Ryan Quinn Flanagan (Western Voices 2020)

Exclusive: Western Voices, 2020: Edited by Scott Thomas Outlar
Bio: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, Setu, The New York Quarterly, Blue Mountain Review, GloMag, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Why Previous Experience Appears on the Modern Resume

All male heirs
were seen as a threat,
so the sultan ordered them all killed
and young Ibrahim
locked away in a cage
at the age of two.

Placed in the dark
and denied all human contact
outside of being given food
and water.

22 years of this,
so that when the Sultan died
they came to Ibrahim as the sole heir
and he thought it a joke.

Refusing to come out of his cage
until they showed him the body
of the Sultan.

Figured it a ruse that would lead
to his execution.

And after they showed him the body
and proclaimed him the new Sultan,
the first thing he did was walk out into the courtyard,
his eyes having a terrible time adjusting to the light.

Then he went on a historic binge.
Ran through the harem as though making up
for lost time.

Ignored all matters of state,
choosing instead to have all the cats shaved down
and their fur made into capes.

This child who had been denied everything.
No proper education or training.
No light or love or encouragement.

And they thought it a good idea to make him Sultan.
No one taking the name Ibrahim after him,
which should tell you how well that went.

Drowning his entire harem
by weighting them down and ordering them
thrown into the waiting Bosphorus.

Before being dragged back to his cage
and strangled to death in the dark
from which he came.

Furniture Music 

You are not even there,
doing all the things you are doing
around all the people you
are arounding;
edicts from steep rollercoaster rides
that scream their way back out of lava
flow bedrooms on the cool,
believable Sasquatch foot patrols  
over this steaming Styrofoam coffee –
your eyes cut right out of their head,
placed in front of distracted appraisal jewellers
who wouldn’t know a cataract from a Kandinsky
which brings me to the fear of fears;
not Death, all those breaths before the last
so problematic, but rather what to wear
over the naked human body
which is why dress up becomes the game
of games and imagination
the only drunk in town.

Are You Holding?

He asked me in the dead of winter.
When snowbanks make fatal heart attacks
of men.

And I told him I could grab my balls,
but that the current chicken hawk market
demanded I charge monies.
Even though he was a friend
and I was not getting any younger.
No exceptions.
They were most adamant about that.

Just a couple dollars in pocket
so the hungry banks weren’t the only tight
bastards weighted down by the personal trainer armies
of the modern age.

he scoffed.

He seemed angry
like my father when he got home
from work.

Various attempts
to stay out of his way.

The smell of skunk weed three doors down
from the people just moved in.

That way his face lit up
with waving backyard sparklers.

The remote to the tv between 2nd hand couch cushions.
My laced brown boots back inside.
These drunken brown stairs that will be the end of me.

Simple as that.

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