RAVEN- Issue Five (08/16/2020)
Image Source: come from away/Flickr
The Mother Sweeps
Written by Kristin Kozlowski
While the daughter scrimmages at volleyball practice and the son dyes his hair pink in the upstairs bathroom and the father tucks illicit magazines into an empty shoebox under his side of the bed, the mother sweeps the kitchen. First, she sweeps up toast crumbs and dropped blueberries that roll against the broom's bristles. Errant leaves that snuck in from outside, flour splatter, a hardened chunk of dough. But soon, she sweeps up old letters her grandfather wrote her grandmother during the war, birthday cards her mother gave to her children with crisp twenties folded into them, rose petals from past anniversaries. Baby teeth, receipts from restaurants that have closed their doors, vacation brochures. Sweeping becomes the mother's daily meditation. From one corner to the next, she sweeps up the newspaper clipping from their small house fire, her father-in-law's AA schedule, a business card from when her husband sold cars at the new dealership across town – the dealership that isn't new anymore but sits against the highway like an eternal hitchhiker. The father gives the kids money to go to the show, knowing they'll probably pick up their friends and a six-pack instead and drink at the park by the river. The father asks the mother to join him for dinner at the new restaurant in town, the one with the thin menus and wide circle of high-top tables, but the mother doesn't hear his request. The father walks closer, close enough to feel the breeze of the broom's bristles on his ankles, and asks again. Honey, he says softly, carefully. Would you like to go? The mother doesn't remember when she began crying. How can I? I'm sweeping.
Author bio: Kristin Kozlowski lives and works in the Midwest US. Some of her work is available online at Lost Balloon, Longleaf Review, Pidgeonholes, Cease Cows, and Nightingale and Sparrow, among others. In 2019, she was awarded Editor’s Choice from Arkana for her CNF piece, A POCKET OF AIR. She was also named a finalist in Forge Literary Magazine’s Forge Flash Competition 2019 for her CNF piece, RELATIONSTASIS. If you tweet: @kriskozlowski.
Oniru beach, Lagos.
Written by Chiedozie Kelechi Danjuma I once asked you, with a rose to your ruby lips, if we fall apart, would we be magnets or two dying stars, galaxies away? Let me put this straight: your absence is fucked up. Earth is still, aromas paused, light suspended, evening comes slow, breaking me like leaves falling from a sick branch. I am a dark cloud, waiting for a text, a call or face time, but distance has sunk everything, into the blue, glorious Atlantic. I collect shells at the shore, looking at the skyline, wondering where it all went. I watch the sun take a final dip, changing guard with Lagos lights. I remember our devoted bodies & all the memories the beach holds in its grainy palms: the waves pulling our laughter into waiting mouths of continents & sandcastles & smiles & suya & ellipsis In my white garments, I say a prayer. I can hear the waters gurgle something like your name.
Author bio: Chiedozie Kelechi Danjuma is a Nigerian writer, essayist and lawyer. He is winner of the 2018 Okike Prize for Poetry. His poems and essays have appeared on The Guardian, Disquiet Arts, Rising Phoenix, Neologismpoetry, Praxis Magazine and elsewhere.
Written by Matt Mellor
It even looked cold. The rooftops, walls and pavement had an ashen coat. They bore the brunt of the weather, as they faced the sea, but something else stole their colour. Vibrant tones were sapped, washed away with tears. And yet, nobody lives in these cold shells.
The street is called Habost Gate, but everyone knows it as Widows Row. Their names are well-known here and belief bleeds through small communities. This street is our open wound.
Depending on the wind, you could hear shanties and work songs on the sea air. That day was no different. Until the singing stopped. Screaming took its place.
The ship was never found.
Now, some sailors see pale wrinkled faces in the windows of Widows Row. Individual hermits, looking out from their homes at a sea that swallowed their love. The light of their grief guiding sailors to the bottom of the sea.
Author bio: Matt Mellor is a writer and poet from Powys, Mid-Wales, who writes to understand the human condition and to feed an open mind. His experiences with mental health influence much of his work and he has over ten individual publishing credits. His latest story was published in DBND Publishing's Solitude, titled Snowfall.
Written by Nathaniel Frankland
The witching hour!
(give or take a few minutes)
Mars hangs like a flaring ruby
around the neck of the
a red cat’s eye
winking at me
wet asphalt of a
day one hundred and ninety-nine,
I’m on a long drive from
(always tired of being tired!)
having to make friends with the more
Martian types in life,
until Morning shakes me by the
shoulder and asks if
I’m all right,
‘You’ve been up all night’ he says,
‘Talking to a bloody crane light!’
Author bio: Nathaniel Frankland is 26-year-old Yorkshireman who lives in London. As French graduate, he currently works in the wine industry, but likes to spend much of his spare time writing poetry and music. His poem, Instagramophobe, was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition April 2020.
Written by A. R. Salandy
One may struggle to find faith In a world of convoluted meaning And warring industrial societies But true belief still exists Amongst global structures Continuously crumbling Under pressures manmade, But between exploitation And fledgling diplomacy Exists one belief vested in science Or rather natural conception Where in one omnipotent being One must naively trust To give faulty justification To lives contorted by social beings Whilst the same must rise to the fore With heavy hearts- And statistical noise to give rationale To being wholly misplaced.
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'.
Dark Sky City
Written by Richard-Yves Sitoski
Before I am done I will have a basement
for my unused tent and skis. I will have
a closet for my shirts that no longer fit.
There will be a sink all gummy with soap
and a fridge full of last year's condiments.
And I will have a dormer window
that some kid held a telescope to
in the days of transistor radios,
long before the city made it hard to see
where souls go, if souls rise to the heavens,
before the buildings told the stars
to keep their meagre pension cheques,
sad widowers, to keep their ancient photons
in a world where love is gravity.
Author bio: Richard-Yves Sitoski is a performance poet, songwriter, and the current Poet Laureate of Owen Sound, Ontario. He has released two books of poems with the Ginger Press, brownfields and Downmarket Oldies FM Station Blues. Currently he is at work on a multimedia poetry collection that employs augmented reality technology.
Terse Verse Series poem #98
Inmate #1292002/Joshua Williams
Written by Keith Antar Mason
He told what you can't see
The anal fingered probed
That shattered his manhood
To be placed in the system
The Mo Beast East Penitentiary
He told me
As I mixed the sepia toned gold
For his dark eagle wings
His mother left him
Uncut with his father
Pretty boy tatt'd up
Before he was imprisoned
The needle pushed in deep
Making the cobra rise off his
High yellow flesh
Told him one day he would hand
Like his Great Great Grandfather
Not on a tree by the creek
One late Sunday evening
The high light conclusion
Of a klan rally picnic
But in the Tate Modern
About what you can't see
And wanted in put in
Like a darkie being eating
Falling from the whaling ship
On the wall
Nails and all
I painted him like Goya
Poor Black and raw
Eros as Victor
Dropping blood rusted chains
I put him on the Canvas
Like a Rodin work
Thrust into the future
By what's going on his mind
His genitals hard
The rising sun light
Beneath his barefeet
One day he would be free
From this Maafa
And he told me of the jail house love
That Black men had fallen for
To be forgotten
It was how he end up
A lone soul on Mars
Author bio: Keith Antar Mason is a Black, political poet. He is currently inventing the Terse Verse Series poems, (which are amazing dramatic persona poems).