Poetry from Ryan Flanagan

Sucking at Cartons of Milk as though You Never Left the Nipple

 

Learn to walk like a baby again and they think you jitterbug queer:

men, women, shapely pundits of the left foot right foot

all manner of insistences over the loudspeaker –

that you have lost your way or found the wrong way

which is simply not their way, of course,

and you start on your knees but they are knobby

and push into the hard floor in such a way

that you become a quick learner,

up and about in days, a few awkward steps on the sides

of your feet, crashing into tables you are still paying for

on the installment plan

simple glass tables with rod iron bottoms

and soon you are running down the halls

getting into all sorts of mischief

sucking at cartons of milk as though you never left the nipple

and you choose your first words carefully

a team of imaginary speech writers in heated coffeepot debate;

in the end you settle on sounds that have escaped the

mad dictionary’s purview,

the sounds a drafting board would make if it were forced

to draw up office towers between company picnics

with coal black garbage bins instead of harvested organs

and placards on the doors of fools.

 

Bed to Worse

 

Where are we?

inquired a voice through the darkness.

 

Bed,

I answered proudly.

We are in bed.

 

You know what I mean,

continued the darkened voice.

Where are we going?

 

To sleep,

I countered.

We are definitely going

to sleep.

 

*

 

I knew where we were going,

but I didn’t want

to go there.

 

Unfortunately

the choice was never

mine.

 

 

Self-importance is the Only Importance

 

In Espanola,

Ontario

I felt like an extra

in a Fellini movie

when I purchased a bottle of wine

from the LCBO

and walked through a gang fight

on the way

home.

 

Passing brass knuckles

and chains

and fists against flesh

and bone

 

as I checked the receipt

in the bag

to make sure

the cashier hadn’t

overcharged.

 

Vegas

 

is

the

only

place

 

on

god’s

green

earth

 

where

there

are

more

hookers

 

than

 

parking

spaces.

 

 

Straight from the Pages

of the Personal Enquirer

 

Henry Fjord

was descended

from the

Vikings.

 

And moved to America

and changed his name

to Ford

so a xenophobic public

would feel comfortable

with his steering wheels

between their

hands.

 

Two Young Girls

 

Walking along Yonge Street

just north of Ellesmere

I was fumbling for change

in the lint trap of my pocket

when a sonorous young voice came

from across the street:

 

hey, we like your pants!

 

two young girls

maybe 15 or 16,

one short brunette

the other long

blonde.

 

Thanks.

 

Where’d you get them?

 

crossing at the light

and heading in my direction.

 

Don’t remember.

A gift, I think.

 

I like your shirt too,

said the brunette

 

now just metres away.

 

Thanks,

I said too loudly.

 

When I came face to face

with the two young girls

they stopped whispering and giggling

and seemed noticeably

disappointed.

 

I smiled.

 

 

You girls want to go for a drink

or something?

 

It’s only eleven in the morning,

said the blonde.

 

I looked at the giant clock

which dominated the face

of the civic centre

building

and it agreed.

 

The young girls laughed

and walked away

south

towards Lawrence Avenue

 

and I went

for a

drink.

 

By all accounts,

it was only eleven

in the

morning.

 

 

Boris

 

Pasternak said:

only personal independence

matters

and my mother said to zip up

my pants

and eat an apple a day

and my boss says I’ll be canned

if I show up late

for work

again.

 

Telling everyone else

about Pasternak

and how Cervantes made it

to second base

with a

windmill.

 

 

 

A Little Leeway

 

standing

between

rooms

 

it

is

great

to

have

 

a

choice

 

finally

 

the

hallway

might

very

well

be

 

my

first

and

only

 

friend.

 

 

 

Birthday BM

 

Carlos

flung off his diaper

and did it

on the floor.

 

The nurses were busy

and did not take notice

right away.

 

Carlos

knew it was his birthday

so he felt

entitled.

 

When they finally discovered him

in the rest home hall,

the smell was unbearable

and Carlos had his fingers

in the icing.

 

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle though his garbage.  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.