Falling Up

You will never fall in love with me.
Don’t try to convince me
That I will always wait for you.
If you really look, you’ll see
I’m not here for the long haul
Don’t imagine
You give me reason to stay.
When things get hard I’ll leave –
Don’t imagine
I’m not like the others,
Goodbye.
I’ll never say
I love you.

(Now read from bottom to top,
my bleeding heart undone.)

Ryan Stone

Click here for audio

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Coal Town

Birds don’t stop in this town.
I see them fly past, black peppering
blue, going someplace. I’ve given up
dreaming wings. This town
will know my bones. Condoms
sell well in Joe’s corner store – boredom breeds
but breeding’s a trap, a twitch in the smile
of those steel-eyed shrews
who linger late after church.
I walked half a day, out past the salt flats,
after they closed the movie house down. Smoked
the joint she’d brought back from college
when she returned to bury my dad.
I remember how pale her fingers lay
across my father’s hands –
coal miner’s hands, tarred like his lungs;
like this town.

Ryan Stone

First published in Eunoia Review, July 2016.

Winner of the Goodreads Monthly Poetry Contest, August 2016.

First Place in Poetry Nook contest 101, November 2016.

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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

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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The Journey Home

She tells me her pain is a squall,
sudden and vicious, like a flash

storm whipping in from Bass Strait
to batter King Island.
Do you remember our Island, Garth?

Her doctors build shelters; nurses
batten hatches, but this tempest

won’t blow over. She says her pain is a vulture now,
circling the desert on threadbare wings.
A glass of water if you please, Garth?

With beak and claw, it slashes and rips
nerve endings, drinks color from her eyes.

The pain is no longer squall or vulture,
she whispers, but a flutter of pages.
One last story before bed, dear Garth?

I don’t tell her that I’m her grandson—
not her brother Garth, stolen by war.

She’s a thin sheet stretched over an empty
bed; a gull’s cry on the wind.

– Ryan Stone

first published by Eunoia Review, June 2019

Paper Cut

The worn, russet couch opens its maw
and swallows me whole. A cool embrace and scent
of old leather finds a chink in my mind’s armour.
A vision of you sneaks in. Tanned legs barely covered
by denim cut-offs wake buttermilk thoughts
of caramel ice and sunshine.

Cicada-song jolts sleep from the room. I wake
into twilight’s warm, mottled hues. Time moves
slowly, my skin breathes out. Freshly-cut lawn
flavours the breeze trickling through the fly screen
to nudge my mind. In the depths of the couch, my sleeping back
has unwittingly found your old sketchbook.

Lazy river Sundays seep from pages, as dry as the memories.
Moments and scenes captured in charcoal-scratched stasis–
your hand always as sure as your eye. A pressed-flower fallen
from our Red River Gum is caught between pages. I slam the book
shut and it slides away. You would have smiled to see
how deeply the paper cut.

Unburied Hatchet published at Autumn Sky Daily Poetry

I subscribe to a number of online poetry sites in order to receive my daily dose of poetry. One of my favourites is Autumn Sky Daily Poetry. Editor, Christine Klocek-Lim, selects a wonderful and varied array of poetry for her site and has introduced me to many new poets as well as reacquainting me with some great vintage verse.

I was so excited when today’s Autumn Sky email arrived and I saw my poem – Unburied Hatchet – featured on the site. Thank you, Christine.

This link will take you to my poem if you’re interested: Unburied Hatchet at Autumn Sky Daily Poetry.

If you’re looking for fresh and engaging poetry in your inbox each day, I can’t recommend this site highly enough.