Donald Raymond

Originally hailing from the backwaters of San Jose, CA, Donald Raymond now lives in the tiny, cow-haunted hamlet of Alturas, CA, where he works as an accountant, because his guidance counselors never warned him that sort of thing could happen. He spends his free time studying Egyptology, cooking, and arguing with his cat. You can read more of his work at Angel City Review, Arsenic Lobster, and Eye to the Telescope.

Floor is Lava

“…things shouldn’t be so hard.”
– Kay Ryan

As happens.  The toes grow warm, then hot.
We climb to the cushion’s safety, watching the earth
grow impermanent beneath us – as it always was,
but only gradually do we notice what had been,
all along – how like lobsters, in a slow-boiling pot,
we can be – as the rhythmic breathing – in, out,
then again in – of life’s daily custom is, for this
moment, suspended,

on cargo cult islands of repurposed furniture
bearing plush treasures: decorative pillows, throw rugs,
lace cushions – foam or polyester-bulwarked dikes of
pastel fabric, as if the ocean couldn’t, at any moment,
rise and swallow it all.  But for now, we sit.
Stranded on this loveseat island, as tectonic plates
of carpet crash silently together, upholstered seamounts
steaming, from the living room’s now pelagic floor.

Already inhabited, as all new lands, by the tiny;
the overlooked, the crawling hum and buzz of countless
black specks, the sexless creatures who first find
their way to these still newborn places:
uncharted archipelagos of hope or fantasia,
spiders who sail the world sky on threads of silk
from their own small bodies sown, and buoyed aloft
by static fields – so ludicrous, it must be true –

fish that fly or birds that don’t, who grow larger
or smaller, with poison thumbs and a duck’s break,
or the penitent lizards who give virgin birth: a miracle upon
a miracle, as if astonishment a virus caught by life.
They are unfettered by concern what others might think –
it takes faith, or the foolishness we take it for, to fly
beyond land’s easy sight.  They crawl across the earth’s
new skin – unwilling yet to settle on any land that doesn’t
move when they embrace it.


1. Origin and etymology

            In our less fluid world, we had
to repurpose meaning: many things
became one.
As with its multitude of arms, each
containing an undulating, independent
will: we wonder what words get up to
when we’re not reading them.

2.  Second declension

            Even our numbers are shifty
as we ought to know by now
the way our definitions change:
a singular being, becoming eight;
lost in translation from one
frame of reference to another,
like the angle of sunlight in water.
Which is why they know
we’re watching.

3.  Plurality    

            We like to watch,
as we assume someone
is watching us, anticipating
our perceived mistakes
– we hypercorrect –
before it’s even made –
but the too true is false, also –
like reflections and mirages:
what shapes the water shows us
are equally irrational.

4.  Split Infinitive

            We’re learning to be less littoral;
to look for the deeper meaning
beneath each wave, scribbling
into our appointment colanders
the wholly unknown
and unreasonable.


after Kay Ryan

A hole, once unfilled, remains
unfulfilled until the ground
itself passes away;
there is no healing that sundered
dirt or patching up the once dug
earth; the hurt remains hurt,
even if you shoveled in some
substitute, a rocky apology
for what you’d done, the space
beneath remains prone
to reopening; it’s just the nature
of the thing, like old wounds
torn fresh from scurvy:
the way the gums crawl back,
the teeth exposed as if in anger
or in pain – the scars we deal with
shovels or with words, remain.