And these are my failings:
a wild smile always leads my mind
to the kiss hiding behind it
and sometimes to plot
the shortest route there.

Did I say sometimes? I lie a bit, too.
And I tend to zone out to small-talk
like there aren’t already
enough idle words in the world.
I often wonder – where do they go,
those wasted words once they’re spoken?

And I can’t warm to people,
despite how I try.
I’m lying again – I don’t try at all.
I’d much rather hide
with The Boss or Miss Del Rey,
alone in the dark
drinking vodka;

ignoring that night
in my fourteenth year
when my father got drunk,
made me drive his ute home –
the soft bump and loud bark,
the crimson accusation,
coagulating on his tyre
next morning.

– Ryan Stone


Written for National Poetry Month 2016 @ The Music In It – Failures

First published in Poppy Road Review, May 2016.

74 thoughts on “Self-portrait

  1. “Introverts dislike small talk but we are fluent in the language of ideas and dreams”
    Ryan, my friend, the reflection in the mirror never leaves, does it?

    And the art is just magnificent!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. as much as i like people, and love to observe them, and deeply interact with a few, small talk is hard and feels disingenuous to me. i’d rather have a long talk with just a couple and go deep into something, than move around the room, working and chattering about nothing. though it may sound counterintuitive, i think that introverts have a keen understanding of people, they watch and listen and pick up cues, that others might miss, because they are very present. great poem, ryan.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I am not a lover of small talk either, probably because I am not good at it!
    I loved this poem and the self-portrait Ryan. Thanks for sharing yourself with us, especially the story of the dog, it must have been awful for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ryan, I’m deeply moved by your poem. What you’ve accomplished in four stanzas is amazing. (I hesitate to include this, it was shared with me some years ago, be grateful for all your failures, it’s what gives life and depth to all great art.) Enjoy the rest of your weekend. ~ Mia

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ryan, this is a powerful and moving write. Leaves a bitter taste, because I feel as if this (like the last one) isn’t fictional. At any rate, I grew up with an alcoholic and verbally abusive father. It killed my childhood, but at least gave me eyes for what I wouldn’t have been able to see or know without.
    Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. Love the self portrait in word and image, my friend. This is raw autobiographical work. None of us are perfect and many of us will be able to connect to hiding behind a smile, not much for small talk, a wandering mind and having experienced the trauma that comes with taking an innocent animal’s life. I can check off all those boxes, too. Awesome work!


  12. interesting you posted this again on the total eclipse day….”don’t look at the sun” they keep saying…don’t look at your demons some also say…but I’m glad us poets do…retinas in tact, or not:) This was inspiring

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Funny how we may use our music as a personal bowl, to immerse ourselves in, so as to exclude intruders. And your painting is very good. I’ve never written a portrait of myself, hmmm, I don’t think I could be honest enough….

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I remember this one Ryan … I think I did write a self portrait .. I’ll see if I find the file …I think my portrait has aged afew more years …
    “The Invisible Me”

    I’m too soft and creamy, like melted cheese.
    Naive to a fault, until it is too late.
    Vulnerable, like a wafer and ice-cream in-between,
    During a local hot day of one-hundred degrees.
    Afraid of being visible to the vast unseen.
    Confidence is scrambled, and of low esteem.
    Drowning, like our world’s sick honeybees.
    Choking on my words of melancholy and wanna be’s.
    Crawling like a man cut-off below the knees.
    Falling like a stone, and I’ve yet to set her free.
    Far too trusting for these rough open seas.
    And no idea of what, I want to do or be.
    Scared of my own illiterate tendencies.
    Wondering if a publisher would even read me.

    Liked by 1 person

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