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  • Writer's pictureClay Literary

RAVEN- Issue Twelve (10/04/2020)

Image Source: Tobias Abel/Flickr


Written by Philip Berry

choose: the one with an easy laugh

quick muscled + flash bone teeth

in perfect time to tide & tone

who catches tears to sip off pain

but know this now, before you stitch

divided hearts    /    nuanced responses

born in cool calculus will come to fit

like stolen skin, slipping soundlessly

snug, smooth, till he no longer feels

when feeling’s needed.

Author Bio: Philip is a writer and poet with previous publications in on-line and print journals such as Lucent Dreaming, Poetry Birmingham, Black Bough, Consilience, and Briefly Write. He works as a doctor in the NHS, and lives in London.



Written by Darshini Poola

The calendar lay flopped by my side,

Scrawled with marks of anticipation.

To watch you come back to me,

And revive those aureolin blooms.

You did return, a rune of vicissitude,

Altered to the point of obscurity.

Touching skies, tasting rainbows,

Abandoning the elixir of your roots.

Origins nourished by immortal rivers of love,

Too choked to reach your heart today.

An adorable ounce of chaos you were,

Now a havoc wrecked in tragic turmoil.

Petals wither in deserted woods of my soul,

I’d give anything to have the old you return.

Never should you have left our haven,

Mistaken were they who made you do so.

Darling! Please hearken to my crushed cry,

Come back! Come back to me, my dear!

Author Bio: Darshini Poola is a writer and artist. They love composing poems that carry a simple yet profound message, as well as create digital images to accompany the posts. Check out their work on Instagram.


When You Run

Written by Grace Elizabeth Butler

A cool, clear pool in the middle of the woods. Anything around the pool? Lilies. Little white flowers. Those are lilies, right? They’re wilted just a little. Look kind of sad like that, bent towards the water. What time of day is it? Don’t know. It’s dark, but I can still see. Evening? Or maybe it’s dark because the trees are so thick. There’s a little light coming through the slits made by the leaves. And the weird thing is, I can feel it. I can feel the light when it touches my face, like soft fingertips. Do you approach the water? I do. I’m inching forward on my knees and I reach to scoop it to my face. I think I’m thirsty. I want that water bad. Do you drink? No. There’s someone else here. I can see a face across the water. Is it him? Who? That man you told me about. The one who hurt you. No. It’s not a person. It has the body of a person, but its head is like a jaguar. I can see the spots on the face. They keep moving, shifting like shadows. I know I said jaguar, but the face seems so human. There are wrinkles from where it’s glaring at me. Fangs when it opens its mouth. And a smell. Hard to describe, like something burning. Like hair or skin burning. It talks to me. What does it say? Its voice is gravelly. It says, Drink deep, Amelia. Drink from the pool of thought and remember. Let it linger, the taste of his tongue in your mouth. Feel the points of his knuckles on your cheek, the crackle of your bones giving under. Can you see them, the bruises that mar your belly, dark purple and gray like storm clouds? What’s wrong? I’m looking into the pool and see my reflection. I can see them, the bruises. I’m naked, and they’re all over my skin. My jaw is hanging loose, and blood is dribbling out. I think it’s broken. Drink, it says. Do you? I try, but the water is so cold, it hurts. It’s like touching shards of glass. I’m so thirsty. Drink, it says. Its voice gets louder every time it says it. It sounds different now. It’s both low and high-pitched, like multiple people screaming. Drink! Do you drink the water? Damn it, I said I can’t! I get up to leave, but my legs won’t work. They keep buckling and folding under me. Every tree and branch I reach for feels sticky and wet. The ground is so soft and keeps moving, I can’t get a hold. I can hear it moving behind me, snapping the twigs. If it catches me, I know it’ll pull me back to the water. Its breath hits my neck, the smell of burning. I can’t look back, I won’t. Does it catch you? You know what? I think I’m done talking about this. I need to get going, anyway. You think I could get a refill on that Ambien? I never dream when I take it. It makes everything soft and fuzzy, and then I see nothing when I close my eyes.

Author Bio: Grace Elizabeth Butler is a Florida-based author who earned a BA in Writing from the University of Tampa while working part-time as a paramedic. Specializing in fabulist and magical realist fiction, she has previously had short stories published in journals such as The Thieving Magpie and Jersey Devil Press



Written by Lucy Wallis

I came into being in their back garden, with little coal blocks for eyes and little sticks for arms, and I've spent my whole life watching other people through their kitchen window. Bathed in the halogen softness of kitchen lighting, gathered around tables laughing. Imagine the sound of blackbirds singing as a child learns to walk, or learns to bake, or learns to fight back, or learns to think of themselves as something other than what they thought they should be. Imagine the night drawing in on february evenings, little face at the window asking: let me in. Imagine the TV flickering; images of other worlds and other times, the blue-grey light dancing through the night to light up my coal eyes with electric dreams.

Sometimes I think they built me out of left over love the world didn't really want anymore, so that there's no pair to me. I'm a lost cog cast adrift on an ocean of grass, wooden fingers reaching for a groove by which to hold myself fast.

One day they took one of my arms for a sword. Little hit big with it in the eye and big went down howling weeping red. One day they took one of my coal eyes for the fire and left me half blind, winking hopefully up at the back bedroom window that one of them, big or little, might come for an adventure somewhere, but things like that only happen in the movies.

In the spring I twine ivy into a crown, and bathe in the soft fragrance of lily of the valley until the flowers wilt and fade away. Their whispers of the joy of becoming fading like gulls on ocean air, but I have never seen an ocean, except the sky.

In the summer I'm a dry pile of sticks. They make bird’s nests in my breast pocket and I become mother for a scant few months, until they fledge and leave me listless.

In the autumn the leaves robe me in splendour, I become a king. A crown of orange adorns my head and fleshes out my wooden arms and makes me beautiful. I flicker through the garden like a flame, like bonfire smoke. 

I dream of when the winter comes to flesh me out. Fill my lungs so that I might breathe frosted glitter, and wink my dark eyes at the moon. In the winter I can be filled with magic ready to whisk someone somewhere, I'll be ready to fly, I'll be full of weather. I think of warm little hands to mould my chest and fill it with love; smooth my face round, and make my cheeks full; to jam a carrot under the coal so I might smell winter blooms, and to tie a little red scarf around my neck to keep me warm. But they don't come. 

This winter it rained instead of snowed, and my discarded arms dripped onto turf stripped bare. My broken ribcage of elder or ash filled with puddles, and my one last eye rolled in the centre of it: wet. Full of weather, but not quite how I imagined it. 

Both little and big are big now, and their big boots crunch up the garden path. At last! I think they're coming to play. Big reaches down to pick up my scant twigs. He handles me with such care that I am reminded of little hot hands in little red gloves, of the tender way he held my twig hand, or the way he took his own hat from his own head and placed it on mine. I feel the suggestion of a smile move across my unface, which hasn't yet come into being. Big cradles me to his chest and carries me into the house. Then out of the front door. where are we going? 

- yeah, it's garden bin day tomorrow. I hear mum say, and think, why should that matter? big places me gently somewhere safe and kind of warm, but as he draws back I see him reach over me. no, I think, not here. don't leave me here. I twitch my sticks and hope to move, if only it had snowed, if only I could fly. But that only happens in the movies. The sky turns off and, in the dark, I hear Big's footsteps crunch unknowingly away.

Author Bio: Lucy Wallis is a writer from London who can currently be found in Paris leaving croissant crumbs in between the pages of books. She is the Editor in Chief for Near Window, a zine born out of confinement, and her work can be found in the daily drunk mag, rejection letters, Abyss Diving, and a few other such places. 

#ClayLiterary #RAVEN #LitMag #poetry #shortstory #fiction #PhilipBerry #GraceElizabethButler #DarshiniPoola #LucyWallis #amwriting #writingcommunity

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