Toasting Marshmallows

Pierced by a willow spear, the marshmallow blisters; bemoans
its heated rush towards metamorphosis. A Phoenix, unborn,
the pink skin ruptures, sloughs off to flare briefly; returns
to the ashen dreams of a ghost gum. Freedom dies
with your smile and I find myself colder; wishing to stand beside you.
Always. But that would betray wings as yet unfurled.

Overhead, the cross hangs low. Four nimbus globes dance below,
across a lady’s mercurial skin. Your hand withdraws to discover
a soft mallow heart, licked by the inner flame. Released.
Framed in that introspective light I see you hurtling forward,
a stellar memory of lost radiance and I wish to tell you:
it’s the novas that define us.

– Ryan Stone



Dragonflies & Raindrops

It starts with a single languid drop,
beating a hardpan drum.
Cicadas warble a scorched-earth vibrato,
rushing skyward, the long-dry undone.

Rusty tears trickle their bullnose percussion
on verandah iron and brass. While the red dusts
of torment yawn and drink deeply,
thirsty as fire-kissed grass.

My hard-bitten mongrels, in Waratah shade,
flick ears laid unseasonably low.
Drought threatens to claim what Tigers have not.
Limp tails tell tales of woe.

Resembling slender men, brown withered stems
raise limp hands, tattered and burned.
A chorus begins, Magpie trills and woodwind;
life to the outback returned.

Movement staccatos; even dragonflies pause
from their wild tumbles and dips.
A long-absent lover, in the final refrain,
bestows a moist kiss on parched lips.

by Ryan Stone

* Tigers -> the venomous Australian Tiger Snake

Click here for audio

First published in Of Words and Water 2014


Christmas Bells on Ash Wednesday


Birthed in a blood-orange haze,
a torture of sound batters my ears; 
the front-running wind – that howling dervish,
whipped into a firestorm frenzy.


Potato-and-earth invades our tub, drifting down
from wet sacks above.  A fort, Mum said,
before she left.  She’s thrice returned, 
refilling her bucket to battle the Embers. 
I hold my wooden sword close
in case they come for my brothers.


As I wander the rubble, a stone chimney topples; 
my boots are cloaked with death.  By one cracked toe,
life pushes through: a red-orange hood, 
tipped with gold. Christmas Bells ring 
in my playground of ash.

Ryan Stone


Inspiration: I was just a boy when the Ash Wednesday bushfires tore through the hills of my childhood, destroying everything in their path. On a blistering hot summer day during one of the worst droughts in Australia’s history, fierce winds stripped about 50 thousand tonnes of topsoil from Victoria’s Mallee and created a huge dust cloud that blanketed the sky, plunging everything into darkness. The wind’s roar and eerie glow of the sun are forever etched in my memory.

It was a very strong sensory experience. In particular, I have always been struck by the similarities between the colours of destruction and those of rebirth. The sun’s blood-orange, bushfire haze and the colours of the Christmas Bell flower, with their red, orange and yellow hoods that herald rebirth and renewal are both similar and worlds apart.

When Giants Fall

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.

Ryan Stone



I am he who worships Spring
in moonlit mountain shallows.

I am he who watches you,
insubstantial shadow.

I am he who brings night’s ship
safe to morning’s shore.

I am he who loves you,
your servant, evermore.

Ryan Stone