Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Poems About OCD By Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian born author presently residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario Canada. His work has been published both in print and online in such places as The New York Quarterly, Windsor Review, Vallum, The Antigonish Review, CV2, Horror Sleaze Trash, Evergreen Review, Your One Phone Call and In Between Hangovers.


There is not that much hair left
to tear out of my head.

And the cutters make such a mess.

My OCD is germ-based.
I wear gloves around the house
at all hours.

My hands sweat in summer
and I fixate on that.

I could be the cleanest man alive
if you discounted my mind.

But that is the problem, isn’t it?
My mind.

Science claims it has the answer for everything
when it knows better.

Like a broken payphone spitting quarters out
into the nether regions.

And I have this friend who will walk out of the grocery store immediately
if she tries to place her groceries on the conveyer
and it is wet.

Even if there is no food in the house
and she has done an entire

She also returns to streets many times
thinking she may have driven over someone
with each bump in the road.

that is a common one
among compulsives.

Seems strange to me,
but then again I lost my

In a very physical sense,
like highschool

And my book shelves are all bowing
from the weight.

I try to flip them over,
but it is hard work.

Then I sit down and compulsively write things.
My previous address bolted into the wall
so I think I am still there.

The headshrinkers call it Hypergraphia
or some stupid name like that.

They love to name things, don’t they?
Like the proud parents of everything.

But none of it helps.
The medications to a degree.

My hair straw straight.
The curls of the family album
lost forever.

I wish I could show you understanding  
like shadow puppets over
the dark walls of

There was a support group
that met each day
but they didn’t understand
And those feel good proponents of patting a dog
on the head for a half hour each week
to make up for the horror of
everything else.

And PFC Gibson sat in his ward room
with the yellow privacy curtain
pulled over.

Waiting for the nurse
to bring his nightly

Sudbury Madhouse

I remember the Sudbury madhouse.
Sixth floor lockdown.
The stained yellow privacy curtains.
And how the missus would put on a brave face
by the elevators
as we waved bye through the glass
each time.

Before I shuffled back to my room
in French River trading post slippers
for my cold piece of chicken
and single scoop of

As the heroin addict
slammed her head against the nurses’ station in tears
screaming about how they were making her
go out on the street again
to suck off old married men

for money.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Poetry of Simon Perchik

The poetry of Simon Perchik has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

It’s not a map yet there’s hope
–you unfold old times
as if one morning in February

you’d spread your arms
and land became land again
stayed behind as the snow

still tying down the Earth
–a small envelope, kept empty
the way you’d reach for her hand

and inside the air was warm
though there’s no rain, no grass
not yet a place for a name.

Step by step you limp behind
yet it’s the Earth
that’s whittled down

holds on to the scraps
as mornings and the little stones
these graves heat with sunlight

–you’re warmed the way one shoe
lights up when it touches the dirt
and everywhere the day begins

smaller and smaller with no room
for moonlight –you become pieces
carried along, covering the ground

once some summer evening
lit by a slow walk arm in arm
to keep it from falling

–these dead come here
by listening to what’s left
is rising as it cools.

You grieve along this wall
once coastline, trapped
in a millions-years-old undertow

now stone and longing –each night
you draw a moon as it’s rising
and within minutes a second moon

overflows from a makeshift heart
holding on to the building’s side
with her initials face down

as beautiful as chalk and the sea
though your eyes are closed
whitened, rounder than ever

are turning into mouths
that open to say I love you
then touch, again and again

as if this wall could be silent
no longer separate you from the dead
from the salt, from the water and rocks.

To warm this dirt the way these dead
hold on to each other –single file
brought here as darkness and longing

–night after night a small handful
then another and this hillside
is pulled along, rescued

from all the days after tomorrows
though there’s not a hint your shadow
can be unwound just by a wave

to find more room for mornings
–nothing’s changed, a single thread
still circles the sky
for the day you are losing
letting it tug at the little cries
that do not come back.

You dust the way this nail
half iron, half boundary stone
and though the frame is wood

it takes this rag to heart
covers it with little flowers
still yellowing –look

it’s just an old photograph
–the real thing is the glass
not yet amber and her arms

still move, are reaching out
to dry –she is facing you
smiling, holding you closer

and closer, coming down
wrapped in a damp cloth each year
softer, used to your hand over hand

loosening her dress
letting it fall off the wall
as sleeves and emptiness.

Teaching Eye Rhyme To Cyclopses

The illustrator Jenny Mathews said I could release one last panel from our new book Atrocious Poems A To Z before it debuts at an exhibit titled Bittersweet Observations at Rockford Art Museum June 9th at 6:30 p.m. 

I chose the poem I probably worked on the longest, and which caused me the most anguish: eye rhyme. 

Eye Rhyme is a poem from the children's book Atrocious Poems A To Z

Eye Rhyme

A 3d movie is hard to watch 
When you are a kid wearing an eye patch.
It takes two eyes to see
In three dimensions,
But you only have one,
Which means your depth perception is gone.

While everyone yells and jumps from their seat,
You sit there and wonder what is so great
About a movie where everything is flat.

An eye rhyme, also called a visual rhyme or a sight rhyme, is a rhyme in which two words are spelled similarly but pronounced differently.

I'm not sure why this poem was so difficult for me to finish, but I finally got a handle on it sitting on the floor at the gymnasium while Jack was in a Cub Scouts meeting. 

According to The Chicago Gallery News you can come and talk to me and Jenny about our book Friday, July 28th from 10-11 a.m. And you'll be able to buy it at the gift shop of the Rockford Art museum beginning with the free public opening of the show Bittersweet Observations June 9th at 6 p.m. 

Paradox and oxymoron were also slippery literary concepts I had a difficult time integrating into poems so they would be clear to children, and adults, and myself, but you'll have to buy the book to see what I did with those.  

Poetry From Ex Marine and English Instructor Michael Seeger

Michael Seeger is a poet and educator residing in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California. Prior to his life as a middle school English instructor, he worked as a technical writer for a baseball card company and served as a Marine infantry officer during Desert Storm.  He considers poetry a passion and writing generally a way of life. Michael’s poems have recently appeared in US poetry journals/publications like the Lummox Press, Better Than Starbucks, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Mindful Word and as finalists in several GoodReads contests. 

Closet Narcissist 

I want to know if I exist,
Not some simple aphorism;  
Am I a closet narcissist?  

Should I ask a pharmacist   
About this painful euphemism? 
I want to know if I exist.  

Or will it simply be dismissed;  
Labels are a barbarism.  
Am I a closet narcissist?  

It seems even the arsonist  
Eludes judgmentalism —  
But without the fire does he exist? 

How long will these symptoms persist  
Without causing a schism?  
I might be a closet narcissist  

Or is it simply Darwinistic, 
Or worse —existentialism?  
I want to know if I exist —    
I am a closet narcissist.

I Wait

It’s heavier here now 
Since you left.
Like a miracle; Wow! 
See: Bereft.

I have in my hand words 
From a book;
An empty sky holds birds 
As I look.

Slowly the past recedes, 
Emptied, as the mind reads 

Hardened understanding 
Changes us
In our views; Birds landing 
Make a fuss.

It’s dark where sunlight fell; 
You are late.
Silent as a cancer cell, 
I wait.

Sestina (Going Green)

There's something to be said for taking stairs 
instead of an elevator. Sometimes
life is seen from the bottom of a well;
for example, my blood pressure was high, 
again, at the doctor's this afternoon.
And I wasn't even one bit nervous;

At least, consciously. What makes me nervous 
is the thought that if I don't take the stairs
I may not live to see the afternoon
of my life. One has to take stock sometimes. 
I need to stop seeking the sugar high,
cut the caffeine, and eat vegetables. Well,

I'll try harder (I want to be well);
It's time to go green, which makes me nervous. 
And it's not just because the stakes are high,
or the taste is plain rotten; like the stairs 
I just gotta do it. There are some times
when confidence comes, like this afternoon:

It was like any other afternoon
except "green lunch" didn't go down too well. 
I try to branch out (going green sometimes), 
but can feel the stomach getting nervous 
outside my comfort zone; feel it downstairs 
in the gut (pain tolerance is not high

here). And nothing compares, so far, to the high 
sugar brings. Vegetables in the afternoon
can bring you down; and I mean down the stairs 
to desolation's despair. To feel well again,
I drove to McDonald's (and a nervous
drive it was getting there, too). Though sometimes

habits are hard to break (there are some times 
when I ask: What's the point? Then take the high 
road), the alternative makes me nervous.
So it's salad, again, by this afternoon 
for me (I know I'll get used to it. Well,
"bear's" a better word here). As for the stairs,

getting high (up stairs) ain't easy sometimes, 
but you get there. Well, by this afternoon.

These Roses

These roses make me write a poem, 
lightening the room by their sight 
and fragrant hold upon the night;
a graceful presence in our home.

I've noticed that one petal fell 
even though they're just cut fresh 
recalling the decay of flesh;
how evanescently we dwell.

Beyond the stipule their stems twist 
in a vase up on the countertop, 
soon another leaf will drop;
I know tomorrow they'll be missed.

We drink the moment then disappear 
like water through long rose stem-straws 
A rose's beauty gives one pause:
in life our death is always near.

Reality Is Rarely What It Seems

The waking hours devolve into daydreams 
while fantasy informs the afternoon; 
reality is rarely what it seems.

And one need not go to any extremes 
to perceive the truth of this; very soon
waking hours will devolve into daydreams.

Perception will drift to merge within schemes 
and plans materializing rough hewn;
reality is rarely what it seems.

The workday weighs down pulling at the seams 
of escapist hopes from which no one's immune; 
waking hours will devolve into daydreams.

Projections leap out to flow in thought streams 
that flood the mind then dissolve into ruin; 
reality is rarely what it seems.

Visions arise in animated memes
as thoughts appearing like mist are left strewn; 
the waking hours devolve into daydreams. 
Reality is rarely what it seems.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Scar Constellations By Carl Wade Thompson

My name is Carl Wade Thompson, and I am poet who has bipolar disorder. I have written a poem about how some patients cut in order to relieve stress and anxiety. In the past, I myself would cause self injury by tearing the nails and cuticles off my fingers, so I can kind of understand the feeling of control that comes with the act. I would like so submit the poem "Scar Constellations" for consideration at your journal. Any feedback would be appreciated. I thank you for your time.

Scar Constellations

My life is not my own.
Control—a made up word.
Everyone else has it,
I give it all to them.
Teachers, parents, bullies,
I’m chained to their demands.
Never do I have a choice,
all my thoughts in their hands.
Try as I might to escape,
there is no airshaft in this cave.
Numb—my body is wood.
A mannequin, I pretend to breathe.
When things get too heavy,
the world closing in as I recede,
I take my razor out to play,
make the numbness go away.
Just small cuts, not to big,
no need for stitches, just band aids.
Cutting lines, I see my blood,
Hidden in sleeves and pants legs.
No one can see the scars,
keep them covered every day.
Sometimes I trace the lines,
think of stars shining in the night.
They are maps of my pain,
a release from despair.
Someday, I’ll put on display,
when my life is my own.
That hope quickly fades,

as I cut some more-Relief!

Three Poems From Atrocious Poems A To Z

Jenny informed me as we were walking to the bus stop yesterday in the rain to pick up Jack that the curator of the Rockford Art Museum wants me to write all 26 of the poems from Atrocious Poems A To Z on the wall of the museum during installation. I was always taught not to write on the walls, so I think doing so may be hard for me. Here are three of the poems from the book. 


L is for liver.
It used to be
Some creature's innards.

It's slimy, it's gross,
And you've made it
For dinner.

In sincerity I ask you,
And I do hate to poo poo,
To the last proud owner
What good did it do?
If you can answer 
That question I may
Have a bite or two.


No word in the English language
Rhymes with the word "orange."
I know young poets will take this
As a challenge,
So on your imagination this quest will hinge
On allowing your mind to forage
Through all the words you have in your knowledge,
But in the end you'll have to acknowledge that
Of words that rhyme with orange there are a shortage,
But sometimes we wish for cake and settle for porridge.

But is this an atrocity or merely a tepid outrage?

Half rhyme or imperfect rhyme, sometimes called near-rhyme or lazy rhyme or slant rhyme, is a type of rhyme formed by words with similar but not identical sounds. In most instances, either the vowel segments are different while the consonants are identical, or vice versa.


My science paper says I failed,
And now I want to cry,
But my grandma told me
The only way to really fail
Is if I fail to try.

So I'll try to always do my best,
No matter what my grades might say,
Because everyone knows that grades
Are only letters anyway.

Seven boxes of Atrocious Poems A To Z arrived last week, but we haven't shown it to anyone yet, except Jenny's dad. We were going to do an unboxing video, but our Kickstarter campaign sort of fizzled and we're a little bummed, but excited for the opening of the show June 9th. 

You can still order your copy here