Saturday 11 March 2023

Five Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan


Cake Jumping Out of Strippers is Just Vomiting


Those scoundrel thoughts

peppered my head again.


Cake jumping out of strippers

is just vomiting.


Dewlaps of the great Northern moose

mounted on pristine mother of pearl walls.


That dry mouth snore

billowing out beside me.


Choking itself back into

momentary wakefulness.


Then lost to the world again.


It was hard to care about things

or have things care about you.


A sudden slice of zip ties

through everything.


That metallic taste

of drill bits in my mouth.


I looked at the clock.

It said 1am.


6:30 would come fast enough.

And I would be in bed

with the other one.


Trading Barbs


He could tell

after the very first drink

that she was not right for him,

nudging his friend on the shoulder

many times, trying to trade Barbs,

but his friend seemed happy

with the way things were

and so did the other Barb

(lipstick laughing many times)

so that he was stuck right

where he was which was kind of

how it had always been

since the fire brought

the flood.


When the Guns Fell Silent 


Someone asked him to put on  

a shirt with sleeves, 

said such obvious displays were not fit for the occasion 

and as soon as he threw that button-down on, 

the guns fell silent; 

he could flex those beautiful biceps through the fabric,  

but the fanfare just wasn't the same. 

All that pricey ink the tattoo place swore was Art.  

Even the obscenely drunk suddenly  

remembering their balance. 

All the bridesmaids with pinkish fuck me shoulders 

turned back to ceremony.  

The food having to pay for the drinks  

which got saddled with the cost of the flowers 

that had to vouch for the cake. 

There wasn't a better grift out there than a wedding. 

All he wanted to do was lose his shirt. 

It was like a bloody sauna in that place!


Making the Train


He looked down at his watch and started a light jog.

He had to make the train.


Into the city with the rest of the business crowd.

A cold rain started just as he entered the station.


Dropping his token in the machine

and rushing through the turnstile with all the other suits.


He could hear the train coming into the station.

Ran down the stairs and found himself on a packed platform.


The rush hour train into the city was always a mess.

Packed in like sardines, standing room only.


A woman with a small dog in a white trundle buggy.

The army of suits checking their watches.

The doors closed over as the train made its way

into the tunnel.


He had made the train.

A wash of relief came over him.


Suddenly shouting out a quick prayer

to his god.


Before pushing a button

and blowing himself



Sacred Cows Make the Best Cheeseburgers


It was a useless time, just like all the rest.

People looked for someone to follow

because they didn’t believe in themselves.


The air stunk

and all the opinions too.


I could feel the napalm over all my skin.

A burning so deep and relentless.


Screaming out into the night

like some reverse rooster

when I couldn’t take it anymore.


In a cracking voice without much power.

But I had to let it out, screaming feebly:





The dumpster I was yelling at did not move.

A fat lip of folded cardboard hanging out over the top.


I didn’t feel better and I didn’t feel worse.

It was just something that

had to be done.


Like popping some runaway zit

that would never end up on the back

of a sour milk carton.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review

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