Friday, December 7, 2018

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Nurse at Health Sciences North
You find humility if you don’t already have it.
Life makes sure of that.

And we shared a love of animals.
She wore black cats on her scrubs
and had a dragonfly tattooed on her ankle.

I was withdrawn and broken, but she seemed to understand.
Rousing me to shower a few times a week.
Knocking on the yellow privacy curtain as if
it were a door, I always appreciated that.

Some small mercy.
How she was older and how the younger nurses
seemed to hold that against her.

The cutter in the next room not allowed
a razor to shave.

And how everyone was locked in their room
whenever fights broke out on the unit.

She never once asked me if I wished to harm myself.
She could see it in my eyes.
I always appreciated that.

That she didn’t ask.
How she saw another human being
and never just the illness.


Paradise Bird

up high
in straggly
blue armpits

stretched out
like false confessions
in traction

your talons
angry barbers
behind the chair

a simple black feather
between my fingers

swift plumage

you must be lost, paradise bird

flightpaths are human
and full of luggage

paradise bird
around my neck
so the law
can build their

nest here
long enough in
the heart

that the worst
of Man
can take flight


Scissors Don’t Cut Themselves

I hear what you are saying about self-inflicted wounds,
but scissors don’t cut themselves.
They sit in drawers dreaming of construction paper floozies.
Of being placed over the hand like eager swordfish gloves.
Gnawing into a fresh roll of masking tape like sitting down to dinner.
You will not find scissors on the psych ward.  You will find cutters,
but they are not scissors.  They are a sad scarred flesh that wants
the feelies of the once small child back.  Scissors had no childhood.
No one ever pushed a pair of scissors on the swings in the park
and watched it pump it’s legs with simple joy.  So when you speak
of self-inflicted wounds, please leave my scissors out of it.
They enjoy their privacy and some of yours as well.


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, The Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press, Red Fez, Under The Bleachers, and The Oklahoma Review. His personal website is: