REPLY TO AN EVICTION NOTICE
Selected Poems, 1969-2009, Bottom Dog Press
"What a wide slice of life Robert Flanagan's poems take in: knowing explorations of the `plowed heart of Ohio' and other American places--memorable art made from familiar experiences. Flanagan wins me with his rich humor and compassion, his keen ear and sharp eye, his technical skill, his ability to slam a poem shut with a crash, his way with simile and metaphor..."
"These intelligent, sharply focused poems recall a gritty past of rented apartments, cracked tar, the fight game, and turf wars in scenes of working class urban America, 1950s. I greet this strong and moving book with admiration and joy. It deserves a large and enthusiastic audience."
-- Colette Inez
"Pugilistic ability is the one skill which begs for attention more than any other theme is this collection. It is the perceptive intelligence, it is the light and quick footwork of rhythm and tone...that recommends and grounds each poem and asks in the end:`How can we know the (boxer) from the (boxing)?' The sheer ability on display in Robert Flanagan's REPLY TO AN EVICTION NOTICE defies the accuracy of a single answer." His "knock-out" poems "hold the flesh, bones and spirit...together with white heat."
-- Herbert Woodward Martin, from the Introduction
SAMPLE POEMS FROM THE COLLECTION
REPLY TO AN EVICTION NOTICE
My mother and father camped in such apartments
in their time, landlord, promoter
of cramped endurances,
your rightful inheritance. Your father
purchased shrewdly and practiced ungiving
well. Mine did not.
So my sweaty bursts of living
are managed in rooms
gauged like parking meters, narrow as coin slots,
while from the landscaped, architect-designed
vantage of your home
the town lies before a Monopoly board.
Ownership is your reward
and punishment; movement mine.
BLOOD IN THE WATER
So this is what it's come to
after youth's big talk,
another old man in pain
grunting "uh-huh" when the tech
asks if you're doing okay
as the surgeon grinds down bone
and stitches shut the bloody hole
left by the broken molar:
you swallowing blood --
-- and damn fool that you are
missing the old days when
mouth stuffed with gum rubber,
blood pouring from your nose
and, swallowed, souring your gut,
you stood up to the punches
and gave as good as you got,
proud of not giving in
ON RIVER ROAD
The white egret
beside the Scioto
posed to strike --
on second look
a plastic sack
dangling in scrub,
though not for
that one moment.
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All material on this site copyright 2009 by Robert Flanagan
* * *
Photography by Nora Flanagan and Katy Flanagan
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