Ryan Quinn Flanagan (Canada)
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, Atunis, Our Poetry Archive, Blue Mountain Review, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.
The last cow milked is always holding out.
Chagall’s drunkard seems to know this even though
his form has shot off into spatial deformities.
His discombobulated head giving fellatio to an uncorked
bottle of red suspended in air.
As a two headed bird walks upon his dinner plate
and fish stands in for napkin.
I’ve had many nights just like this.
Not in full attire scuffed at the shoulder.
But falling away from a slippery misshapen table,
I know that one very well.
The way the colours spin and refract.
My own stripper cake laughter jumping out of
someone else’s mouth entirely.
The man seated in front of me is a few years older.
In a fuzzy oatmeal coloured sweater and blue jeans.
On this greyhound bus which never runs out of road.
How does it feel to be winning?
I reach around with my hand and tug nudge the man.
The man ignores me, as if I am some simple crazy.
I hear a voice say.
I presume it is the man in front of me.
You’re just in front of me,
but I got a second wind now
and I’m about to pass you.
Then I get up
move to the empty seat in front of him
and sit down.
Now I’m winning!
The older man tries to ignore me.
Some others on the bus get up and move away from us.
Sitting down towards the back of the bus.
The field is thinning out,
Looks to be a two man race.
I hear the man’s voice.
He must be concentrating on his breathing.
Smart boy, not so easily distracted.
It is night time on the bus.
I lean back and begin to close my eyes.
Suddenly the man gets up and moves
to the seat in front of me and sits down.
He coughs casually as though nothing has happened.
I jump up and move to the seat in front of him.
I can feel him shifting uncomfortably in the seat behind me.
Then he gets up and moves two seats in front of me and sits down.
So you’re a kicker, I say.
Fast down the back stretch!
The bus driver is looking back at us in the mirror.
He seems unhappy with his life.
I get up and move to the seat just behind the driver
and sit down.
As I pass the older man at the finish line,
I wave goodbye.
That was a close one!
I say to the bus driver.
The older gentleman a few seats behind me laughs.
Even though he has lost the race,
he seems in great spirits.
I close my eyes and think about what song
I will get them to play at the medal ceremony.
Having Fun Poking Fun
She stops by
to tell me she lost 3 pounds
I ask her if she wants me to help
her find them.
Make up posters
with MISSING scrawled
across the top.
I ask her if she has any recent pictures.
Tell her reward money often helps
if she can swing it.
That I know this kid down at the copy place
that doesn’t care about his job.
By the time she is headed back out the door,
I am in the garage moving boxes around.
Making a real production of it.
Pretending to look for my staple gun.
I do not own a staple gun.
Just having fun poking fun.
I make her laugh which goes a far way.
Why do you think she keeps coming over?
It’s sure as hell not
for the money.
Hulking Miss Kempenfest
It was the highlight of the summer season.
The bikini contest to decide Miss Kempenfest.
There was a large three tiered trophy
and a cheque of local prize money
from the local business bureau.
All behind that orange drinking age
fence line that kept us children out.
While out parents sat inside the beer tent
That bored sand between the toes way
I gathered all the kids by the fence
so we could find our parents.
Directed to cheer when Sandy came on.
She was dating my cousin Kent who worked as a bouncer.
Miss Kempenfest was a family win that year.
The way her hulking breasts threatened
to fall right out of that insufficient orange
How she moved so much better than the rest.
It was the only time my family ever won anything.
I remember standing beside the trophy
in the basement.
Us kids not allowed to see the celebration
happening on that sagging floral couch
in the next room along
The last one back up the stairs
doomed to ten years
My little brother inconsolable
when he thought of the prospect.
There was no blueprint for the middle ground.
Even back then.