Nick Flynn: The Day Lou Reed Died

nick flynn father

Nick Flynn, who blew us away with his take on Boston Noir, wrote his breakthrough memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which became a Robert De Niro film, about a tortured relationship with his vagrant and alcoholic father. Jonathan Flynn died his past October at the age of 84 on the same day as American rocker Lou Reed. Nick read for us the poem he wrote about that day. Kunal Jasty mixed it with an outtake of The Velvet Underground’s “Ride into the Sun.”


It’s not like his songs are going to simply

but since the news I can’t stop
listening to him

on endless shuffle—familiar, yes, inside
me, yes, which means

I’m alive, or was, depending on when
you read this. Now

a song called “Sad
Song,” the last one on Berlin,

sung now from the other side, just talk,
really, at the beginning, then

the promise
or threat, I’m gonna stop wasting

my time, but what else
are we made of, especially now? A chorus

sings Sad song sad song sad song sad

song. I
knew him better than I knew my own

father, which means
through these songs, which means

not at all. They died on the same day, O
what a perfect day, maybe

at the same moment, maybe
both their bodies are laid out now in

the freezer, maybe side by side, maybe
holding hands, waiting

for the fire or the earth or the man
or the salt—

if I could I’d let birds devour whatever’s left
& carry them into the sky, but all I can do

it seems
is lie on the couch & shiver, pull a coat

over my body as if it were all I had, as if I
were the one sleeping outside, as if it were my

body something was leaving, rising up
from inside me

& the coat could hold it in
a little longer.

Related Content