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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June 2007: Cake


there’s something dirty about a serenade
when croaked by a rusty nail, and yet
let’s talk (just this once)
of the unwanted but aware
who sing nonetheless:
don’t open until Xmas,
that day you sense I’m ready to say it;
your wedding day, perhaps,
if only to convince yourself
that which was missed
indeed was never there....

                               my legacy?: this cake.

frozen thus, it will last despite everything; endure
long after
          (this I know and how!)
we have quit each other
like mouths to wads of bubblegum
like bowling pins to frames
like.... no, this is not my mood.
who has ever heard a silly serenade?: such a thing
would fail as certain as death and so....
oh yeah, and so my song....
                              too many chords,
not enough hired hands

still I’m outside your window. you have no idea
just how tall you look from such a disadvantage
point; and the rain doesn’t pale
next to your complexion.

                              then the groom,
candy on top of cake, still standing upright:
handsome but he’s hard
to read
                    he doesn’t look like me
                    he doesn’t look at me

and this wind machine, blowing my hair, is a rental.
everything, even the rain,
must be returned

                               and presto!: a chorus

time, lamentable time,
are you hoarding our possibility?—
                    who has kidnapped my song?
                    who has crashed your wedding?

                                        fair is fair
and he who’s not
wishes he was,
and failing
gravitates to the next
failing,
having learned much
but impotent to use it: the verse
must be repeated.

                    the piano’s a tuxedo too
                    its player propped up
                    by a tree, he’s not as thin
                              as he used to be,
                                           not as verse-like
                              as he used to be,
                    nothing is as it used to be
                    except—
this cake, if cared for, should be in good repair. its only complaint
a poor view of the ceremonies, flashes of white
obscured by
others’ shoulders: so animated, so uncritical
of the music, hungry,
                                   and oh so unnecessary

you must know the chorus by now;
its got a small black leather bag
in one hand, that’s all.
          wishes it hadn’t worn jeans,
they’re wet, itchy and
what about all the weddings that go uncelebrated?:
          I don’t know,
I’m just icing preserved for your pleasure

                              (strike that)

my pleasure

                              what was that chorus
again?
                              and what sells these days,
and to whom?

no matter,
          aren’t you going to introduce me? you can
                     you know
you’d think an outdoor wedding would justify sunshine

                              and the photographer’s a friend of mine
                              whose name, like this song, you can’t place.

smile anyhow, you really don’t need
all these houselights on
not this late

                                        how did I find you?

so glad you saw me, even
as you pull the shades
as you sigh and say

                         I never knew you

and this after so many songs....
they were nice enough, slightly askew,
but hardly catchy

                         (don’t I know)

I know whilst following your silhouette
from edge to center to edge
until, alas, the chorus:

                                             can you hear it?
                                                  can you hear me?
my dirty little serenade
with no need of radio
but wanting what yesterday pretended
          to give;
my dirty little serenade,
          it’s my song
          and I like it enough
          for the both of us;
I’m sorry, love,
for not writing the right poem
at the right time—then as now—
and thus you get this: I’ll forgive you
when you forget
me.

                    so turn away
from the window, from the street
the figure dangling/dancing on air,
the sadness, all the sadness
it’s not there, nothing’s there
          it’s just your new blender
                              a hand to help your mixing,
                    hit high and I’ll push
                    what you deserve—
                              sun, goddamnit, sun!—
                    through so many clouds;
turn away alright, though
I can’t

                                             to do do do    to do do do
                                             to da da    da da

when you only have one song....
who would write a brief death march anyway?....

each note
a lottery ticket: who’s to say
your hand won’t slip
          from the dial—an accident
                                 a recognition through sound
(your passengers moan, change it!
                                           change it already!)
hand and voiced raised: no wait,
          I remember this.... the waft of stale cigarette smoke
and too much of everything else.... the channel changed....
(oh Blondie, that’s good....)

                                             la de da    la de da da

          but it doesn’t sound the same. there’s something
          a part not heard before
          just under the melody
          because—in the end—
          I refuse to be denied,
          I’d rather scatter myself
          before I let myself be forgotten,
          I refuse and yet
          I will be denied, not found,
          I will be
          I will be     
          that certain something you meant to remember
          I will be
          your reminder, your alarm clock,
          your VCR, your pipe, your son
          your sleepless nights, your every failing
          I will be
          above all your every failing, your toaster,
          yes I’ll even be your toaster
          when you’re paying close attention, I will be
          Ben E. King,
          I will be the bill you never opened
          let alone paid,
          I’ll be the keeper of your laughter
          when, not laughing, you’re the only one who wants to,
          yes yes, I will be
          the pair of boots you never got around to buying,
          your eyes when yours are closed,
          I will be your #1 fan the first in line
          when your movie opens—
                              I see it, I see it now!—
          let me be your editor
                    I wouldn’t cut a scene—
          I will be
                    I will be
your secret
I will be your secret
I always was
                    your secret—
                                             sssshh!
what? can’t you keep a secret?
of course, of course you can, else
you would have already told me
the one about
where It goes
once silence takes Its place?
          or why similar people
need such different things?
          or how belief can’t be measured
by degrees?
          or why a child’s speech
can only be imitated?
          or how one’s investments are always returned
but never from a direct source?—
          you’d tell me, right?
if you knew, if you knew
how the only man
became a lonely man?

                              your secret:

the book you close before you turn out the light
the drug you take to turn it back on

                              I am not these things
                              though I envy them

and regret
is to fun
as the beginning
is to the end

                              there is none
                              there’s nothing

just some anonymous movement behind shades
a shadow on the lawn still
a dog barking in the distance
a cake stored in your freezer
a record skipping
           the same note again again    again again
                                             (change it!)
a video that won’t play
                                             (it will play!)
and play and play and play
late fees be damned!
exclamation points be damned!
points in general, poems be damned!—
           why should they be any different?—
                              your secret, yes,
bury me
in your backyard,
that’s why I’m here, I’m here
to find It,
that’s why you used to be here
                     too
that’s why you used to be
used to
                                             do be do be do
you used to do
I still do
          sing the song that should go without saying
          the one that’s spoiled once said:
I do   I do   I do
I do   I do   I do