Poetry from Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Waiting Cheese Platter Under Wraps


I am sitting alone

in Conference Room D.


Beside the rattling tin of instant coffee

and waiting cheese platter

under wraps.


The wire microphones

in front of each swivel chair

like twisted forgotten

balloon animals.


Corporate art walls

and freshly vacuumed floors.


Then my wife comes in.


What are you doing?

I thought you were waiting for me

outside the bathrooms.

What if someone comes in right now?


I tell her to sit down.

That anyone who walks in

will assume I am in charge

and that I will run the



You don’t even know what the conference

is about!


But I know what it should be about.


Let’s get out of here,

she says.


I reluctantly give up my seat

at the head of the table.

Leaving Conference Room D

to fend for itself.


On the placard outside

it reads: Millwrights Union

Local 1916.


You don’t even know what a millwright is!

she scoffs.


Sure I do,

I say.

It’s a group of people that mill about

with the right posture.


That would have been one hell of an interesting conference,

she laughs.


I tell her we can always go back.

She can sit in and keep the minutes.

The chairs turn around just like in The Exorcist.


She drags me by the arm

while I snatch her purse

and let her know that I’m beginning

my life of crime.

A Complete Stranger


You got the stuff?

he asked.


And since I didn’t have the stuff

he turned away quickly

and walked off.


Looking back once

with a confused look

before he rounded the corner

and was gone.





The plug is fishing for attention

over by the outlet along the far wall.

It is harpooning whaling vessels

back into bloody waters.

Double-pronged and prom night

obvious with its intentions.

Four days until another

failed apocalypse comes to pass.

These doomsdayers keep

getting second chances.

I stopped believing what people

said somewhere around 1989.

That was a big year for me.

Hair on my balls

and my first time on an airplane.

I have given the plug what it wants.

Some undeserved attention.

Not a place in the wall with the spiders,

but the next best thing.





Lay off the big scream,

don’t let them hear you.


Make them lean into something else

like knocking over a stack of

old newspapers.


Tiptoe around the cauldron

Mr. Stir-stick.


Cover your mouth

cover your bets.


Your word is not enough.

They want all the words you

can think of.



A Princess Lion with Leopard Spots


Kitten has gone for her haircut.

To remove all the mats.

She is the manor work cat.


My wife calls to tell me that kitten

felt self-conscious at first,

but that everyone kept picking her up

and telling her how beautiful she looks

and that now she is strutting around everyone.


Little Miss Thang!

my wife says.

I thought she had stripes like a tiger,

but now that she’s shaved down

you can see she has spots more like

a leopard.


A princess lion with leopard spots,

I say.



she yells excitedly.

Did I tell you that she tried

to leave work with me

the other night?


I tell her she did not.


Good thing I looked down.

Little Miss Thang was walking out

the door proud as she pleased with the hook tail

cats get when they’re happy.


She says she’s been told by her boss

that she can’t bring the work cat home.


She told Kitten she had to stay,

but that my wife would be back soon.


So she was running a hustle on you,

I say.

Trying to make you think she always

came home with you.


Oh yes, she acted like it was natural

and I was weird for questioning it.

It was so cute!


I tell her that if she had her way

we’d have all the cats in the world.


My wife laughs

and says she still wants that shirt

that says all the cats love

her best.


Even this cat,

I joke.



she says.


But don’t tell Kitten,

I say.

Those felines get

really jealous.


She promises not to tell

and we hang up.


Then I watch a documentary

on turn of the century madhouses

in England.



Ganglia Wires


If I could

see into the future

I would cut my eyes out

and give them

to you.


Snip the ganglia wires

and everything.



they are your



Pass them along

the family line if you want.


I promise

I didn’t put a curse

on them.


That is just

bad luck.



2 Degree Sky Differential


I come downstairs

and she shows me what she

has been working on

all afternoon.


See what I did there?

she asks.


You made the colour picture

black and white,

I say.


Not that,

she says.

I fixed the sky.


You fixed the sky?


The sky was crooked,

she says

going back and forth

between the two pictures.




Not really,

I say.


She turns the computer screen

back towards herself.


How can you not see that?


You’re the artistic one,

I say,

did you really think I would

march downstairs

and say I see you fixed the sky,

there was a 2 degree sky differential,

but you fixed it.

I like what you did there,

does that sound

like me?


She take a large swig of her wine.

It is a white Chardonnay.


I saw what you did there,

I say.

Does that count?



The back door is open.

You can hear the frogs singing.

Before the real heat arrives

so there is no fan.


And we are drinking rum.

Something from a bottle made to look

as though some second rate pirate stole it

and buried it in our fridge for



I come back from the bathroom

and it is Summertime.


Not the real summer in full,

but Sydney Bechet

on clarinet.


The wife was always good with the reeds.

Has a natural aptitude for music.

The frogs still singing in the dark.


A napkin over my mouth

to wipe away the


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