VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Sex with Robots is Quality Control

You never see THESE jobs advertised in the papers.

Anyone who would apply and sit through that interview,

they don’t want.  Sex with robots is quality control.

And if they settled on that most efficient method 

of assembly line work, things could get rather intimate

outside the lunchroom.  422 orgasms a shift and you 

could claim it was the bloody job drying things up

and still drive home to some meatloaf–making breadcrumb wife 

who wasn’t very smart or she would have tried to get 

that very same job 

years ago.

Hit Piece

The word hacks put out this poo poo head kill shot,

this 1500 word hit piece in the dailies that was

meant to knock out the power again,

digging up dirt like paid shovels instead of 

real actual people and when they couldn’t find

that smoking gun as they say in the industry,

they just made it up; the lawsuits would come first

if they came at all (most just folded to the pressure),

years in the courts before that inevitable retraction

nearly a decade later on page 23, in print so small

that no one ever saw it; just that original giant headline

on page 1, that is how it would be forever.

In the minds of the reading public.    

The lead story.  Breaking News!

Some slanderous slag off rushed to press.

So the scandal rags could sell party favours

back to the confetti lobby again.

Drubbing

It always happens.

Away from prying eyes.

Four kids down the alley.

Beating on this other kid

who quickly turtles.

When he goes down,

they begin kicking him instead.

A real drubbing.

Too dark to see the blood,

but you imagine it must be there.

That wheezing of a wildebeest on its way out.

Surrounded by a pride of hungry lions.

One hanging onto the jugular,

the others tearing flesh where they can.

And it is unusually cold.

The weather, I mean.

The rest is just what you would expect.

On a night such as this 

or any other.

The neon from the corner convenience

out to blind entire armies out of their last 

stanky leg retreat.

Something for the Road

The jukebox has gone silent 

in a musical sense.

Not a single thing in tune

for over an hour.

And the bartender eyeing the clock

like some angry salamander 

out of love and out of time.

I could lay it out 

so the vacuum cleaner salesman

with a bum shoulder

could pitch his tent for 

his tribe.

Really wig out on the wam

of discount smokes.

That dry mouth smack

so that I ask for something 

for the road.

Crumpled money from careless pockets.

Blue chalk cubes finding the floor.

The pool table in the back 

torn up as though on hungry 

lion safari.

That buzz of insomniac neon.

A bowl of salty safe house peanuts 

leaving the shell.

No way to tell all the tells

at this luscious yellow 

urine puck hour.

Out of pants 

that would never be caught 

wearing themselves.

The blankets on this bed

like hours of idiot 

mummification. 

A slight breeze through the window.

Over the hair of long snoring arms.

A few dozen landlords 

waiting on rent with the locksmith

from the boonies on call. 

That rusty smell of water 

from the showerhead 

awaits you.

A fresh mouse trap 

of the snap.

And that sound of early morning 

traffic I feel half-sorry for.

In my favourite failing undershorts.

A warm beer beside the bed 

like liquid waterfalls of the poor.

He always said 

he was going 

to write into 

the papers 

to complain 

about this 

and that 

so he could 

bring about change 

and maybe 

see his kids 

once in 

a blue moon

after the breakup 

and that 

they would 

pick him up 

and give him 

a weekly column

because there was 

things to be said

and a readership 

out there

that needed 

to listen

and when 

the war broke out 

he said 

he would go 

over there, 

don a bulletproof 

vest and everything

even though 

where “there” was 

was changing all 

the time

and he couldn’t 

spell worth 

a shit

and the Men’s 

shelter down 

along Princess

read all the 

outgoing mail

to limit 

the stalkers 

and crazies

in a single 

wide net 

that carried out 

Thursday night

louse checks 

with volunteers

from the walk-in clinic

that tried 

hard not to 

pity you

even with those 

once bright

downcast 

eyes.

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