Raving Dove is like an impressionist painting that you have continuously observed in order to view obscured or distant images or ideas that you may have missed at first glance. Its literary sensibility seems to be one of simple and precisely written elegance to evoke serious political ideas, such as the affects of war, a central focus in this issue, and how it defines our “humanity,” whether it is in the form of nonfiction, poetry, fiction or photography.
In “Haunting Dreams” by Joshua Lee Painter, the main character describes the horrible world that surrounds survivors and patients in a war zone:
The stifling heat permeates the tent, draining my energy and motivation before the day’s trials even begin. I stand up to clear my head and begin my first laborious journey around the hospital, a name it barely earns by modern standards. This collection of dusty tents connected together by planks and tarps does next to nothing to shield its inhabitants from the oppressive desert sun. The hot, dank air within has a sickening smell that becomes overpowering in the heat. It is everywhere, even in my secluded area of the complex.
Painter creates a concise picture of the realistic hardships soldiers had to face fighting a war in the oppressive heat of Iraq’s deserts.
In the poem “‘SAVE THE BATTLEFIELDS’: Ohio Bumper Sticker,” the great or momentous battles in history and memory are recounted. The poem poses a question about how we will commemorate the victims of present and future conflicts: “Can there be monuments enough \ for all who starved or died slowly \ shrieking in agony \ or were blasted into shreds of flesh?” In “Shag’s Flag” by Willie K. Everhart, a survivor of the Vietnam War attempts to theorize what a friends life would be like if he had lived:
He might whittle
while he listened to the patter
of rain tapping the tin roof
of his front porch
battles won and lost.
He would have seen
an endless stream
births and deaths
the comings and goings
of all his friends.
This poem takes a potentially clichéd war ‘what if’ style poem and makes it new by making it honest.
In the story “Sarah” by Tovli “Linnie” Simiryan, Sarah, an Israeli, encounters a young boy who appears to be a suicide bomber on a bus:
Scorched air amid chaos smothered the quiet hysteria invading her soul. Soon Jerusalem, the holy city, would demand vengeance, like a lioness protecting her cubs. Sarah’s body dictated a need for stillness. She calmed herself with a sigh that answered her rescuer’s frantic calls. She was that kind of woman, concerned for the success of others. She was not interested in retribution. There would be time for anger when the missing emerged unscathed from darkness and fire.
Here, Simiryan manages to invent a character that is not only noble but courageous and profoundly concerned with the welfare of others too. And, we the reader are convinced of Sarah’s sincerity.
This is why we continue to read these short fiction, nonfiction and poetry works in Raving Dove. They offer a singularly direct clarity and vision that immediately connects you with a character and idea until you are immersed in their experiences and are affected by their emotions, painful or otherwise. Here, you are always at war, and always displaced whether you are in your own homeland or on foreign ground.