Poetry from Ryan Flanagan

He Lost His Virginity to a Ball of Wool


His grandmother used to knit slippers

year round for all the grandkids

and –

during that entire summer he spent with her

he got ideas, finding himself home alone

he stared at the basket of wool on the floor

for hours, imagining the softness of each ball

before fingering himself a hole and defiling his favourite.

A large grey mass of fabric which he humped and threw away.

After that, he no longer considered himself a virgin.

And the slippers he got each Christmas

made him uneasy.


Precision Bombing, like Painting Your Nails

with a Bunker Buster Named Quincey



he yelled

like a chimney spout

full of soot.


Right to your house?

I asked.

Then I guess you’re



And he could tell

I was mocking him

which meant that he

was still there

in the outstanding

cable bill sense.


As I thought

about that chimney sweep

in a William Blake poem I had read

many years before.


And how no one escapes the prison

of anything if they don’t

want to.


Deep Guttural Belch


you have travelled such a far way

to be expelled.

You must be tired in that carbon monoxide

poisoning sort of way.

Where nobody moves even though

they look like they should.

That’s how my friend Kevin looked

when he hung himself.

The stillness of a windless field.

But you’ve come so far.

Perhaps they will give you your own

time zone to play with.

Or the keys to the city perhaps.

I made the guest bed up with fresh linens

if you want to lie down.

I hope traffic wasn’t too bad.



Street Cred


Like a complete jackass

I had this idea to collect all

the old credit cards

and glue them down to the road

as an installation art piece

I would call: Street Cred


so that all the artsy fartsies

could think me marvellous

and throw some coin

my way.


I also planned to place an old piece of pizza

on top of a glass encased globe

and call it: Piece on Earth.

When the pizza slice began to stink

too much

I would replace it with

another one.


And now you see the problem.

And if you do not, you might be part

of it.



Mash Unit Pastrami



There is not much time left.

And even if there is, how is one to know that?

I am not some diviner in silk robes.

Holding séances like others hold the mustard.

That is what I love about those Montreal delis.

The product is so good they couldn’t give a damn

about the ambiance.

Everyone yelling as though you walked into a mash unit.

It’s pay and get out just like the professional girls.

Rubbing your wrist across your snotty late autumn nose in public.

The honesty that entails.



I love a good coin toss as much as the next guy,

but the mint shouldn’t have its hand in everything.

Elvis died on the toilet so you don’t have too.

That there is human sacrifice up close and personal.

The sound of music grinding Nazis to a standstill.

Popping off like spent firecrackers at the mouth.

A hole in the shoulder of my housecoat

named Clavicle.



Johnny Law Gets Spooked in the 11th Hour


I was really hoping that fella

looking to blast himself off in a rocket

to prove the earth was flat

would get his chance

next week


the fact that johnny law stepped in

will only give credence to

such claims


let Major Tom blast off

if he wants,

that’s what I



but then again

I believe in freedom.






We must be getting close to California.

The change guy manning the slots at the Vegas airport

keeps checking his hair in the reflection from

the slot machines.


And the price of everything has gone up.

Like climbing a mountain no one can see.


And there is Spanish everywhere.

And the large amount of men in skinny jeans

primping their hair in the bathroom mirrors.


Some guy at TSA check

doing a yoga tree pose behind me

in line for the x-ray.



Calling the Wild on His One Good Phone


Calling men dogs is a great disservice to dogs,

those great snarling hunting meal time packs

that know a dominance as natural as the cold crunchy

winter under paw

and return to things, and away from others;

the sickness of the city, domestication traps,

so that soon the man is replaced by a new ferocity

getting snark with the spitting seas and the sickness

of the tropics, an old dog filled with mercury

and adventure and ideas.


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, Synchronized Chaos, Literary Yard, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.