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 FiendDaily, and The Rye Whiskey Review.
is only as good
as the hustlers
and as successful
as the hustled
which is to say
one part gullible
and one part
like following a
Don’t Sign the Lithograph
Watercolours can be done in the bathtub
just as much scrubbing can be done.
Behind the ears like alleyway dumpsters.
That strange grimy build up under the nails.
A lone bathroom vanity
like the only way of seeing.
And there I am on the dead snore.
In front of nobody’s thirsty pulpit.
Don’t sign the lithograph.
Make things questionable, authentication an impossibility.
Speak a brand new language every day.
The ones you make up are the best.
Sitting on strip mall curbs with knobby knees
drawn deep into hairy chest.
A tired, dirty chimney stack way
The detectives showed up on scene after less than three hours sleep.
The scene had been compromised.
The beat boys walking through it as if it were their own sandbox.
A large blue tarp placed over the body.
Tarpin ripped it off for all the passing rubberneckers to see.
A large crowd had gathered.
Some of the family fainted.
Let them see it!
Tarpin yelled at some crime scene upstart
looking to preserve some dignity for the dead.
What dignity is there for scatterbrains?
Maybe these animals will stop offing one another
if we let them look at the handiwork.
Seems scatterbrains was shot in the head,
Ansod was Tarpin’s partner.
They had both been around as long as the badge.
Neither of them ready to retire.
Seems scatterbrains made a real mess of mommy’s rental,
I don’t know where the detailing place will start!
The crime scene photographer took his photos.
Tarpin moving the camera in close
so the photographer could smell the way
the passenger had shit himself
before bleeding through the seat.
A soft spoken woman from public relations
was sent to talk to the family.
Tarpin and Ansod went to dinner.
At this bar that left the bottle on the table
and looked the other way.
Beepers turned off and most the rinsed out women too.
It was Ansod’s turn to pay.
Collecting the weekly envelope for the register
while Tarpin stood outside.
Waiting on clogged arteries
and that massive heart attack
no one comes back from.
Like a Lawyer with Twice the Lies and Half the Experience
Sit and listen to some crystal ball bitch utter the word “portend.” Billing out at almost $100/hr. Like a lawyer with twice the lies and half the experience. A patterned head scarf wrapped around her head to make such things appear “authentic.” And that cursory questioning by the door to pull you in. That simple back and forth banter you pass off as small talk looking for indicators to hit on. Same with all the burning of incense and beaded doorways only the chosen can pass through. Spatial pageantry to assess your level of gullibility so the hustle can know how to move forward with the mark, nothing more. Sizing you up on the assumption that the dinosaurs went extinct because of a meteorite and that you are far smaller and will fold for far less. Paying more to know the truth, which someone else can give you as long as you have the time and want and money and that roaming dead loved one’s pension loneliness such predators are always looking for.
It was Easter.
Chocolate bunnies appeared
out of thin air.
Coloured eggs hidden about
Sugar children so excited
they tore the chocolate heads
off their bunnies.
Pulling the eye candy out first
and eating that.
Beginning then on the chocolate eye-less
mass before them.
It was the same everywhere.
First the head and then the body.
Ritual cannibalism at its finest.
The tired parents full of apprehensions.
As their little sugar namesakes
ran around making a mess of everything.
Older and More Expensive
The way you arrive at things
says a lot about where you’ve come from.
This itchy stubbled chin
my fingers run through on their way
to other things.
A back stairwell that only creaks
when you imagine the slow dying city
back into late afternoon rusting.
How everything becomes older
and more expensive.
You pay for “vintage”
while the elderly pay for
Service elevators that reek of sweat
the whole way down.
That klutzy 2 am way I fall into bed
with someone else’s dirty feet
right behind me.
I Could Be Walking for Charity
I could be walking for charity.
All those cold afternoons past the corner convenience
with a shortage of parking and three rusted out
garbage cans never tipped over
so that the main dumpster in back gets
all the attention, power steering always giving out
on a hill and the way a small town treats its wildlife
will tell you a lot about how it will be
if you decide to go with a married man
after your mother and half her prayer group
meet on Thursdays to pray that you see at least half the light
provided by a common 60 watt bulb
in the only upstairs bathroom.
Everything will fix anything
if you blow kisses into the sinking
cavernous heart of a diamond.
And even though you know it’s all a sham,
you can’t leave the scam.
Stick around longer than you should.
On a first name basis with all known aliases.
Miss the gaffer’s tape
holding all the unmentionables
Candles when you need the light.
Lonely and looking for answers.
The heart will take itself.
Give away everything for what it believes
I was never a skeptic.
I came to this through all the other.