Tuesday, October 1, 2019



Quicksand Silver

was the slowest draw
in the West.

Horses didn’t like him.
People didn’t like him.

Barkeeps wouldn’t hold his tab.

The painted ladies upstairs would not
take his money.

Even the piano man stopped playing
when he came around.

But no one tried to kill him.
Not once.

For fear that they would become the slowest draw
in the West with Quicksand Silver gone.

And word travelled fast as it always does.
A bullet train in chuck wagon times.

The cattle and the cattle rustlers all hated him.
Even a few of the bullet in his own gun.

I Watched My Brother
March With All The Others

Graduation day came
and I drove the whole family up to
the military base in Meaford.

Sat in the top third of those wooden bleachers
in the parade square.

To see the shiny new regiments in formation.
I watched my brother march with all the others.

Shaking hands with his CO after the ceremony
as he shook my hand and thought me a sissy
because of my long hair.

And how I didn’t care in the least
because this was a man who had chosen
to take orders and I had not.

I took them each night at the bindery,
but I still fought them.

My brother never did after that.
Even though my father got him out
of the army, he still followed orders.

They had broken him early.
I realize that now.

The way he nodded each time his CO
said anything.

In that gymnasium with six basketball nets
and a few hundred uniforms
all grouped off and meeting with
the families.

4 Overturned Buckets

The drummer was banging on 4 overturned buckets
with two trees stumps fashioned into drumsticks
and I thought, I could do that, just look at all those bright
eyed children throwing coins into the hat
and I guess the drummer caught me eyeing his livelihood
because he started punishing the overturned buckets
as nice shoes climbed up out of the subway
and walked behind one another
towards the shops that were all air conditioned
in the dead of summer
with doors wide open
letting the air spill out into the streets
because the bill never mattered as much
as all the rich kids from the 905
that would come in and lay down the
family plastic.


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, Our Poetry Archive, Setu, Literary Yard, and The Oklahoma Review.

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