Eleven Poems / Sean Flaherty

29 March 2007

Kentucky Truck Stop Shower


Nine bucks

gets you a 

paper

shower mat,

a clean, ruddy towel,

squirt of shampoo

small bar of soap, 

to wash off 

all that car and driving,

to scrub away

the last song 

to come into Spring City

that you sing out

to the business of mold

gathering in the grout

outside the stall

that’s just bigger than a trucker.



25 March 2009

After a Long Line


Thanks for your help with this project.


I don't really like

where you ended up taking it,

but I understand

you're quite busy

and I appreciate 

the time you spent trying

to do something.


I keep remembering 

that I always

thought

you were full of shit. 



17 June 2011

Autumn Leaf and John


Autumn Leaf 

was born on an ashram

up north 

on a piece of land her parents owned,


John

was a math guy

making Wall Street money,


they both lived in the city,

radiation levels were getting too high:

babies grew too big

in the womb,

often killing the mother,

leaving the children feeble

or worse

and vexing, Mendelian mutations 

were occurring

to a variety of the citizens:


accountants were spawning 

extra eyes, 

extra hands

and did away with sleep cycles,

bicycle messengers were growing

longer legs,

strippers

had tails

stretching out of their tailbones.


Autumn Leaf had a tail,

John had an extra thumb on each hand.


They met and fell in love at a doctor’s office in midtown.


John had a thing for her tail:  

the fucking was epic.


Autumn Leaf’s parents

allowed the two

a house on a plot of land,

the mutations hadn’t started up north,

but

away from the city

all their time piled up on one another,

their love distorted.


One day 

after another dismal effort to be intimate,

John sat at his desk

wearing a green v-neck T-shirt 

and white boxers

with watermelons printed on them

eating an apple,

looking over some old work papers,


Autumn Leaf walked up to John’s desk,

her tail twitching,

whipping back and forth,

she looked at John

and told him

she didn’t love him anymore,


the length of his tongue

flapped out of his mouth,

bits of apple

falling onto his desk,

his face turned bright red,

his eyes bulged –


he watched with his left eye

as the right eye 

shot out of his head 

into a corner,

the top of his skull

cracked open,

the explosion 

splattering the

robin’s egg-blue walls of the room

with pieces of his hot brain.



19 September 2011

The Stabbing Game


They switched the time of day

but every day for one year,

Monday through Friday

we had seventh grade science 

with Mr. Stern,


after school,

Neil Brown and I

would tear over to Friendly’s or

Burger King

in his mom’s Camaro

and then,

hopped up on burgers and milkshakes

we’d fly

a brakeless Schwinn

down the hill in his driveway

over a jump made from an old plank and a few cinder blocks

and we’d hover over 

the green downward slope of his back yard,

mid-air,

spinning the handlebars as many times as we could,

posing on the bike,

pre-Superman,

making 

deliciously uncertain landings,


we had other classes together

during the day

but 

throughout C-period

science class

we sat next to each other

as lab partners

and, when the room got quiet for a moment,

one of us would stab the other guy

as hard as we could

and, if you kept quiet when you got jabbed in the leg,

you got to stab the other guy,


we went for the thigh

since the muscles there

seemed invincible

and there was never much blood,


it hurt but, 

strangely, it was a matter of suppressing laughter

at this stupid secret game

more than holding back shouts of pain,


we started with pencils

but we got a little scared 

after chunks of lead

broke off in our thighs

so we switched over

to metal compasses,

using the stainless steel points instead – 


we figured the punctures would be cleaner – 


we never ratted each other out 

and, maybe because he was smaller than us

or maybe because we did the work,

Mr. Stern seemed

unaware 

of the stabbing game.



29 November 2011

Encyclopedia Brittanica


I met him

when I was six

going on seven,


he was the teacher

in the Sunday School my grandparents ran

at the local church,


his parents owned the house next door

to my grandparents’,


I met him a second time

five years later

in the autumn of nineteen seventy-nine,


deeply medicated

in a slow coma, 

his lungs propped,

hoses and wires hanging 

from all of him

my grandfather moved downstairs 

to the guest room

in the house on Leslie Lane

solemn tanks of oxygen 

standing watch 

in the corner,


my mormor was out -

at seventy-two

she was still 

actively doing,

teaching

aerobics,

hat-making,

tutoring chemistry students,

doing the make-up 

for the town-players -


the Sunday School teacher came over

and started

talking about going to a seminary

so he could enter the clergy,


while we were

making tacos,

he started talking 

girls, girls, girls

on the beach,

at college,

in the movies,


when I showed him my grandfather’s 

stash of Playboy magazines

he reached down my pants,


the smell of ground corn in his mouth

choked me

when he leaned in,

“do you like that?” 


stepping back

from this gross betrayal

I took the encyclopedia from the shelf

in both hands

and swung it like a baseball bat,


he sat up

like a monster in a horror movie

his nose made a little crunch

when he reached up to his face and said, 

“…hey.  That hurt.”


I hit him harder 

when I swung the encyclopedia 

the second time,

following through

all the way,

more like a golf swing

so he wouldn’t get up,


this time

his whole face

was soft and easy,

greasing the face of the book with wet blood.



7 February 2012

Five Punches 


Don’t


eat


my 


fucking


drugs.



28 February 2012

Majesty


Waiting on the jay, the em

or the zee

standing on the platform

on top

of the bee cue ee,


either side of the highway

two or three trees

tickle the bricks on 

the nearest buildings

the way

I’d scratch your knees,


a sidetrack 

from the anxious press

or lack 

of an odd or even number less

or greater 

into this passing stay,


the rushhh

rushhh,

rushhh

of the rainy highway.



18 April 2012

Note to a Friend


I have seen


your wife


naked


many times.



11 May 2012

Height Uptight


Around

six feet

after

a corrective 

tissue massage

or

the needles and naps

of acu

puncture,


closer

to five

nine

when I’m really

pissed off.



24 May 2012

Work


I had a girl,

she didn’t like

to work,

she spent her days

in bars

admiring strippers

and 

porn stars,


at night

when I got home

I’d walk into

our apartment

wearing a suit and tie


and,

if she was there,

and 

if she wasn’t 

too drunk


I’d let her

show me

what she learned.



22 June 2012

Note to an Artist


In

only

ten years

you 

bloomed

from 

a

pussy

huckstering

your

identity

into

a very large and 

tidy cunt.


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