Tennis Balls Can Talk
if you take your great-grandfather’s
oxidized boy scout knife
and cut mouths into the felt green
repetition of their bouncing
and like anything that opens up
you wish they didn’t after a
while; I am not a busy man,
but I am almost a
which means my time
is almost valuable
and that tennis balls
should know and respect
He told me the Paranoid
was the band’s Seminole record
and I told him not to get all Indian
on me, that I thought those boys
were from Birmingham, not
Florida, and he gave me that look
I have seen too often in my life now,
as if I wanted to give razor wire
a sponge bath while the pouting
space ninnies were in heat,
and every time he said “Sabbath”
I planned to take the day off work
because a man needn’t have
a single religious bone in his body
to know that god is as good an excuse
as any to get the day off.
Wet towels were leaving the station
slapping naked bottoms in all directions
and I decided to write my first opera at age 93
because child prodigies are almost always
a let down; they’re frontrunners but drag them
into deep waters and watch them crumble…
no, patience is the way to go, patience and
hallucinogens in equal measure, and the mind
would thank you if it had manners, I don’t know
why I want to tear my brain stem out of the back
of my neck and wave it around like someone’s
angry flag, but I do; risking mass condemnation
from all the hand towels of Terrycloth Junction…
Such decisions are never taken lightly.
That is why heavy people always make them
and expect you to obey.
a budget to be agreed upon
when no one is
I tried to keep a diary
I tried to keep many lovers
in that diary
but I proved most unworthy of the task
I kept a diary for two days
I gave up on love
stopped pacing the streets
with a personal zoology;
by the time they get around
to building the damn thing
I shall be reincarnated as
a tree frog
and my fear will be foolishly palpable
and your heart will be closed
for the season.
A man can be educated anywhere.
What a foolish thought to have at the back
of a popular movie house.
The projection worker overhead hating his job
just as much as the next man.
And I crumple down into my seat, cover half my face
to see if the movie is any better without shelf life.
My knees up against my chin as though I am still
in the womb and devoid of speech.
And then that awkward moment of walking out of the theatre.
A line forming to go inside and you want to warn them.
But you keep walking. One foot after the other.
And soon you build a rhythm that takes
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, Sacred Chickens, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.