Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Squirrels? In Hammocks??

—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Lake Eliot, Ontario, Canada 



She picked up this silkscreen printing
apparatus at a garage sale back
in Kingston

so she could make
her own shirts

and that first Halloween
I got an idea and told her to
make up two back t-shirts
with white lettering,
one that read: Premeditated
and another that read:
Crime of Opportunity

and since we already had
the shirts and the letter stencils
our costumes cost next to nothing

which was good
because we were both still at school
and had no money

and when we went to that Halloween party
out by the train station
everyone was dressed elaborately
and couldn’t figure ours out

We’re first and second degree murder,
she said.
They didn’t understand.
He’s premeditated and I’m
a crime of opportunity.

Blank stares.

Later, I borrowed her silk screen
printer and made a yellow shirt
with black lettering that read:
Debbie Does Romulus
across the front

and those who understood that one
got a good laugh
and those that did not
didn’t matter

I really liked that shirt
although it was cheap
and never fit right

and when we moved up north
her silkscreen apparatus
got lost in the mix

which is why she orders
from Old Navy

which isn’t nearly
as fun.

 Attack Squirrel

I was still quite young when my father
said that to me for the first time:
“your friends should be your enemies”
and I didn’t know what he meant by that,
he wanted me to have friends,
told me a child without friends is
a throwaway.  Then he would point
to the garbage can beside the house.
I had this friend whose parents were divorced
long before it became fashionable
and my father would call him unwanted garbage.
He was not allowed over at the house.
So we played at his house or in the park.
His mother was always working, so she was
never around.  I met her twice and she seemed
like a very nice lady.  She gave us freezies and let
us watch movies I wasn’t allowed to watch.
I always sliced the side of my mouth on
the freezie package.  The blue ones were my favourite
because they turned my lips purple.
But “your friends should be your enemies,”
that strange thought never left my mind.
It made me quiet and suspicious,
then withdrawn.  What did my father know
that I did not?  Maybe nothing.
But nothing can be everything when you
are young and worship your father.


I walk down the middle of the road.
Dupont St., Little Current.
Not a single car drives by.

Halfway down the street
I see this blue thing hung in a tree
in the front yard of a home.

It is strung up between two branches.
A blue squirrel hammock right by
the birdfeeder.

And there appears to be a squirrel inside
the hammock.

Swaying back and forth.
It is early afternoon.
I smile.

 Squirrel Thugs


I bent down to pick up the fork
in the road
mangled by miniature tragedies

missing one of its prongs
and rusted up one

I searched
for a spoon,
but there

only the



Elvis left the building.
There was a car waiting.
No one knows if he used
the elevator or the stairs.

Both are plausible options.
I am in the building.
On the 17th of floors applying
for this job.

The man who wants to be my boss
sits in front of a large window
that looks onto other windows.

One of the buildings is green
so that I think of glass leprechauns
shattering each other’s jaws.

The man who wants to be my boss
knows I am not right but
strings me along.

It is horrible what a man will do
for employment.

And failing again,
I also leave the building.
Like Elvis before me.

Taking the elevator down
because I am lazy
and like to watch the


no beard went sailing
missed connection

jowls Verne submarine
sandwich Thomas
mandibles death in

mother’s pearls
no beard swells with

take on water 
take off, leave town

reward money is
one nasty



He was not my friend.
He was a year ahead of me in school
and his mother was my babysitter.
And we’d cut through the woods
because it was shorter
and one day he fell into a giant
bat cave in the ground.
He was surrounded by bats
and screaming and reaching for
me to give him my hand,
but the bats flew up in such numbers
that I couldn’t see anything
and the sound of it more than anything else
made me run off in fear
shimmying under the fence
behind the old-age home.

I told myself it was okay,
that he was not my friend.
But I felt a great shame as I
sat in class.

Watching the clock.
Wondering if he was alive.
If there was really such a thing as vampire bats.

And we never walked to school together
after that.
We never even talked.
I think we were both ashamed.

He was older and meant to be brave.
I was the coward that had run away.

We were each a reminder of what had happened.

His mother stopped babysitting me soon after that.
I think I know why.


Today is not a good day to die,
I have decided.
Sitting on a chipped red park bench
listening to the birds sing.

There is a slight wind off the water.
And a flagpole beside me.
The flag is at half-mast.
Rattling against the pole.

Someone must have died.
It could be for that hockey team
that crashed their bus.
I cannot be certain.

And the birds keep singing.
They seem most pleased with themselves.
I fill my lungs with air and exhale.

Today is a good day.
I have decided.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Those people
that tell you not everything
is a joke

have never once threatened
to tickle each other until
they pee the bed

or made mincemeat
of the blues

with all their hours of
simple laughter.


Many thanks to Ontario’s Ryan Quinn Flanagan for today’s fine poetry! Good to hear from our SnakePals up North!

Today from 11:30am-1pm, Cal. Lawyers for the Arts presents a free workshop/discussion about the programs they offer which can help artists with legal issues. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


Celebrate poetry, squirrelly or otherwise…

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