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 Poetry, Our Poetry Archive, Blue Mountain Review, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.
it is not far
it is not too far
I can almost see it
sitting here like a paperweight,
imagine it with a brain only too willing
to magnolia paint a picture:
folds, functions, neurons firing…
scared fireworks to keep matted dogs
scurrying under bed,
old glass panes that no longer hold their heat;
I come close
I have come close
I can certainly feel something
standing here in the reverb,
a boneless, skinless squall that leaps
and churns and gallivants;
I have sailed by so often that strangers
will name ships after me.
It was behind glass.
with all the trophies.
No one was allowed touch it.
This weathered old football.
Something else to worship if you still
had the energy.
And the young kids in the picture
were all dead or married with kids now
which is kind of the same thing
depending on how you come at things.
This single football behind lock and key.
On a pedestal with some inscription
that no one ever bothered to read.
On their way to class
or the cafeteria where the lunch ladies
with black fishnets over their heads
put gravy over everything
and charge fifty cents
Doing backflips in the dewy ramshackle phylum.
A single, large stone on its backside.
Turned so that a bed of green moss can be seen
and marks of darkened wet around the edges.
Some garden child flipping you over,
then quickly losing interest.
There is much to explore and so little time.
All the hidden dirt things exposed
before prudently burrowing or scurrying away.
Just a balled out bed of rounded dirt remains.
A leftover shell from one or two garden lice.
Your indignity is a forgotten one.
All the other stones around
you still in place.
I guess all his ranch hands were working out.
Seasonal hires from the city.
Paid as well as one can hope surrounded by desolate fields
and the ever-present smell of manure.
At this dude ranch with a name no one could remember.
Even some of the older ones that had spent many seasons there.
But the rancher made this stew.
His wife had taught him how to cook a little before her demise.
Laid to rest in a family plot in back.
With the child she died giving birth to.
A boy named William.
This jolly rancher taking everything in stride.
Grabbing his guitar each night so he could sit by the grave
and play his wife’s favourite songs.
Then up and at ‘em again.
Cracking jokes before first light.
A couple boiling pots of coffee every bit as farm strong
as all the young men who gathered around
with cup in hand.
The work schedule had to be up at least
a week in advance,
so the employees could plan their lives
and the company could not be found liable,
there was a union now with different stewards,
the supervisor at his desk
sorting through available shifts
after vacation time,
knowing not everyone would be pleased
but trying to be as fair and accommodating
as he could, while maximizing productivity
and limiting overtime premiums for the top
while the rest gathered around the newly posted
schedule to run their fingers down the list
until they came to their name and hoped
for a few days off in a row;
making that face the newly vanquished make
complaining with all the others
because it was an expected bonding experience,
even when their schedule was good.