. The bag
opened into darkness,
from the top down. The mice,
huddled at the bottom, scurried the bag
across a shorn field. I stood over it
& as the burning reached each carbon letter
of what you'd written
your voice released into the night
like a song, & the mice
grew wilder.

Fragment (found inside my mother)

I kept it hidden, it was easy
to hide, behind my lingerie, a shoebox

above my boys’ reach, swaddled alongside
my painkillers

in their childproof orange cups. I knew my kids,
curious, monkeys,

but did they know me? It was easy

to hide, it waited, the hard O of its mouth
made of waiting, each bullet
& its soft hood of lead. Braced

solid against my thigh, I’d feed it
with my free hand, my robe open

as if nursing, practicing
my hour of lead, my letting go. The youngest

surprised me with a game,
held out his loose fists, begging
guess which hand, but both

were empty. Who taught him that?

You Ask How

& I say, suicide, & you ask
how & I say,
an overdose, and then
she shot herself,

& your eyes fill with what?
wonder? So I add, in the chest,
so you won't think
her face is gone, & it matters somehow
that you know this...

& near the end I
eat all her percodans, to know
how far they can take me,
they are
there. So she
won't. Cut straws
stashed in her glove compartment,
& I split them open
to taste the alkaloid residue. Bitter.
Lingering. A bottle of red wine
moves each night along
as she writes, I feel too much,
again & again. Our phone now

unlisted, our mail
kept in a box at the post office
& my mother tells me to always leave
a light on so it seems
someone's home. She finds a cop
for her next boyfriend, his hair
greasy, pushed back with his fingers.
He lets me play with his service revolver
while they kiss on the couch.
As cars fill the windows, I aim,
making the noise with my mouth,
in case it's them,

& when his back is hunched over her I aim
between his shoulders blades,

in case it's him.

                       -from Some Ether