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 offer no promise
that we’ll make it –
but take my hand
and I’ll never let go.

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

Click here for audio

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Falling Up

You will never fall in love with me.
Don’t try to convince me
That I will always wait for you.
If you really look, you’ll see
I’m not here for the long haul
Don’t imagine
You give me reason to stay.
When things get hard I’ll leave –
Don’t imagine
I’m not like the others,
Goodbye.
I’ll never say
I love you.

(Now read from bottom to top,
my bleeding heart undone.)

Ryan Stone

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The Long Road

I drink all day
and then strike out
along that winding road,
where shadows flit
by leafy bough
and twilight waits
for no-one;

where failing light
births fickle fiends
who writhe and tempt
the absent mind.
In deepen wood
where mildew clings
to night’s cool breath,
a parting kiss

for seasons
long since flown.

Ryan Stone

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Paradigm Shift

I’m not an iceblock. I’m not a teardrop,
mooching around your Long Island Iced Tea.
I’m not chasing dreams, dreaming of Jeannie;
I’m not slowing for one more whistle stop.
I’ve never bridged sighs, I don’t island hop;
I’ve not tasted the free airs of Heaney,
nor held a heart that, like some Houdini,
didn’t vanish with a barbaric yawp.
I have set no flame within love’s hearth
that didn’t burn that shantytown down.
At night, I am king; come morning, uncrowned-
I walk in as Luke, am forced out as Darth.
Rivers are rivers, regardless of flow:
O, stone, be not so; O, stone, be not so.

Ryan Stone

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The Weight

One drunken night, he lay on the coach road
and she lay beside him. He pictured a truck
descending–wobbling around corners,
gaining momentum. They spoke about crushes,

first kisses. He told her of an older woman
who’d stolen a thing he couldn’t replace.
He tried to describe the weight of lost things.
She listened until he stopped,
until I stopped

hiding behind he. I felt small,
watching the cosmos churn
while I lay on the coach road
one summer night,
speaking of big things
and nothing.

Ryan Stone

first published at Algebra of Owls, November 2016

Republished for dVerse poetics – Poems That Could Save Your Life – this friendship saved mine.

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Tōrō Nagashi

Your flame flickers briefly—
a parting whisper.
Some trick of the river
mimics your laughter.

We stand apart at sunset,
lost in natsukashii,
come together in darkness,
to watch the dead pass on.

Your light has fallen now
to shadow
beneath the bridge.

Ryan Stone

First published on Napalm and Novocain, January 2016

Published at Poetry Nook, October 2018, Nominated for 2018 Pushcart Prize

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Drought Town

This is the summer of red dust. Everything
sucked dry—hollow as cicada husks, wedged
under eaves and porch stairs—waiting
for a wind change. On the road out of town,
empty grain silos loom, perched like headstones
over wheat-field graves. Harvesters sag, tyres
cracked like the asphalt. Rotting carcasses
litter riverless beds—tongues swollen,
flyblown, unslaked. First, a wheeze,
then my pickup spews steam. It dies in a ditch
under a burnt-orange sun. Tiger snake chunks
graffiti the hood’s underside, one blind eye bulging
from the torn head. It must have sought shade
or wiper water—sliding up from the parched earth
miles back. Now it’s just one more dead thing
in a land of dead things. This is the summer
of red dust. It swirls and the road ahead blurs.

– Ryan Stone

first published by Eunoia Review