March 29 – April 4, 2021: Poetry from Ryan Quinn Flanagan and Leslie Young

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Ryan Quinn Flanagan

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, Poetry Super Highway, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. Visit Ryan on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Ryan Quinn Flanagan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Office Christmas Party and a Stapler Named Hal

It was exactly two weeks after that office Christmas party
where Barb taught half of accounting and all of advertising
to do the jitterbug, that bartender they hired from the projects
so everyone would know who to blame if anything went missing
and the way the coat check girl seemed to be way more into coats
than the people who wore them and now I was standing at this desk
full of papers and a few personal knickknacks reading a single brown
swipe of tape across a stapler that read: Hal. Shuffling back between tired
aching feet as Cathy pulled something from the printer
that never seemed to stop, holding it to my face
so I could see what she had been trying to tell me all morning.

 

Wishy-Washy

I am that young child again.
Laying out on the floor in the laundry room.
In front of the washer and dryer.
Closing my eyes and listening to the wishy-washy
swishing of the washer as it fills with water and soap and churns.
My mother thinks it weird, but never asks.
Soon leaving and closing the door behind her.
I have always been hypnotized by both the sound of running water
and light industrial noises.
Laundry day offers both and my body slowly relaxes.
Laying out on the dirty basement linoleum.
Litter stones from passing cats through my hair.
Before that sudden tumbling warmth of the dryer.
My heavy dawdling eyes rolling around with each cycle.

Leslie Young

Leslie Young lives in Southern California with her wife and miniature poodle. She was a public school educator for 27 years and upon retirement, has returned to her other love –writing –as well as teaching education courses at Cal State Fullerton and Chapman University. She lived in France in the 1980s after completing her studies at UC Berkeley. She has published autobiographical narratives in the California Educator magazine, Danaid: An Anthology of Six Women Writers, Between Ourselves: Letters Between Mothers and Daughters, and Liaison, as well as in a number of small press publications.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Leslie Young and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Women of France

Claude

Claude
with the nose of a French king,
Louis XIV or XVI
looking down on those
she doesn’t know,
declaring
“They have an unusual marriage” or
“He’s a most interesting person,”
conceals what she really thinks
because manners matter.

Claude
who can quote Baudelaire or Molière
or La Bruyère or Camembert
like the plateau de fromage that’s brought out
at the end of every meal
with a bottle of Vieux Papes wine,
which she has heard is very good
even though it’s very ordinaire.

Claude
who always enters the Télérama trivia contest
“Which insect makes the best silk on earth?”
“When was Rabelais’ birth?”
Combing through her first editions, then
off to the bookstore to search,
turning her back to the world
because without the answers
nothing is in place.

Claude
who writes to Paule and Marinette in tiny script,
but doesn’t bother to include Paule’s frail sister,
needs space for two more lines,
better to write them sideways along the edge,
like saving a ball of yarn, an old hairbrush, a rusty skillet.
Can’t make up her mind what dress to wear,
finds an old one with a grease spot in front and
A cardigan with furballs.

Claude
who prepares
her itinéraire
in advance,
knows the Métro
Nation or Montparnasse,
inserts her ticket firmly
marches through the turnstile
tapping the platform in two-inch heels
her left eye discarding a tear
when the underground wind is too insistent.

Claude
who left her widowed mother
for a university degree
no need to live in her native town again,
who never speaks of men,
has always loved women
in her aloneness
dreams of sharing their beds and lives.
Une vieille fille
the neighbors whisper,
old maid,
she keeps walking.
One’s private life is sacrée in France.

Claude
who reads late and sleeps later,
listens to Radio France Inter
as she prepares
her tea and baguette in the kitchen.
Who, at 75, has earned her place,
a view of the Seine
through the open window.


Paule

Paule
digs a hole in the ground
behind the high-rise résidence,
plants a fleur-de-lys
the royal flower of Louis VII.
She hates all pretense, but
adores the pale sweet purple odor
of liberté.


Paule

rides her bicycle
in a life before,
fifteen kilometers
to the école primaire.
Here she teaches kindergartners
children of beet growers.
She must work
as there would be no husband to
take care of her.
She’d make sure of that.

Paule
rises at 6,
prepares a breakfast of biscottes et confiture for her frail sister,
washes the dishes in the sink,
showers in lukewarm water,
throws on a pair of Levis and rubber-soled sandals,
prepares a lunch of quiche lorraine
(again, for her frail sister),
practices Bach for her piano lesson,
speaks anglais with her English club,
reads a political article in Le Nouvel Observateur,
prepares a dinner of soupe a l’oignon
(again, for her frail sister),
watches the evening news on Antenne 2,
caresses her Siamese cat (le Chat),
hears Claude ask on the telephone,
“When are you coming up to stay with me in Paris?”
replies, “Not now.”
wishes her bonne nuit,


locks the metal shutters,
spread Le Roc moisturizer on her face,
slips under the duvet.

They all need her now:
le Chat
her frail sister
Claude
the fleur-de-lys
its petals swinging up
its roots locked away in the earth.