Rich Ives

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to

Two Fat Men Take Turns Rolling Each Other Across the Lawn

The camera follows Ed to the office. Ed offers to buy Heather, the counselor, a coke. He has difficulty staying on task. As Heather moves from the office to the living room several times, Ed continues discussing how much a Coke costs, where the pop machine is located, and who can or can't come with him. Each time Heather enters the living room, someone seems to be missing. The closed door is now open and a silent preoccupied resident sits facing the other direction, watching Star Trek on the big screen TV. Each time Heather notices someone missing, she asks Ed where he is. Each time Ed answers in a mumble, and Heather finds the answer acceptable.

But after that, where do you think you’re going? Are you in society, then? There is a way my sister moves that is uneven, slower on one side than the other and weighted with recrimination. She is sadly desperate. After a stay in the hospital’s psych ward, she has to go back to get a prescription and she is anxious to get me off the phone. She wants to get there before the suicidal man she met in treatment leaves. She seems to think he might have a romantic interest when it’s clear he’s just desperate and lonely. Where do you think you’re going?

And that's when the camera enters the halfway house on the shoulder of a resident. No one seems to notice. The camera introduces us one by one to the residents--Ed, Bob, Norman, Jonathan, Howard. Each introduction is silent, as if the camera had its own language, and most of the residents are sitting down, with their backs to the camera, when introduced. The camera finds something in each of their rooms, a piece of clothing, an odd arrangement of photographs, perhaps just an unusual gesture, to identify each resident. One resident's door remains closed.

Suddenly Ed and Bob are throwing chairs. Heather moves calmly to quell the disturbance. When she returns, the TV resident says, "Heather, how come you never ask where I am?"

Heather smiles and says, "Okay, where are you?"

"Not now. Ask me when I'm not here."

Heather smiles and faces the camera. You see your own face in the camera lens. You focus on Heather, and she is asking you why you don't blink. You turn back to the resident and no one is there. The closed door is open. You hear Heather asking Ed where you are.

Ed demands, "It's mine. I bought it."

Now Heather is insisting into the phone, "He won't blink. I can't get him to blink."

But after that, where do you think you are going? Down my man-mind climbs the woman I want. Black nails and an eyebrow ring. God is sex and we live there in us. Even when we live here instead. Inside the facility we have, which is inside the facility, Dr. Gone from the Department of Caring imbues it with a scavenger’s mouthful of once was. One lost hair from a gnat’s bottom.

Perhaps I could create a context which would alter its value, said the suitor. Dr. Mouth from the Department of Necessities had something to say about that, but no one understood what it was. We were busy with rumors of Dr. Two of a Kind seducing Dr. One of a Kind. We felt it was a spiritual condition of the cloud that warranted a plumber. It’s what you hold out and then hold out.

But after that, where do you think you are going? Have you become institutional? All the reasons escape in gassy excess. Finally I mount an expedition to my toes, a dangerous undertaking since the last explorer to mount a flag there perished in a mirage, which may actually have occurred before she began her journey.

The brothers are dead, but they can only be planted during a full moon. The dog embraces me under and down. The scattered tornadoes are flushing. Insomnia departures have been scheduled unrepentant. Obscure chestnut orbits circle the cessation of counting immature statistics icing out the bud tenders. Next to the accident malfunction, my second zodiac embraced, kindling.

Did I say desire mounds?

But after that, where do you go to do your thinking?

Heather still believes he shall never again blink.

The camera follows the camera to the unpositioned modeling of juveniles. None of them are us, so we can still be late for the bedroom of destiny, the otherways. We can be there after that. We can exist in the unblinking.

Did I say I thought I was thinking of how sometimes I get out of bed with a great deal of potential, but I’m not a professional, and I’m not recognized for my capacities in this area.

Door won’t open, stares at key, kisses it, tries again.

Industrial music with folktale perforations.

Tries again.

No key.
Kisses it.


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 five 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, will be available from Silenced Press in 2015, 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, will appear in October of 2015.