Devil in a Blue Dress

She’s blue
the I that turned into this
you.      This I, an I-
oh, you.
Easier to ad
-dress, to dis/appear
in a dress.
to split the atom
-ized or (even) the atomizer of your/my
choice perfume.
           You, on the other
hand, back
-ward leaning, lured
memories, stick your
tongue out—who has the upper
hand? Hear. 
                    Your eyes
used to be blue. Envied, shift
to green. The crystal gaze would say
impure. The bluest ai
yi yi
,    do stet away—
the Is           the yous
the eyes       the ewes
the poet Ai   the use. 
am speaking to
the you,
the one I ceded my
lost/last voice, 
better entrusted to you?

You with that loveliest
oo & leading, yielding
Y. Of the why versus
I don’t like the way a mouth must
shape, grimace
the I, more ai yi yi
this I
this I used
this I used to want,
crave see,
be seen—the eye beheld,
others who’d cast the
eye you/I, me
But now I’ve turned to
you, historic
you who used to
do/be that,
a cardboard cut,
scissors in a
No more the I, the in & out
a door, that skeleton key,
the glassed-in porch.
Where you sat.
Where I watched.
Where we cleaved to split.
Where we shed, we
left, two
skins. Excused from
chatter, blast/bombast.
The tried & trying,
true. Tired now?
It’s true. 
I have been teaching myself to want.
You have been wondering if it would stick.
The riddle outside her
           blind, my blinds, your bind, the long
           un/winding road.
A self that’s split & I who eyes about
the world, first person claimed but (still) thinking
you. You that’s the eye
seen third and, I
who wisely took the seat in
back, set out to watch
this reconnoitered
you, that you who did it—
Her solo path.
Yours, too. The wringing out of
words do ring, mere
hands    do script & fail
too & erase
The bluest eye
The bluest I
The bluest you who blew
in blustery & blessed,
a blister on the bruise that’s you,
my shins, her high high
The eye/I is an unreliable, an
oracle, the I is a
dunce & a stumble, a
butcher baker candlestick
maker, rapscallion thief. The I is a pole with
hat & shoes. You, oh you, the you is a
woo. The ewe is a wolf in curled-right wool.
Life is a short eye/short     I
For O, she’s
blue the I that’s
turned into this:


*“Devil in a Blue Dress” borrows its title from the novel by Walter Mosley.

Nancy Flynn grew up on the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania, spent many years on a downtown creek in Ithaca, New York, and now lives near the mighty Columbia in Portland, Oregon. She attended Oberlin College, Cornell University, and has an M.A. in English from SUNY at Binghamton. Her writing has received an Oregon Literary Fellowship and the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Her poetry collection, Every Door Recklessly Ajar, was published in 2015; her long poem, “Great Hunger” will appear as an Anchor & Plume pocket book in early 2016. Her website is