Rich Ives 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, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review,
Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review,
Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke
Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. He has been nominated
seven times for the Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Thin Air
Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown
Bird (Bitter Oleander Press--poetry), Sharpen (The Newer York—fiction
chapbook), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins
Leaking (What Books) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press - hybrid).
At That Moment I Was the Oldest Man Alive
In the wrong way, you were right, older man that you are now, talking to yourself like I do. The arrogance of youth brought you here. Not yet? It will. No door exists, so no door is literally left open. You just stumbled along with excessive intent, and you found yourself where you thought success would be.
How else may I understand you? You have a right to remain silent, to remain. You have a responsibility to explain. In this way you may be more than I am.
Desire spilled from such anxious dreams astride forty nights of nearly sleepless clarity tested by dreamy equestrian alchemists riding their ghost names. You're better at transformation than creation before you know all this.
Then the pathway reappeared, as if it and not you had deserted. I painted this brief portrait first with my tongue the way a beach continues to arrive beneath you as you pursue the water. I was you for a minute, and many minutes were spent examining the minutes. Many ages were patiently lost acquiring the last one, which came quietly, before I'd opened, forgetful and proud.
I continued on to the village near the mountaintop. The fabric of snow was unraveling, and the stones had something slowly bold to say. The dirigible was not appropriate to the latitude or the elevation, but there it was, hovering with its uncertain intent, as unreal as everything that happens.
Which served to make it memorable, and this engages the appearance of reality, which is more real anyway.
Awakened by Useless Attentions I Listen to the Cricket in the Basement
I want to turn the television page. Its modern book is long and boring. The illustrations give me headaches. Much happens over and over again. Loud words and the same old plot. I can choose the off button, but the story goes on outside the video book, with another me caught in the circle of others.
What kind of a man would live here then, where I do too easily, at the edge of what little I know of escaping the redundant entreaties at the surface? Yet the little dart-stings of social droplets thrown quickly broadcast themselves like drive-by cloud vengeance inside my own thinking, still penetrating the numbing receipts because no consumer will ever be better networked than corporate water. Sip on that, despised social pretenders. I'm already floating down to its prolific friended knees to have a talk about nearly everything because nearly everything is important, but one thing new is waiting there in its old overlooked vehicle, the one I drive to sleep each night.
I wonder what my census will say about my preoccupations. Is this a living? Should I ask our leaky president of sustainable maybes, no longer doing the right thing for the wrong reasons but without any reason at all? We're fortunate the flaws in reasoning haven't yet stopped Nature from guiding us beyond our understanding, but listen. What easily missed clicking sings insect-like and close? What distraction contains merely a pause before the surface breaks and takes its time with us beneath the gathered irrelevancies of our former selves in that carapace of others' insistent broadcasts?
When I tie off the loose threads of worry, the tiniest creaturely attention might call me out to its ephemeral joys hidden in the tall grass of my own seemingly alien receptions. Listen there, instead, to the song that visits the basement when the lost cricket pulses to the cheaper reliable battery of itself and is satisfied.
Can You Hold This for Me?
Yours is a name you don't want to live in, so you move to Rick and wait. Others think Rick is somewhere else, and you move into Rickie, which is nearby, and a few people visit, but not everyone. Everyone will never visit, but you don't know this, so you move to Richard. Same story. Then Dick. Worse. Then Rich, which is a comfortable house with not too many guests, which you have decided is yours.
After you've been dead a while, they'll move you back to the address they remember, where they visit you even though you are rotting happily in Rich, over there where dead poets begin to live in their books, which is the right address but no one bothers to visit without changing a word or two.
Eventually the books too will die, but they know enough not to change their titles, not to resolve themselves. It's the new weather changing all around them that changes what they mean without changing a word.
I think I used to know someone just like you, someone else says, someone you don't recognize, and you laugh, not believing he means it.
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