B. K. Rice is an Oregon poet (USA). He has been published in Inscape: A Journal
of Literature and Art
, elimae, The Likewise Folio, and elsewhere.


I've been fishing all night for your hand,
something webbed in the dark,
having been dealt nothing but bread
like blows for days.
A cluster of fish fits where the heart is.
The falling water is a wound--
it comes over my shoulder without waking anybody.
The weeks thicken into a robe, into a tissue
of bets, and I've been carving out fish:
something to stick to a believer's ribs,
some balm out of the bathing mud.
We spend all afternoon unfastening steelhead and trout.
Inside, there are nothing but hearts.
The flesh of the son
is nothing but latch lifted over latch.
Mouths reclaim their store of stones
and the wound repeats itself,
heard through the thick--
through the openings of water.
Whatever returns, returns
as your voice.

What's Out There

I can't go out there!
The dark is filled with nets--
the dark's sense of humor
is a burning church!

That wasn't either snow or light
against the panels of
flashed and fervent glass;

it was a moth
beating the dust from itself,
beating the week from its wings.


I used to cut women from magazines.
They decorated one another.
They had a knack for doubling
back over themselves. From them,
I learned all about the glamor of search
& rescue, of field lights winched
over the tops of overhead pine,
of girls drowned the next-to-last day
in dim creeks and under fenders--frozen
headwaters tipping over the precipice
of the half hour before bed.
I pinned them up
around the house like conspiracies.

The admins evacked my grade
school after a bear was sighted nearby.
A year-old loping, and I
had no problem running alongside
her furs, or lifting up under flaps,
the tarps of the heart's
boathouse, where bodies were hidden
after the seat sleek night out.

They deported the bear back
into the wild blastocysts of boisenberry and
my women amassed in
phalanxes and die-cuts, some in short
shorts. The boys said,
"but then I got you flowers
instead"--needless to say, I fell in love
with the last generation of men
who preferred bathtubs, before
standing to wash got more virile.

My magazines were full of portals
into the next page which women had left
for roles at cream walls. I had my very first
cancer described as non-small. I had
forgotten how frightening it was to sit and listen
to spruces and firs almost breaking
along me before finding
a lower way back through.


First, wheat; later, the least bit
lonely. When I talk about organic grief,
think slatted canebrakes and
darkening blondes--the lost work
of thrashing out a space,
roughing a path along the slake
of a slope, committing horrors
with a two by four.
Look how these seams yawn:
nothing else like it in the house. Tell me,
is this an Easter on the mountain?
Christmas is just two fields away--a plot
we'll mow a house into.
But prop wood is expensive these days
and consider the bent bait of the pulled nail,
seeded in the grass for a multitude
of split heels. After all allegory
in the first lemon and thyme
lamb of our marriage sup, you should
select the wall paper. Make it
a decoy for brick, and keep in mind
the resting rates of forearms,
the jubilee of knee splints.
Don't you dream in cream?
Sex is just a movie
under pines, under troughs. Knowing, you tick
in the heat, hostess for a home-
& in- coming, lover's landing bed
and neck-fest, boring bodies
just outside the city.

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