Poetry from Ryan Flanagan

Charisma Jake Can Sell Anything

caskets to newborns

a stereo that plays nothing but the Thompson Twins

bloody tampons as collector’s items

they say he even sold Robert Johnson’s soul

at the Crossroads,

got a broker’s fee and everything

one of those one time deals where

all the paperwork has to be

in order,

and the regulators can’t keep up

with his more clandestine ventures,

they say he is even selling tables

under the table,

that he would have you naming him

your only child’s godfather within

minutes of meeting him;

if you operate in the shadows,

chances are he sold you

those shadows,

if your many tall tales

don’t have a leg to stand on

you know where to go

for a leg.


Lenin Lost His Head

Walking through Mandalay Bay we find a large statue of Lenin

outside the entrance to Red Square.  Lenin has lost his head

because people complained about having the Russian leader

adorn one of their casinos.  And a casino is certainly a funny

place to have a statue of the father of Communism.  So they lopped

off his head and put it on ice and the Americans feel better now

because they can drink over-priced vodka off his

severed head.


The Machinist

stood in front of the same machine

with awkward white plastic safety glasses

that slid down his face all day

in ill-fitting blue overalls with his name on them

and a once white undershirt now sweat

through with a dried crusty yellow


and the ear plugs were flexible orange things

that came in a pack of two

and refused to stay in


so that you were always pushing them

back into place

when you were not readjusting

your safety glasses


and the pay wasn’t great,

but the machinist had done worse

with no post-secondary


so he stood there in his steel toes

operating the foot pedal

and clock watching


the sweat running down his face

in long barbaric



working overtime

if he could get it


the back loading dock opened up

in the absence of




Don’t Mock a Killing Bird

murder of crows

on the hot



vehicular Polynesia


a man in the shed

is worth two

in the




predatory talons

sunk deep




right from

the fountain’s




In Vegas

you must

always have your

camera phone




never know

when the wookiees

will start mating

with the






Listerine Bootleg #27

I made a ten and a half minute cassette

of me gurgling mouthwash

which ended with one final spit

in the sink

then I took the tape out of the recorder

and labelled it: Listerine Bootleg #27

with a red pen.


Then I threw the tape into a pile on the floor

with the other 26 and took a hammer

and smashed them to bits.


I unwound all the tape

and covered my naked body in it

like stringy afterbirth.


And I stuck my fingers through the tape spools

as if they were the axels of tiny cars

and drove them back and forth across the workbench

crashing every so often.


And the ayatollah had been ground into horse meat.

And somewhere a piano fell down stairs of imposition.


So I took a cordless drill to the drywall

which left many lines of white powder on the floor

and I snorted them up

pretending I was some Hollywood A-lister

with a dog named Rambo

who chewed up mid-east terrorists

fast as milk





be decisive


not Holden Caulfield

the elders frown

upon that


as though

they were dealing with

naughty children


when thinking up

a new name






Is It Any Wonder that Freud’s Daughters

Could Never Eat a Banana without

Thinking of It?

When your father will not stop talking about dick

I imagine many things are hard.

Even from a young age.

And all those bananas from the tropics.

So exotic.

Something father would hate if you were

trying to rebel and your father was not

Sigmund Freud.

He’d probably just tell them it was

a mental predisposition

of the entire sex


and to go






Flannel, Not Seattle      

Is this a shirt sleeve?

she asked,

and since I was a shirt

that knew nothing of sleeves

I did not answer

and hoped for the best.

Then she buttoned me up

to the elbow

and got on the phone with

her mother.

And we talked for hours

but I said nothing

because I was a




Free Range

There are many children about.

Children of all ages, sizes,


Milling about in the street

while their parents

are at work.

Running in front of cars

until you hit



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

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