A Selection of Poems from Ryan Quinn Flanagan

I Pointed Just In Case She Didn’t Know Where Space Was

 

I was down in the red light district

collecting warm blankets for the elderly,

I was there for UNICEF so children with their war-torn fingers

blown off could finger each other again with the help of silicon valley

prosthetics the VA had been working on.

You’re a sightseer!

I had one redhead in black fishnets tell me.

I can tell the sightseers from the real action.

I told her to lean into another car and wave her can

in the air so the astronauts up in the space station

would have something to look at.

I pointed just in case she didn’t know where space was.

With one of my fingers that had not been blown off in war.

She called me an asshole and I told her that was only

one part of me as a biological being.

I tried to show her my Jimmy Dean East of Eden ankles,

but she wasn’t interested.

My socks pulled up too high and her present mood too low.

When things come together, you can really tell.

The tricks falling in love with the girls and Elvis marrying

everyone back from the dead.

 

 

 

The Baby & the Shark

 

Had this dream on spicy food

without brushing the teeth

on another continent

 

that a baby in a carriage rolled down

off a cliff while the mother was busy

being Narcissus playing with filters on her phone

at the same time that a hammerhead shark

washed ashore and beached itself

about twenty feet away

 

and how all these kids ran up to the shark

and their parents ran after them

and how one kid got too close and the shark

bit off his toe in a panic

 

while no one even noticed the baby,

not even the mother who was in the middle

of updating her profile picture

for social media likes.

 

 

 

Probably in the Same Clothes

 

He made these strange hand signals

as though he were practising American sign language

in a wind tunnel full of revenge,

said he belonged to a gang

so I asked him how Kool was doing these days;

he seemed confused with the tinted back window

in no man’s land: half up and half down…

my black lunch pail under my arm after another

solid eight at work, too tired to even see the plate

of the car that sped off or to care,

knowing I would be right back here again

in another twenty four hours, probably in the same clothes

because any man who feeds the machine long enough

stops caring about such things.

 

 

Mickey Mantle Slaying the Hydra

 

Denon has Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo

and Mickey Mantle Slaying the Hydra.

 

I think the plaque says it’s Hercules?

my wife laughs.

 

I’d make the worst museum tour guide,

I joke.

 

You know more about these works than anyone else

in here and we’re at the Louvre, she says.

 

Which is true,

but I find myself in a mood.

 

Telling her Mickey Mantle is batting cleanup

beside Michelangelo’s The Slaves.

 

Before getting my wife to take a picture of me

with the museum map out

asking a bust of the Emperor Tiberius

for directions

in the Roman antiquities

room.

 

Bad form!

I can hear all the whispers

that never amount

to anything.

 

After a few pictures in the Sully wing

of the cavernous stone halls meant to mimic

the tombs of ancient Egypt,

we are done with the Louvre.

 

Trying to leave, but the exit signs just take us

further into this mess.

 

Some fantastic Davids

and a few Delacroixs,

but the range of paintings

are quite paltry.

 

Some of the most excitement

comes from trying to get my coat

out of the locker

and helping a few others.

 

The long walk back out to the street

to rejoin the living.

 

 

I Was Tired of All the Drama

 

I wouldn’t have gone outside

for Barkley.

 

I was tired of all the drama.

Just up from a roofing job in the city.

A loudmouth should get his ass beat.

Even if he’s a friend.

 

But Catherine came inside,

said someone was trying to beat up Shane

who didn’t do anything to anyone.

 

Covering her eyes and asking if we were fucking

even though we had all our clothes on

and she knew it.

 

So that I found myself back outside again.

Telling some middle-aged man

with fatty tits hanging out the sides of a white tank top

that his children should go back inside

and that we apologised for any

perceived offense.

 

He kept talking so that

I told him I gave him a chance,

that he should stop talking now,

that I would put him through the ground

with limited effort.

 

He retreated,

but not without some

empty threats.

 

Then I got really drunk

with Catherine

in that kitchen in Letitia Heights

as she kept handing me drinks

and pretending to drink

a few of her own.

 

 

I can’t understand people that shower before bed

 

The water wakes me up

and my damp hair against the pillows

gives me a headache.

 

All that effort

when you just have to get up

and shower again first thing

in the morning.

 

If you want to shower after especially dirty sex

I get it, but the rest of you seriously

confound me.

 

The day will come soon enough.

Enjoy your dirt and the dark

for a while.

 

 

European Sirens Are Different

 

It is the same pattern over and over.

One horn toots at another that responds.

Then the bike bells go, followed by the ambulance

and fire truck sirens.

No one gets out of the way for either

so the sirens are constant.

 

European sirens are different.

It’s like being in a Jason Bourne movie,

my wife says before rolling over.

 

It really is.

I pull the blanket up over my shoulder

and that is all I remember.

 

 

 

Dirty Harry was Clean

 

What I liked about

all those Clint Eastwood movies

back in the 70s

 

was the way he seemed to always care

in a greater sense

without being non-committal about that

which did not matter in the moment

 

stepping outside the law

when it no longer applied

 

and how he carried that absolute cannon around

like an artillery barrage in a $500 suit

 

fighting crime

and the corruption

of the system

 

in one clean act

of the janitorial services

 

so the streets of San Francisco

could entertain us

with the failed shocks of their

bumpy Frisco car chases

and our scowling anti-hero

could deliver

 

when prince charming

was out of country;

the bleeding hearts all

gone into hiding.

 

 

Straight Tequila & Protection Money

 

Doodle

was supposed to fight Noodle

in a schoolyard brawl

and no one cared in

the least

 

and I remember chugging that entire mickey

of tequila in the parking lot

on a dare at the YMCA

 

before racing around the track

at full speed for more than an hour,

lapping all the professional assholes

in my street clothes

because I was crazy and everyone else

was in lazy spandex

 

and later at that party in Letitia Heights,

a childhood friend looking for protection

and offering money

because someone’s girl had been fucked

and now played the victim

 

while the kegs

out in the garage

got warm as idiot

Marco Polo.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, Punk Noir Magazine, Gutter Eloquence, The Dope Fiend Daily, and The Rye Whiskey Review.

ryan feb