“Medicine Chest Expander” and Other Works by R. Q. Flanagan

shoots and ladders by sophie capshaw mack in parentheses magazine volume 6 issue 2 fall 2020

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, Chiron Review, Setu, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Artwork by Sophie Capshaw-Mack

Medicine Chest Expander

I don’t know what does the trick
outside of illusionists with a paying crowd,
those nicotine billboards that always pretended
to smoke their own cigarettes,
that jock-centric way the Goodyear Blimp always seems
enterprising and never fat;
the coyote is supposed to be a trickster,
but I see him desperate mange-starve
through each passing winter,
so just the billboards, illusionists
and flabby floating bird’s eye, then?


If I find myself with a leg up,
it is simple propping of pillow
and not some short-sighted blind side,
some cosmic repudiation of Sister Gravity
while the scrambled television bone-aches
in the corner from a recent cold,
the windows frosted shut and all the open lines too;
I sent a runner from someone’s plundered Marathon,
haven’t heard back in days –
civil communication is off limits at this juncture,
it is early, that is true, but uncompromising positions
will hardly be starved out of such long-held hatreds;
why must you be a fortress of skin and vile rumour?
this is the question I keep to myself,
this tiny trinket love.

Fire Escape

Children run up and down
the fire escape
in there underwear.

I am only visiting.
I can’t imagine that constant

The many arguments
over who touched who
and who is it.

There is a reason
I moved out of the city.

Mail shoved under the door
like unsuspecting commuters
waiting on the trains.

The tattoo place across the street
that gives everyone hepatitis,
but stays open somehow.

Someone is refusing to be it,
what a surprise.

The smell from dirty fryers
and backed up sewers
after each rain.


The floodlights out by the airport
are tiny necromancers, flying off butter knave,
winsome trapdoor gazes, the scrapbook hours collected
like a rake of leaves in season, burning wicker man
irritants of bathless blood, joke store itch powder
sacraments on the long laugh as I count the white hairs
on my chest, now there, check all the cupboards
for product placement.

Not So Bright

as moth-flickered street lamp,
the winding crescent below awash,
as fluorescent signage that brings on such
monstrous headaches,
as patio lantern, as firefly communion…
bending over to pick up a head penny
I split my pants – not so bright!

From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

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In Parentheses Magazine (Volume 7, Issue 3) Winter 2022

By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7

32 pages, published 1/15/2022

The Winter 2022 issue of In Parentheses Literary Magazine. Published by In Parentheses (Volume 7, Issue32)
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