One month from now,
a dull ache
is all you’ll be
Six months on
if I hear your name,
I might pause
to remember your face.
Once a year has passed
if I see you on the street,
more likely in a club,
I may smile or give a nod.
But tonight, right now,
a thousand men with knives
couldn’t cause the pain
She stares at the t-shirt draped over her chair. A replica Eames deserves better than Metallica. Of all the things for him to leave behind!
Clasped like Excalibur, a knife thrusts up from a toilet, Metal up your ass written beneath. Who would think of something like that? Who would print it? Worse still, who would wear it? She knows the answer to the last, having argued with him before countless dinner parties, Sunday barbecues, visits from her mother.
She swats at the shirt as she would a spider, gets slapped in the face by Armani as it falls. Now it lurks on the floor, one more dead thing in a week of dead things, until her kick sends it skidding under
their her bed.
Hours later she listens to it whisper as sleep refuses her haven. If she lies just so her mind can ignore it, until a stray breeze blows a trace to her nose. She climbs from bed to hunt naked in the fragmented moonlight. The shirt is a cool breath on feverish skin, and she surrenders to heavy metal dreams.
I wake a full hour early
for the rare gift
of a walk in the woods
with my father.
He is a silent giant
among misty ghost gums.
I tell him, Watch!
See how fast I can run.
He doesn’t yell when I trip
and fall, but lifts me
At the end of the trail
I study my grazes—jagged
and bloody. He tells me
he’s leaving my mum.
On the walk home
I gaze at the gum trees
and fragmented clouds, thinking
they should look different somehow.
first published at Poetry Nook, 1st place Week 185
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.
In the photo I keep in my wallet
you’re smiling. No hint of ghosts
in the glint of your eye.
You’re sitting on a riverbank
weaving a daisy chain
I wore until it crumbled–
linking flower to flower
with the unblemished certainty
that beauty and vows are forever.
My grandmother called it
Irish fire, said it raged
through my father
hotter than Beli Mawr’s bum.
She was long dead
when it finally flared
fiercer than he could contain.
The embers of his eyes
last leaves to ash,
left them smoldering.
The laundromat washer clunks
into motion. Foamy tears stream
down the glass. Slowly, my clothes
drown at midnight. Minus one shirt,
still clinging to my basket,
for as long as it smells
Sixty miles from sleep
those lonely road voices
wage a war in his mind. Guilt
ebbed two cigarettes back
when parting words blurred
to a single white line, and raced
out into the gloam.
An old Stones shirt is all he left,
torn like the heart it now covers.
And somewhere back there
a girl sits alone, forsaking photos
and dreams; hates the way
his shirt makes her feel,
knows she’ll sleep in it
all the same.
Uninvited, he sits
as words surge past
to slice away years.
No flutter of membrane
betrays the presence
of three thousand simple eyes,
watching as dreams
are butchered below.
Perhaps he lingers to dine
on Shiraz, clotting
in the carpet’s frayed weave.
More likely he waits
because of his nature:
drawn by the smell
of dead things.
– Ryan Stone
First published in The Black Poppy Review, May 2015
Trapped beneath the fallen gum
in whose branches I’d learned to climb,
I marveled how its limbs still clung
to shattered treehouse bones.
That night when father stumbled home,
he found me deep in mother’s fold;
blood and tears run dry.
Adrift in dreams on Thunder Road,
I missed the words but heard the tone.
As Springsteen traded wings for wheels,
a second giant fell. In the space of a song
my father was gone; mother and I were left alone
to ponder how a tree seemed strong
while rotting at the core.