WATCHING MY SON BLOOM INTO SUMMER, poem by Armin Tolentino

His mossy crotch stains the shower floor green
and the drain is clogged with wet clumps of grass.

My boy unfolds into fronds of fern as he slowly sheds
any semblance of me. I’m losing his face through bark

and branches. His hair fluffs with pollen
and his armpits secrete a nectar so cloying

his room is filled with bees. He no longer speaks,
just stares out the window, lusting for sun.

I lie and tell him I understand, that it’s natural,
but my voice is lost through miles of forest.

I don’t know what to get him for his birthday.
I place a basket beneath his outstretched arms

and together we celebrate his falling leaves.

—Armin Tolentino


Armin Tolentino (poem, Back Cover) received his MFA at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, Ellipsis, and Backwords Press. He was a 2014 Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship recipient, and hopes one day to earn a Guinness Record for the world’s loudest clap.

Published in Raven Chronicles, Vol. 22, 2016.

SILLYBRATIONS, an essay by John Olson

Who would’ve guessed? Today (March 14th) is Fill Our Stapler Day. But I don’t have a stapler. I’m very sad. However, I am looking forward to As Young as You Feel Day, which happens on March 22nd.

How young do I feel? I feel like I’m eighteen, but with a full blown case of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and too many wrinkles. You might think I’m sharing too much information, but today (March 16th) is also Freedom of Information Day. I have a lot more information to share, but for now I want to express how much I’m looking forward to next year’s Extraterrestrial Culture Day (February 9th), Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk Day (February 11th), and Absinthe Day (March 8th).  Those days managed to slip by without participating in an extraterrestrial event, drinking absinthe, or crying over spilled milk. To be honest, I didn’t spill any milk. I don’t like milk, nor do I drink absinthe, but I will keep that to myself on February 11th, and show humble respect to those who try not to weep over spilled milk, or cast a sympathetic eye on the drunken stupor of the absinthe drinkers on March 8th, while I, substituting one beverage for another, absent-mindedly sip a cream soda.

Ice Cream Soda Day will have my full attention on June 20th.

Soon also to be celebrated are Awkward Moments Day (March 18th), School Nurse Day (May 7th), Change A Light Day (October 2nd), Face Your Fears Day (October 11th), and — a personal favorite — Zero Tasking Day (November 6th).

The list is endless. There’s probably even an Endless List Day.

Let us enlist in a celebration of Endless List Day.

Is there a Celebration Day Celebration? A Celebration of Celebrations?

Over the years I’ve celebrated weddings, retirements, elections, and time itself (New Year’s).

My favorite celebration is Gazing Out of the Window Day. I just invented it. I’m doing it. I’m gazing out of the window. It’s a celebration. I can feel it. I can feel a fleeting euphoria pass through me and come out the other side as a feeling of gratified participation in the pageantry of life. Patches of sunlight, somebody’s head, a big gray cat. Gazing out of the window is special. It should be honored with idleness, rumination, and rhesus monkeys.

Now that I’ve resumed gazing at the computer screen I must repurpose my activity. I will call this Gazing at the Computer Screen Day.

Why “day”? Why is there never a celebration at night? There are, of course, celebrations that occur at night. But no one says “today is Plum Pudding Night.” Or, “Tonight is National Popcorn Night.”

Is there a celebration for night? For sleep? For late night movies? For popcorn?

National Popcorn Day occurs January 19th. I’m making my costume now. Popcorn shirt, popcorn pants, popcorn shoes. There will be a re-enactment of the birth of popcorn. The Popcorn Bird will descend from the Popcorn Sky and lay hundreds of Popcorn Eggs in the Popcorn Tree. All the eggs will hatch at once: pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! and hundreds of Popcorn Birds will begin begging for popcorn.

If you happened to be reading this on January 19th, have a Happy Popcorn Day. Until then, may you celebrate whatever day it happens to be, including Bring Your Manners to Work Day (September 2nd), Iguana Awareness Day (September 8th), or Origami Day (November 11th).

Or not.

Tie one on on National Knot Day. Is there a National Knot Day? If not, I will be undone.


John Olson is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Larynx Galaxy, Backscatter: New and Selected Poems, Free Stream Velocity, Eggs & Mirrors, and Echo Regime. He has also authored three novels, including Souls of Wind, The Seeing Machine, and The Nothing That Is. His latest novel, In Advance of the Broken Justy, was just published, June, 2016, by Quale Press. Dada Budapest, a collection of prose poetry, is forthcoming from Black Widow Press. He is the recipient of The Stranger’s Genius Award for Literature in 2004, and was one of eight finalists for the Artist Trust’s Arts Innovator Award in 2012.


Published in Raven Chronicles, Vol. 22, 2016.

CELEBRATION: Vol. 22, on Sale, July 1, 2016

by Pat Kristofferson
by Pat Kristofferson

Inside the magazine:

Cover Artwork: Untitled, watercolor by Pat Kristoferson, from The Artist Within, The Art of Alzheimer’s. Pat’s artwork was created at Elderwise, a Seattle-based 501 (c)3 organization, that serves those with memory loss and their families. (http://www.elderwise.org)

Reviews of books authored by:
Michael Daley, John Morgan, Christopher Jarmick, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Ed. Sherman Alexie, Rajaa Gharbi, Gloria Anzaldua, Eds. Ann Fisher-Wirth & Laura-Gray Street.

The work of Artists:
Pat Kristoferson, Jenny Hover, Steve Cartwright, Sue Clancy, Allen Forrest, Mare Hake, Constance Mears, Marilyn Stablein, Theodore Van Alst, Jr., Sheri Wright.

Poetry, Fiction, Essays, Nonfiction, Reviews by:
Richard Linker, Peter Ludwin, Andrew McBride, Frank Rossini, Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, Jesse Minkert, Karen Lee White, Donald Butler, Mary-Jo El-Wattar, Taumstar, Angel Ybarra, Robert Francis Flor, Elizabeth Alexander, John Enright, Jim Bodeen, Susan J. Erickson, Thomas Hubbard, Paul Hunter, Michael Hureaux, Susan Platt, Bill Yake, Larry Crist, Krikor Der Hohannesian, Michael Konik, Constance Mears, John Olson, Adam Phillips, Barbara Ruth, Mary Waters, Paula Marie Coomer, Levi Fuller, Aria Riding, Luther Allen, Crisosto Apache, Linda Beeman, Letitia Cain, Catalina Cantu, Nancy Canyon, Christine Clarke, Chris Dahl, Nancy Flynn, Cate Gable, Rob Jacques, Dawn Karima, Catherine McGuire, Terry Martin, Kevin Miller, Vivian Faith Prescott, Barbara Jane Reyes, David Stallings, Billie Swift, Armin Tolentino, Diana Woodcock.

Big Dane

 

Story goes he drove New Hampshire
in a hand-torqued Saab, the old kind,
sewing machine-size engine, and when it fried,
lugged an extra from his back seat,
bolted it in in the big freeze,
snow half up his ankles.

In Massachusetts I found a green Saab shell
missing its own midget engine.
So he wheezed a donor car in place,
twang of it rattled
like a preacher stirring congregants from sleep-walk,
dust and mold kicked up lungs
in the back-pews aching for a smoke,
but the motor sang like a cherub with a hymnal.

Under half an hour he swapped out the two beater engines,
left me sockets to tighten so I could crawl across the continent,
promising one day a fifty or a hundred in the mail.
You’ll be surprised, but I’ll send it.
That cracked him up.

After all, he smuggled that crapper across two state lines
without headlight, license plate or much of a way
to stop but a rusted handbrake, lashed to the ass end
of his own impeccable road warrior,
he dragged the good engine, me, and that dead car
by the dark of the moon,
to my green SAAB shell somebody
abandoned like a bad check.

When I waved so-long, he yelled it was a hoot.
I’ll send you some money! —
maybe a hundred, fifty for sure,
but I never got to it and he, he’s gone now,
under his own power,
never asked for anything
not from me, helpless as a kitten,
nor old friends who wished he’d sewn
together the distance, and, in stitches,
chugged over the mountains.

—Michael Daley

michaelfdaley@gmail.com


Michael Daley’s poems have appeared in APR, New England Review, Hudson Review, Ploughshares, Rhino, North American Review, Gargoyle, Writer’s Almanac, and elsewhere. Awarded by the Seattle Arts Commission, National Endowment of Humanities, Artist Trust, and Fulbright, his fourth collection of poetry, Of A Feather, was recently published by Empty Bowl Press. (Raven Chronicles’s Summer 2016 magazine, Vol 22. Celebration, has a review of Daley’s book by Jim Bodeen, out July 1, 2016. Bodeen’s review was also published in the Pacific Rim Review of Books, Issue Twenty, 2016.) Michael lives in Anacortes, Washington.