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  • Writer's pictureClay Literary

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.


Split Up

Written by Sydney J. Shipp

Half crawling,


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.



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

transcendental rehearsal.

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.

#poetry #shortstory #litmag #ClayLiterary #writerscommunity #fiction

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