Cat Lady

Some are named for children,
taken by the government.

Others, after the glittering stars
who litter her magazine carpet.

A patchwork blanket in settling frost
to warm her hibernation.

If you saw them that way – cats and their lady –
you’d never guess what they’d do to survive

through all the long weeks as mail piles,
high enough for someone to notice.

Ryan Stone

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Leaving Violet Town

The boy sits alone
while the carriage fills
around him. It’s a V-line,
a long haul, thundering
into morning.

Barely legible,
a chipped sign fades
and Violet Town falls away.

He retreats to a paperback
kingdom, while oblivious
wheels devour miles.
Sometimes his eyes rise
to watch the landscape
grind from here to there.

Terminus halogen holds the night
at bay as a voiceover calls
passengers awake.

At journey’s end,
crisp air whispers
possibility. Behind him,
doors hiss shut. Ahead,
a turnstile beckons.

Ryan Stone

First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 159, December 2014

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Muted

Clock hands circle lethargically. Heels
clack, a distant speaker hisses –
muted, surreal.

I shift on a green vinyl chair, eyes
trace an arc from clock to window.
Outside, a succubus sun
kisses children at play.

At my father’s bedside, both of us
wish I wasn’t. I despise myself
for watching the minutes, and him

for teaching me to. Broken
conversations keep awkward vigil
for something long dead.

Ryan Stone

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From the Sidelines

Do you know how it feels
to stand alone in a forest
in the caesura
of a gathering storm?

With a graceful pirouette
the north wind about-faces
and just as quickly
a sou’ wester replaces
the breathy, dry kisses
of long afternoons in the sun.
Drawing breath from your lungs
and heat from your soles,
lowercase twisters
scatter leaves with abandon.
There’s a pause,

it is electric,
then thunder above.
A first splash, the herald,
caresses your skin
and whispers of days
when you sucked the air in
and laughed until laughter ran dry;
when you danced and you sang
and timeless, you lay
entwined ‘neath an indigo sky.

In that place, alone,
your lenses will fail
and your notebook fall
by the by.
Your shutter can’t capture
the depths of magenta;
your pen,
the dreaming Magpie.

It’s a moment,
just a moment,
before the storm breaks
and the old song
resumes its same rhyme.

Do you feel it?
Can you grab it?
A resolution, of sorts:
to wring from
each minute
a lifetime.

by Ryan Stone

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Self-portrait

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

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

First published in Poppy Road Review, May 2016.

Days

Sometimes she’s wildfire, burning through the night;
some days she’s a winter storm, ice and fury unleashed.

Sometimes she’s a shadow, neither fully here or really there;
some days she’s untamable, wild as rolling seas.

Sometimes I hold her close, as the world starts coming undone;
some days we fit together and I feel that I belong.

Ryan Stone

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Rhyme of the Kingdom

Over the mountains
and down to the sea,
you must come now
if you hope to break free.
No time to mourn
for Autumn’s red bowers;
the light we once made,
now darkness devours.

I can play you
the rhymes of the kingdom,
I can sing you
the songs that you know;
but we must take wing
from this darkened halo –
we must take wing
for a devil wind blows.

Break from your prison
of urban malaise;
run to the ocean,
fly from your home.
I can’t promise you
that we’ll make it –
but take my hand
and I’ll never let go.

Ryan Stone

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