Poetry from Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Devil Plays All His Own Records Backwards

just to see what all the fuss

is about

scratches the shit out of them

on this used turntable he picked up

at a yard sale seven months ago

and there are no hidden messages

that he can make out

not even a few of his own

and he looks at the album cover

then back to the record

before tossing it into the fire

and getting the next one

out of its sleeve.

Police Are Searching for a Doorbell Licker

I saw his picture on a black and white camera.

They say he walked up to this place at night

and licked the doorbell for over three hours.

Out in California.

Now that takes some serious dedication.

I’m guessing germs are not a large worry

for this chap.

His tongue raw with effort.

Dry as redwood kindle

If you see this man,

hide your palms in your pockets.

The doorbell was not so lucky.

Veggie Patches and the Mistress

The world is absurd.

People walk around acting like everything

is reasonable which makes things

more absurd.

I guess they need to pretend there is

some order to things,

some guiding principle behind

it all.

I know better.

I lock the door behind me.

Shut off all the lights.

You wouldn’t even know I am there.

Pulling at old skin tags.

Thinking about veggie patches

and the mistress.

Not mine, someone else’s.

I don’t have a mistress.

The whole idea of a mistress is absurd.

Like chewing on a pen cap for it’s obvious

nutritional value.

I don’t think I can hold out much longer.

My gnarled spine crawling up my back

and out my nose.

The freshly shaven face like a clean slate.

The mincemeat clarity of sound check

distortion pedals.

A knock at the door

and I am standing in the bathtub.

Sewing heart transplants onto old teddy bears

so the markets don’t crash like cars

in traffic.

Ugly Mug

I don’t think the poem is beautiful.

Everyone says it’s beautiful and everyone else

says it’s ugly and somewhere in the middle

is a fence you get sit on as long as the owners

aren’t home.

I don’t want the poem to be beautiful.

Ugly is okay, but never just for the sake of ugliness.

That fence could be torn down in no time,

but everyone seems to like it.

I don’t climb on poems

or write fences into yards.

Ugly is preferable.

The poem is not beautiful.

Crash Diets Should Not Involve Cars


You expect as much

in California

but the underground

parking spaces

sneak up on you

your truck

is not on a diet

the cameras

show your many attempts

at backing

a beluga whale

into a


Windy City Poem (for Alyssa Trivett)

You got that windy city

wind as well

and it’s really that

biting wind

that cuts through everything

and brings the cold

to the bone.

She tells me I have written a poem

without trying.

I decide that she is right

and that this one

is for her.

1% Burn

If you burn your genitals, it’s a 1% percent burn,

she says out of nowhere.

If you burn your genitals, it’s 1% of your body mass.

I suddenly wonder why she is telling me this.

If she thinks I will burn my genitals or am planning to

in the near future.

Maybe she is planning on burning them

and this is her way of telling me.

Her face down in the NCLEX nursing book.

Maybe she is just thinking out loud.

I don’t say anything.

Men seldom do when it comes

to burning genitals.

Her nursing exam is in a few weeks.

My genitals might be on it.


They always say it is “untimely”

as though Death can be

anything but “untimely.”

Like there’s ever a good time

to die.  Even the oldies still feel

they have a little more left.

A few years of arthritis and old war stories

and beer.

But the obits always say “untimely.”

I have half a mind to put one in

that says such a Death was timely.

Like clockwork.

Couldn’t wait for that mean bastard

to kick it.

And just when the son of a bitch

looked as though he was panicking

and wanted to confess to anything – BOOM!

Don’t betray yourself now.

Go out just as you came in.

This nostalgia after the fact is nothing but guilt.

Manufactured or otherwise.

Seems death is always “untimely” unless you are

a hitman and paid for said death.

Still, the family will think it “untimely”

and say as much in the papers.

Barrie Anne Gardens

was the Compton

of the North

for poor families

just starting out

maybe it has changed now

they seem to be levelling everything

to the ground

and erecting condos

with extra fees

these days

but this was knife

fight central

back in the day

lots of wives with unexplained bruises

along the bus path

which was a selling point

as I screamed for milk

because I was still

a baby

my father in accounting

and my mother in damn near

everything else

as long as it paid

and we could make rent.

Front Loader

I stand over the toilet

and think of front loaders

in gravel pits

wiggling the thing around

when I’m done.

If I were a back loader

I would sit down.

Spread the cheeks

like spreading the love.