Poetry: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan
Zebras Painted like Prisons

Women should not have to guess
and men should not have to guess,
this is not a bloody gameshow far as I know
which is why I study my breathing down to that
uncomfortable laboured inhale from out in exospace,
zebras painted like prisons where the food is bought in
and the shanks homemade,  enough guards working
for other interests so that the uniform becomes mere
costume, decorative in the drug smuggling sense,
murder-for-hire, my hair turning white as the December
snow with questions; your car is in the shop       
because it has seen better days, we will all be there
soon enough which is why I insist on the dry land
of definite inspiration and this smile I harbour on my face
so far from the law that we can all be bandits.
***

Eagle Eyes

I quit the gene pool a long time ago
and took my eagle eyes with me,
those tight brown curls my mother said
were wasted on a boy,
she was always such a charmer
dipping red roses in battery acid,
I can grace the padded luncheonette
when hungry, watch people fly flags like
particular planes which makes the sudden drop
in altitude a group stupidity, that way everyone stands
and claps at the end of shows because they think they have to
and this is why I play hooky in the genealogical sense,
rack ‘em up in darkened pool halls named after leathery grifters
no one can remember; never for money, I’ve
never had any of that, just these eyes and that hair
and enough confusion to start asking questions.
***

New Shirt

Nothing with those unexplained stains
you can’t get out
or that army of wrinkles you wear around
like the elderly on foot patrol,
your last three favourite shirts all “borrowed”
by angry exes that stayed the night
and left with half your wardrobe,
each new one warning you about the last
and never about them so that you were so busy
building off ramps that you forgot all about the freeway
and now you are at the store again
trying to fit into something that does not account
for your new belly or how the money is made
now that the banks have all gone so virtual
that you never really had your
money anyways.
***

Not a Baby

We leave the hairdressers
and my wife asks about the boots
on the mat by the door.

The new hairdresser says where she got them.
That she is embarrassed because they are real seal fur.
Even though you can tell she paid top dollar
and is proud of them and wants to brag.

The other hairdresser does not seem to like her.
She chimes in and says that they’re baby seal.

Why do you always say baby seal?
That sounds so horrible!
the first hairdresser
says.

Well their dark, so their probably an adult,
my wife says trying to make
things better.

I don’t say anything.
Waiting by the door to leave.

We walk over to the liquor store
and my wife plays with my hair.
Says I look like Jim Bob Duggar.

I tell her I’d rather be the clubbed baby seal
than Jim Bob Duggar.

Not a baby,
she laughs.

I can tell she totally wants
those boots.
***

He Had a Full Pension Coming

A 187 came over the radio.
Dan did not answer those anymore.
He waited for some petty theft.
21 years on the force and he planned to see 22.

Dan didn’t work with a partner anymore.
They were always young and eager and wanting to do something.
Just out of the academy and wanting to change the world.
Dan knew things wouldn’t change, he didn’t want them to.
He had a full pension coming and a girlfriend who could cook
the pants off a mannequin.

He never understood those guys from SWAT.
Wanting to be first through the door.
Dan didn’t even walk up on doors now.
You could never tell what was on the other side.

And he banked overtime in low crime areas.
Let traffic violations slide if they looked dangerous.
Took his vacation whenever a fresh gang war broke out.

There was a beach somewhere with his name on it.
He would write it in the sand with a stick before befriending
the nice young man working the tiki bar by the pool in the shape

of a dolphin.

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