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Alan Dugan Telling Me I Have A Problem With Time Analysis



Author: poem of Nick Flynn Type: poem Views: 6

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He reads my latest attempt at a poem

and is silent for a long time, until it feels

like that night we waited for Apollo,

my mother wandering in and out of her bedroom, asking,

Haven't they landed yet? At last

Dugan throws it on the table and says,

This reads like a cheap detective novel

and I've got nothing to say about it. It sits,

naked and white, with everyone's eyes

running over it. The week before

he'd said I had a problem with time,

that in my poems everything

kept happening at once. In 1969,

the voice of Mission Control

told a man named Buzz

that there was a bunch of guys turning blue

down here on Earth, and now I can understand

it was with anticipation, not sickness. Next,

Dugan says, Let's move on. The attempted poem

was about butterflies and my recurring desire

to return to a place I've never been.

It was inspired by reading this

in a National Geographic: monarchs

stream northward from winter roosts in Mexico,

laying their eggs atop milkweed

to foster new generations along the way.

With the old monarchs gone (I took this line as the title)

and all ties to the past ostensibly cut

the unimaginable happens--butterflies

that have never been to that plateau in Mexico

roost there the next winter. . . .I saw this

as a metaphor for a childhood I never had,

until Dugan pointed out

that metaphor has been dead for a hundred years.

A woman, new to the workshop, leans

behind his back and whispers, I like it,

but the silence is seamless, as deep

as outer space. That night in 1969

I could turn my head from the television and see

     the moon

filling the one pane over the bed completely

as we waited for Neil Armstrong

to leave his footprints all over it.






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