Ryan Quinn Flanagan (Western Voices 2022)

Bio: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author who lives in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work has been published both in print and online in such places as: The New York Quarterly, Setu, The Blue Mountain Review, Atunis Poetry and The Oklahoma Review.  He enjoys listening to the blues and cruising down the TransCanada in his big blacked out truck.



Poem for a Man Who Think He’s An Elevator


His moods are up and down all day so that I sit to write this poem

for a man who thinks he’s an elevator.  Each mood a different floor,

I wait for him to make that little beeping noise to announce a new arrival.

His lips parting like those mirrored sliding doors.

Little people inside him pushing the buttons, getting off on different floors.

A maintenance team constantly dispatched to make sure he is running

in optimal form.  Not like some health nut at all, but like the elevator

he is and should always be.


Tippi Hedren Called


Tippi Hedren called,

I said.

She wants her birds back.


The woman I was with tried to shush

me with a finger to my mouth.


The pet shop kept the lizards beside the birds.

In these tiny little cages like loneliness 

under a hot light.


Some toothy sales kid on commission

walked up and asked if he could be of any assistance.


It that any way to treat the lizard people?

I shouted.


Sorry sir, I don’t understand.


Your superiors, the lizard people.

Locked away like common muggers.


They seem happy,

he said.


Please ignore him,

I heard a voice from behind me.


Do you have any sharks?

I asked.

Besides the ones that work on commission,

am I right?


I work on commission,

the toothy kid admitted.


Not enough junior,

I smiled.


She was ignoring us both now.

Had moved onto the puppies and kittens

in the back.


That passive aggressive sign that always

asks you not to knock

on the glass.


If she returned to the pet shop

or the mall,

she never did it with me.


She got a dog, I know that much.

Some pure breed

that would make Leni Riefenstahl



Superior slobber

and all that shit.


No idea what happened to Captain Commission.

Probably started his own line of pet recliners

and made a bundle.


Getting in on the ground floor

just like the elevator in my building

always does.


Water Skipper


tiny insect Jesus –

zipping body like some artifact arrow head,

splayed legs as the ribs of faulty umbrellas;

the sun over my body after a decidedly long winter,

croaking forest grifters in the near-distance,

dung-burrowed, eternally unseen –

what miracles we make when we are 

lost to song, a Gregorian chant perhaps,

the weavers of churlish-less nestings

as you shoot across the unnameable expanse,  

through a thin pack of reeds

and roughage lining the long rocky shore:

we could be a misunderstanding,

this spindly fine way we escape each other.

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