I Will Destroy You

Graywolf. Sept. 2019. 80p. ISBN 9781644450024. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781644451014. POETRY
Author of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award–winning Some Ether, Flynn here delivers an absorbing new collection of resonating sorrow and promises that must and will be kept. “The dark wind in-// side” blows hard throughout, acknowledged in a poem spoken to a sleeping child (“if you die// then I will be able to/ drink again &; no// one alive will even/ blame me”), but this book is not a bummer. In language that’s honest, forthright, reflective, cleanly rendered, and blunt but neither self-pitying nor sensational, Flynn confirms how much life hurts and how much he’s determined to stick around anyway, to honor commitments to those he loves: “The one promise I/ can make is that I’m staying/ even though what knocks on our/ door at night has at its heart only/ my getting lost.” A poem about a house fire reminds us that the smoke of the past never really dissipates (“what you can’t hear is the leaves caught inside each spark”), but in the end anticipating what comes next can pull you back from the abyss.
VERDICT Beautifully crafted poems from the (broken) heart; the masterly Flynn doesn’t drag us into the depths but rises to meet us.
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