VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Windows, Horses Broken

Vandal remnants, an old sweeper of glass

in an ill-fitting smock, almost embarrassed to look up

as if he has faltered in some unnameable way –

windows, horses broken, three different colours of graffiti

which may suggest the number of guilty parties,

morning foot traffic walking by on the wide,

careful not to stare as though they too feel some

discomfited humiliation at the sight of a kneeling red dustpan

and the sound of all that shattered glass.

Gym Rats & Field Mice

She’s as stiff as an old lady

and I’m stiff as a young man.

You don’t want to have a problem with me.

I have a problem with me.

It’s terrible.

–It’s lots of mufflers in the sound.

–It’s gym rats and field mice…

“For twenty bucks, I’ll give you the best

damn Lorca you’ve ever had!”

Crushed Glass in Chow Hall

The uneven shoulder blades of the window

are captured moisture,

it is strange how you can’t stop thinking

about the inside while on the outside;

the other takes a lot less imagination,

something akin to conjugal visits and dog-eared

doozies from the prison library,

that slow-wheeling cart with many kites

tucked inside the books so everyone knows

who to kill and how which reminds me,

crushed glass in the chow hall will get you banned

from the kitchen, but not before what’s done is done

and since those charged with investigating

are really just investigating themselves,

there will be a single fall guy who almost

certainly had nothing to do with anything,

maybe he refused overtures so now you are just

killing two birds with one stone which is

always best when you can.

Sloppy Jalopy

He would never admit that he drove around

all night looking for the right one.

That he pulled up to the curb and chatted the girls up.

His wedding band tucked into his sock like a pro.

That he met this latest one outside an impound lot.

I started calling her: Sloppy Jalopy.

Just to piss him off.

Insinuating that he may have had too much to drink.

That Sloppy Jalopy may have been a tranny.

Had an Adam’s apples large as the sun.

He got very angry.

Started defending her as though she were his wife.

Not that he had any problem with “those people.”

I laughed and poured him another drink.

Asked about his missing wedding band.

He seemed to be losing on many fronts.


he said.

Taking the thing back out of his sock

and putting it on his finger.

I could see the panic on his face.

Like this wasn’t the first time.

I’d hate to be you wife,

I said.

I’d hate to be your husband,   

he responded.

He had me there.

No one would want to be my husband.

Not even Sloppy Jalopy.

The best blowie

in the entire impound yard.

I hope you don’t plan to sell her for scrap,

I prodded.

He knew exactly who I was talking about.

As though I had been right there in the car

with them the entire time.

How he drove to the place she suggested.

The money up front and then down to business.

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