Poetry: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Breakfast of Aliens


I need to know the truth,

she says.


Who’s truth?

I throw my hands

in the air like lazy confetti

waiting to fall.


Show her my bowl of half-congealed

oatmeal over a kitchen sink that

never saw it coming.


Why her two husbands left her

with the bunk bed progeny and half the bill.

The breakfast of aliens.


The kids partitioned off to school.

In a foolish dragnet of

comfortable learning.


Which is why I walked out

as soon as I could spit stars

back out from clumsy



Find strange headboards

in the dark

with arms so long you start to think

of rulers instead






Grocery Grunt


Walking in the grocery store parking lot.
There is a quarantine in place because of the latest pandemic.
Only one family member can go shopping and both the police
and a security guard are there to make sure no more than
fifteen people at a time are in the store.
Tape lines on the floor to help practice social distancing.
And my wife waits out front in line.
Many feet apart as per government guidelines.
I have not been outside in over a week.
I start walking around the parking lot
to get some fresh air.
At first, a very relaxed pace.
Then walking in an ever-expensive square
at what I believe to be
a normal pace.
Apparently upright and marching.
In olive green pants and a bright yellow jacket.
Some old timer drives by in a maroon Crown Vic
and salutes me.
With an addition below the front licence plate
that reads: US Marines.
I nod back without thinking.
Trying to be friendly and never
the army.


Spoiled War 

I check my coffers
and each of them is running
a fever.
The father has left the home
and taken all discipline with him.
It’s spoiled war and spoiled milk.
Momma works two jobs and has no time
for the rest of it.
The Vanquished
sounds like a good name
for a lousy band.
I am their road manager.
When they name a street after me,
it will be a dead end.
A bloody nose.
Dryness of the season.
A stack of empty cd cartridges
where morning coffee
The barometer drops out of school.
Lands some “sandwich artist” gig
with gloves.
Battlefields require sound systems.
Lamp-less lampshade
in uneven cobwebbed corner.
That one book you always return to.
With your eyes,
and mostly your heart.


Ghost Flights

I know it sounds as stupid
as expending large amounts of oxygen to pull up trees,
but the airlines have not stopped flying
even though most the world is at home
on lockdown.
They are manning ghost flights
out of most major airports
with no passengers onboard so that they expend
enough fuel to justify the large tax benefit they get
for going through a certain amount of fuel.
In much the same way
that the city will fix the same pothole seven times
using 19 men at full union wages
so that they spend enough to receive that same
inflated budget for the next fiscal year.
If any of this sounds a little Donkey Kong,
rest assured, you are not alone with this one.
And keep in mind, these are the very same people
tasked with deciding the sanity of others
when jury duty comes around.
I like our chances.


Dust the Knuckles in Fine Red Earth


head out
into the big
bad world
on your own
away from prying
dust the knuckles
in fine red earth
hide your pain
or the others
will find you.

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