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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The T-Shirt

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.

Ryan Stone

Dog Days

There’s a lot going on in the world
today. My TV stays off
for morning’s sake.

Another plane. Child. Innocent.
Betrayal. And that flag hanging
over it all.

I almost feel guilty when sorrow engulfs me.
How does an old paw print
eclipse any of that?

But my sphere spins slowly, the breeze
carries ghosts, familiar barks—
a smell of wet coats.

Ryan Stone

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Unburied Hatchet

Until I saw those wasted hands,
brittle as chalk, I hadn’t thought
how fast the years make ghosts.

I heard them once called brawler’s paws.
For me, they were always more:
cobras, poised to strike.

But his brawling days are gone now;
I could kill him with a pillow,
if I cared enough to try.

Thin sheets press tightly to a bed
more empty than full, his body broken
like the promises of childhood.

Haunted eyes betray last thoughts
of a dim path, spiralling down.
He hopes to make amends.

“Forgiven?” he croaks,
barely there, as always,
and I’m wishing that I wasn’t.

With the last rays of day as witness,
I turn my back with purpose
and hear the silence roar.

In a late-night bar I catch my reflection
swimming in a glass of bourbon;
but I’m staring at a ghost.

Ryan Stone

Click here for audio

First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 163, April 2015 – first place

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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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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.

Stillborn published in Red River Review

I’m so happy to see my poem, Stillborn, published alongside some truly excellent writing in the August edition of Red River Review.

Please have a look if you have some time, there is some really great poetry this month. Click on the August 2017 link at the top of the page – Red River Review

Friday afternoon has just rolled in to Melbourne, Australia – I wish you all a wonderful weekend when it makes it to your individual part of the world.

RS

Breaking Point

Pa, I see you in your shed–
unaware of dusk settling
over your garden, painting
your pink crabapple blossoms
grey. I see you bend, to squint
at some small imperfection
marring the wooden soldier
you’ve spent the whole day carving,
hands slow-dancing to a tune
no-one else can hear. Later
Ma will shake her head, dismiss
your need for perfect contours
and seamless joins as foolish,
not understanding a man,
a soldier or a husband
is only ever as strong
as his weakest part.

Ryan Stone

Poem published at Black Poppy Review

Black Poppy Review is my favourite place to find poetry of a darker nature.

Sandy has amassed a superb collection of writing exploring themes of horror, the supernatural, gothic, dark fairy tales, ghosts and many other disturbing things.

Today I’m excited to have a new poem published in the journal – Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?

Please have a look and let me know your thoughts. It’s a wonderful, creepy journal and well-worth exploring.