The World Removed From Its Axis
Here is a boy whose mother loves him
stepping into a man’s world,
dragging his feet.
Here, October insects flock to windows
between two worlds, death
on either side.
Let’s get out and explore the world, we say,
as if there were trails to the stars,
bridges between them—
and yet go on living in our own worlds,
wherever we reign omniscient
in what little we know.
by Ryan Dowling
(Note: “man’s world” may seem to suggest a world dominated by men, but what I mean is adulthood. “Adult’s world” sounds awkward, and also makes me think of those sex toy superstores along the expressway… It’s unfortunate that the word that fits best has this connotation but, leaving this little explanation, I’m going to let it be.)
“The only artists I have known, who are perfectly delightful, are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.”
— spoken by Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray
I’ve collaborated with my good friend Basilike Pappa on the poem below. Visit her lovely blog Silent Hour to see more of her work.
Two Poets Cross at the Tuff Bean Cafe
“Let’s try this again,” said he.
“What’s there to gain?” said she.
“I could buy you a coffee,” said he.
“And lead to catastrophe?” said she.
“Look,” said he. “I’m sorry about the other day.”
“Good,” said she. “Then I’ll take a cafe au lait.”
“I like a woman who knows what she wants,” said he.
“I like a man who knows when he’s wrong,” said she.
“Shall we sit and talk it out?” said he.
“You read my thoughts out loud,” said she.
“I still feel your hand across my cheek,” said he.
“As do I the marks of your critique,” said she.
“But I like your style, your rhythm, your voice in verse,” said he.
“Then I suppose I like your choice of words,” said she.
“You know,” said he. “I’d love to rhyme you line for line.”
“That so?” said she. “You couldn’t keep up if you tried.”
by Basilike Pappa & Ryan Dowling
My story “Inertia” has won 1st place in The Rockford Review’s Energy Prose Contest.
In addition to this, they will be publishing my poem “Ode to a River Boulder” in their 2017 Winter-Spring edition.
On a side note, I have recently joined the Rockford Writer’s Guild. Once a month they hold meetings open to the public and free of charge. If you happen to live in or around the Northern Illinois area, I’d encourage you to stop by and share your work. For more information click here.
Love Sonnet X
after Pablo Neruda
And there was one woman who stole into me singing,
who manipulated hearts into zips of lightning
that zigged all over the village and dizzied our people,
leaving cigarette ash and car accidents
in her wake, spitting pearls at the poor, waging
war in one hand and love in the other, many-sided
but pure—a force tailored to my weakness,
a force I could not resist because it resisted me.
No temple bell raised the sun upon her printed face,
and by evening the sky had turned its page.
I called her Muse, and the metal of her laughter
returned to the bells. I called her Joan of Arc
and broke her armor. I called her by her name, Love,
because she was only a woman, like you.
by Ryan Dowling
Many thanks to The Drabble for accepting my piece “How To Become A Monster”
How To Become A Monster
I used to get my kicks scaring kids on Halloween.
Leaping from the bushes, I’d roar behind a mask and swing an axe left and right. I’d send the little monsters screaming down the street.
Well, most of the time.
Then came a boy who didn’t even flinch between his Frankenstein bolts. Instead, he extended the twisted branch of his arm—his real arm—at the end of which was a crooked hand with three crooked fingers. He took a Reese’s from the bowl.
“Thank you,” he said.
How do I say this?
I just wasn’t myself anymore.
by Ryan Dowling