Poetry: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan
Ambient Savage

Big brother is little sister
sharing a bunk

the fingers of lepers
always leaving the

and I walk into the room

and all the walls have been

not a Latin bone in my body
so that fishy cans from Sardinia
mean nothing to me

that salty red taste of split lips
after a fight

the way you can leave yourself
behind in the snow
and be somewhere else

your ambient savage
scabbed across distant

drying in the street
that stolen joyride cars
drive over.


It is Veteran’s Day
and we are having lunch
on the Huntington
Beach pier.

Sitting by the window
in a Ruby’s Diner
watching the many Chinese fisherman
deboning their catch on tiny wooden slats
provided by the port authority.

And the young keep getting up
and going over to the tables of the old.

Thanking them for their service
to the country.

The old eat for free today.
As long as they come in full uniform.

A couple hookers come in and sit down
after a hard night’s work.

In uniforms of their own.

Before we leave,
I walk over to their table
and thank them for their service
to the country.

Then I walk out.
With many eyes upon me.

Bean Counters

One long table,
five to a side.

Without expression.
Lost to the numbers.
Units moved.
The bottom line.


Bean counters
of corporate art
amassing the

In perfectly tapered suits.

The word: Accounting
stenciled into the

Ink jet printers
restocked with paper,
four to a wall.

Spitting out the spreads
for the last quarter.

Real Roads Have Curves

We are driving past the hospital
where the dying and injured play their part
and we keep smashing down into all these potholes
while the snow obscures the lanes
and we almost run into each other on
the continuous blind curves

These roads are awful,
my wife says.
Why do there have to be some many
damn curves?

Real roads have curves,
I say.

I think you mean women,
she laughs.

No, I mean roads.

And when we stop for gas,
the road does not stop for us.

Musak over the loudspeaker
as I stick the nozzle in.

Flatbread and Sit-ups Had a Tryst

Any man who wipes his mouth with someone else’s mouth
leaves himself open to accusations of kissing,
this is not at all the bunched napkin love of Romeo and Serviette
or how it was when flatbread and sit-ups had that tryst
back in the 80s that ended quite masterfully in a line of popular instructional
exercise videos, and believe you me the village was talking –
you know the one, and the way things ended it seemed everything
else would start again: the spring, my car, this watch that hasn’t worked
in years, but still manages the rent each month,
and when Flora came by today I saw her wince crows’ feet
when I asked about Fauna, a joke I keep telling to amuse myself
at the expense of a rather good woman who waters the plants
and straightens up the bathroom and proofreads goddammit,
there is no love more treacherous than an editorial one,
editors are masochists that choose ampersands
over leather, reach blindness instead of orgasm…and after Flora left
Bill came over and told me how the Koreans were still at war
because of the 38th so how could we ever trust their restaurants,
and not wanting to offend, I told him I had been at Inchon in spirit;
that MacArthur made me hump all that ammunition up the beachhead
for the cameras and then put everything away like a child

made to clean its room.

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