Coal Town

Birds don’t stop in this town.
I see them fly past, black peppering
blue, going someplace. I’ve given up
dreaming wings. This town
will know my bones. Condoms
sell well in Joe’s corner store – boredom breeds
but breeding’s a trap, a twitch in the smile
of those steel-eyed shrews
who linger late after church.
I walked half a day, out past the salt flats,
after they closed the movie house down. Smoked
the joint she’d brought back from college
when she returned to bury my dad.
I remember how pale her fingers lay
across my father’s hands –
coal miner’s hands, tarred like his lungs;
like this town.

Ryan Stone

First published in Eunoia Review, July 2016.

Winner of the Goodreads Monthly Poetry Contest, August 2016.

First Place in Poetry Nook contest 101, November 2016.

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Empty Sky

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“It was the empty sky that first set me on edge.

“Hundreds of birds huddled in overcrowded trees, despite the late hour and the crisp morning air. I was sufficiently unsettled to restock the bunker and still inside when the radiation sensors sealed the door. But I ramble.

“If there’s anyone still alive out there, I’m in a bunker on Mount Dandenong. I’m transmitting on UHF and will scan all frequencies for as long as I’m able.

“I’m at coordinates 37.8311° S, 145.3600° E, with food and water. Is there anyone out there?

“I don’t want to die all alone.”

Ryan Stone