Ryan Hurley

Things We Cut

umbilical cord, my mother’s kite string.

pine tree bark, the saw blade hungry for heat.

foreskin, our first offering, sin, sacrifice.

birthday cake, the sugar’s tragic reminder.

hair, this should be more difficult.

wrists, plump with fear.

bread loaf, thins slices of salvation.

wing tip, the caged animal’s final passport.


May 22, 2011 – The Day After “Judgment Day”

I cried myself to sleep last night,

the morning landed softly, light shone

through the dust that ain’t gone neither,

my prayers ain’t been workin these days,

my sins musta been too deep to be unearthed

from this hell, I knew ma and pa been waitin

for me, I hope they heard it’s been postponed,

I ain’t packed no clothes, just a plastic bag

with ma’s favorite dishrag, she loved this kitchen,

when I was little I’d swing from the big oak tree

out in the front yard, sometimes I’d catch

her eye from the kitchen window,

she’d smiled like I was her pride and joy,

she’d used to say “be careful up in that tree

honey, I ain’t ready to lose my only son to

gravity,” one time when I was much older

I fell from the second highest branch, right

on my back, I sat up and looked right over to

that window, expecting to see ma’s scared face

but that window’s been broken for almost

two years now, one day when I was boiling

sum water, a bird flew right into the glass,

I ran outside to see if it was alright, it was

a red bird, it laid still but looked like it was

going to be okay, I put its body on the highest

tree branch, so when it woke up it could just

fall and fly, I haven’t looked to see if it woke yet,

my pa buried our dog in the backyard, I packed his

pipe in the plastic bag too, if I know him he’s

been cranky without his tobacco all these years,

the sun is starting to go down, I’ll leave the plastic

bag on my nightstand tonight but take my shoes

off this time, the house is quiet and cold tonight,


I wonder if I should have buried that bird?



Ryan Hurley is a member of five National Poetry Slam teams from Wisconsin and has been featured in multiple national publications including The Progressive, Dream of a Nation and Positive Impact Magazine. Ryan is also an elected member of the Emerging Leaders Council with Americans for the Arts, the largest arts advocacy organization in Nation. Ryan is dedicated to using the arts and creativity for community development and engagement.

Nineteen in London

For Peter Lake.


I still see you — haze of tweed, loafers, and cake

running towards the pub, rain pelting your back,

hair already fading white when I blew out the candles

how does it feel to be young; I could not answer


that night — noise, free beers, every man watching

me in red, a dress you bought but, I could only

see you, so handsome with your face alcohol-lit,

you, who quoted Cocteau, Whitman, Proust,

carried me home in the storm and laid me down


in your quiet room, four o’clock, I woke to puke;

found you on the couch, chest rising tiredly under

the weight of a book; I wrapped you in a quilt and

said a prayer — for longevity, past the red dress,

past numbering candles, to when I am wrapped

in a blanket, book on my lap, grey in my hair.


Jacqueline Thomas is a Literature major with a Creative Writing focus at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She intends to continue on to a Graduate-PhD program and receive her PhD in Comparative Literature.

Paisley Wallpaper

You are a memory.

Like a wildflower

in the pages

of an old book,

like a monarch

hanging in a shadowbox

above the fireplace,

like a Polaroid

in an album

under the bed,

like paisley wallpaper

yellowed with smoke,

like sand between our toes

where a mountain once stood,

like an old star

in the summer nights sky.

by  Doc Marek

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