Max Ryan

streets of jogjakarta
                             (for Kat)

she kneels upon the cool stone floor
in a room of the tin-roof hotel
packs her bag like she’s done before
with the hands of someone else
while a guitar’s first slow chords
come drifting through her open door
saying things that words can’t tell

and then she wants to take a chance
on the swirling winds that dance
through streets of jogjakarta

she takes her washing from the garden wall
hears voices echo down the lane
as palm trees buckle in the hot noon squall
bringing dark clouds filled with rain
over the houses and market stalls
the byways where for months she’s walked
but it’s only memory stays the same

and she gives away her plans
to the swirling winds that dance
through streets of jogjakarta

sweat coats your fret board, daylight stares
there’s tea and easy tales of places
outside at the well she’s washing her hair
the sudden image of what grace is
and while music draws pictures from the steamy air
all you see is her sitting there
dark hair falling across her face

and some times you might catch a glance
seized on swirling winds that dance
through streets of jogjakarta

the rooftop thrums with rain
as she comes in to say goodbye
calling you to go or stay
like she once did in another time
and you track your strings to find it again
scattered words to a lost refrain
of steel wheels turning, the night train’s cry  

and then you want to take a chance
on the swirling winds that dance
in hidden byways of her eyes
following in a far-off trance
out to a window where high clouds fly 
in the last hotel before the sky




Max Ryan lives on the far north coast of NSW and is a keen member of local haiku group, Cloudcatchers. He is twice winner of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival Poetry Prize. His book of free verse, Rainswayed Night, won the 2005 Anne Elder Award. He also collaborates with musicians including Melbourne duo Kid Sam and north coast violinist, Cleis Pearce. His collaborative CD with Cleis, White Cow, received several music industry awards.

10 responses to “Max Ryan

  1. Pingback: Stylus Poetry Journal #37 – Street/Life « Another Lost Shark

  2. beautiful,
    reminds me of so many packing day in far away lands, far away villages.
    i wish to see it sung…

    • gnunn

      It is most certainly a beautiful poem… I really think you would like Max’s work. His book, Rainswayed Night, is one of my favourites.

    • Max

      Thanks, Dhyan (is that a Sanskrit name?) and yes it was written as a song, though with an unusual rhyming schema at the end of each verse, and I would love to see it brought to life in musical form.

  3. Freida

    Really enjoyed this…beautiful and lyrical.

  4. max ryan

    thank you, Freida

  5. Pingback: Max Ryan « Another Lost Shark | LYNNE SANDERS-BRAITHWAITE

  6. Kerry Hughes

    Good to have come across you again,Max.It’s been a long time since our Newcastle Uni days.I too like haiku and,having lived in Japan for 20 years,could write haiku and tanka in Japanese.

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