Poetry: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan
I Don’t Believe in Caskets

All these tongue wavers believing everything.
If I wasn’t already sick, they’d make me sick.

I don’t believe in caskets.
Dragged this and there, trotted out for functions.
Always with the threat of someone inside,
worse still, somebody you may know.

I like to think all those caskets are filled
with drugs and money.
What an ingenious way to transport goods.
What asshole is going to stop a hearse and open
the casket?

Lay some flowers on top
and the deception is complete.
You could even unload in a cemetery
to escape suspicion.

Hell,
fill some with the bodies of your rivals
if you need a couple bodies.

Business is booming, I just know it.
Each time I am riding behind a hearse.
I smile.
***



Questionable Yard Sale

There are many boxes of VHS tapes
with a yellow sign that reads:
AS IS
in unusually bubbly
handwriting.

Many of the cases are empty,
no tape inside.

There is a rack of clothing
and many old ladies rifling through
in lines.

The clothes do not fit the person
running this very questionable yard sale.

They are the clothes of the newly deceased.
Which explains why they seem to appeal
to the elderly who are next in line.

A little blonde haired kid plays on the grass
with a toy car.

How much for the car?
this tall man asks.

25 cents,
the lady says.

The man hands her 25 cents
and she takes the toy car away
from the boy on the grass.

The tall man walks off
with his new
toy car.

The little blonde boy starts
stirring the dirt
with a stick.

No one has bought his stick yet.

This crazy lady picks up a deflated basketball
and puts it on her head.

She thinks it is a hat.

The woman running the show says it’s a dollar.
The crazy lady gives her two and walks off
with her new hat.

There are cars parked up both sides of the street.
Families walking up on foot.

The woman in charge sits in a red folding lawn chair
clipping her nails and reading a magazine.

The weather is nice
even if she
is not.
***


The Airport Hopper

He is always working.
Away on business.
Sitting with his laptop.
In different concourses.

Different airports across the country.
In those same sad suits.
Freshening up in public bathrooms.
This airport hopper.

Eating at various fast food places in the terminal.
Avoiding the bar because he is a recovering alcoholic.
While others polish the marble.
Rush to catch connecting flights.

He is always in the air
or waiting on the ground.
Taking meetings with others of his ilk.
Then back in the air.

Always comfort class or better.
A room at the airport hotel.
Ironing his shirt for the next day.

Trimming nose hairs over the
bathroom sink.
***


We Were Married in the Eyes of Elvis/God

We were married in the eyes of Elvis/God.
In that order.
By an old Elvis impersonator who opened
a fairly famous wedding chapel
in Vegas.

The oldest chapel on the strip.
They filmed the wedding scene in
Viva Las Vegas there.

That Ann Margaret was a real looker.
And my wife is as well.

I remember how they made us look at each other
as we tried not to laugh.
And then Elvis said: in the eyes of God
which was the real kicker.

Neither of us religious in the least.
In Sin City, the devil’s town.

We still joke about it:
in the eyes of God.

Ooooo,
I curse-wiggle my fingers
at her.

Legally obligated,
she shows me the ring.

We’ve been to Graceland as well,
but Elvis wasn’t there.

Just some squirrels
and this blonde lady who
wouldn’t stop crying.
***


King’s Court

I only ever got to be the king once.
I didn’t know what to do and quickly lost my place.
In that school yard game all those years ago.

There was a line you had to wait in to get your turn.
Stepping into the lowest of the four squares
to push a ball at each other.

Trying to keep it inside the yellow painted lines.
The first to not return the ball to one of the other squares
being eliminated.

I usually only made it to the second square.
I was low on the hierarchy at that school
and that’s pretty much how things played out
each recess.

The popular kids in the top two squares
fought it out to see who was king.
While those in the first two squares
just tried to stay in the game.

The top two squares would team up
just to make sure that the rest of us never
got ahead.

Even though they were supposed to be competing.
Keeping the rest down seemed a greater prize
than furthering their place.

A great life lesson, but I didn’t know that
back then.

Nine years old and having worked my way up to the top.
Just this once.
I could hear a few voices from the playground,
the surprise.
I was too scared to turn around.

As I looked to the former king for guidance
on how to start the game.

Even though I had played it a thousand times.
So out of place and unsure of myself.

While he pushed his way up the line
so everything could get back
to normal.

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