A Fistful Of Poems from Ryan Quinn Flanagan

ryan feb

Throwing Shade

 

He says it is nothing like discus.

Kind of like the javelin

and less like medicine balls.

 

This one who talks like he competed

in the Olympics.

 

A red Gold’s Gym muscle shirt

to show off his veiny arms.

 

Making his pecs bounce around

whenever the young girls from the nearby

high school walk by.

 

Those things creep me out.

The girls take no notice.

They are all zombies on their phones.

 

As this 2-time Olympian of his own mind

tells me what it’s like to throw shade.

How many years he had to train.

 

I can’t get him to talk about the steroids,

but he won’t shut up about everything else.

 

You have to medal or no one cares,

he says.

 

I don’t care,

so he must not have medalled.

 

I try to show him a spiky green weed

growing right up the middle of a busy anthill

in my driveway.

 

He doesn’t care either.

The sound of wind chimes

four doors down.

 

A lawn care service rushing by.

Someone’s lawn must be in trouble.

 

 

A Single Tarnished Bell Over the Door

 

You can sit in the coin laundry

and never once get clean.

 

A single tarnished bell over the door

to announce dirty garbage bag newcomers.

 

Flipping through magazines in that stale coffee breath

doomsday clock way everyone is single.

 

A broken red milk crate propping

open the bathroom door.

 

Ignore the purists.

These are places of cultures.

 

Where the truth is hammered out

one tumbling dark load at a time.

 

 

Valet Guys

 

I think the valet guys jack off in my car,

she says.

I stick to the driver’s seat whenever

I get back in.

 

And they’re always these young kids

working on their first disappointing

three pumper.

 

If they get the girl pregnant,

they’ll marry her.

 

She has tan leather seats.

I ask her if they are not just getting

that way because it is summer.

 

Not that sticky!

she says.

A woman knows the difference.

 

I assume

she knows what she

is talking about.

 

Speak much less

so I can hear her voice

instead of mine.

 

 

Always a Pliedsmaid, Never the Plied

 

He had money

and was good for drinks.

 

Hit on the waitress who kept them coming.

 

Even though he was short and ugly,

a gameshow Casanova.

 

She enjoyed the tips

and couldn’t care less.

 

And this one had his own car back when most did not.

Leased from his uncle’s car lot in the city.

Stole from his workplace to make the payments.

We were still in high school.

 

It was all for show.

And this one was scared of losing control.

Which is why he bought drinks for everyone else

and always nursed his own.

 

Always a pliedsmaid, never the plied.

Even on his birthday.

Our fake IDs worked well enough.

His money was always welcome.

 

We never had any problem getting served.

And he would get others to buy one as well.

I once did eighteen shots of mystery drinks in a row,

then downed my beer because it was my birthday.

 

You never wanted it to be your birthday.

There was no telling where you would end up.

We all punished each other ruthlessly.

 

When your birthday came around, you were fucked.

But this one always fronted the money and sat in the wings.

A total vampire getting off on the carnage.

 

I’m Irish and could always handle my drink, but only so much.

It’s the pain and suffering this one wanted.

And I gave him that in spades.

 

I wanted to suffer.

And I did.

 

 

Saliva Races

 

I rub the faces

of expensive car chases

without end.

 

Bits of scratchy stubble

over torn paper sleeve

record shop vinyl.

 

The kids outside the arcade

spitting on the window

and having saliva races before

being chased away.

 

If I was looking for a serial shooter,

I would take the top ten high scores

of the shoot ‘em up game

and go calling.

 

It’s the cheapest way to practise

and avoid the cameras.

 

Really double down on everyone else’s

rent controlled investment.

 

Follow pull out couches back from bed.

 

Art supplies are so expensive now.

No one can afford to make a mess.

Experimentation has gone out the window.

Not the dirty coin monster window

of the downtown arcade.

 

This loss is so much greater.

Like burying the family dog under

almost a foot of cement.

 

Earthy head shops on the second floor

after that throbbing Escher hallway

back up into lost Peter Tosh music.

 

Cabbies with fares

that know

they are being taken.

 

On the scenic route.

Pulling up to lights and slamming on the brakes

in squeaky yellow increments to alert

the meter to movement.

 

While I cross my arms in busy elevators.

Watch the numbers go down.

Stand at the back so no one is behind me.

 

Then out onto the street.

The sound of sirens and tartan sleeping bags

coughing right beside me.

 

Some girl with short purple hair

handing out posters for

her band.

 

A single sudden wipe of the forehead

with back of hand.

 

This misguided way I fill my pockets

with candle light vigils.

 

Unbutton a shirt from the $5 rack

that has never once believed

in anything.

 

 

Up start

 

swing

for

the

fences

 

that

no

one

has

bothered

 

to

paint

 

breath

in

that

selfish

 

brown

ramshackle

 

air.

 

 

He Pulled a Gun Over Toilet Paper

 

It was just the other day.

Down in the city.

An argument ensued over a dwindling

toiletries supply.

 

The world has gone bonkers again.

Over a virus this time.

Rushing around like some weird sci-fi movie

about the end of the world.

 

Panic buying the shelves clean.

And the two most prized possessions

seem to be toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

 

People are selling both online for $300 apparently.

But this particular argument is face to face.

And he pulled a gun over toilet paper.

 

I don’t know how the bloody thing ended,

but I’m guessing he got his damn

toilet paper.

 

I just like that people are hiding indoors

and staying away.

 

I never thought this day would come.

I probably haven’t been this happy

since I was ten years old.

 

People avoid me and say nothing.

So peaceful.

 

 

 

Broken Windows & All that Glass

 

We agreed to meet at this pool hall

that seemed to have something against 8-ball.

 

They had gotten rid of all but two old tables,

replacing the rest with snooker.

 

Which is a lot harder to play

if you drink.

 

And this one was still on his first girlfriend.

Wanted to know if it was weird that she only gave head

to him with the condom on.

 

Long before his wife that was proud of being funny and never intimate.

I told him it was kinda weird that she would rather suck back

half an army of spermicide rather than the swimmers.

 

He wanted my opinion because I was the go-to-guy.

That same crazy fucker who got the high school bullies

to stop demanding lunch money each week.

 

He never knew why.

He just knew to thank me

when they stopped.

 

Which is a roundabout way of saying I had

some respect even when I didn’t

respect myself.

 

Broken windows and all that glass.

1200ft of toilet papered cars.

 

A new house up for sale each day

because we moved the signs.

 

Carried the bloody things on our backs.

Just a few years earlier.

 

Switched all the licsecne plates

in an eight block radius

with this screwdriver from my father’s

red tool box.

 

Because I never seemed to care

as much as the sparkly happening

world.

 

Casuals

 

He flexes

and makes this strange

shirtless pacing grunting

noise to impress the casuals,

announces that he hasn’t lost a

fight in over four years

which is true,

the last time this one was drunk

and mouthy enough to take

the walk was over four years ago,

but he makes enough noise

that the wafer thin anorexic girls think him

a regular, the victim of some lucky punch

from some animal just out of prison

whose been doing nothing but

push ups and time,

so they wake him up and bring him home,

taking it upon themselves

to nurse this flabby pub crawl asshole

back to imagined health,

until he sweet talks them back out of lost virginity

and cleans out their bank accounts

so that they become enraged with all men

even though it was one man with a pretty face

and they were dumb enough to buy the hustle

and go all in.

 

Bio: 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, Punk Noir Magazine, The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, Gutter EloquenceThe Dope Fiend Daily, and The Rye Whiskey Review.