Archive for July, 2022

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Posted in Ryan Quinn Flanagan with tags on July 12, 2022 by Scot



For Every School Shooting, There is a Swing That Doesn’t Work

It doesn’t take much to crack, does it?
Use a carton of eggs as a general guideline.
Free range to shooting range is a short walk.
I am never as surprised as everyone else.
Things are fragile as fine china.

For every school shooting,
there is a swing that doesn’t work.

Tomorrow, I have to get up early
to install a new bathroom vanity
and tub.

A paid gig assisting some guy I know.
Mostly just demolition and heavy lifting.
I leave skilled labour to the skilled.

When I get home, there will still be bullies
and boa constrictors tight as blue jeans that
no longer fit.

And a market for old tape deck nostalgia,
but never the elderly.

Mj Taylor

Posted in Mj Taylor with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot



sand castle

when we made love
i’d cum
falling on her
like a kicked
over sand castle
she’d blow gently
on my neck
grazing me
w/her fingers
trying to rebuild
that was never
meant to

Tony Gloeggler

Posted in Tony Gloeggler with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot




Playing basketball three on three
at one end of the gym, my eyes
would wander to the other side
where Special Olympians trained
every Saturday. Roly poly, down
syndrome guys underhanding
foul shots Rick Barry style, bony
stick figure, cerebral palsy girls
half running, half walking
toward a finish line like string
puppets. Though I wore a leg brace
for a year as a child and tried
to hide from all the attention
it brought my way as I slid
deeper inside myself, I still
looked too often, stared
and kept sneaking glances.
They made me feel uneasy,
even a little squeamish
and I wasn’t sure why.

I never expected to apply
for a job as a direct care/
recreational counselor
at a residence for developmentally
disabled folks, say yes
when they asked me
to manage the group home
a few years later, or love
the work for over forty years.
I don’t remember how long
it took before hockey helmet
wearing Robert collapsing
and shaking on the floor every
few days from seizures, Larry
ripping his clothes daily, James
Rosa who I called the Chief
like that Cuckoo’s Nest character
exploding with built up frustration,
over turning the table, flinging
chairs at the dining room chandelier
became ordinary events.

I don’t know how long
before I became annoyed,
offended when we walked
Brooklyn streets, supermarket
aisles and people whispered,
watched with pained, puzzled
faces and sometimes thanked
god for people like me, blessed
my heart because they never
could do that kind of work
as they spoke to the guys
in a sing-song, too loud tone
that turned my stomach.
How long before I grew
comfortable being the lone
white guy surrounded by Puerto
Ricans and Dominicans, Jim Crow,
migrated north black women,
guys and girls straight outta
the down the block projects
and tasting strangely seasoned
foods, talking music, hoops,
sharing family histories, cracking
on each other endlessly, constantly
complaining about low pay,
mandatory overtime, the lack
of appreciation from tone deaf
administrators? How long before
I felt part of it all, before it became
my home, one of the only places
in the world I ever belonged?




A middle of the night ringing phone
shakes me from sleep. My mom
fell and can’t get up. I know,
she should be wearing that gadget
on a chain around her neck, the one
you press and a soothing voice
asks the perfect questions, sends
necessary help. I promise myself
to order it for her next birthday,
add it to the silly card I traditionally
give her filled with fifty dollar bills
for a trip to her favorite casino.
I ask about pain, newly inflicted
pain, not her ordinary complaints,
moans the grandkids mimic
in harmony as they help her
struggle to rise from the couch,
trudge to the table during Sunday
visits. Can she move, crawl
to the bottom of the stairs?
Maybe my sister living
in the upstairs apartment
would hear her yell? Wedged
between the edge of the bed
and the dresser, her shoulder
hurts too. My sister’s not
picking up her cell. I guess
she forgot to charge it again
and her landline’s disconnected.
While trying to think of something
else, I ask mom if she watched
the Yankee game. She says
Chapman still looked shaky,
but managed to close it down,
wonders when Judge will return
to the line-up. Soon, we hope,
and I think good, no signs of
concussion. My youngest brother
who played on the same softball
team as me for 20 years lives nearby
but is away on a tropical island
I never heard of. Every time
I ask, she pronounces all 3
syllables of my name, An-tho-ny,
don’t you dare call the fire
department. I’d really hate
to have to summon Uber, take
the hour long ride, get stuck
spending the night, when mom
interrupts, the floor’s not so bad,
Donna usually comes down
in the morning. I inhale, pause
to check the time. Three,
four hours until morning.
I can almost taste the lasagna,
that beef soup I love she kept
sending over as I recovered
from open heart surgery, before
saying no, I’ll get there fast
as I can while wishing she’ll try
to convince me to stay home,
that she’ll be fine, right before
she remembers Cousin Theresa
who lives two towns away
and winds up taking the quick
drive in her pajamas, banging
on the front door. Donna’s
man eating, psychotic dog
barked her whole family awake
and they all went downstairs,
helped her up and checked
for cuts and bruises, walked
her back to bed. I tried to go
to sleep, but the drip, drip
drop of the AC from the floor
above kept hitting the top
of my AC, filling my head
with a conversation about
the long term, in home care
my mom is beginning
to need and my worry
about growing old
with no kids or wife
to ease me toward death.

Our Bodies, Our Selves by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot


Gloria Steinem, do you weep
over the loss of Roe versus Wade?
Do your tears fall on the ashes
of burnt bras, the footprints
embedded into the many marches
women have made to find our rights?

Do the ghosts of the Suffrage fighters
revisit their cells, weeping, too,
for the loss of power our votes
have brought us after their days
suffering for the best for us all.

Do the MeToo women, so filled
with hope at the rally in Washington
search for their hiking shoes
to try once again to keep men’s hands
and laws off of our bodies?

I add my own tears to the growing flood
that will one day wash us away
into the primordial pit of those
who have no hope of that rainbow
with bluebirds singing overhead.


Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot




The old man ties a sheet
around his shoulders,
climbs a forgotten ladder
to the roof of the nursing home,
pretends he’s Superman.
His favorite show as a kid.
His parents are long gone.
No sibs.
No children, either.
They baby him in the home
because he forgets sometimes,
gets day mixed with night
But who wouldn’t be mixed in the closed
off corridors, the dark lunchroom,
Lysol stenching his senses
down to zero on mopping days.
He’s not on the roof to fly
but bets he could if he wanted to.
He just wants to look out
over rooftops, children playing,
a fresh garden being dug.

Mother lived until she was 89.
She lost nearly everyone, too.
She told me it was hard.
I thought I knew what she meant
but didn’t until the people I’ve loved
have disappeared one by one
and there’s no-one around
to kiss a boo boo or hug me.

The graveyards fill too quickly.
Here and everwhere else.
Sadness seeps the sap from you
until you’re ready to climb a roof, too,
and remember when you played
marbles, had sling shot wars,
hung from trees, had men fighting
over you for a sweet kiss.

Perhaps I can pretend to be Lois Lane
and invite Superman over. Either that
or borrow his cape and fly.


Rebecca Schumejda

Posted in Rebecca Schumejda with tags on July 6, 2022 by Scot



At Grief Counseling

I am expected to take off my shoes at the threshold before entering.
I feel lopsided, carrying the unevenly distributed weight of loss, more on
the right side than the left, I am trying to compensate, I like to think
because my dead husband was left-handed, but really I just fit
awkwardly into this grief, a tight bathing suit pulled over a long,
lazy winter. I take a seat and stare at the shade obstructing the view
the window could provide. Everything I do and say feels awkward
since he died. When asked how I am doing, I hear someone else respond,
Good, real good. Who says good? I think, what an idiot, I think,
you are well, not good in regards to health and wealth and I am neither.
Outside I envision a Mourning Dove’s nest on the window ledge,
a few babies on the cusp of flight calling out for their mother. How,
she asks, are your daughters doing? Good, good, the idiot says
as they thrash impatiently waiting for a worm or some other small comfort.



The Growing Season

Outside on the porch, protected from the rain by the overhang,
We plant seeds-cucumbers, zucchinis, peppers, beans and peas.
This time, last year, I was learning how to operate a pleural drain
to release the fluid that collected in my husband’s lungs.
My oldest pushes the seeds into the soil and my youngest
covers them thoroughly—I make labels and when the wind and
rain pick up, my oldest holds her cupped hands out to catch the
offering, the way her father held out his hands when the pain
became unbearable, when he couldn’t speak beyond guttural
groans, when he needed me to drop a pill into his hands
like a seed, hold his water cup steady and keep our daughters
far enough away so they didn’t have to witness his suffering.
My youngest leaps out past our shelter. She knows nothing more
about ballet than watching the Nutcracker once, but uses
the handrail as a bar and lifts her leg up precariously into the air.
Within minutes she is soaking wet and giggling. I want to hold onto
this moment like a pill he let soften on his tongue before swallowing.




You could hear the dripping from the bedroom;
you open the cabinet below the sink
and discover the body of water.

There is a wrench, beside the pipe,
that your late husband was the last to touch.

You wrote to a friend, who asked, that you feel like
you are stuck in a riptide. He never responded.

You know you have to pretend you can do it
so you pick up the wrench and hold it like a hammer.

You watch the pooled water take on new shapes.

There are all kinds of directions on how to handle loss
but none will help you repair a leaky sink.

You twirl the wrench around like a grief baton
before banging it against the night.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise:
it is easier to lie.