Ichabode Crane was observing the dim forest when he noticed the bald head buried beneath the tree of death. Each morning it was Ichabode’s job to discover what the headless horseman had left behind from his nights decapitating helpless citizens.
Today he found two headless corpses half-buried. He shivered thinking of the literal trail of blood that often followed the horseman.
Though Ichabod was a medical doctor, he’d never found any heads attached to the bodies the horseman discarded. His heart pounded and he began to sweat as he clawed the head from the ground with his fingers.
The hair felt dirty and greasy. The waxen skin was warm and he was sure the head had soulless eyes beneath its lids. While he stared, Ichabod’s hands shook. The blood running from the head’s eyes, suddenly, caught his attention as they began to open of their own accord.
Coal eyes with pupils as red as poppies, alerted Ichabod this head belonged to the horseman. Ichabod drank from his trusty flask, whiskey and opium to numb him.
But perhaps he drank too much. When he awoke, the head lay on his lap and Ichabod rested against the horrid tree. The moon exposed him and his opium veil faded. He felt too alert. The head’s mouth fell open revealing carnivorous teeth.
Soon, the thundering footsteps of the black horse and the armed body of the headless horseman could be heard. He screeched as the horseman took one slice at his neck, but then, Ichabod offered the horseman the head.
The horseman dropped his sword and went to his knees on the ground. He took the head in his gnarled hands and placed it on his neck. The horseman growled, a sound of rage in a demonic tongue.
He gazed at Ichabod, “Run, go now. I will spare you for returning my head. Everyone else in Sleepy Hollow will join me in death.”
Ichabod had never considered himself a coward but he ran anyways, never peering behind him as screams filled the night.
Welcome to another ‘Rewind Interview =” in my now weekly interview series. Ryan is a talented Australian poet, extremely amazing, so I’m excited to reshare his interview with you both on my own blog and now on the Go Dog Go Cafe. The Cafe is a writer’s hangout and you can even submit your work there for publication. Here is the link to do that here: Go Dog Go Cage Contact Page.
Originally, I was doing this as a bi-weekly feature, only on my own blog. So in order to do this as a weekly feature on both my blog and on the Cafe, I’m going to be sharing some ‘Rewind interviews” as I think these writers are equally due recognition on both sites. Just to mention, since this is a ‘Rewind Interview’ some of the info might not be current.
Today, I’m excited and pleased to share with you the talented writer, poet, and bloggerRyan Stone of ‘Days of Stone’. Please visit the link provided to read more about Ryan and read his superb poetry.
1. Please Tell Us About Yourself?
The blood of the Irish runs deep in my veins but I’m an Australian born and bred. I was raised in a ‘man’s land’ of karate, fast motorbikes, heavy metal guitars, and football with Aussie rules.
My love of reading and writing was not readily accepted. Instead, I was forced to indulge my interests under my bed covers by torchlight. But the poets Seamus Heaney,Kenneth Slessor, Walt Whitman, and Maya Angelou — all have a way of asserting themselves in my writing.
Although I have no real love of uniforms, I’ve worn a few in my life so far: the combatfatigues of a soldier in the field and driving a battle tank; the torn black denim of a metalguitarist; and the turnout gear of a firefighter. I’ve been a rank-and-file cop, a detective, and a member of a plainclothes special duties team. When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains.
I have no formal credentials, only an observer’s eye and an insatiable appetite for books. I’m rough around the edges, but the right turn of phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time. I love Metallica, Ted Kooser, and with equal passion, my closest friend in the world, my German Shepherd (don’t tell my wife).
“When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains . . . the right turn of a phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time.” – Ryan Stone
2. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?
The first time I considered my writing to be writing, was towards the end of highschool. I was blessed with an incredibly passionate Englishteacher who managed to channel a teenage boy’s angst and anger into something less destructive. When one of my poems earned me a kiss from a pretty girl I had a crush on, I knew writing was something I’d stick with.
I’ve never been much of a social media fan. But I reached a point where I became sick of waiting several months for editors to respond to my poetry submissions; I turned instead to WordPress. Along with all the great writing and posts, I’m able to read from other writers.
However, I’ve developed a wonderful, supportive group of friends, and readers, who offer feedback and advice in a much shorter time frame than editors. While I still submit to poetry journals, my year of blogging has given me a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction.
3. What Does Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
To borrow from my favorite quote by Anton Chekhov: Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.
I love the way a poem can capture more than a photograph, can carry an image or emotion over time and space, and let me experience someone else’s worldview for a moment. I also like the way reading one of my own poems years after it was written can transport me back to a previous ‘headspace,’ for a moment.
” . . .Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.” – Ryan Stone (borrowing from Anton Chekhov)
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation To Write?
Nearly all of my poetry begins while I’m running with my dog through the rain forest beside my house. Usually, a thought, a memory, or an observation takes root and nags at me until I jot it down. Sometimes, an unusual word or phrase will catchme the same way.
My dog has developed his very own ‘here we go again’face which he pulls each time I pause during a run so I can tap out a note or two on my phone.
5. Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like To Write?
Predominantly, I write at night, when my boys are asleep, and the house is quiet. I am frequently awake into the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes. During these hours, I can most effectively explore and develop the notes I jot down during the day.
” I am frequently awake in the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes.” – Ryan Stone
6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I have two fantasy novels I’m working on at present. One is about a princess who becomesa pirate queen after her parents are murdered, the other is about an orphan boy who becomes a magician and later, a king.
Both novels began as short stories which expanded and grew during a couple of National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo). As well, both novels are over hundred-thousand words and in need of serious revision. As with everything, time is a killer.
Poetry wise, I’m writing a chapbook with one of my closest internet mates (Ajay) who lives in India. It is loosely based on flowers and cultural differences. I’m currently editing a collection of my Senryu (5-7-5) poems, with the intention of self-publishing a small e-book of one-hundred Senryu poems, in the next few months, unless a publisher comes along sooner.
7. Have You Published Any Writing or Are You Planning To Publish Works Of Writing In The Future?
I’m fortunate enough to have had many poems published in a number of online journals, print anthologies, and poetry magazines. I never thought anyone other than my mum would enjoy my writing and rarely submitted my writing anywhere until recently.
A few years ago, I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet,” which I thought had a chance of being published, so I submitted it to a couple of places and was rejected each time. On a whim, I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine (a magazine in the UK to which I subscribe).
I was blown away when my poem won first prize and £100 (quite a lot of money with the Australian exchange rate being what it is). That first win gave my confidence a much-needed boost and I’ve been submitting ever since.
“I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet” . . .I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine . . .and was blown away when it won first prize and £100.” – Ryan Stone
8. Can You Briefly Describe The Process You Went Through To Publish or Are Going Through To Have Your Writing Published?
All my publishing to date has been by submission, so I’ll talk about publishing by submission. Whether it’s a print journal, online review, magazine, blog, or something else, the rules are always the same:
Read the publication first, to gain an idea of what style of writing they publish. While it doesn’t hurt to offer something fresh, I usually have a fair idea of an editor’s likes and dislikes before I submit.
Read and re-read the submission guidelines before you hit send. An improperlyworded subject line can be enough for an editor to discount the submissionwithout even reading the poem. Some publications request everything in the bodyof an email, others prefer attachments. Decent editors are inundated with submissions which meet their specific requirements and most, won’t waste their time with substandard submissions.
Take rejections gracefully. Analyze any critiques subjectively and apply critiques if you think they are warranted.BUT DON’T GIVE UP – submit, submit, submit. There are a million homes for poems out there and because a poem isn’t right for one editor or magazine certainly doesn’t mean it won’t be a prize winner for another editor or magazine. While I’m realistic about my own writing, I generally look at rejections as a case of a bad fit, not a bad poem.
9. What Is Your Writing Process Like?
Almost exclusively, my writing begins as a note or two on my iPhone (often while I’m running) and later develops on my iPad. My writing environment is incredibly vital to me and the Mac/iPad writing program — Ulysses — puts me in an excellent creative ‘headspace.’ I tend to write the first draft quickly once idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over…
I am incredibly fortunate to have found a brilliant first reader. She’s an amazingly talented poet in her own right as well as possessing editing skills second to none. For some reason, I’ve yet to understand, she seems to enjoy my writing and conversation and has nurtured and developed my poetry to no end. My first reader’s input is a huge part of my process in developing a poem from initial idea to finished piece.
“I tend to write a first draft quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over . . .” – Ryan Stone
10. Do You Prefer Certain areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?
When I’m reading a novel, it is usually fantasy and almost always a series. StephenKing’s Dark Towercollection is a favorite, as are Game of Thrones, Magician, TheBelgariad, Lord of the Rings, and Bernard Cornwell’sArthurianbooks.
I also play a great deal of electric guitar which draws me to music biographies as well, anything rock or metal is fair game. Additionally, I love short story collections: Italo Calvino takes first prize there, and I read as much modern poetry as I can get my hands on.
Originally, my love of poetry was nurtured by Maya Angelou, Kenneth Slessor, JimMorrison (The Doors), and Jewel Kilcher. When I first discovered Ted Kooser a few years ago, my own poetry made a huge leap.
Kooser’s book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, was full of ‘Aha!’ moments for me. Most recently, I’ve lost myself in the brilliant BuddyWakefield and Richard Hugo’s:The Triggering Town.
11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers?
I’m not really big on dishing out advice, as everyone writes uniquely. What works for one person, won’t always help another person; but I can certainly share what works for me.
The important thing is to write, write, write and keep writing. It doesn’t have to be good. I have loads of writingwhich will probably never see the light of day; however, once the first jumble is out of my head, the writing that follows is much better.
I don’t edit my first draft as I write. I write it all down and worry about cleaning itup later. If I’m only editing a word or two, then I’ll delete and replace. If I’m editing a whole line or large section, I cut and paste in a new version – v1, v2, v3, (etc .) and keep each version in the same document. I find it’s much easier to revise without the fear of losing words or ideas I may want to later reinstate.
Once I’m happy with a version of my work, I put it aside for a few days and return to it later with ‘fresh eyes.’ I find it much easier to spot weak points, sticky spots, doubled up words, bad rhythm, (etc.) when I’m reading it fresh.
The poem is more important than the truth. When I’m writing a poem based on an actual event, I find it easy to place value on a thing because its memory is significant to me. Often, I don’t want to let the thing go from the poem. This can become a weak point as the particular thing doesn’t make the poem better and doesn’t hold the same value for the reader. Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.
“Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.” – Ryan Stone
12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like The Share With Us Which You Think Is Pertinent To Writing or Yourself?
An honest first reader who will tell me what works and what sucks without worrying about my feelings is worth her weight in gold.
13. Can You Please Share With Us Few Links Of Your Favourite or Most Loved Pieces?
Until I saw those wasted hands,
brittle as chalk, I hadn’t thought
how fast the years make ghosts.
I heard them once called brawler’s paws.
For me, they were always more:
cobras, poised to strike.
But his brawling days are gone now;
I could kill him with a pillow,
if I cared enough to try.
Thin sheets press tightly to a bed
more empty than full, his body broken
like the promises of childhood.
Haunted eyes betray last thoughts
of a dim path, spiraling down.
He hopes to make amends.
“Forgiven?” he croaks,
barely there, as always,
and I’m wishing that I wasn’t.
With the last rays of day as witness,
I turn my back with purpose
and hear the silence roar.
In a late-night bar, I catch my reflection
swimming in a glass of bourbon;
but I’m staring at a ghost.
First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 163, April 2015 – first place
Thank you so much to Ryan Stone for doing an interview for me. I appreciate his time answering the interview questions a great deal. I would love tointerview you too. Please let me know if you’re interested in sharing yourself and yourwriting on my blog. You can reach me on my Contact Page.
Leisbeth crooned to her pet dragon, Brand. She had raised him from when he was nothing but a babe, pushing his way out of his golden egg.
Brand would never be a huge dragon, but he was worth a lot of money to many people. His scales, his wings, and his teeth were valuable so Leisbeth protected him. She cared for his wounds from hunting for large animals and after locals injured him.
Despite being gentle, Leisbeth could be fierce. She knew she was fragile, but she possessed a gift, sorcery not even Brand knew she possessed.
In turn, Brand was Leisbeth’s protector. He knew she was a soft woman, her voice small and melodic. Her hands uncalloused and her long blond hair shiny and flowing. All these traits of beauty put her in danger.
She knew nothing of the cruel world, that men spilled blood, both dragon and human for small amounts of silver. Brand still remembered the screams of his dragon parents slaughtered, as he fought his way from his golden egg. He was tiny then, but he remembered their terrified roars.
However, Liesbeth had saved him so they would always be together. Brand would protect her inherit gentleness while she would guard him with her magic. Those who would hurt her intelligent companion would regret it.
To Leisbeth, Brand was her friend who in private, loved to be held and stroked. Both their abilities would keep the other alive for thousands of years.
Goodmorning! Hope you are all well! I’m sharing a couple of poetry pieces published on Instagram @herheartpoetry from http://www.herheartpoetry.com. As many poetry magazines, they have various topics each month/submission period.
This first poem was published months ago and the theme was on ‘love/relationships,’ and the second poem was published this past week on the theme, ‘Howl at the Moon.’
For anyone interested, this is another awesome place to have your poetry published. You do, however, need to create a square picture with some app on your phone/tablet that edits photos, from a photo of your poem on MS Office or in someway, creatively create an Instagram poem that is square 🙂
I’m going to continue with my one of my Tale Weaver prompts with a modern rendition of Red Riding Hood with the main character, Red, who has just met Axel.J. Wolff or ‘Wolff’ in her grandmother’s house. Wolff is house-sitting for grandma Addy who is in Hawaii with Wolff’s Grandpa Reggie. Things were heating up for them at the end, I wonder what will happen when they get to the park?
She shouldn’t have run but that’s what she did. Wolff offered her his hand and invited her to keep him company and she panicked.
“The rest of the food is in the fridge,” she said ignoring Wolff’s outstretched hand. She turned towards Gran Addy’s bedroom door before Wolff could capture her hands again.
He was gorgeous with shamrock green eyes and tanned skin, probably from being out on the golf course but well, who was she to judge. She had had to learn to golf for work herself but instead of tanning her fair skin on the he course, her skinned often burned.
Red was alarmed she didn’t want to resist Wolff. He had gazed at her as if she were prey, looking her up and down as she found herself caught betweeen him and freedom through Gran’s bedroom door. He had licked his lips and stretched his arms above his head.
As if Red, wouldn’t notice his taut muscles and the pleased grin on his face. His teeth showed as he grinned as if Wolff thought she would give into him like weak prey. But Red wasn’t weak. No one had called her that for a long time. Red was strong. She was first in her class at Columbia and the best young associate at her firm.
Just the same, when Wolff asked Red to stay she backed up and tripped over her flats caught on the carpet. Then, getting up before Wolff could help her, she took off out the front door towards the safety of her red Coralla.
As she drove off, Red saw Wolff leaning against her grandmother’s front door, smiling at her. There was no doubt his gaze was predatory.
Thick lust and heat coursed through her veins as she backed up her car trying to force herself to calm down. Wolff waved and Red’s tires squeeled as she took off down the gravel road towards her family’s summer cottage and safety.
When Red walked in the cottage her mom appeared surprised to see her, “Gina? I’m surprised you’re home so early. Your Grandma called and said you were having a wonderful time with Reggie’s Grandson Wolff. I thought you’d be a while,” Anne said raising her eyebrows.
“Um, he’s fine. Wolff appreciated the food.”
Then Red got mad, “You should’ve told me Grandma Addy was in Hawaii with Reggie. Wolff scared the h*ll out of me. I didn’t know what he was doing in Gran’s bedroom.”
“Oh, Gran said she had the biggest bedroom. Reggie and she are gone for three months so she felt Wolff should have the biggest room in her house. She bought some manly bedding and packed away her old trinkets. He’s been so good to your Gran and Reggie.”
“You should have said something. I hate being surpised like that. I almost screamed bloody murder. I don’t need you or Gran to set me up like that. I’m a single girl and I like it.”
Red’s mom chuckled, “Most unattached women say that until they meet a great guy. Axel has his demons behind him and needs to settle down. Well, that’s what your Gran and Reggie said. It was their idea for you to bring him food. I thought it was a great one, ” Anne said winking.
Red stomped her foot, ” I get to choose who I want to date or meet. I mean, he was half naked in Gran’s room. Who does he think he is trying to shut me up before I tell him to get out? He shouldn’t be in there, doesn’t matter what Gran Addy thinks. Doesn’t he have a job and his own place?”
Anne chuckled again, ” He was half naked, eh? I would’ve loved to have seen that. I’ve seen Axel on the beach a few times and that man works out. Such intense green eyes, an Irish background, a hot body, and helpful to his Grandpa, sounds sexy to me. If I was a bit younger, I’d go for him.”
“Mom!” Red said shocked.
“He likes you, you know?”
“Does not. He doesn’t even know me.He just wants what ‘all ‘guys want.”
‘Did he ask you to stay?”
“Yeah, he did. But I panicked. I never panick. I’m cool under pressure. That’s why I’m good at my job,” Red said confused.
“You ran, didn’t you? Took off like Little Red Riding Hood being chased by the big bad ‘Wolff?” Anne said laughing a her joke.
“I did. Not quite like that though. How did you know?”
“You look anxious and I know you well. What did you think was going to happen?” Anne said enjoying teasing her daughter.
“Stop it, mom. I can’t handle a guy like Wolff now. Too hungry, the kind of guy who wants too much. I’ve plenty of options in the city.”
“Yet, you don’t date much,” Anne murmered.
Red stomped her food again, “I’m fine. I’m going to bed. Don’t bother with breakfast for me tomorrow. I’m going for a run in the park when I wake up, a long one.”
Anne chuckled,”I’d be careful if I were you. Axel Wolff likes to run in the park in the mornings too.”
“Well, I’ll go running tonight then. The sun’s up for a few more hours.”
“Red, don’t go. You’re all worked up for no reason and you haven’t had dinner, have you?”
“No, I’m fine. I’ll eat after I’m back.”
Red left the family cottage slamming the back door. She changed into her running clothes in her car and made a beeline for the park a few blocks away. When she was half-way down one paved trail she stopped abruptly.
Wolff was sitting on a park bench in his own running clothes. He had taken his shirt off, and Red could see his fascinating tattoos. She wondered what they were images of and what they meant.
Her eyes were glued to Wolff, wiping the sweat off his body with a towel. For some reason, her mouth was dry. She felt heat flowing through her veins again. It was an overpowering sensation.
Shaking her head, Red noticed she had stopped running entranced by Wolff’s body and shamrock green eyes. He gazed up at her and stared.
Wolff’s lips curled into a half-smile, “Surprised to see you here?”
“What are ‘you’ doing here?” Red asked instead.
“Had to wear off supper. But I’m hungry again. Did you come to help me with that?”
“Not really. But . . . ”
Wolff cut her off, “You do have big eyes, Red. They’re beautiful and so are you. Sit, talk with me.”
Red was ready to run but then Wolff was in front of her as in Gran Addy’s room. He grasped her wrist gently. Red could tell he wasn’t afraid of confrontation. For some reason he made her feel okay with backing down. No other guy did that.
She pulled and tugged but Wolff wouldn’t let her wrist go. She was disgusted with herself for not smacking his amused face.
“You, you just want to eat me up with your big teeth,” she said fumbling to find words.
Wolff laughed, “It’s not my teeth you should be worried about.”
Red tried pulled away from Wolff again. By then, Wolff had guided her to the park bench without her realizing it. Putting on his shirt back on he turned to her. He still grasped her same wrist and hand gently, “So, tell me something Red?”
Red’s eyes dilated, growing larger and bluer. Wolff stroked her cheek with his other hand.