Homemade Jungle Gym by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The kids a few houses down have head lice.
They get sent home from school all the time.
Worst kept secret on the street really.
Besides the guy up the other way whose wife
falls down the stairs whenever he’s been drinking.
The ambulance guys just wheel her out and fill out
the paperwork.

But these kids are all tubby, white, and poor.
They jump on an old green mattress in the front yard for fun.
A homemade jungle gym.
Balls of yellow stuffing torn out in many places.
But there is still a little bounce, so you can
hear the laughter.

Their mother is on disability
and sells her pain pills to a handful
of junkies.

There is no father.
Maybe there were a couple fathers at one time,
but they all left.

It’s just mom and the kids now.
And the junkies for their pills
stumbling up the drive.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a happily unmarried proud father of none. His work can be found both in print and online in such joints as Your One Phone Call, Homestead Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, and Dead Snakes. He has an affinity for dragonflies, discount tequila, and all things sarcastic.

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