Continuing Questions of Vast Moment

Nancy Flynn

                                a found poem from Frederick Douglass’s 1866 essay for The Atlantic,
                              “A Treacherous President Stood in the Way”

No cloudflung shadows can obscure
the way of a country torn & bleeding, rent.

Whether at court-house, school-house,
cross-road, in doors and out

no evil is entirely unmixed.
Once in grace is always in

grace; these shattered & over-
thrown began with a clean slate.

A scandalous & shocking
waste of blood & treasure—

men who deliberate with daggers,
vote with revolvers, 

do not even conceal their deadly

of the country that conquered them,
victory over treason.

like all other great systems of wrong,

was founded in the depths
of human selfishness.

Discern through the glitter
& dazzle of present prosperity

the dark outlines of
approaching disasters.

A treacherous president stands in the way,
leans to the side of error.

War begins where reason ends.
The deadly upas tree must be

utterly destroyed.
Make clean work of it.



Nancy Flynn, grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, spent two decades in Ithaca, New York, and now lives in Portland, Oregon. She attended Oberlin College, Cornell University, and has an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from SUNY/Binghamton. Recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship, her recent books include Every Door Recklessly Ajar and Great Hunger. Her website is

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