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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Ethereal Planes

Above fields, bright paper planes fly
While dark the shadows dance below.
Like dreams released come morning’s rise
Above fields, bright paper planes fly.
In silence waits the blackened sky,
The final pitch, night’s all star throw.
Above fields bright, paper planes fly,
While dark the shadows dance below.

Ryan Stone

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I’ll not tread lightly

remember school days and how we would play
like there was no tomorrow?
now the castles we made
are the price we must pay
or flounder in oceans of sorrow

roaming wild and free, building houses in trees
as worlds waltzed to discordant tunes
like a zephyr through grass,
gilded summer days passed;
left us flayed under Cheshire moons

wooden sword fights and valiant knights;
pirates, the Pan and his Bell,
faded from dreams,
rowed ungentle streams,
to where the real monsters dwell

I’ve climbed faraway trees, seen fair Honah-Lee,
never never thought I’d grow old
now the pied piper calls —
before the last curtain falls,
leafless, I’ll trip into the wold.

Ryan Stone

First published by Wolf Publishing June, 2015

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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

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

Whistle Stop

I watched an old black and white once, where a lady sat waiting
day after day, for a train to bring her man home from war.
Sometimes I buy roses, wrapped in brown paper, expecting
someone to ask who they’re for. I’ll say I’m meeting my girl
at the station, though trains rarely stop in this town. It’s easier
that way, full of romance. Streets are friendly when you’re carrying flowers–
packed with smiles and nods–like they’re not full of lonely people,
each hoping someone will see them. In a cafe, I listen to small talk
about Angie and Brad and how nothing is built to last
anymore. I check my watch and look up often
as though I have someplace to be. I hear the train
rumble past, not stopping, drop my roses
in the bin as I leave.

Ryan Stone

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