These are the black days

The following poem was written by Holly Bauer, a junior at Clark who is majoring in psychology. Although it takes place in a familiar setting, “These are the black days” uses sinister diction and lively animal metaphors to create an atmosphere of darkness and surrealism. Read it below.

Woman in Tiger

These are the black days

Holly Bauer


These are the black days for I have arrived.
It appears no one was informed
of my current condition. Stygian silences spew from choked throats
and seep through bloated eyes.
The air is thick with it. A pin drops in the distance.
The dance party grinds to a halt.

It pulses back to life as I step inside.
Nervous energy bounces from lips
to feet to fingers. The young lady to my left trembles
like a violin string, incandescent with rage.
Mr. Stockbroker good prospects, lovely home, secret wife in Georgia
has dropped her attention in all the commotion. It may never be recovered.
His eyes are black holes, his skin paper. His thunder is spent and he knows it.
Lady tigress does not. She growls ineffectually,
unwilling to give up such a catch. I bow to the lady, as is proper,
and nod at the stockbroker. He nods back warily.
Our kind rarely meet in such a fashion. Continue reading



The following piece is an “experimental nesting story” written by F. Sebastian Baker. Like its Russian doll namesake, “Matryoshka” contains several similar layers, each a little more revealing than the last. Read it below.


F. Sebastian Baker


“Fool’s Luck?” The cashier arched a skeptical eyebrow.

“It’s my wife’s favorite.” Sharon Hayashi placed her money on the counter. “Today’s our anniversary.” After waiting for the man to ring it up, she tucked the bottle carefully in her purse and walked out of the store, smiling up at the sky. It was a beautiful day. Sharon whistled along with the singing birds as she strolled home at a pace with no hurry in the world, savoring the early September foliage. The jade-green leaves were just beginning to show signs of gold, and though the sun shone brightly there was a cool, refreshing breeze in the air.

She decided ‘breeze’ was too gentle a term, when it snatched the wide-brimmed black fedora right off her head. “Hey!” Forgetting the trees and the birds, she ran after her hat as it danced through the air, teasing her with every dip and swerve, always just barely out of reach. Continue reading


The following poem was written by Clark Writes editor Bruno Lieto. Inspired by the oppressive effects of seasonal depression and the healing power of sunlight, “Moonsilver” uses enjambment to allow ideas to flow through multiple lines, and personification of natural elements to convey their emotional associations. Read it below.


Bruno Lieto


Gentle sunlight doesn’t hide tear-streaked
Cheeks as brilliant reds spill over the sky.
Illumination calls to attention every
Thought that chased sleep away
Throughout the night;
Every last hesitation, every lost lover ever
Held within, every stroke of soft fingers
Against softer skin; all tainted blue by
Overbearing moonlight that binds
Them in ghostly shadows. Continue reading

These Five Walls

The following excerpt is from “These Five Walls,” a novella being written by Sam Marlinga for Clark’s Creative Writing Capstone. In these first few pages, we are introduced to the novella’s discontented and drug-dependent protagonist, whose rambling stream-of-consciousness narration stands in sharp contrast to the terse dialogue between him and his “best-friend-slash-drug-dealer.” Read the beginning of “These Five Walls” below.

Content warning: suicide, substance abuse

liquorbottle1These Five Walls

Sam Marlinga


 “In the fight between you and the world, back the world.” – Franz Kafka

I wake to the sound of ticking while splayed haphazardly on my dingy couch in my cramped apartment wearing yesterday’s clothes with curtains drawn and sunlight peeks through just enough to burn my eyes and irritate my hangover as I tock my head up to search for my phone among the viscera of clothing, food, and other miscellaneous items on the coffee table and floor of the so-called “living room.” The ticking stops as I remember that I don’t actually own a clock that isn’t digital and I pause to realize that it must be late afternoon already since my window faces due west even though I’m much too far from the horizon and I forget about looking for my phone for a second. I move an old sweatshirt and find it staring blankly up at me with no message even though she said she’d have called or at least had the decency to text by now and I shiver as I glance over to the empty pill bottles strewn next to the mostly-empty vodka and gin bottles and an empty pack of cigarettes that I don’t quite remember smoking since I quit, or tried to apparently, over a year ago. Continue reading

Announcing the Winners of our Fantasy Flash Fiction Contest

Thank you to all who submitted to our Fall 2017 contest, and congratulations to our winners:

First Place: “Gold” by Mal Sklar

Mal is a senior majoring in Studio Art and English and therefore enjoys reading, writing, and painting in oils. They primarily write sci-fi and fantasy, particularly in short story form, and they are currently working on a series of queer poems.

Second Place: “In the Red Kitchen” by Matt Wall

Matt enjoys reading the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Neil Gaiman, and writing short sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fiction. He was elbows deep in ink for NaNoWriMo 2017.

Third Place: “Wings” by Davina Tomlin

Davina is a very tall, ballroom-dancing, tea loving sophomore from Oakland, California. She likes writing about women who dance on the edge of normal.

Find the winning submissions below.

dragon eye


Mal Sklar


“Many years ago I was quite young, only two or four hundred by my count. In that time it was the fashion for young dragons to take a princess, the same way it was a fashion for your ladies to wear white to be wed.”

The knight was silent. His armor glittered blue-black as a beetle’s shell.

The dragon unfurled its wings, dislodging a heavy, slithering slide of gold. The chamber was the size of a cathedral, and yet the thing’s wings brushed the singed tapestries before they were so much as half-spread. It shook its shoulders, rattling webby leather, before settling down. It draped its tail across its front claws, gold reflecting dully against the scales of its belly.

It put its huge face rather close to the knight and he resisted the urge to take several steps back. He focused on its nearer eye, as focusing on both proved to be beyond him. It was great liquid thing, amber-colored, a rich gold lit warmly from within. Its breath stank of flowery incense and, smartingly, of sulfur. Continue reading

The Lavenders

The Lavenders, written by former Clark Writes editor Emily Denny, is one of the shows being featured in this year’s New Play Festival, and the first-place winner of the 2016 Loring Holmes & Ruth Dodd Drama contest. Described by the playwright as “a drama that’s funny,” The Lavenders takes place in the 1950s and “explores the not-so-typical relationship between two people consigning themselves to a marriage in order to conceal their sexuality from their conservative friends, family, and neighbors” (CUPS Facebook page). Emily has also stated that “the play is not about the fact that they’re gay, it’s about the fact that they are two people in a relationship and there’s a problem in their relationship. That problem happens to stem from them being gay in the 50s, but the play isn’t about the problem, it’s about how they deal with it.” Read a scene from The Lavenders below, and be sure to check out its final performance, tonight at 7:30 in the Little Center!

lavenders.jpgThe Lavenders

Emily Denny


 He picks up his newspaper. She waits, something else on her mind.

Did I ever tell you about Jimmy Peterson?


Guess not.

What about him?

He was…
(She stops short)
He was my…

(On the edge of his seat)
Oh come on, now you have to tell me.

He was my…

She waits. Building the anticipation.

Spit it out for Christ’s sake the suspense alone will kill me. Continue reading

The R Word

The following speech was recited by F. Sebastian Baker at our last Creative Writing Forum. Written in honor of National Coming Out Day, “The R Word” describes Sebastian’s process of coming to terms with his asexuality, and expresses frustration for being “silenced for [his] own safety, forced to tiptoe around the truth with euphemisms.” Read it below.

ace flagThe R Word

F. Sebastian Baker


I’m warning you, this speech is about the term “retarded.” If that word offends you, please stay and listen, but if it legitimately triggers you, you can leave or do whatever you need to take care of yourself. And to cut off any complaints of censorship: no one told me to make that disclaimer. I chose to out of respect.

When I was younger, but not much younger, only a few years really, I used to think of myself as retarded. That’s right, the dreaded R word, from the Latin retardare, meaning slowed, delayed or held back, usually referring to mental development, although it can cover other things too, like fire when we talk about flame-retardant materials. But in my case, I mean it mentally.

I’m sure some of you are offended that I’d even say that word, because you consider it a slur. Don’t worry, I know better than to call people “retard.” That would be cruel, like telling them they don’t deserve respect, people only pretend to like them, and no matter how hard they try they’re destined to let everyone down. I’d never say that to someone else. But nobody stops me from saying it to myself, so I figure that for me, I can use whatever slurs I want. Obviously not all of them are appropriate, I’d never call myself the N word because, well, I’m a white guy. But I have the right to refer to myself by whatever terms apply. Continue reading

Meet the Editors: Mehr Gunawardena

Mehr is a senior English major whose love for language and awe for its impact is constantly growing. She enjoys dabbling in poetry and other forms of creative writing, as well as making various natural “potions” and drinking a lot of tea. Her poem “Home” juxtaposes the natural beauty of Sri Lanka with the destructive tendencies of humankind, and the narrator’s identity is rooted in both. Read it below.

sri lanka 2Home

Mehr Gunawardena


I come from a land
Of aquatic air and
Crystalized soil,
Rained upon by a
Lush glow of trees.

Where the sun whispers
Harsh secrets of gold
Onto our shoulders
And the moon caresses
Us to sleep.

I come from a land
That composed my
Skin and sand
Out of serendipity,
Lingering to be lost. Continue reading

Meet the Editors: Alyssa Pelletier

Alyssa is a junior Studio Arts and Art History double major with a minor in Creative Writing. She is currently working on three novels, and has recently started writing poetry as well. When her face isn’t squished in a book, she enjoys playing Quidditch, collecting gemstones, and studying ancient civilizations. “June” showcases Alyssa’s talent for poetic sound devices like alliteration and assonance, making it a great piece to be read out loud. Read it below.


Alyssa Pelletier


My sweetest June is ending.
Her last few embers emanate a slow, lazy light.
Her honey sunshine burns softly, burns lowly, burns out.
And I try desperately to embrace her dimming, passing nights.
Replenished again, again, and once more by the morning rises,
She is embarrassed, rebirthed, and gone already.
And finally, she closes her shy eyes, her lashes locked tight,
And I am struck helpless as I watch this humble June die.
Her helpless and fleeting form, her impending voyage away,
Until this time next year again, until she is reborn,
Her sleepy face remains, only whispers left of it now.
My dearest June, on the cusp of goodbye,
My darling summertime,
Please don’t die.