Author of the Month: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan
3 Canoers at the Head of the Serpent River 
There is this old Ojibway story  
that speaks of a great giant flying mother serpent  
that came to rest on the land, twisting and burrowing, 
carving the surrounding earth into the present form  
of the river you see today. 
And now, 
these 3 canoers at the head of the Serpent River. 
Each in a different coloured canoe with matching paddle: 
orange, yellow, red. 
Circled in conversation, more than active rowers. 
What could they be discussing? 
What bank to hug? Where to go for lunch? 
Certainly not the great mother serpent! 
On this breezeless, humid early July day. 
It is just a suffocating shore bound glimpse 
as I speed by in the passing lane  
along the Trans-Canada.  
But those canoers will give it a go.  
When they break, those deep dug oars  
will wake these still waters again. 

I used to speak in tongues when I was a kid. 
Very loudly, when I slept. 
I don't do that anymore. 
I wish my parents would have taped it 
instead of just complaining. 
About how they could hear it through the walls. 
I could hear them through the walls as well, 
but I never once dared complain about that. 
The panting, the screams and grunting. 
Headboard slamming rapidly against the wall. 
Usually on drunken birthdays or anniversaries. 
But I spoke in tongues all the time. 
My parents thought they would have to take 
me to see someone about it, 
but who do you see about something  
like that? 

A Giant Bear Jumps Up the Rockface Outside Sudbury, Ontario
You never realize how helpless you would actually be  
if the cards came calling. 
A giant bear jumps up the rockface outside Sudbury, Ontario. 
A single leap up over twenty feet after sprinting  
in front of my truck. 
Across three lanes of traffic. 
Those powerful hind legs digging claws  
deep into billions of years of solid Canadian Shield. 
Power windows don’t seem so great after that. 
We have a long way to go. 
It was just a moment, 
but it was everything to me. 
Why anyone would count carbs after that  
seemed completely farcical to me. 
I was in control of nothing. 
And all the power steering in the world  
could not help me with that.

Sounds Are Bad
Link Wray's The Rumble  
was banned on US radio despite 
having no lyrics. 
Not a single word. 
And still the censor blinked. 
Like they could feel The Rumble
what it could represent. 
That is how art 
and your only life  
should be.

Arf Rasmussen 

I’ve see this woman around the neighbourhood.
Walking this tiny ankle biter of a dog
dressed like a Viking.

Has a little sword in a side sheath 
and everything.

A real conversation piece.
People stop to talk to her all the time.

I didn’t want to,
but I finally broke down 
last week.

Saw her coming the other way
and started some small talk.

I don’t remember her name,
but her little dog believes he is a Viking,
or at least she dresses him that way.

His name is Arf Rasmussen.
The guarded Valhalla way he smells my fingers,
I can tell we won’t be friends.

But that Viking getup is a real showstopper.
How he answers to: SKOL!
That droopy double horned helmet much too big 
for his fury little head.

Bio: Author of the month, 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, The New York Quarterly, Setu, Literary Yard, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

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