Poetry from Ryan Flanagan




standing up

and shaking all over like Elvis


his family gathered around the dinner table

doing their best to ignore him


as he grabbed a broom

from the hall closet


and ran around jiggling all the light fixtures

on the ceiling.


When it was over

he sat back down to



Passing the dinner rolls,

a perfect gentleman.


The threat of aftershocks

ever present.

Shoplifting on a Molecular Level


Shoplifting on a molecular level

black carbon paper etchings of the night mimic

Master Taillight, your metallic army of followers

digesting lurid gasoline tales of dysphasia

islands constructed from volcano like the earth

breaking out

a jailbird frenzy to your rule

riots in the bedroom under thick woolen covers

lips over breast like a geological survey

hungry wet tongue lizard flicked for hungry effect

you knew it would come to this, didn’t you?

the rotten green sea traversed by rotten green men

treachery in all its forms on display

making widows of us all.

 Fluid Situation


she climbed into the inner ear canal

and they gave her a bed

on the ward

with wax sheets and wax walls

and wax orderlies

as though the poor have


and when she was well

and it came time to be discharged

they gave her a yellow bathing suit

and a pair of goggles

and showed her to the


A Fine Artist Now Not So Fine


He fell into the wall

like it was sneaking up

on him

as if the government

were in on it too

because they didn’t like the bottle

and the way he slept in

past noon

so when he cursed them

he yelled extra loud

so that all the listening devices

in the walls of his house




Yelling up to a Window that Does Not Exist


we are late for the movie

gatherings of water buffalo herding

the neon street corners

into right angles


cars hissing by in the rain

like Madagascar roaches

the sewers backed up and spilling out

into brand new lake formations


tax dollars nowhere to be seen

elected officials blowing kisses in absentia


yelling up to a window that does not exist,

the bricks of walls all sticking together

as though even the lost fingers of fireworks

are cliquey.

Did You Report Me to the Spooks?


I see them outside the apartment

sitting nefariously in dark cars two at a time

the intelligence community a little less so

digging through orange peels and balled up tissues

searching out treason from the ground up

not knowing what it looks like

but assured they are paid to find it

or perhaps the next look will be at them

closer scrutiny than the screening process, dig?

and no one wants that so I wish them luck

but not too much you see,

I keep all the good stuff inside

in my noodle,

those things for no one

but me.

Sun Umbrella Augers Digging Lonely Mafioso Holes


it’s time to bounce, ain’t nothing going on here

leave these words, abandon this page

my green tennis ball bouncing over fresh asphalt

as though anyone can get laid on principle

blood thinners and desk drawers full of lost wood

the spooks going door to door, leaning into intimidation

sun umbrella augers digging lonely Mafioso holes

answering machines full of questions

you still here?  it’s time to bounce –

my friends are all outside, growing swoll with oxygen.



What the hell did Pluto ever do to them?

he scoffed,

they’ve revoked its status as a planet. 


Who wants to be a damn planet anyways?

I offered.

At least now Pluto can sit around on its space ass

doing nothing.  That sounds pretty good.


I think Pluto is a planet,

he stated.

To hell with them,

I am tired of this bullshit!


But now that Pluto doesn’t have to be a planet

like all the others, it can just float around

with no planetary expectations.

No people coming and polluting all your air.

Terraforming the shit out of you, so they can

play golf and defecate on you.



he remained adamant.


I think you have the hots for Pluto my man,

I mocked,

I think you want to father a half dozen of its children

and raise them to stand up straight.


He had nothing to say to that

so it got a little quieter

on Earth.


As the sun shone on our faces.

Trying to become something malignant.