Poetry from Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Faye Wray and a Washerwoman Named Argento


What is more likely: Faye Wray falls in love with her giant hairy captor

at altitude or that Ponzi schemers show remorse and trickle down

economics becomes more than a urine puck aperitif?


And lumbering from the icebox to the mailbox this morning,

I thought about how many stunt men had died

during the moon landing.  Why humans abducted sour

milk carton children and aliens abduct everyone else.

Soon there would be no one left but the aliens

and parking enforcement.


And a washerwoman named Argento

or Felicity or after some little known element

from the periodic table.  With buck teeth that make

her smile look like a front door.  Solid oak if you

were knocking.


Ulysses needed a travel agent and Alexander

should have never gone to India.  Elephants should

live far away like postcards.  And I could tell them both this,

but they would call me a shut-in and they wouldn’t

be wrong.


The closer anyone gets, the farther away

you travel from yourself.



No Hands on Deck


I can see where things are going.

I have a telescope and a mailman who is a drunk.

When we meet in the hall it is no hands on deck.

I carrying a basket of dirty laundry and him seeing

three of me, one day we talked about caterpillar infestations

and how they can strip entire oak trees in a matter of weeks.

I guess he is one of those social drunks and I try to be

accommodating, plus I wanted to know how things ended

for the caterpillars so I stuck around for the finale; they flourished and I

went home happy even though I am pretty sure that

was not the point of the story.




The television

in the next apartment

is laughing.


I imagine us all out on a boat

struggling to haul in a fish

we will still be talking about

twenty years from now.


In love with the open water

more than anything else.


Each of us posing the life out

of our scaly beautiful fish.


Kissing it on the death lips

for our friends.


Our television laughter

approaching international



The prison shank horizon

spilling its red raw guts over



Poem for a Woman Who Stands in Elevators

Waiting for the Bottom to Drop Out


I hear there have been three husbands.

One called you “a runner” in court documents.

And the way you feed your children oatmeal

as if you live on the prairies.  Tin foil over the

windows like gastronomical curtains.  This poem

is for you.  A poem for a woman who stands in elevators

waiting for the bottom to drop out.  Refusing to make

eye contact.  Blinking rapidly as more riders get on

with each floor.  Flicking your tongue out like a salamander

from under hard light.  Holding your breath until we hit

the lobby.  Rushing past everyone out the sliding door

as though at least one of your husbands may have

been right.


Chasing Leo


I have grown a beard.


The only thing left to do now

is sit around and wait for it

to whiten.


Then I can give Tolstoy

a run for his rubles.


Eating enough of my own hair

to become a personal food




Sense of Belongings


It is a leftover

from one of those ones

that pass through

your life quick as



a Magic 8-ball

propping up my Paul Auster



and A History of General

Motors Before the



beside this Rubix’s Cube

I pulled all the stickers off

of and used as book



and my Motorhead records

all scratched to



A Plant to Sit in the Window


He said he couldn’t stop watching the rain

after his boyfriend left him.


I bought him a plant to sit in the window

with him and he thanked me,

but he threw it out.


It wasn’t even good enough for

the back of the toilet.


I guess he wanted to be alone.

And even a plant in the window

was too much.


I have always been horrible with such things.

I drink and smoke and people watch.


Jotting things down in a tiny notebook

like some buttery movie house neanderthal.


Lurching through cavernous neon lobbies

with ridiculous glass ceilings.


Through parking lots

that may as well be the insurance

companies in waiting.


I haven’t driven in years,

but I could park a Spanish galleon

between two toothpicks.


The world

should be good

at many things it is not

and that is what makes it

the world.



Cigarette Breath


I am the repo man’s gangly storage garage.

I am a zoo animal without escape money.

I am walking past the bail bond place

in an army surplus coat with my hands

in my pockets like a surprise birthday


in the graveyard of

every winter


the way I feel now

is how I will always



close the airspace

eliminate the gaps


whittle YMCA showers down to

a single chlorinated



I am cigarette breath

I am haemorrhoids in an Olympic year


the rumble of my stomach

under ribs already




Lick Her Neck


You lick her neck

like an idiot

and she says she’s

into women


which could be true

except you will never

know one way or

the other


because you sat in the dark

and licked her neck


who the hell does that,

I have to ask.


LeBron James Missed a Dunk

and You’d Think It Was the End

of the World


The apocalypsers are always at it.  Ever since the 2000 scare fell though and they felt the need to drum up interest.  The computers didn’t do shit.  They turned on just like the day before and downloaded unimaginable amounts of porn.  So the doom and gloomers turned to the anti-Christ.  If he wasn’t here yet, he was coming.  Like a dinner guest who never actually said they would be there for sure.  They were likely just being polite.  But the dead get brought back to life all the time.  That seems to be the only real business of the living.  The rest is lazy hand jobs and bank statements and hotdogs out of wedlock because you are ten years old with a fondness for pickle relish.  But the tinfoil army will look for any in.  Just the other night LeBron James missed a dunk and you’d think it was the end of the world.  Elvis sightings spiked, never with Pricilla.  Always with Ann Margaret because even the crazies can separate the peanut butter from the jam.  And flying the Lisa Marie right into the face of popular opinion, I said the Western Conference was sitting atop an earthquake of overconfidence.  And I felt bad for Bean Town.  Even if the Celtics won in the East, it was the luck of the Irish.  Sure they had the Pats and the Sox, but you get greedy.  The same way the end of worlders can’t stop foreclosing on everything.  Urban blighting their way to rural drought.  Failed crops like looking at your tenth grade report card and trying to figure out how to tell your parents.  But it is never as bad as it seems.  That is what the doomers and gloomers could never understand.  King James missed a dunk.  But he scored a triple double and won the game, so stick that in your Book of Revelation and smoke it.

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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