Rich Ives

And She Gets That Look Like She Forgets She Wears Glasses

Rich Ives

I saw one of Eric’s shoes galloping into the sunset. Not like that. The moon slivered in a bone-cage. Like that, but not like that. Familiar, but not like anything so poetic you’d tell me about it. 

I want to say something gentle now. I might attempt to harvest the delicate water content, which is not all water but doesn’t remind you of that. I might want to stroke the blue light its fur makes sparking against the sides of the tunnel. I might ask you for my questions back and embrace them. Interrogation by desire. It confuses leaf with foot, and meets all the lips in time for the emergence of perception, linking one thing pleasurably with another and another until I’m pouring out and landing in the other world, where my eyes are. Now I’ve left my sense for my senses although I know I still could reason my way into explaining what I’m happy to say I don’t really understand.

About the air she is happy, my accomplishment, but still leaking. I admire this, so I scream, pushing the comforting air about and getting excited that I know I’m doing this. I’m doing this, and it surprises me that I sound like I’m directing air through a small vibrating skin flap. 

Of course, Eric wants the whole story, and an explanation, and all the names, even if there’s only one. Just knowing he wants this removes the thing itself from the experience, which I describe in a way that cheapens it enough to keep it from imitating what it really is. So it changes. 

Eric, of course, knows all this and doesn’t care. Eric’s girlfriend cares, but she’s not in the story, and by the time he tells her, it will be her story. She will take from it what they need, which has been told to them as a different story, the one she can’t see galloping into the sunset.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.  

An Advantage

Rich Ives

Does this Victorian approach change anything, this past with its remaining anticipation? Or does it operate like cheerful things, a good pair of heels circumambient to a hairy hind-paw? Flounces aflutter. Little Blossom released from obligations to Mr. Nuzzly-Bum, Mr. Do-As-You-Please, Mr. Silky-Talk, Mr. Not-to-Worry.

Because people with shoulders worry about the shapes of their gowns.

Meanwhile the dog has grown horns. A nocturnal emission like the voice of the moon. Listen. Darken. Welcome mythic forms of circumstantial happiness. Even if my friend Eustace does not agree.

Followed by a deep mumbling tortuous boom of gastric delight. A fat frog in a well. Let him sing. Let the echoes of indulgence pleasure the ear with the nose’s disgust.

The dog turns and turns, trying to understand the nose’s advantage.

Little Blossom pees on the lawyer. “I’ve wetted less than my appetite for authority,” he tells the lawyer’s mother, after she signs the papers. “It’s a discovery not greatly honored although settling is cheaper than winning,” replies the mother.

It was a great and lucid affair of olfactory departure, which I will not describe in great detail. Though I could. I certainly could if I wanted to.

Twenty-three days ago today. That’s enough time to happen oh again and again.

Yes, this can be easily handled, this situation. But does it change anything?

Now I want to say that despite the disapproval of Eustace, I have befriended both Little Blossom and her mother and bedded the lawyer, who shall remain nameless at his own request.

A mouthful of spiders puts him at ease, his postures questioning like a prehistoric bird’s. He kept his lover’s fleas in a pillbox. None of them ever escaped.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.  

Alternatives to Churning Butter

Rich Ives

1.
When I sleep with a knife, we meet divided. The bodies do not underestimate, but the minds are in over their heads. Two of us side by side as if controlled remotely, one forbidden to talk and the other just doesn’t. (Babies go under, but they’re not our babies.) It makes it easier to misunderstand.

We’ve learned to value the lid of the bed, awakened, and finger moons chambered with tensile eye-knuckles, and naked feet running from the ceiling, night’s eye so big we don’t realize we’re inside. We’re not gang-related but visitational, the trees in the forest blackened with that unrelenting deprivations kind of thing.

2.
One seeker said to the other, When a man truly finds what he is looking for, he is at great risk of dying. (We had a great deal to look forward to in our despair.) I wished the man a long life of struggle.

(The hungry pond-fish swim day after day from one little ocean to the next as faithfully as the ocean swims in and out of its dirty pants.)

The letters you haven’t read, the ones you placed in the toolbox, are a toolbox.

3.
All you have to do is find something you haven’t done and approach too slowly. There’s a beautiful smooth nerve in a boat that doesn’t belong to you, that arrives at the porch where the boat shall never be, but the two left behind are arriving at your absence, which may be more successful than you wish. When goodbye to you was hello to another, you could have been missed.

4.
As for the tuba player mumbling in German, he hangs out at both ends of the engagement, an overly generous Weiner dog, and yodels to the tune of an old Bavarian march. On waking, he shakes a cricket out of his shoe, remembers his dream of a spilling police van and tap dancing mice chasing tap dancing cheese. He’s climbing an invisible ladder, and he falls. He’s painting a landscape, and he paints himself into it.

Hello a cow wearing a short skirt and suspenders. Hello a xylophone of wooden shoes, another lovely chicken march. Hello a stolen bag of mice. Hello the drawing of a car, in which he escapes. He draws railroad tracks, the train runs him over.

The tuba in his theme song turns into a saxophone, the notes turn into ducks shaped like wooden mallets. He pounds himself on the head with a wooden mallet-duck. An amorous carp swims out hammered thinking. Hello to a fish-wife with the scales of heaven on. She pounds him on the hammered head with a freshly carved mallet-fish. He sleeps in her lap,
but you have awakened, you have congealed, you can’t do it again.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.  

A Reconsideration of the Subject

– Rich Ives

Like a single disagreeable letter from several dead philosophers, the subject arrived at the barbeque wearing a torn sweatshirt. The mistakes of others were included, but maybe they were also his own. Maybe he claimed them even if they weren’t his.

Negligence gives us a rather large common ground of confusion to stand on while we disagree. There was no boundary between the thing outside (just thought) and the thing inside (forgotten). The wandering idea’s Teddy bear then perambulates more aggressively, saying Button it Bobbo to the tension walking next to the subject. The subject’s watch is larger now than he is because time stays generous when it’s not yours. Black silk and obsidian edge the incision in its darkness approaching, the darkness that spills on the letter.

Oh yes the subject was overly fond of the gathering’s idea sugar, but intellectual poverty is still poverty. So we wait with an obsessively selected thought donut and a goofy grin. Soon something as simple as weather arrives to unite us and to give us meaning. Yes, the subject wishes to control the weather, but he feels much better failing than worshipping the one wing of a maple seed brought to earth in a rich pile of worm fodder.

The subject, it seems, really does have too much to say about everything, which means it must be said twice or eight times. You swallow it all up, everything disappearing inside what you have been thinking, ushering it down to where such guests are still welcome.

The subject soaks you up like another dead philosopher, and the sweatshirt becomes a renewed fire of intellectual stains. So you take your self home and wash it, providing a more acceptable entrance to social functions. You find a circle in your brain. What’s it doing there? Your brain has too many childhoods. Put some of them in a very small burlap sack. Imagine it’s an ancient choked aspirin entering a dark hole, a landscape without corners. Hold it up to your basement thought, the one announcing separation. Consider the reconsideration.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.

A Nice Old Man Was Biting My Toe

Rich Ives

It escapes me, this cautionary landscape, moving under as I pace its surface, but I’m counting miles instead of taking in its distinct aberrations. I’m failing to register its transitory existence, liberated with each release of my padded step. I’m slapping my expensive footwear in its open face, again and again, getting only to where I planned on going as it gets itself newly positioned where it already is.

I must have missed it before, I think, missing it in a new way. I’m intent upon a kind of progress that takes me out of myself, into a better body to separate the quick from the quickly dead, a body that could, however, more quickly miss more. I could be entering myself now, even as I carry my “self” away to discover who I am.

On the road last night there were too many frogs for any purpose I could imagine, but then maybe I wasn’t small enough, or I was in too many parts to do things alone.

The old man inside me asks, Which smile is this, which puddle of moonlight?

I found too many aspirations nesting like voyaging seabirds as I arrived at the shore, huffy little summaries of oceanic caravans. I looked up to see myself floating back down, there where a moment before stalked a creature cloaked in fierce intentions and transparent hope.

The old man inside takes a breath and then he gives it back. The whole truth was always guilty of only half the story. He wants a picture finished with falling. The way I can see everything clearly confuses me. It’s time now to listen. Time to take us here. Time for there to wait, and a time for stepping quickly to between, where one step and two hold true, and the end of anything is the beginning.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.

The young boys are learning to share,
but they start with punches and put-downs.
First they have to give away their pain.

The young girls hide their bruises before they arrive.
It makes them old, and they think the future is only
physical. Makeup makes their skin dusty.

No one wants to escape only to find reality there.
What they share is what they don’t have. They give
themselves away to make the dreams real.

Outside the bodies, they can see what the sloppy sacks
of dreams are worth. Inside, they only want out.
Each memory becomes a little balcony.

I can see planes in the sky dragging their white tails.
Their value is in their distance, which I appreciate.
I misunderstood at least one sack of tattered love.

And still the pain remains ambiguous, uncertified. It was in the house
when I visited what was missing. You must think you know
what your self is, if you feel this sorry for it.

Rich Ives