Poetry: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Poem for a Man who Works in His Shed

You hear him before you ever see him.
And always from the back as if standing at the end
of some impossible line.

Two wood doors left ajar.
A skill saw chewing up wood armies.
A pencil behind the ear for measurements,
half professional, in saggy blue jeans like a stroke
victim’s denim face.

And I guess they’d call it a wife beater.
That’s a strange name for a shirt, don’t you think?
Especially in these enlightened times.

A single can of beer balanced on one of the slats
on the inside of the far door.
The man drinks from it and clears his throat
many times.

Hairy arms extended out in all directions.
Glistening woodchips encased in scraggly dark tufts.

And the scream of the saw makes me think
of double feature horror flicks at the Orpheus.
The way popcorn makes itself at home in your teeth,
but you keep eating anyways.

And the forests that become wood that moonlight
as paper that sell as books…

Do not read books.
Their pages become your fingers
so even complete strangers call
you protagonist.

Scaling Teeth Instead of Walls

The dentist
is like a doctor
who couldn’t make it through
medical school,
but I don’t tell
him that.

He is glad to see me
because I have a medical plan
and he can bilk the government
big time.

Did you see Lacie?
he asks.

I shrug my shoulders.

The new one.
The redhead when you
came in.

I nod in the affirmative
because he is the one holding
the drill.

Doesn’t look good,
he says from behind
his mask.

What does?
I think.

And the more he shakes his head no,
the more it hurts.

His many framed papers on the wall
like free advertising.

No Dumping

He had his camera phone
so he shot a video in front
of the sign.

And she began to cry.
Ran off when she realized
the camera was rolling.

And the video went viral.
That yellow diamond shaped
No Dumping sign sitting silent
in the background the
entire time.

Saying Uncle,
Surrounded by Aunts

is bad

But get them all
in a single room
and the banality
of their collective
is unbearable.

you won’t believe
what so and so
was wearing...

After forty-five minutes
of this,
I throw my hands up
say uncle

to find something
in the cupboard
that reads:
extra strength
on the

The Last Days of Rome Again

Every street with a broken water main.
And a single orange cone to denote that the city
has been by and done nothing
and knows it is falling apart.

I like to get back here every few years.
To ride the trains of desperation
by Castle Frank station
watching mortgage payments out of the city doze off
and young professionals refuse to take a seat
because they believe they are
getting somewhere.

Nobody likes sequels.
The last days of Rome

And we stay at my father’s place north of Finch and the DVP
which is a million dollar home even though
it is just a normal home.

But the market is such
that people are buying up cans of horseradish 
and calling them thoroughbreds.

In the guest room beside the bathroom
we lay on top of the blankets
because of the heat.

Playing a word association game
because she owns me.

While the water fills the streets outside
and late model cars sit in extended driveways
like four door office chairs
with power windows

that no one can afford
to sit in.

Setu, October 2018


  1. These are all great, love Ryan's work!

  2. I relate so much to your poetry. You tell it straight up, and yet with a true poet's voice. It doesn't fall into that trap of ending up as de facto prose, not that there's anything wrong with prose...I just love poetry that's all. And you include that humorous turn, and the depth and tragedy ...

  3. Congrats! You consistently churn out really great poems on a regular basis. I liked all of these. You've got the gift of being a great writer/poet. You are one of the few Truly great ones! Kudos!


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