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  • Writer's pictureClay Literary

RAVEN: Issue 16 (01/15/2021)

Image source: Kaveh/Flickr

Numb lips

Written by A. R. Salandy

Lips luscious and subdued Rest simply above the barking hounds That demand submission To hard men, balding and bashful, But honour they do All the torsos behind screens And reanimated images That serve lusty hands, Never consensual, Never pain free, But pure transaction Paid in vile games And worked for By languished sarcophagi That suffer for labour mortal, But some only love fearful flesh silent, Easily manipulated in nights of great longing.

Author bio: Anthony is a mixed-race (POC) poet & writer who enjoys the pastoral, as well as the depth of human sentiment and action and, tries in earnest to express this in his poetry. Anthony travels frequently and has spent most of his life in Kuwait jostling between the UK & America. Anthony's work has been published 49 times in Kuwait Times, The Showbear Family Circus, Dream Noir Literary Journal, FullyLit Magazine, Idle Ink, Versification, The Wild Lit Mag, The Daily Drunk, LuckyPierreZine, Milly Magazine, Analogies & Allegories Lit Mag, Neuro Logical Literary Magazine, etc. Anthony has one published chapbook entitled 'The Great Northern Journey'.

Twitter/Instagram: @anthony64120


The Dust of Wild Horses

Written by Gabrielle Loren

....till morning" A January breeze, Mouths in peeking camellias, With gentle fingers to plait your hair, That though you sit, With a mind of horses, Rearing and running, Through each locked door, The skies hold no cloud, To block your escape, Nor binds you to be, Anything more, Than sough of wind, Floating to another, Who needs the words, Under the hooves of wild horses, Corralling weeping carriages, Around a forlorn moon. "Tis only a stretched minute till morning"

Author bio: Gabrielle Loren is a budding poet from the English countryside. Currently studying to become an ODP in the NHS, Gabrielle has also been at the frontline of COVID-19 and treasures any moment that can be spared on writing poetry. Forthcoming in The Spellbinder literary magazine, Dreich Xtra and The Young Writer's Initiative Literary magazine. Her Twitter and Instagram handles are @GabrielleLoren3 and @poetryof_loren.


I'm usually always ready to die...

Written by Gale Acuff, PhD

I'm usually always ready to

die, I'm ten years old, I might not until

I'm 100, might not croak I mean, who

knows but God and He's not really talking

or if He is I'm not understanding

but it's good to be prepared, Boy Scouts

say so and I guess the Scriptures, too, I don't

really know since I don't read much--watch me

graduate from high school anyway one

day if maybe a year or two behind

and as for my immortal soul, at church

they preach that I don't want to go to Hell,

there's no future for folks there but not so

in Heaven, now there's true Eternity

but to get to go you die. Religion.

Author bio: Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Reed, Poet Lore, Chiron Review, Cardiff Review, Poem, Adirondack Review, Florida Review, Slant,Nebo, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Roanoke Review and many other journals in a dozen countries. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. Gale has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.


Lumos Maxima

(Turn the Dark into Light)

Written by Samavia Tazeen

Note 1

Let’s walk,

Inside the Alley of Fuss.

Let’s peep,

Into the Dark of Mind.

But what the fuss is all about?

You really want to rewind?

To see the Struggle,

To see the Pain.

Standing alone

In the Rain.

But, Behold!

There is a silver line.


Is going to be Fine.

Struggle to stand Firm and Fight,

To Turn the Dark into Light.


Note 2

It’s Your Pain,

It’s Your Dark.

But being the Rain?

It’s an Art.

All the Hope that you need

Was buried along in your heart.

Dig again,

Put Hand in Dirt.

Search again

To make it hurt.

Not the body

But the soul.

Time again

To make it Whole.

Stand aside but Stand in Sight,

To Turn the Dark into Light.

Author bio: Samavia Tazeen is a BS major in English Language and Literature from University of the Punjab. Some of her articles have been published in two different languages. She is passionate and determined to bring positive change and hope through her writings. She can be reached via email or on facebook as ‘Sama Tazeen’ where her work can be seen.


Lord’s Protest

Written by Mukund Gnanadesikan

Our father, if your ears are open

Who are you, why so blind and slothful?

In heaven sun may shine like diamonds

But here the smoke of bombs chokes out the light

Your name is called in service of dark purpose

Man’s excuse for children extinguished on beaches

Your kingdom splintered into tiny fragments

Watered by the tears of dead and living

Your will on earth equivocal and clouded

And what I see offends my mortal eye

On earth the human mind and soul and body

Rule the corpus of the watery globe

Give us our bread to fill the unfilled maw

For millions fall to hunger every day

Will you forgive trespass and debts of mortals

Choked under smoke and dust of bombshells?

Will you deliver us from our own evils

Or shall we perish under rising tides?

Author bio: Mukund Gnanadesikan’s poetry and short stories have been published in Ayaskala, The Bangalore Review, Calliope on the Web, The Cape Rock, Cathexis Northwest, Meniscus Literary Journal, Blood and Thunder, Kreaxxxion Review, New Verse News, Saccharine Poetry, Dreams Walking, and Praxis, among others. He is a proud alumnus of Princeton University, and practices psychiatry in Napa, CA.


Fade In

Written by Nandini Maharaj

Tell me your best one as I cobble together dreams from feathers and fabric swatches. Whisper it so only I can hear. Slowly, so I can savour each sound and syllable. Tell me under the covers. With only the glow of warm amber from a flashlight that’s seen better days. Holding my breath as I count the distance to the moon and back. It’s not all that far if you compare it to retracing footsteps made long before you came into being. I lie in bed blinking away my hapless search for a sense of normalcy. For parents, two of a kind, who never existed even in the most far-fetched tales. Trying in vain to shield me from the sun. Slathering my skin with SPF lotion, unyielding in its distinctive dullness. For parents who stumbled to faraway lands, icy and unforgiving. Who lined up all the stars to make my dreams fly. I wish I didn’t remember it this way. I wish I could forget it all. I wish I could make it so that it wasn’t mine. My trepidation is soothed only by the lilt in your voice and the un-storying of a world where I don’t exist.

Author bio: Nandini Maharaj is a writer and dog mom with a PhD in public health and counseling psychology. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Little Old Lady Comedy, No Contact,, and Hobart. Find her on Twitter or her website.



for Jim Harrison

Written by Martina Reisz Newberry

Last night’s rough wind carried your poems like

telegrams to my dreams. I saw you,

comfortable in your body, drifting

downstream on a raft you made yourself.

No paddle, no oar, just compliant

drifting, coasting as you love to do.

When you drifted to a sandy place at the

shore, you walked to the rock where I sat.

“What do you want?” You asked this of me.

Undisturbed, I answered you: To laugh…

to laugh out loud and mean it. The dream ended

and I woke to yet another day

in which you would not write—for yourself

or for a world bereft of rafts and sandy places.

Author bio: Passionate in her love for Los Angeles, Martina currently lives there with her husband, Brian, a Media Creative.


Wake up routines: 2010 – 2020

in no particular order

Written by Stephanie Powell

And somedays, I’d wake up at five am, before the rest of the low, sleep-sewn bungalow. Sky hue of navy – right at cusp edge of dawn. The sound of grazing in the backyard, grass being ripped from the soil. I’d make tea, sit down at my desk and listen-out for footsteps on the landing. The pipes warming up in-between the walls.

And somedays, deep mid-winter, I’d wake up in darkness. The day already seen through. Tongue a slope of ash and vinegar. Mouth tasting like a split open tea-bag. I’d turn on the kettle, count my bruises and tidy things away.

And somedays, I’d wake up our legs and arms in a pile. My face touching your right shoulder. The duvet falling off the bed. Maybe rain coming down outside – I’d open the window to hear it better – the room half-dark, prayer-like.

And somedays, I’d wake up at seven-thirty, the first planes flying close, near to touching the roof of the inner-city flat. Bright light behind tissue-thin curtains, smell of cigarettes coming through the wall. Hot oil being worked into a frying pan in the kitchen – the lorikeets scratching and chirping at the windows.

And somedays, I’d wake up – the cold dug too far into my bones, and not get up at all.

And somedays, I’d wake up to heavy flip-flop steps like machine-gun fire in the kitchen. The crash of cutlery ripped from the draw and cereal bowl set-down down on the table. The wind-up croak of the toaster, dad scraping butter out to the edges of the bread- asking if I was awake yet.

Author bio: Stephanie Powell is a poet. She grew up in Melbourne, Australia and currently lives in London, United Kingdom. In addition to poetry, she works in documentary television. She’s been previously published in The Bacopa Review, The Halcyone, Greetings Anthology (Enthusiastic Press), New World Writing and Not Very Quiet.


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