Editor’s Choice: Three Poems By Robert Flanagan

DOC’S GOT THE BLUES

For Gary "Doc" Holloway

Your horn sounds the lows
Of memory, the hole
The guard you once were
Tossed young thugs into.
Lock up. Cell blocks
Holding con and C.O.
Alike. All
Backed to a wall
And being done by time.

Worn down by seventeen
Years on the graveyard shift,
State job, right, but no gravy train,
Your breath was sustained by notes
Sounded down those long night
Halls, alto to soprano,
Bawdy to dreamy,
Hunting the key
Out. Where now

You grin, saying Good gravy,
Man, it’s all gravy now;
Now it’s all good.

 

EXCHANGE SCHOLAR

Here to teach haiku,
Sato from Tokyo puffs smoke
from a Lucky Strike

over beer and shots
at an off-campus gin mill
and levels with me:

hard boiled crime stories,
not haiku, are his true love,
and he stays up nights

in his rented room
smoking in bed and reading
Hammett and Chandler —

like the lonely wolf
private detective. He says
He can tell me this

because I am not
like the other professors,
not the college man

but the real McCoy
American street-wise guy.
I shrug my shoulders,

another life, that;
one I’m glad to leave behind.
But he looks away

and I tell him how
on a bad night in a bar
back in Toledo

I pulled a snub-nose
Smith & Wesson thirty-eight
on some big mouth punk.

Ah, Toredo guys,
he says, like Flank Sinatra
and his pack of rats.


A GUARD SHOUTS AT SPYING CLEOPATRA COLLAPSED IN HER BEDROOM

Look at the asp on that woman!

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