Carla Schwartz
Nick Flynn Reads My Feelings
In the photo, in yellow and reds,
a laundromat—rather, a Cornell box
of cardboard dryers and washers,
a tiny shirt strewn in checkered red,
miniature carts to move clothes
between the wash and the dry,
presented to us on a big screen
behind Nick
to distract?
to enhance?
I am not sure why,
but I found myself hypnotized
by the cycle of Flynn
flailing his arms
to indicate the feelings
he had crossed out on the pages
of his book,
as if no words could ever express those feelings
while he said ineffable,
used ineffable
more than once or twice
in the book,
a book of poems,
My Feelings,
words he has no word for —
shall I make sense of this
or ask how he does it?

—then, an airport escalator,
the up, the down,
next the push-pull of pistons
in an engine, my engine,
turned sideways,
and then suddenly a flower,
the whole synchronized team
in a Busby Berkley number,
in and out
in and out
and then after the pistons and flower
topiary clippers
like in the film Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
The daily ab work I miss: my cross outs,
and now I wonder how Flynn
does this,
what his special charisma is,
how he can say just one word
to wild applause.

While Flynn performs
his multimedia act,
I picture a video behind the podium,
a representation of me,
performing the ab work I haven’t done today—
first, an elephant
lifting his trunk
up and down,
up and down