Poetry: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Walking Your Dog on the Moon

Our grandparents were fed on the presidential pablum
of Eisenhower.  Freedom was a war that had been won
before it was a t-shirt.  And then jobs were scarce
because of the commies.  No one knew how it worked,
only that it did.  And to question the system was to walk
your dog on the moon.  To fumble for pocket change
and think of the Green Bay Packers.  Lombardi
and the ice bowl.  And then our parents
were given everything so that they thought that
was how it always was.  They couldn’t go back.
Sticking flowers down the muzzles of guns
and believing them flowers.  So that when we
came along, we were a mistake.  The father could
have been anyone.  And left to pick up the pieces,
we found heroin.  And everything went away
just like it does in the movies.

Jane Error

The missus cannot see what all the hype is about.
She tells me her goldfish could write better than this
and he died four years ago.

She holds the book up at some distance
and wiggles it back and forth between her thumb and forefinger
scrunching up her nose
like someone holding a bag of garbage.

I told you
you wouldn’t like it,
I say
rolling over and readjusting
my pillow,
the Victorians read like thermal underwear
at a wine tasting.
Everything threatening to break out
but it never does.
And she tries again.
Like someone in disbelief.

Laying in bed
flipping through the pages
of Jane Eyre
like it’s a race to the finish.

Like disappointing sex
no one should ever have
to endure.

An Evening with Suspenders

the bridge over the water was not a bridge at all
and the water seemed to know it
and the fish in that water
some unseen Sinatra bird breaking into song
colouring whole scenes with broken crayons
my gastric juices storyboarded out of existence
whisked away like shiny billionaire love
the mannequins of storefront windows giving the
silent treatment
clouds of exhaust shooting out of obscenely large metal automobile rectums
the fornication of squirrels in public parks
coughing pesticide children doing death camp somersaults into adulthood
the movie houses full of butter-stuck popcorn kissing
a thriving lice co-operative in the seat fabric
drinking blood in the same slick manner the church uses wine:
a prop to center the theatrics, give us a show!
the trench coat exhibitionist giving back to the community
big business won’t fit in my icebox, what a shame;
hollowing out avocados with a soup spoon
the travelling lobotomist escapes

Claws In

so good to see you
a mountain lion walking through the wall
spree shooter unannounced
growling three times
then jumping out the window,
and there are no drugs to speak of
I quit all that business
long ago
but if you come back
let us wrestle for a while,
all I ask is that you keep your claws in
in the name of

and I will never speak of you
and you will never speak
of me

and there
will only be this poem
for them to know about
all we shared.

The Day a Tiger Escaped from the Elmvale Zoo

we were sitting in the high school cafeteria
skipping class, but never leaving school somehow
the girls flipping through popular magazines
over questionable fries
when word started to spread through
the popular kids on down through the middlers
on down to us and the skids
about how a tiger had escaped from the Elmvale Zoo
and was thought to be somewhere in the woods
outside Barrie and how I suggested we go find
the tiger in the woods and the apparent lack
of enthusiasm which I had not expected
and how one of my friends had a car so I
made my case to him first and when that failed
I tried the girl he liked because he would do anything
to impress her, but she couldn’t care less…
Isn’t that dangerous?
one of the other girls said.
FINE, I slammed my hands down
on the table,
Then I got up and walked out of the cafeteria.
And went home to bed because I
was tired.

Setu, December 2018

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