Sunday, August 12, 2018

Welcome to Ryan Quinn Flanagan!

Tonight I'd like to welcome Canadian poet Ryan Quinn Flanagan to The Song Is...  He is an active member of the poetry scene on Facebook and online, so it's great to see his poems at my site.

Poem for a Man Who Believes Push-ups Will Save Him

He has seen one too many prison movies,
drops to the floor and gives twenty 
each time he feels overwhelmed,
his counsellor suggested this and I ask
him why his counsellor doesn’t do the push-ups 
and he drops and gives me twenty;
it is hard to talk to a man like that,
he is always either on his way down or his
way up, counting out each sweaty offering; 
this man who believes push-ups 
will save him, and when he jumps back up
he is breathing heavily, with that alarming
red massive heart attack face that you see
on powerlifters as though they have been 
constipated for weeks and are crouching
to try squeeze one out; push-ups never saved 
anyone, not anyone in prison or any 
other way, but this one is a believer and 
there is nothing you can do with a believer
except try to not still be there when he
gets back up to his feet.

Translation: Svetlana, thank you for our daughter.
Photograph by Peretz Partensky

In Winter’s Dreams We Wake

The blow was hardly crushing
there was no defeat
power steering perhaps,
but no defeat 

I could feel the boots of marching 
soldiers over my back
lost to song and someone else’s

things become what they are not 
when enough people let them

in winter’s dreams we wake

and I stared at the pole 
imagining myself a swinging giggling
child again

the belly pained with laughter

before a bug flew 
in front of my face
and I swatted.

The Hillside Drive Submissive

I am walking up Hillside Drive 
by the plaza.

In shoes that are meant 
to absorb shock.

Past the blood donor sign 
that always makes me think
of mosquitoes.

And this man in a leather mask 
with a zipper for a mouth
rides by on his eBike.

He seems to be in a hurry.
This Hillside Drive submissive.

Perhaps he is late for an appointment.
His dominatrix will not be happy.

Putting out cigarettes on his back
while he quacks like a duck.

It’s a strange way to spend 
an afternoon.

But so is giving your 
blood away.

Johnny & June

I am a sucker for the love story.  
Johnny & June even though he was on his second.  
And she was on her third.  

And in 1950s black & white America, 
talk about pulling a fork out of spoons.  

Sometimes it takes a merry-go-round 
to end up in bed with the right horse.  
To know the lifers from the kickers on the back end.  

The fact that she died and he died four months later.  
I’m surprised he lasted that long.  
He couldn’t live without her.  

And that is what love means to me.  
A simple hard loyalty you will not find anywhere else.  
It is not about sex or money or advantage or anything else you might understand.  

Watch them perform “Jackson” together, 
that is how a man and a woman should treat each other.  
Oozing with affection, but always done with humour.  
That element of relatable slip up that every mud puddle can understand.  

And when the wife and I drove through Nashville recently, 
we wanted to stop off in Hendersonville to see 
their house, but the place had burned down.  
Which is not a commentary on anything so much as it is a shame.  

We are all here standing beside the car for a short time 
and Johnny & June dared to give the wheel a good kick.  
They took their shot.
Which is enough to give me hope 
when I have so little else.

Marty the Zombie

It would be wrong to say that Marty
ever came home from the war.
His parents let him stay in the garage
even bought his drugs for him 
as long as they didn’t
have to see it.

And Marty got angry whenever 
he was drunk.
Punching holes in the drywall 
and sobbing uncontrollably.

Then he would get into his stash
to take the edge off
and lie on the floor of the garage 
like a zombie.

No longer able to talk or flick his lighter.
And he did this for 7 years.

And no one talked about the war.
The stars and stripes proudly adorning
the front porch.

Everyone just went to work.
And checked on Marty when they
got home.

Horne Lake Fishing Derby

My wife and I are driving by Horne Lake
and she points to the water and says
that’s where they used to dump everything.

All the run-off from mining 
medical waste
old cars

But that’s where they hold the fishing derby
each year, I say.

She says I wouldn’t believe all the things 
down there.

There are different lakes, 
but they choose the old dumping 
ground to hold their derby.

And each February
they are back out on the ice
in their hundreds.

A $100 entry fee
and a $30,000 prize
for the biggest 

All those huts 
and holes in the ice.

It is the highlight 
of the winter season.

I’m sure they catch a lot more 
than the fish, my wife says.

Looking out over the water,
I say nothing.

Banking Sharply Over the 
UNLV Campus

We are in the air again.  On our way out.
Climbing to altitude.  The bags checked and tagged
and hopefully in cargo.  Banking sharply over the 
UNLV campus.  And I think of all the planes I watched
leave from the ground.  It is early morning, but I’m 
sure someone is watching.  As we quickly fly out 
over nothing which makes the window seat useless.
You really are in the desert.  If we were to crash, the 
first responders would be four curious scorpions 
and a cactus short on water.  And the way home is different 
for everyone.  But I can tell I am on a plane full of losers
because it is quiet.  Just a cough or two and instructions 
from the stewardess.  The inflight movie just as awful 
on mute. Like climbing into a mass grave and 
asking for a tiny bag of pretzels.  A consolation prize.  
For sharing a bathroom at 37, 000 ft. with a few hundred
assholes that can’t be bothered to flush.  The world has done
them wrong and now they are determined to smell like it.
I hope this is the last time, I say, let’s find somewhere else to go.
She is already asleep.  Snoring down into her chest 
while I watch the backs of all the heads in front of me 
lose their hair as though they are still at the casino.

Bio: 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, Nerve Cowboy, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Let's start with Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's "Jackson":

I'm also going to include Roseanne Cash's "Etta's Tune":

Here is the tribute to Johnny Cash at the 1996 Kennedy Center Honors.  Roseanne Cash is among the artists in this medley:

I'll finish with more Johnny and June.  The first song is a cover of a Lovin Spoonful song, "Darlin' Companion":

I'll finish with their "Far Side Banks of Jordan":

No comments:

Post a Comment