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Rachel Flynn

Poem on the Road to Depose

My body
is a sack of black spoons,
and my dreams
steal from me.

These books
are full of bite marks --

my heartís
a wet cashew.

The lights outside Milwaukee falter.
Good morning, corpse candles.

I've come zealously to represent
sleeplessness and must not listen

to the click
of the black spoons.

Purified
by diesel
and the long gray bone
of the sky,

I am limb-caught
and swallowed

by the monstrous
laws of the dead.


Rachel Flynn

Red Brick Hungry
for Maureen

The house fell out of the woods full-grown,
and we moved in, removing

the plastic fountain of angels bubbling,
pudgy in the foyer.

Squirrels in the walls all winter,
corn smut on the screens in late summer,

and the baby sick for months Ė
yellow and thin Ė the father weeping,

all of us bending
in that impossible shadow.

***

I am loyal to my gut
which is a red brick, hungry

for more mud and sun,
which is to say,

lonely.

***

The pale knife
of a mantis clings

to the precise wall of our house.
It tries to stay cool, do some good,

or just keep quiet.

***

The baby lives.

I prop her against
the headboard to read

how Laura Ingalls twists hay
in the barn with Pa,

Louis Barnavelt solves the mystery
of the clock in the walls,

and Anne of Green Gables
saves everyone.

***

When no one is looking,

I feed her
bits of cupcake

with money stolen
from the fatherís wallet.

Still, she sleeps too much --
her skin alarms me

into not looking.

***

One summer
a truck pulls up
and drives off

with all
the little things:

books and silver,
linens, dishes,

brother, sister.

***

Then
Iím loyal
to the salt lick
in the woods
dwindling
by rain
and tongue
and time.

At dark, it shrieks white
as a crazy womanís nightdress.

***

Res ipsa loquitor: The thing speaks for itself.

I will grow to study justice. The thorn of myself,
the thing in the foot. I will rent air in old rooms
and curl against the wall, hungry. Some knife.

***

I was in love

with the World Book, proud of chimneys
in pictures of Dresden and London --

rubble and the survivors --

the towns full of middle fingers,
up-raised --

still red.

***

Iím baking
shortbread,

each a brick
drained of red.

The fork
makes rows
of holes.

I name them:

brother, sister.

***

In Chicago red brick
is everywhere and car alarms,
broken bottles, ice.

I call my sister to ask
the names of shells and insects
and if she remembers

the quiet of the woods at night.

I read by flashlight,
she slept with fingers
in her mouth.

***

I learn many things
in law school:

the elements

of bad faith, anti-trust,
and trespassing.

How to estimate
punitive damages.

But mostly

that the liquid form of brick
is not blood

but jug wine.

***

I live in old buildings
with old women who show me

their paper doll arms. I tell them
pigeons sit on the window unit

and fill my room with low sounds Ė
a terrible loudness of sleeping too much.

***

One summer
a truck pulls up

and dumps
a load of bricks in the alley.

They stay.

Iím afraid
when it snows:

the bricks covered over
show red in spots

like a pile of bodies, shot.


Rachel Flynn

Slip & Fall

To guard against it, the grocery stores
put plastic mats in the produce aisles
with holes the approximate size and shape
of the typical grape. Iím talking about liability.
Iím talking about avoiding the awful snap
of collar bone on linoleum, the shatter
of graham crackers and bifocal glasses.

Iíve been concerned about the birds I cut
from construction paper that never looked
like birds but anvils or trowels. Anyway
they did the job. Fewer bloody splotches
against the glass, fewer reasons to feel guilty
for getting in the way of hunger and abject
joy. Iíve been lost in the oil slick

of a juncoís wing. Iím dark and sticky with it,
but regardless, all day Iíve been singing a poem
about travelling, singing even as I reach
for the phone to talk about insurance
and plausible options, singing even though
everything I dream these nights is forests
and hands and bones, and the winter rattles me.

Itís a song about the end of caution --
an onyx pendant slipping from my neck
that glistens like the supermarketís asphalt
where gulls are painted to ward off a mess.
But harm is not worth avoiding if the cure
is smallness . . I wheel gladly beyond it
to the hole in the sky where birds are spiraling.


Rachel Flynn

Some Other Morning

Sometimes I make nooses
of stir sticks, scale the masts

of ships on sugar packets,
and imagine Louisiana factories

where Tabasco bubbles
in steel vats. I wonít watch

berries between his fingers,
the syrup lifted, poured, exquisite,

or the soft give of a griddle cake
beneath the fork because I know

if it werenít for this delight,
Iíd want some other morning,

some other diner, without him.
I think of old freezers at the dump,

how kids play in them, and the law
calls this an attractive nuisance,

requires signs, barbed fences, prudence.
I canít say Iíve even tried to be careful

or fair --when I pop the seal
on a little cup of half-and-half,

it gasps.


Rachel Flynnís work has recently appeared in River City, Rhino, and Cold Mountain Review and on PublishingOnline. She recently received her MFA from Warren Wilson College and is a corporate lawyer for a company outside of Chicago.

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