Ryan Quinn Flanagan (Canada)

 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.
A Lifetime of Snow
You grow up with the white stuff
in these parts.
Grow used to it.
A lifetime of snow.
Your first little kiddie shovel for Christmas
about a year and a half after
you start walking.
Making an effort on the front stoop.
Then your smaller adult shovel
as you move to the driveway to help
your father.
Your little brother taking over the kiddie shovel.
As you and your father work away.
Learning to hate the plow.
How it comes by for the city.
Throwing all the snow and ice back in your drive
from the road just as you are
finished shovelling.
To build snowbanks taller than you.
Using the heavy wet packing snow as a base.
To square them off into walls so you can
always pile more on.
Then that day you take over the big shovel
from the old man.
Deal with all the heavy stuff at the end of the drive,
so your father can clear the lighter stuff
at the top.
This is a proud moment in a Canadian boy’s life.
Admission that you are becoming a man.
Before you set out on your own.
Most start a family and the process
begins again.
For those that don’t have children,
the driveway is yours alone to deal with.
Until you start to become old enough that things get ify.
A surprising amount of old timers die of
heart attacks shovelling snow each year.
The wife eventually hiring a snow removal service.
Or paying some young kids that come around like I used to do.
$10 for the entire driveway.
Or moving you into a condo where someone else
is finally responsible for all the white stuff.
The ground so far away.
I could lick the passing sky with each flapping tongue.
And you doing backflips before pulling the string.
That rush of adrenalin that climbs out of someone else’s
joyous throat and screams.
The way the chute pulls you back up into your
very own flightpath.
That sudden jerking motion of being startled awake.
My goggled eyes like two explorers.
A backup chute no longer needed.
My blood rush legs ready to run as the ground approaches:
concrete tarmac, open field, an ambulance on stand-by.
My feet back on the ground.
The sky so far away now.
Barrie Tornado, 1985
We drive around in silence
as a family,
we drive around slowly
through the surrounding
looking at stairs
that lead to nothing
in fields
where homes
used to
There is debris
scattered all
Many of the roads
are closed.
The worst tornado
in half a century,
they say,
the horses from the racetrack
were picked up
and tossed onto the
The night before
it grew humid
and silent
very suddenly
and the sky
turned a sickly
pea soup
I was seven years old.
Looking out the babysitter’s
front window
along Bernick Drive.
Waiting for my father
to come pick
me up.
this is just
what the world
would look like
if I were all
After the Rains
Cat eyes get wide
as birds return
to perch outside my window.
The grey clouds thin out
and splinters of blue
pass by.
The wheels of vagabond shopping carts
clank as
faulty wheels grind against
the pavement.
A car putters by
the factories hum
and a half-naked woman
in an undone red housecoat
sits smoking on her window ledge.
Watching the young girls
jump rope in the
lot below.
The fat one holds
the end of the rope.
Too self-conscious to
Getting Off on the Devil
Belief in the devil
is absolving yourself
of guilt:
the devil did it
or more personally,
the devil made me do it,
hinting at some possession
that goes back centuries
so aberrant behaviour can be explained way
by communal standards
of good
with the devil
left to pay your tab.

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