What did I do to deserve this? The way
the smell of your hair care product
filled the room, I could’ve sworn I was
destined for something. My conduct,
lying there flattered by the lamplight,
watching you dress—or undress, I
can’t remember—was as if promised
so much. Under no duress, I
thought all I had to do was stand,
embrace you and take your hand

and that would be enough. But now,
obligations accumulated, this list
of who I am seems just a record of
some motions I went through, witnessed
myself doing. A walk in the park on a
wet winter morning seems a thing
people should know I did.
The trees praised us then, reaching
up bare to the sky the way they did.
Each one was different, we said,

though we considered them a family.


Your Weakling Dress

So tired in your weakling dress,
coming up for air. In some dark
forest a blind owl turns its head,
urging you to confess.

Landlocked, in search of the whaleroad,
how can I compete? It doesn’t matter
about my feet, or creaking ships bound
down river under rumor of the railroad.

In awkward capacity to bloom,
awake, unleashed, exposed to gnarly
sagacity—Let me go, stupid dream!
I don’t care about the dip and the swoon,
the way the headlights crash into the room,

or a lonesome traveler raking leaves
for a meal made by your mother
and a cot under the eaves, wiping dust
from the sill with the elbows of his sleeves…

Matthew Raymond has a BA in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing, from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2016 Black Lawrence Press published his chapbook, The Muddy Season. His stories and poems have appeared in Free State Review, December, Beloit Poetry Journal, Parcel, Permafrost, Euphony, and other places.

Photography by: Milan Popovic

two poems

by Matthew Raymond

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