about mark flanigan

Cincinnati native Mark Flanigan has been writing and performing for over 14 years....Works from his collections Wrong-Way Poems For One-Way Streets, Not Necessarily God Stories and Next to Nothing have appeared in a variety of independent publications and, along with his performances, have garnered critical acclaim. He has also co-written a screenplay (“Midway,” with Brian Keizer), edited a literary publication (omnibscure) and worked to develop, produce and curate various gallery shows and performance readings -- notably, VOLK/c.s.p.i. and Intermedia Series readings at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Weston art gallery. Flanigan’s monthly column, “Exiled on Main Street,” appeared for over three years, first in x-ray, and upon his resignation there, at semantikon.com. Performances of his can be found on “the Volk/c.s.p.i. spoken word series CD (2001),” which he co-produced, and on the CD “One Night Only" (2002).   To learn more about his work, read his blog, review some of the works mentioned above, and listen to additional audio tracks:

VISIT  markflanigan.com

flanigan audio
mark flanigan exiled from archives

October 2007: The Dance

June 2007: Cake
May 2007: Special Edition "Light Travel" Mark Flanigan and Steve Proctor
April 2007: Zero Hour
March 2007: Prelude to a Kiss-Off
Jan 2007: State Of The Disunion Address 
Nov 2006: Youngblood
Oct 2006: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
exiled on main street archives

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Exiled from Main Street: Prelude
     Let me start off with my thanks for all the planters, flowers, pictures, good lucks and candy, not to mention the beer keg....There, that was easy, was it not? And after so much bellyaching on my behalf! How silly of me, as if such things mattered! As if I was a Russian writing from the basement of the 19th century. It’s enough to make one hope we never learn, the way I see it....
     What’s more difficult, of course, is answering why? Why not Main Street, still?
You made a strong case for it, Mr. Flanigan, at least for some time....What gives?
     Well, between you and me, I think the divisive moment came, oh, probably almost a year ago....For whatever reason, I couldn’t get anyone excited enough about seeing Evan Dando show up for once, at the Southgate House, so I went alone. And, after having had my fill and returning to Main—unable just then to find a place there that wasn’t at a meter—I parked over by the school, two blocks away....Walked down E.14th past the old Ball Furniture Building, smiling and counting my money to see if I had enough for last call.
     1-2-3-4-5-6...Plenty, then, I was thrilled to realize, and with tip to spare. I’m recounting it to make sure when, from out of nowhere, I suddenly hear a voice materialize. Look back to see that it has come from none other than one of two young black boys that, somehow, are suddenly right behind me. Where they have come from I will never know. One of them is holding his jacket open and this time I can make out what he’s saying: “Give me your wallet!” The first thing I notice, then, is the gun. That it looks like it’s been stolen from a museum but, all the same, still it’s a gun. One I could reach out and touch with my hand, if I chose to, which immediately renders the size or make of it moot. Give me your wallet, the kid holding the gun shakes at me with each syllable. Now, he implores, as I look to other kid, who is taller but not much older and appears to me as if he doesn’t truly want to be there.
     I didn’t know what to do. Didn’t see it coming, really. And the sad truth was I had lost my wallet not six months prior, during one of my crazy but necessary binges....the night before I was set to go to Chicago, no less. I went anyway, that weekend, and greeted unprepared doormen left and right with my life story, gaining admittance when necessary, but recognizing all the same what a pain in the ass the whole ordeal was and would be again, if need be. That time I couldn’t find my birth certificate, nor the place I had to go to get a new one, so in the end had to call a friend of a friend of the family at the BMV to get a new I.D. Promised myself it would never happen again.
     Fact was, then, they weren’t getting my wallet, no matter what. I offered the six bucks I had clutched in my hand instead, which the scared one immediately grabbed as if from a leper. “Your wallet,” the other guy insisted. “No way,” I flapped it open so they could see there was nothing else in there, “you’re not getting it. You’ll hafta kill me and that’s that.” They looked at each other, not quite sure what to do. And continued to until the frightened one very nonchalantly started walking off in the direction of the school.... The other boy staring at me, his hand on the trigger, attempting to size me up before deciding to follow behind him.
     All of which would never drive me from my home, you might guess. No, it wasn’t the fact that little old me was robbed or violated—what? yet again?—but, more telling, was my reaction to it. Namely this:
     As I watched the boys walk away in a hurried but not altogether disrupted fashion, I lamented out loud, “WELL THAT’S JUST GREAT!!! NOW WHO THE HELL’S GONNA BUY ME LAST CALL!?!” The instigator, who had yet to catch up with the other boy and was not twenty yards away, stopping and pointing the gun at me. Sneering with a disgust I will never understand, he said “I oughtta shoot you, nigga,” ....Me?: I was absolutely affronted by the fact that he didn’t he appreciate my sense of humor, that I lacked the means to cut through whatever brought us to this point. I mean, who else, having been robbed, could complain to his robbers that he didn’t have money enough for one last drink? Was there no common ground among thieves?
     He answered by standing in the middle of the street and squinting into the sight.
     I oughtta shoot your ass, he said.
     There was only one response, at this point, in my estimation. I started running at them at full gait while tucking in my chin. “They’re moving East on 14th,” I pretended to blow my cover,” “East on 14th,” I implored....Figuring, what the hell? May as well give them a good scare, right?
     Which I did....So, my sights are on the kid with a gun; he’s running with his head buried but still much closer than the other, and before I know it I’m sizing up whether or not there’s any chance in Hell that I might catch up to him....Considering what to do if in fact I do. I’m feeling virile enough that, suddenly, it’s a possibility. But just as soon, in full stride, he turns/aims/and fires at me, right there in the middle of E 14th Street, which causes me to pull up just long enough to make sure I haven’t been hit before continuing my pursuit....
     It’s enough to allow him to pull away in earnest, but I run after him all the same. And take in a beautiful scene, really, as a somewhat out-of-shape but rather irate white man chases two young black boys, under moonlight , through a school ball field and until they disappear through a loose board in a fence to the safety of Spring street....I stop there, huffing on the wrong side of the fence, exhausted but unabashedly exhilarated. I have been shot at....Finally!
   
  Afterwards, of course, someone buys me last call. And after a few of those, I realize hell, maybe Main Street isn’t the perfect place for someone like myself? Someone who isn’t happy if the night doesn’t end in fireworks, in a place where fireworks are, of late, becoming too easy to come by?
     Besides, despite all my flaws, I know a good deal when I see it, so I took it, you know?
     And no doubt there are sayings: “You can never run away from yourself” being one of them. It’s a fact that, somehow, I myself find heartening.
     You and I will forever meet again. Here/Like this. No matter what....
     It’s good news for far few too.
     To wit: why just the other night it was Winterhalter’s birthday....We celebrated there on Main, him and I and our friend Aaron, we’re ringing in another year of the old push and pull. This until the latter realized his cell phone had been stolen. Taken off the bar or out of his pocket , we will never be sure.... And not long after last call, Joe dialed Aaron’s number and some fucker picked up. Forty dollars, he said. Gave some cross-streets, but the price seemed to escalate the closer we got.
     And every minute that transpired demands it’s own paragraph. Me walking solo down Walnut, feeling surprisingly vunerable, and wondering suddenly where the hell they were, dialing Joe with my own phone but secretly in my back pocket, frightened but annoyed all the same when I see the two of them walking up separate sides of the street, one of the thugs remarking “hell no!!! it’s a bust....look,” he’s pointing, “there’s a cracker bermuda triangle, one on each corner,” before disappearing into his complex, the rest following for some time....Joe, knowing there’s an angle we’re missing, jumping into my car, the two of us losing track of Aaron for a moment....who we find, soon enough, standing outside the joint, arguing with more than a handful of thugs about the difference between forty and a hundred....heatedly. “Aaron, get in the car,” we both demand; Aaron complying only after having said his piece....I put the car in drive, turn the corner, and suddenly I don’t if we are being pulled over or if I’m pulling over the cops. Either way there they are. We tell them what they already know, someone’s stealing cell phones, and in return they do the same--it’s not worth it, give ‘em want they want and they’ll take whatever else you got....
     It’s just not worth it, they say but do nothing. Thanks for coming, come again....
     And I wasn’t embarrassed one bit that the last thing I carried out of my place on Main happened to be an empty keg. In fact, I think I was the only one that noticed, folks tending to only see such things when they are full.
     Life, in a nut shell....
     Don’t worry,
     I still have a decent view....

     Look real close
     Between those there two churches
     And just short of Music Hall
     You can still see it,
     The orange brick of the Iris.....
     I tell you, the same cold breeze breaks through the windows here. And someone else besides myself sleeps in my car more often than not....
     I wouldn’t have it any other way, you should know. If only because now I can’t....While the Editor here, he keeps asking where this new series will go?
     I don’t know, I tell him. But that’s the exciting part.
     Which is saying enough....For now.