Nick Flynn

Sleeping Beauty

When Sleeping Beauty finds the spindle

& pricks her finger & falls into her hundred-

year sleep, everyone around her falls as

well—her handmaids, her grooms, the cooks.

Dogs collapse in the courtyard, horses fold

in on themselves in the hay . . . . I’d forgotten

all that. Even the fire returns to embers,

fire’s version of sleep. In some tellings all

this sleep is a blessing, a solution to grief—

no one will miss her because they will sleep

as long as she sleeps & they will wake

when she wakes, no one having felt

a thing. Is this what we want, to take

everyone with us, to leave no one behind?

To find a way not to feel all the days you

are not here? Some days I wish I could

sleep for a hundred years, other days

I wonder if I’ve ever really been awake.

In one version the curse is uttered by

a crone, in another by a fairy. The castle,

in both versions, as everyone falls &

almost at once, becomes overgrown—

wild roses, thick with thorns, surround its

walls, so thick they will tear the flesh of

anyone who dares come close. When I

tell you I’m a wounded animal this is what

I mean—I am the thorn & I am the spindle

& I am the curse . . . no one will remember

the years they felt nothing. 


God’s Will

Isn’t there a bird (what’s its name?)

that collects blue


things—bottle cap, rubber band,

bits of broken


cups—to make an elaborate, sparkling

blue nest on the ground. At


a meeting, a woman spoke of

her brother, who’d just




she said she knew it was God’s

will. We all want to be held


a little higher. Bower


bird, that’s the name, it gathers

all that blue


& arranges it into a nest                                

to make the beloved, of course, 


want to stay. 

Nick Flynn has worked as a ship’s captain, an electrician, and as a caseworker with homeless adults. His most recent book is My Feelings (Graywolf, 2015), a collection of poems. In 2019, two new books will appear: Stay (Ze Books), a collection of collaborations and writings, as well as I Will Destroy You (Graywolf), a collection of poems. Nick’s work has been translated into fifteen languages. He is currently a professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston.