Winner of a "Discovery"/The Nation Award
Winner of the 1999 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry
Some Ether is one of the more remarkable debut collections of poetry to appear in America in recent memory. As Mark Doty has noted, "these poems are more than testimony; in lyrics of ringing clarity and strange precision, Flynn conjures a will to survive, the buoyant motion toward love which is sometimes all that saves us. Some Ether resonates in the imagination long after the final poem; this is a startling, moving debut."
|Product dimensions:||6.08(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.26(d)|
About the Author
Nick Flynn is a member of Columbia University's Writing Project and lives in Brooklyn. He is also the author of Blind Huber.
Read an Excerpt
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
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
in their childproof orange cups. I knew my kids,
but did they know me? It was easy
to hide, it waited, the hard 0 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?
The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands
a French ship with all her passengers & crew
slides into the North Sea, the water so cold
it finishes them. Nothing saved
but a life ring stenciled GRACE,
cut loose from its body. A spokesman can only
state his surprise
that it doesn't happen more often.
Last August, as I rode the ferry
from here to the city, a freak storm
& the Captain, forced below,
asked for a show of hands
as to whether we should go on. A woman beside me
hid her entire head in her jacket
to light a cigarette.
For years I had a happy childhood,
if anyone asked I'd say, it was happy.
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, because
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 shoulder blades,
in case it's him.
I distrust the men who come at night, sitting in their cars, their
The living room a dark theater behind me, I watch from the curtained
My mother is twenty-seven.
She opens the car door & bends into the overhead light but before his lips
can graze her cheek the door closes
& the light goes out.
They sit inside & fill it with smoke.
It looks creamy in the winter night, like amber, or a newfound galaxy.
I know cigarettes can kill & wonder why she wants to die.
A picture book teaches me how to vanish. All the children are monkeys.
They plunge into the icy sea each morning to become strong.
My mother buys a Harley & I cling to her past blurry lawns.
We walk out of Bonnie & Clyde after Gene Hackman staggers up dead.
We listen for fire bells & drive to the scene of burning houses, to stand
close to tragedy.
The Greeks teach me to shout into the waves so people will listen.
She'd screw a store-bought toy head,
a water-wiggle, onto the end of the green hose,
that made it & me go softly berserk
twisting across the summer lawn
as if air itself were valium.
she could whisper the word burn
& I'd turn to ash
A blackberry patch grew wild off the road
to the electric transformers.
I'd fill my hat & carry them home
for her to make a lattice pie. Now she tells me
that she doesn't know how to bake, that
no blackberries ever grew around us,
that I never ate pie anyway.
not ash, really,
but the bright flecks rising from a burning
house, the family outside,
Table of Contents
|I The Visible Woman|
|Bag of Mice||3|
|Fragment (found inside my mother)||4|
|The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands||5|
|You Ask How||6|
|The Visible Woman||10|
|And Then, And Then||11|
|My Mother Contemplating Her Gun||13|
|Radio Thin Air||17|
|Cartoon Physics, part 1||24|
|Wild with Dandelions & Roses||35|
|The Robot Moves!||40|
|How Do You Know You'reMissing Anything?||41|
|III Devil Theory|
|Seven Fragments (found inside my father)||45|
|Two More Fragments||53|
|Man dancing with a paper cup||56|
|Stylite (fragment #10)||58|
|Elsewhere, Mon Amour||59|
|Cartoon Physics, part 2||63|
|The cellar a machine whirring through the night||65|
|Her Smoke (her trick)||66|
|Five Hundred Years||69|
|You moved me through each room||77|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had picked up this book about 3 years ago, and didn't buy it, and then spent the next 3 years looking for it. The poems in this book are so tragically touching, you can't read more than a few at a time, because it's like getting hit in the head and heart with a sledgehammer. You can feel Flynn's pain and see his pain through his writing. It's a truly amazing book.
I picked this book up out of a 'damaged' bin and was suprised by the profoundness and militant subtlety it held. Nick Flynn captures the relationships between objects and emotions, between young and old, and between human beings immaculately and smoothly, with a raw, brutal sense of reality. His tone is desperately cool on the surface and violent and explosive underneath, his words do not blatantly point out, but rather quietly hint at and echo truth from his perspective. Brilliance.