Unburied Hatchet

Until I saw those wasted hands,
brittle as chalk, I hadn’t thought
how fast the years make ghosts.

I heard them once called brawler’s paws.
For me, they were always more:
cobras, poised to strike.

But his brawling days are gone now;
I could kill him with a pillow,
if I cared enough to try.

Thin sheets press tightly to a bed
more empty than full, his body broken
like the promises of childhood.

Haunted eyes betray last thoughts
of a dim path, spiralling down.
He hopes to make amends.

“Forgiven?” he croaks,
barely there, as always,
and I’m wishing that I wasn’t.

With the last rays of day as witness,
I turn my back with purpose
and hear the silence roar.

In a late-night bar I catch my reflection
swimming in a glass of bourbon;
but I’m staring at a ghost.

Ryan Stone

Click here for audio

First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 163, April 2015 – first place


91 thoughts on “Unburied Hatchet

  1. Pingback: Friendship Friday – Ryan Stone – MOONSKITTLES

  2. Wow Ryan I came back to this page wanted to read this powerful winner poem again and more I found…your nice voice which add more power and feelings it make the poem live! That’s wonderful no wonder why this captured the first place! I see some personal life in it! often when we give our own inner it turn a winner and most of all it happens when we write about sad life events. It was the same for my published poem “Emotions” is part of my personal life events and it got chosen to be published! Congratulations this one is an amazing poem! πŸ˜‰ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Wow, this is heavy. I love the physical description of a one-time brawler reduced to a ghost…great analogy! I saw courage in that turned back and that deafening silence. I don’t quite subscribe to the belief that because someone is dying that we are to bend to their wishes. No, if there is to be forgiveness, it will come in your own time…if at all. Haunting final image though…no pun intended. And too, congratulations for your poem winning first place. It is excellent!
    Gayle ~

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If I remember correctly, this was the first poem of yours I ever read, Ryan. Still does the job, and so much more. I guess that’s the mark of a truly great poem – you can come back to it after a long time and it still moves you in the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is the kind of scene I can imagine being played out so often for so many people. You capture the bitterness, the regrets and the emptiness so well, and the last thought, of history repeating itself perhaps must haunt so many.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Haunted eyes betray last thoughts
    of a dim path, spiralling down.
    He hopes to make amends.

    You certainly have a way with words! Beautifully haunting!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ryan, this is such a powerful piece, the narrator delivers the words quietly and with such grace, which adds to the distance between the two. I ask myself, when exactly does the expectation of love turn to indifference? Amazing work my friend, congratulations on taking first place. ~ Mia

    Liked by 1 person

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