RAVEN: Issue 17 (02/15/2021)
Image Source: chiaralily/Flickr
Torre de Belem
Written by Caroline Murphy
there's something so cruel in the stories we're expected to tell
about places once we've left them, how the pictures
should speak for themselves but only if they
say the right things. if I spoke of the tower
I could say how she rose from the sea
like the hand of an ancient goddess
crawling back towards the heavens,
how the sky around her silently darkened
from amber to obsidian, from everything
to nothing at all, while the evening air
crackled with salty apprehension.
or I could say that what I remember most
about that night sky was how empty I felt
looking at it without you, my hands
counting the stars one by one
just to have something to hold. I could speak
of the wine we drank until too late, a party
we left too early, a football match on TV
we pretended to watch, your hands
on my skirt and how I pretended not to watch.
I could speak of your broken Portugese
dancing against my teeth until the early hours
of sunrise, first saying everything, then
nothing at all. I could speak of what passes
between two people who barely knew each other
and never will, a name that lives in my mouth
until I no longer recognize the taste.
or I could speak of what this place is now,
something less than mine and more
than yours, about what I knew
and what I thought I knew,
then nothing at all.
AUTHOR BIO: Caroline Murphy graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2015 and spent the last four years teaching English in western Bulgaria. She currently lives and writes in Saint Paul, Minnesota. You can find her on social media @tameorchids.
Written by Stephen J. Golds
He brought the drinks over to their table and sat down, complaining about the wait at the bar. She glanced up quickly and nodded with a scrunched up tissue to her cheek. He could see she had been crying and was trying to hide it. He tried to hide the fact he’d noticed. Two people trying to conceal the obvious. She excused herself and went to the bathroom. She took her cell phone and handbag with her. He wondered why. It bothered him. He sipped at his beer, watching the other patrons seated across from each other gazing into their cell phones. Made to pick up his own phone but stopped himself, rearranging a napkin instead. When she came out of the bathroom and sat down, he saw that she had touched up her makeup. Her lips were redder and her eyes more shadowed. She looked beautiful but he said nothing. They looked at one another slowly, occasionally gulping their drinks and trying to seem normal. They had been coming to the same bar together for seven years. A lot of things had changed about it. It seemed busier, noisier and more artificial. The people there had stayed young but the couple had gotten older somehow. Neither of them liked the changes but they still came there because they didn’t know where else to go. They used to call it ‘their bar’ but nowadays they called it nothing. She looked around at the people and smiled sadly to herself and he twisted in his seat to watch a ballgame on a flatscreen television at the rear of the place. Trying to think of something to say. It was their fifth wedding anniversary but it felt as though it was a first date. A blind date. The kind of date that had been set up by coworkers and you attended just to keep everyone satisfied. Satisfied. She sighed softly and he turned back to glance at her and raised his eyebrows. She tightened her mouth slightly and took another sip from her champagne glass. Her neck seemed to be getting saggier like everything else on her and he tried to hide his annoyance at the way aging had unfairly changed her.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked.
“I was just thinking about the night we first met here,” he lied.
“Yeah? I think about that often too,” she almost whispered it and then quickly brought the champagne glass to her mouth again.
“Is there something you wanna talk about?” he asked.
“I guess we should talk, right?” she asked.
“Yeah, maybe but sometimes it’s just nice to just sit in silence and relax together, isn’t it?” he said.
“Yeah, I guess,” she shrugged.
He still came there occasionally. Sat at the same table. He sat and drank. Older now. She’d remarried. Everything was changing so damn fast but the table was still the same at least.
AUTHOR BIO: Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing, and listening to old Soul LPs. His novel, Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, will be released by Red Dog Press in October 2020 and another novel, Always the Dead, will be released by Close to The Bone Press in January 2021.
Written by Sydney J. Shipp
I did not get all my shit together
by the time we reached the car
My bottom half dragged through
a rained out street gutter,
toes dredging through
wet leaves and cigarette filters
for clams I guess
My top draped over
the man who delivered me,
my fingers raking his hair
for familiar strands of silver
Does it matter the treasures
taken in transit
by a woman travelling
in two opposite directions
I wanted something of worth,
some trinket I could trade
for a ticket back home
But while I was preoccupied
with not pulling myself together again,
he packed me lightly
He collected the parts of me,
part and parcel,
into the car
for the last time,
and as both halves of me
looked back on who we were leaving
we both realized
the bastard still had my grandmother’s pearls
AUTHOR BIO: Sydney J. Shipp is an emerging writer who writes poetry to convey the deep, universal feelings inspired by her observations of self, nature and human interactions.
She has been published in Entropy Magazine.
When she isn’t writing, she spends time with family and friends and participates in activity involving recovery from addiction.
To My Little Dress
after Lucille Clifton’s “Poem to My Yellow Coat”
Written by Natalie Marino
Today I remember you
my flower garden.
You made me into a Marilyn
ruby red heels.
The morning after you and I were
under a heavy weight
in a dark room you
transformed me into
a hero like Pearl Hart,
robber of banks, rider
of the last stagecoach
into an amber sunset
tasting blood and stolen gold.
No one will see us again.
I poked a hole in your hem putting you
and a fairytale’s cadenza
in my mother’s attic.
AUTHOR BIO: Natalie Marino is a mother, poet, and practicing Family Medicine physician. She graduated with a BA in American Literature from UCLA. Her work appears in Barren Magazine, Capsule Stories, Floodlight Editions. Green Ink Poetry, Literary Mama, Moria Online, Northern Otter Press, Re-side, and elsewhere. She lives in Thousand Oaks, California with her husband and two daughters.
THE THING CALLED LOVE
Written by Dauntless
Searching through the ocean of words
Climbing the mountain of parables
Treading through the wilderness of expressions
The heart became weary of racing
The feeling remains undefined
The thing called love
A trial sent from above
The piece of puzzle
Filling the missing gap of life
The thing called love
A island of tranquility,
Cyclone of uproar,
Ocean of unity,
Hurricane of diversity,
Rain of prosperity,
With Thunderstorm of cruelty
The thing called love
A journey between two hearts
Undertaken step by step
What the future holds seems cloudy
yet, love paves the way…
AUTHOR BIO: Dauntless is a science student who seeks to travel different spheres of life using words with hidden meaning.
"I pitched love into my crush's DM"
Written by Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan
on a night sleek enough to wear moonlight,
but too slippery to permit a lengthy grip
from burnt hands, I messaged my way
into every emoji & watched my crush harvest
laughter from the rifts between
each word---spilling splashes
every sentence surged with excitements,
vigorous to witness---
her fingers, a connecting integers
finalizing this body into a primer of possibility,
her diction, a polished petal,
her company, a streamlet of pure palm wine;
the connection betwixt us like the grappling
between opposing cables, snail & shell---
but she forgot before morning
how i wanted to be the only moon in her
sky. she said her galaxy was a canopy of stars
& I was a sheer shooting star on a
i waited in fractions as a body leaking
with yearnings that may never find answers.
AUTHOR BIO: Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan is an emerging writer from Ebonyi State, Nigeria. He’s a penultimate medical laboratory science student who explores medicine in the day and worships literature at night. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in several literary journals & magazines; both online and printed. He was the winner of 2018, FUNAI CREW Literary Contest, and The IS&T Pick of the month Prize. He can be reached out to on Facebook @Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan, on Twitter @wordpottersull1.