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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Sleep

along quicksilver trails
thru the night
we tripped,

past the wall,
into the sky—

swallowed by infinity

Ryan Stone

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

The Weight

One drunken night, he lay on the coach road
and she lay beside him. He pictured a truck
descending–wobbling around corners,
gaining momentum. They spoke about crushes,

first kisses. He told her of an older woman
who’d stolen a thing he couldn’t replace.
He tried to describe the weight of lost things.
She listened until he stopped,
until I stopped

hiding behind he. I felt small,
watching the cosmos churn
while I lay on the coach road
one summer night,
speaking of big things
and nothing.

Ryan Stone

first published at Algebra of Owls, November 2016

Republished for dVerse poetics – Poems That Could Save Your Life – this friendship saved mine.

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Days

Sometimes she’s wildfire, burning through the night;
some days she’s a winter storm, ice and fury unleashed.

Sometimes she’s a shadow, neither fully here or really there;
some days she’s untamable, wild as rolling seas.

Sometimes I hold her close, as the world starts coming undone;
some days we fit together and I feel that I belong.

Ryan Stone

Click here for audio

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Rhyme of the Kingdom

Over the mountains
and down to the sea,
you must come now
if you hope to break free.
No time to mourn
for Autumn’s red bowers;
the light we once made,
now darkness devours.

I can play you
the rhymes of the kingdom,
I can sing you
the songs that you know;
but we must take wing
from this darkened halo –
we must take wing
for a devil wind blows.

Break from your prison
of urban malaise;
run to the ocean,
fly from your home.
I can’t promise you
that we’ll make it –
but take my hand
and I’ll never let go.

Ryan Stone

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Riders in the Night

Outside, in the distance
a wild cat did growl
two riders were approaching
the wind began to howl. -Bob Dylan

Hoofbeats on the tundra!
Beneath a mage’s moon
she draws her shutters closely,
prays morning finds her soon.

Thunder shatters silence,
a rapping at her door
tears the night asunder–
a mountain cat’s wild roar.

All along the cornflower
rows, shadows dance with glee,
seeking answers in the wind
howling by a lone oak tree.

Dawn finds an empty homestead–
bleeds in through broken panes,
across spilled dill an’ fennel
and spattered, rusty stains.

Ryan Stone

first published by Poppy Road Review, August 2017

Paradigm Shift

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.

Ryan Stone

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Dying Light

From my porch
I watch thunderheads
battering high noon
into bruised twilight.
I see you climb
from under eaves,
awakened
by a pressure change.
As the storm inhales
you leap and spin,
leap and spin
your web — knowing
your time to build
is fleeting.

Ryan Stone

F = Gm1m2 / r2

It’s gravity, baby

and that’s how it started —
three whispered words
under the bleachers,
two bodies
thrown into orbit.

Almost as quickly,
those starburst nights
of lying thisclose
went supernova.

There’s a point
during free-fall,
a pause
to consider
whether to brace
or just to surrender –

for a heartbeat or two
it feels like you’re floating,
then the ground rushes up
to show you how endings
can sound like beginnings

but that’s
just gravity,
baby.

Ryan Stone