Sunday, February 21, 2010

Three poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Three poems
by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Gandhi in the Tea Leaves
of Optimists

Between the ulcer
and wear of daily grind,

there are not too many days I find myself
in a complete state of grace,
but this is one of them.
The winter wallow is retreating,
the birdsong has returned to the rooftops,
and the silence of no one calling
while I stare at the walls

is truly

Josephine and her philandering
made Napoleon the laughing stock
of the English
and the quack eye doctor I was sent to
as a child just had his medical licence revoked
on four counts of malpractice,
but such things matter little
to me.

Not today.
Not in the tiny womb of rose-coloured glasses;
the Etch A Sketch hands of idle hours,
Gandhi in the tea leaves
of optimists,
steak barbecues in the park,
five alarm fire eaters on one leg
like a dog around the hydrant,
epsom salts over the body
wandering hands and charitable eyes
and opium eaters on ocean liners that circle
around the toilet bowl
taking tight corners
to nowhere.

I used to think that people who spoke
and thought like this
must be on drugs,
but I haven’t had a single drink
or puff

in days.

Perhaps I’ve finally gone mad
and can look forward to a lifetime of chewing on comforters
and arguing with telephone poles in the afternoon
as the shift change passes by
and tries to avoid my shopping cart
full of Barbie doll torso without heads
and orange peels
in old strawberry cartons.

Perhaps I should just stop pontificating
about the whole damn thing
sit back
and enjoy it while it lasts.

that’s better.

That’s so much

The grin across my face
for no good reason at all
has returned,
and the tingling down my spine
makes me dance in my seat
like St Vitus the one man show
or that little twinkle toes



laying on the backs of centipedes
in sunhats

like the one-stop-shop of a spinach tapenade
stretched Procrustean
and baking in bearded lady traction
eight feet long in a post coital bird’s beak
poking through the fever-soaked-dew-green of late spring blades -
biting into the side of the Hollywood Hills
like a RED delicious mouth
from the farmer’s market
or a family barbecue making its way across the rib cage.
Multiculturalism is only achieved by mixed nuts
and botched surgeries
as the QUEEN bees of downtown studios
make Mojitos over passages of Shelley;
a D-fence
an O-fence
special teams
the first underclassman taken in next year’s draft
will be a moonlighting peeping tom
with high powered binoculars
and running shoes with the soles worn through,
the bunches of women’s underwear in his pockets
are his mothers
but his mother is nowhere to be found;
wheezing with the asthmatics in bus depot bathrooms
while the bobbing heads of neighbouring stalls are dispensed like salt shakers
with no tissue left on the roll.

The guy next door is arguing with his oven again
(a heated one)
the odds flash across my tote board mind
and I play the over
with knuckleballer’s accuracy.
Genghis Khan rode side saddle when no one was looking,
Lord Nelson was seasick until the day he died,
three centuries of complements have been masquerading as body armour,
links in the chain-mail of the US Postal Service,
kindergarten lunch pails in the Museum of Modern R’T,

black eyes on white women,
the leaf blower is a victim of seasonal employment,
my carburetor sits in the back of my sock drawer.
Sometimes all you can do is put on fishnet stockings
and recite passages from Macbeth
in your blowup swimming pool in the livingroom
and sometimes you can do something else;
clean the gutters,
trim your nails,
climb a University of Texas clock tower
and try out the new second amendment
you got for Christmas,
forget to flush on purpose,
make steak and eggs for breakfast,
careen over the curbside and try to leave your mark.
There are a world of failed gondoliers in the unemployment line
that stretches halfway around the block
of my mind

as I lay on the backs of centipedes
in sunhats
and count each gangrenous leg of the amputees’
broken wisdom.


The Four Horses of the Apocalypse are Parked in my Driveway

The door said thank you and was fond of wheelchairs,
Typhoid Mary is looking to settle down,
a sense of otherness climbs out of the laundry with socks on its hands,
grin irony on the freeway where prisoner transfers drive by,
the migrant workers find work three to a truck,
kleptomaniacs steal my heart for no good reason at all,
like the ten dollar mouths of bathroom stalls
bobbing under hard lights for some Asia in a bag,
the piles of smiles on cutting room floors,
Marco Polo in an above-ground pool still has his limits,
a lone flame burning thin in the slumbering night,
no one wants to be on the receiving end
of manifest destiny,
smoking icons to the filter.

The four horses of the apocalypse are parked in my driveway,
an amalgam of falsity and deceit,
minotaurs in mazes forget to put down the toilet seat,
the pool sharks are frenzied and circling,
waiting rooms are where impatience goes to fail,
shoelaces without the loop,
pigeons into the windows of office tower hubris,
hotdog vendors with no relish left,
the children used to play,
court supervised embraces every other weekend,
virginity lost among the profundity of word jumbles,
the night Robert Johnson rode back into town,

Danger is the mother of intention,
the race to put man on the moon was filled with false starts,
to think that the messiah was sold out
for a retractable roof...

Is it any wonder that eternal damnation
is not kind?

Author bio:

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a transient by nature. Presently residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada, he is the author of three books of poetry and a chapbook entitled Epicurus Cunnilingus. His work has recently appeared in The New York Quarterly, Vallum, Quills, and The Oklahoma Review.

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