The Flash Reverses Time

By A. Van Jordan b. 1965

DC Comics, November 1990, #44
“Never Look Back, Flash
Your Life Might Be Gaining On You”

When I’m running across the city
on the crowded streets
to home, when, in a blur,
the grass turns brown
beneath my feet, the asphalt
steams under every step
and the maple leaves sway
on the branches in my wake,
and the people look,
look in that bewildered way,
in my direction, I imagine
walking slowly into my past
among them at a pace
at which we can look one another in the eye
and begin to make changes in the future
from our memories of the past—
the bottom of a bottomless well,
you may think, but why not dream a little:
our past doesn’t contradict our future;
they’re swatches of the same fabric
stretching across our minds,
one image sewn into another,
like the relationship between a foot and a boot,
covariant in space and time—
one moves along with the other,
like an actor in a shadow play—
like a streak of scarlet light
across the skyline of your city
sweeping the debris, which is simply confetti,
candy wrappers, a can of soda,
all the experience of a day discarded
and now picked up
even down to the youthful screams of play
that put smiles on the faces of the adults
who hear remnants of their own voices
through a doorway leading back
to a sunrise they faintly remember.

A. Van Jordan, "The Flash Reverses Time" from Quantum Lyrics. Copyright © 2007 by A. Van Jordan. Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Quantum Lyrics (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2007)

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Poet A. Van Jordan b. 1965

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture


A. Van Jordan is the author of four collections: Rise, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award (Tia Chucha Press, 2001); M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, (2005), which was listed as one the Best Books of 2005 by the London TimesQuantum Lyrics, (W.W. Norton, 2007); and The Cineaste (W.W. Norton,, 2013). Jordan has been awarded a Whiting Writers Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is also the recipient of . . .

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Poems by A. Van Jordan

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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