Poetry: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan
A man can die on stage just as easily as in a hospital bed  
and the comic was struggling, his first time out. 
Slowly, he made some headway with the audience. 
The liquor was taking effect and things loosened up. 
But the comic was a desperate man. 
Living out of a suitcase. 
On the road more than half the year. 
Some sick need for attention. 
A failing liver and a failed marriage.  
The comic got into the meat of his act 
and the audience ate it up. 
They laughed so hard they could never  
see the hurt behind it.

A Personal Archeology
She sticks a needle in her arm 
and I think of a whale brought back 
to blubber, 
of all that blood, 
of how her face can’t  
stop sweating  
even though her body is cold 
to the touch, 
some trick of the thriving  
vein-hunted street, 
greasy spoon origami turning blue  
in heartless doom alley cookeries; 
a single overflow dumpster 
tagged by local gangs  
of bandana faces 
that gather in dark stairwells 
to share stories they wish  
were true.

Mercury Maker
Sniper tower compulsions are a hard pin down, 
that spotty gleek gleek distance record goes unchallenged, 
hyperbole in all directions, devolving mercury maker  
just a sweaty sweaty dram dram... 
What is a man to do but wring and rail? 
His hands just tiny clusters of poison oak 
while the stores and eyes and minds close early, 
and if you don't think Genghis Khan is insanely jealous  
that Coleridge wrote a poem titled Kubla Khan  
or that Kublai Khan is seething over that less common spelling,  
then you don't know your Mongols from  
your midriff.

The voice did not match the body. 
Those booming silken words coming from within 
such a fidgety tiddly-wink of a man. 
As though the chandelier of his days would break 
if you shook his hand too firmly. 
Most were careful not to touch him. 
I wonder how his lovers fared. 
Perhaps they were put in separate sound booths  
and never embraced at all. 
But that full richness of tone as he read from the script. 
A salaried man never out of work. 
And his voice would age far better than he. 
Rumour had it he had insured his vocal chords for half a million dollars.  
Gurgled saltwater to a very strict routine. 
Convincing millions to buys millions. 
Script after script until his voice was shot  
and they had to call it a day.

Two Ketchup Packets & a Catatonic from the English Midlands
His mother is catatonic, sleeping in late again he tells me as though  
she is just being lazy and the two ketchup packets I lifted from the fast  
food place last week have paired off in my right pant pocket and  
bonded; I will need them for lunch, a support system of flavour and  
questionable consistency in this lunchroom that becomes a big bag of  
teeth all chewing from the same sad hourly trough.

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