Mackenzie

Across
long years I mourn
her loss –

yearn for
her laugh with each
downpour,

descry
her smile in each
short high.

Ryan Stone

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I’ll not tread lightly

remember school days and how we would play
like there was no tomorrow?
now the castles we made
are the price we must pay
or flounder in oceans of sorrow

roaming wild and free, building houses in trees
as worlds waltzed to discordant tunes
like a zephyr through grass,
gilded summer days passed;
left us flayed under Cheshire moons

wooden sword fights and valiant knights;
pirates, the Pan and his Bell,
faded from dreams,
rowed ungentle streams,
to where the real monsters dwell

I’ve climbed faraway trees, seen fair Honah-Lee,
never never thought I’d grow old
now the pied piper calls —
before the last curtain falls,
leafless, I’ll trip into the wold.

Ryan Stone

First published by Wolf Publishing June, 2015

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Stand To!

A silent witness crests the hill
to place a kiss on coves
where bloody rain once fell.

The sob and clubbing fractured now –
hearts beat on distant shores

where brothers wait with shaking hands
to charge into the dawn.

Across the Sea of Helle they came,
from many different ports; to lay down cold
on foreign stone, enlisted on some other front.

Flags hang low and I am borne
by a bugle’s mournful calling,

as first light joins eternal flame
“stand to!” cleaves the morning.

Ryan Stone

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This house

never recovered from the storms of ’93
when lightning stroked shingles, shorted out circuits;
left one side wind blown and sagging.

Tufts of moss sprout from the bowed memory
of taut boards. A plague of crickets
lurk beneath stairs; creaking their arthritic chatter.

From a threadbare recliner in a ramshackle room
I gaze over fields at a familiar view,
distorted by windows now broken and rheumy.

Ryan Stone

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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

Click here for audio

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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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