Feature Poet: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as Evergreen Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, In Between Hangovers, The New York Quarterly, Red Fez, Sick Lit Magazine, and Word Riot.

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Kalil the Bomb Maker

was not good with people
hence the profession
but he was good with his hands
and the many components
involved
working alone, in near darkness
for long hours
paid well enough to believe in the cause
but not so handsomely as to fall
into retirement

and the many bearded men that came by
were friendly enough
but obviously weary of Kalil

taking away their many belts
and packages

so that he had to start

all over
again.

*

Choke Artist

It used to be a sugar refinery.
Now it was a condemned commune of sorts.

Performance artists on the first floor,
squatters on the floors above.

And everyone who was nobody came out
to see the choke artist strangle himself into unconsciousness
three times a week.

A skinny guy at the side of the stage with cauliflower ears
was tasked with reviving him.
And then the choke artist would throw up on the stage
amidst a blue and white backdrop
and the audience would clap.

There were also a few angry spoken word ladies
that would take turns yelling “CLITORIS”
over and over again
through a megaphone
but no one cared much for them,
their heads shaved down like the Manson girls
screaming bloody murder: “CLITORIS
CLITORIS . . .”

There were also a few drinkers of urine
and a black fellow without arms who played
the bongos with his feet.

But the choke artist was the bell cow of this little operation
and everyone knew it.

A brimless tattered brown hat passed around
for pocket change.

*

Finishing School

The way he fondled himself in traffic
made you think of full body massages
of wet glue over the edges of construction paper
made to stick
and the people pretended to avert their eyes
with their hands
knowing what was expected
as the man started climbing on cars
the sirens in the near distance
a shed skin of clothing now strewn in the street
everyone playing at being more disgusted
than the next
but the buildings soon joined in
and the canines too;
dogs humping wildly, buildings slamming into
one another
raving hysterics leaping from impossible windows
guzzling gas tanks demanding love
nothing forbidden anymore
nothing hidden
the temperance movement sauced and whacking off to interracial
snuff films
with European subtitles
as the sirens drew
closer.

*

Fudging the Numbers

He liked to fudge the numbers
to run out after dark
going house to house
rubbing melted fudge over the address numbers
by the front door
so that when the homeowners got up
in the morning
they would not think it fudge at all
but something else completely,
reticently leaning in to smell it
and being pleasantly
surprised.

*

All Hail! Ryan Quinn Flanagan is the author of numerous books of verse, including the blue of every flame (2015), available via Interior Noise Press. To learn more, simple click on the cover image below . . .

And, be sure to give Ryan’s personal site a visit to learn more about the poet and his ever-expanding canon of verse.

Previous Feature: John D. Robinson

John D. Robinson is a published poet with two chapbooks out there somewhere. His work has appeared widely in the small press and in online literary journals.

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Graham & “The Boys’ Brigade”

I would call by once a week,
early evening, on the way
to “The Boys’ Brigade,”
and I’d look forward to
this as I’d be invited in to
wait for Graham;
the house was always warm
and smelt of polish and
flowers and everything was
orderly, precise, everything
seemed to belong
and it was hard to imagine that
anybody had ever raised a voice
let alone a hand inside that house;
his father would be seated, suited, smart,
silent, very clean cut and groomed,
at a table reading a newspaper,
and looking up he’d
quietly acknowledge me;
Graham and his father seemed almost
identical and I envied him, them,
father and son,
everything was fresh,
clean, conservative, safe, predictable
and familiar, reserved;
my father was a
drunkard and a clumsy
thief and an unlucky gambler,
and I can remember wanting to have
a life like Graham and his father;
but thank fuck
it didn’t work out like that.

*

It’s Not a Secret

I’d like to tell you something,
it’s nothing new,
I’ve said it so many times
before, sometimes you
heard it and at other times
it went unnoticed,
but I’ve never tired of
feeling and saying
I love you,
even though it was said,
sometimes, in silence,
when alone, without you;
sometimes because I
couldn’t, I couldn’t
say it to you
as we looked at each
other;
sometimes, words, when
said aloud, fuck things
up and stampede the
moment and take it to
someplace else;
sometimes, I keep those
words, quiet in my head,
words,
that I can say at any time.

*

All Hail! John D. Robinson’s latest collection, Cowboy Hats & Railways (Scars Publications, 2016), is freely available online in PDF format. Simply click on the cover image below to enjoy more of John’s poetry . . .

Previous Feature: Todd Cirillo

Todd Cirillo is co-founder and editor of Six Ft. Swells Press. His poems have appeared in numerous national and international literary journals, magazines and cocktail napkins everywhere. His books include ROXY (R.L. Crow Publications, 2003), Everybody Knows the Dice are Loaded (Rattlesnake Press, 2006), This Troubled Heart (Lummox Press, 2010), Sucker’s Paradise (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2012), and Sexy Devils (Epic Rites Press, 2016), among others. Todd lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, and can be found at afterhourspoetry.com or epicrites.org.

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In Complete Agreement

She stood me up
on a Sunday.
On Monday
she sent me a text
saying she
ended up getting drunk
with an old boyfriend
but she was sorry
and it would never
happen again.

I looked at my phone
in complete agreement
with her
as I
hit
delete.

*

Nothing Wasted

I am using the last
of your shampoo.
I spent the .84 cents
left on the desk
where there once stood
a vase with yellow flowers.
I am playing
the Pink Floyd album
you forgot.
I gave the leftover
pack of cigarettes
to the first
homeless person
I saw.

Instead of throwing
it all away
I thought,
why waste it.

There has been enough
of that already.

*

Premonition

Everyone was dancing—
except you.
It was supposed
to be a good time.
You and I
and a thousand
other lovers
under the moon,
listening
to the Rebirth Brass Band
sing from the stage,
“I used to love her
but it’s all over now.”

I went and ordered
two more beers,
thinking
that might loosen
the evening.
You did not want another.
“Two for me then,”
I thought out loud,
and smiling
up at the white moon
felt the breeze
come off the river
and watched the girls’ dresses
rise as they twirled.

I continued to dance
and make friends
with those around us,
our space on the lawn
getting smaller and smaller.
You had no idea
what was coming,

but I sure did.

*

All Hail! Todd Cirillo’s latest collection, Burning the Evidence (2017), is available via Epic Rites Press.* Please, click on the cover image below to learn more . . .

*Cover photo by Matt Amott; cover design by Julie Valin.

Previous Feature: Mindy Watson

Mindy Watson is a Washington, DC/Northern Virginia-based writer who holds an MA in Nonfiction Writing from The Johns Hopkins University. Her essays appear in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Ars Medica, Corvus Review, and Thread: A Literary Journal; her poetry appears in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Cemetery Moon Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, The Quarterday Review, and Snakeskin Poetry.

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Avalanche

A barren bluff your college junior year,
Exuding perfect flatness, faultless wan
Austerity, you tend your bone-bare plains
Desireless: in complete control. But then
The clinic workers crow, “We’re watching you;
You have to eat.” And every fractal you
Ingest appends oppressive snow upon
Your precipice. This weight cannot remain.

You avalanche the winter you’re alone
At school. Your mother’s sugar-streaked desserts
Festooned, prone waiting in their cookie tins
Incite sensation’s need, inflame and melt
Your cliff’s substantial snowpack. Frenzied, you
Devour them all: sweet Santas, frosted bells.
Elation wilts control; your belly swells.
Then panic tilts your icy load askew.

They launch your trembling snowpack down—straight down:
The probing index finger, bristled tooth-
Brush handle. Ill-got grub jets downward, cakes
The cookie tin in pre-digested guilt
Disgorged before self-loathing permeates.
As masticated frosting grips once crisp
White parchment paper, post-storm peace sets in:
The crags razed clean. The sterile scarcity.

The snow, however, won’t stop falling. Just
One fleck of frozen mass or errant wind
Or solar surge inclines your bluffs, incites
The wild accumulating splurge and purge.
Those avalanches roar ten years (or more).
Your body bears their telltale signs: regressed
Red gums and calloused knuckles. Burst blue veins
Against your cheeks. But then you say, no more.

Your cliffs now stay meticulously flat,
Worn slopeless, flush with land’s gray gradient.
Firm obligations and compulsive low-
Carb diets keep them scrupulously shorn
Of snow, ensuring chaos-slides can’t form.
Each day, you log each sip, each gulp. You swat
Away all flakes—disdainful reprobates!—
That flurry near. You mustn’t lose control.

But after this Thanksgiving’s passed, you once
Again perceive that strain. The guests are gone,
The dishes done. The towels folded and
Rehung. The void that noise’s absence leaves
Sparks snow’s accumulation. Forging flames
Upon your mounting peaks, exalted scents
Of turkey, noodles, buttered buns, and beans
Escape refrigerated quarantine.

Just one unsanctioned bite re-carves the course;
You’re staring down that steep, slick gorge of old.
Your snowpack’s swelling slope precedes the fall
You know too well: the stomach lurch, the hand
Inserted down your throat four fingers deep.
The lancing need to strip the snowy cliffs.
And aftershock’s cathartic peace. The bloodshot eyes,
The racing heart. The deluge’s release.

*

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