Adrift

The last leaves are golden,
most have already flown. Branches
hang bare beneath ashen skies.
Not so different from when you climbed,
hand over slow hand, waging a war
inside your young mind. One leaf
breaks free, hangs on a moment,
before leaping into the maelstrom.
I imagine a short fall,
sharp jerk and silence;
but it’s only a leaf and spirals away,
no note to mark its passing.

– Ryan Stone

image

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

image

Wedding Poem

It’s a fleeting moment–
a red sky at twilight,
rushing to the long night;
the last russet leaf
clinging to bough
as autumn inhales,

breathes out.

You know this, you’ve felt it
in the grey light of dawn,
in that pause
between waking and finding.
You’ve heard it whisper
through the dry grass
of summer–a promise
tossed on the wind.

Yesterday’s smoke
blows over fields,
tomorrow hides
inside dreams.
This hand in your hand
is the one, the only
true kingdom

under the sun.

Ryan Stone

image

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

image

Written for National Poetry Month 2016 @ The Music In It – Failures

First published in Poppy Road Review, May 2016.

The Wind Whispers, The Wind Sighs

– after Longfellow

The wind whispers, the wind sighs,
the dawn light brightens, a magpie cries;
amongst the gum trees tall and green
a girl becomes a faerie queen.
And the wind whispers, the wind sighs.

Morning settles beneath silk skies,
her reign flits by like dragonflies;
deep shadows dress the naked hill
in dusk, as faerie wings fall still.
And the wind whispers, the wind sighs.

Night throws a cloak; a barn owl cries,
another answers, stars blink like eyes.
The queen is gone, won’t come again;
these woods forever will remain.
And the wind whispers, the wind sighs.

– Ryan Stone

first published at Poetry Nook, May 2020

Mother’s Hands

image
Advertisement for Myers Gloves, by Margaret Watkins (Canada), 1920s.

Mother’s Hands

Strong enough to lift me
each time I couldn’t rise. Soft
as cotton wool, washing
dirt from scrapes and tears
from eyes. Firm enough
to model clay
and boys, to bowls
and men, yet fine
when stroking ivory keys–
Für Elise and Clair de Lune.
They’d curl through each long evening
around her only vice, in a holder
like Audrey’s, that never left her side.
I’m thinking of her hands now–
strong and wild and free; missing
her hands now, as I watch ashes
blow to sea.

Ryan Stone

Written for the 20 poem challenge at Ekphrastic, September 2016.

First published at Ekphrastic, September 2016

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 offer no promise
that we’ll make it –
but take my hand
and I’ll never let go.

Ryan Stone

image

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.

img_2913