Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘The Irish House Painter’ and other poems

By: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Irish House Painter (for Brendan Behan)

Sky Water Gravy

If I should go where names are plucked
from golden gongs, the fairy snows

there’s briefcase on the stereo
briefcase on the stereo

don’t stare

& lane lane
the blossoms gone from cobbled
sky water gravy wrongs

that muck of difficult conversations
playing with their hair

dancing betrayals in
thoughtless silhouette

rain-wrecked bodies
pulled from twisted metals

the naked trees,
don’t stare.

The Slippery Palace Floor is All Tadpoles

The king has lost his giving head.
The slippery palace floor is all tadpoles.
Old handkerchiefs for concubines,
patterned with the distance of cautious
wet suit moats. And what of the honeymoon
period, those Nosferatu belief systems
that keep a man thirsty in the bawling
trenches? I tear at the back of my throat
like pulling glue trap mice from storage.
Sit in midnight cafes with amusing
pastrami names. Thinking of red rover,
all the king’s subjects called over.
How this simple pint of beer has
lost its head.

18 Butterballs, Turkey in the Overalls

Lined up at the walls of Jericho
I can see the pouting drink fountain water
faces forsaking this rangy Indian speakeasy summer,
30 wars for a peace pipe, sounds like falling buttons
off some frilly dressing room keeper to me, small pox ravaged
lounge acts tooting their own horn while some self-appointed
mixologist with acute scoliosis for a back waters down
all the drinks to teary eyed confessionals
&& the sounds that scratch my ears make me think
of all those sprawling brown gravy boat Thanksgivings
with an army of small town smokers lost to a shared nicotine –
18 Butterballs, turkey in the overalls;
the kiddie table full of future bank tellers
that can’t stop spending money they don’t have
which is just how poverty throws out its shoulder
like an Olympic discus aiming for a podium finish
with all those needles full of drugs which are bad
until they are masked and deemed performance-enhancing
which sounds like a good thing to anyone who
has ever endured those many sloppy drunk
capitulations of lousy sex.


Standing beside
this spent fire hydrant
trying to hit me up
for drugs

Sergeant Itchy pants
just back from weekend flea markets
and amazed at my most recent
lack of scratch –

that the sweaty pawn broker
with brazen no deal hair plugs
in some hundred degree swelter
is a no show

& rabid coke nose keeps going up
like the price of land

&& my Germanic “bite me”
Leggo my Eggo
replaces clean drinking water
as a palate cleanser

which is how I came
to believe in gutter magic
again –

the pick
from the pocket

as though old transmission
fluid stains could impregnate
any illegally parked cars in
the lot.


Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Literary Yard, Setu, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

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