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
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mark flanigan exiled from archives

Nov. 2007: Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Happen

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 2006: State Of The Disunion Address 
Nov 2006: Youngblood
Oct 2006: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
exiled on main street archives

About Artist:

December 2007: And Sometimes It Just Happens

     For someone that prides himself on not apologizing very often, I find myself saying “I’m sorry” a lot these days. Take, for instance, that last Exiled piece: never in my six years of doing this, have I had to settle for such complete horseshit.
     This space here had been, whatever it’s worth, my pride. My last stand. I always did that much, decently, if not more. And if that was my new poem, I guess I reached a new low.
     Fact is: I got nothing but respect for those that do this sort of thing on a weekly basis. If I had to do that, I imagine that I would never be exactly right.
     Anyway, I’m not one for looking back. But I need to just this once.
     Funny thing is just as I began the new season proclaiming that “I do my best work with my back against the wall,” the walls came crumbling down. For one, the President of my family’s company resigned, so I was asked to temporarily fill the void. It took awhile to acclimate myself to the idea, but I did. I had a few days before my deadline, so I took the opportunity to quit both drinking and smoking, and was immediately rewarded with a sickness the like of which I’d never experienced before.
     It was ridiculous; I couldn’t go forty-five seconds without coughing. Couldn’t sleep a minute straight as a result. And my deadline was quickly approaching.
     So, the night before my deadline, I hit upon the bright idea of buying a twenty of blow. I would work through it, as I had done so many times before. Thing is, in the morning, I had more pop-ups on my screen than I had words. In fact, my entire Exiled piece consisted of this:

                My tongue is tied in knots but that’s the least of my worries. The sun is about to rise and set           simultaneously. It’s not any day of the week, as far as I can tell. My newspaper is blank. The walls           are blank. No wonder my mind.

     I was embarrassed, to say the least. There was no way I could pass as much off as justification for being away from my girl all night, especially while not even saving her one single paltry line.

               Where do you turn
               when you trust no one
               and everything that conspires you
               to fail
               comes from inside yourself?    

     That’s what my diary read, at this dire hour. I was lost, so I did what any normal person would do, I started reading. I read a magazine, Esquire, if we are to be honest. In fact, I was rewarded with a wonderful feature on my new sudden Presidential hopeful, Dennis Kucinich. I was amazed, heartened even, to discover someone willing to accept that mantle say things such as this:
     “.... The doctrine of transubstantiation.... That’s spirit into matter, okay? And then matter extends into spirit.... This is basic physics....
     Cough, cough.
     “But I’m talking about it as—the church has its doctrine, and the doctrine has many different possibilities within. It’s theology, but it’s also about things seen and unseen. It’s not just a matter of faith.... There’s a reality that stands within existent reality, what’s apparent. But there’s something just behind it that holds that reality together, kind of in those interstitial spaces. There’s another reality there. The way I look at it, translating it into social action, is that that other reality is waiting to be called forward, and made, and set into motion.”
     Who wouldn’t find themselves suddenly excited by the fact that finally a Presidential hopeful found himself comfortable enough to segue from this to Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound to saying the “nexus where spirit infuses matter and transforms it, that’s where I live, there at that connect-pole.” The guy knew where I was coming from—especially tonight—and all but had my vote.
     In fact, he prompted me to write:

               What do I believe in?
                         Cynicism, poverty of soul?

     But, knowing my deadline was quickly approaching, I knew this wouldn’t be enough. As a result, I started pulling books off the shelf pell-mell. Bukowski, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso.... Searching for inspiration, I’d read each for a few minutes, and then toss it on the pile. The whole enterprise netting me this:

               I’m a construct, far from real.
                         Did I choose this?
                         Am I afraid of something?

     I know, in hindsight, that all this was in response to the fact that doing coke anymore is one of those lessons that one need not re-learn—that, regardless, certain of us are destined to live again and again. The whole thing made me feel, as it was meant to make me feel, pathetic. Not to mention that much sicker.
     I gave up on reading, decided to watch TV instead.
     The first thing I remember seeing was a commercial. The Eagles apparently had released some new material, Long Road Out of Eden, and it was announced accordingly as “the new album by America’s Greatest Rock Band”—which was funny, or interesting, if only because it was available exclusively at Wal-Mart. I couldn’t help but think that

               If The Eagle’s are
               America’s greatest band
               Than I am our
               Greatest Poet.

     Which is neither here nor there at this point, as my deadline had now truly passed me by in a haze of cough syrup. Undeterred, I made the wise decision to switch to PBS. A documentary about Charles Schulz, of Peanuts’ fame, happened to be playing. And there I experienced one particularly poignant moment, when in response to his wife being burdened with entertaining his friends while he worked on the next day’s strip, the author was asked why he didn’t do a couple of them in one night and thus get ahead. To which he answered that he “didn’t spend his entire life finding his dream job so he could take some time off.”
     This causing me, of course, to wonder where I had gone wrong.
     That done, I then noticed the Democratic Presidential Debate was on. I had to watch that, if only to root for my new horse. But I quickly realized my little guy, Dennis Kucinich—the same guy who had, as mayor of Cleveland, saved his constituents from the evils of privatization, single-handedly saving them millions of dollars while simultaneously making him their only mayor whose portrait to this day isn’t hung in their City Hall—was being unabashedly marginalized. It was Clinton, Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Obama, but no Kucinich. I watched for two hours when, finally, during a lightning round that seemed more in tune with The Dating Game than a Presidential debate, my guy was asked whether he believed in UFO’s.
     I tried to will him to lie, but he was simply incapable of it. I believe in UFO’s, my new hope replied, because I saw one with my own eyes.
     Good grief, I muttered. Then, I turned the channel.
     I had been sick for seven days now--If I sleep, will I heal?--and my editor had been patiently awaiting my piece. Somewhere along the line, I made a pact with myself that this column may in fact kill my career, but it wasn’t going to kill me. It was Halloween now, and as such, I figured I would pass myself off as a writer and thus sent that last shadow of a piece.

               Whom do I expect to answer?

     Feeling peculiarly defeated, I then proceeded to watch more TV. This time it was The Contender, a reality show about boxers. Sam Soliman, a somewhat highly regarded journeyman who happened to be near my age—which is to say old—was game but out-pointed by the younger, stronger Sakio Bika. His final words before hanging up his Contender gloves hit home:
     “I’ll be back,” he said, “but stronger. For isn’t that the measure of a man,” he asked, “that when he gets hit on the chin, he comes back twice as hard?”
     Well Sam, I said aloud to the TV in-between coughs, we will see. Personally, I’m past tempting fate.
     All I know is that it’s a long road to Wal-Mart.