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,
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.
I think the valet guys jack off in my car,
I stick to the driver’s seat whenever
I get back in.
And they’re always these young kids
working on their first disappointing
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!
A woman knows the difference.
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.
I rub the faces
of expensive car chases
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
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
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
He Pulled a Gun Over Toilet Paper
It was just the other day.
Down in the city.
An argument ensued over a dwindling
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
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.
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
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
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 Eloquence, The Dope Fiend Daily, and The Rye Whiskey Review.