Rich Ives

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The Particular Combination of Muscles Needed to Whisper
Yesterday my thoughts clouded over. I couldn’t read the sky and my head was all around me like a curtain. I’d already been to always. It’s an empty place with a lot of visitors and the same things to do and do again until you don’t want to leave. That particular feeling had already crapped in its mess kit.
Keep reading, I’ll tell you about the consequences, and as I get further from the me I was before the mistake, I think it best not to mention her name since she is so widely known as a kind of Susan. That door finally closed underfoot recently, and the gentle ancient knock of the next friend became the only key.
The best time to dissect a love affair is when it’s just about to happen, while you’re still committing desire and guilty as the sunshine, performing nothing but yourself. I put my hands in the river and feel it take me, a little at a time. I don’t know where it’s going, but I know it has my reason. I’m a big man in a place so flat and ordinary I stand six inches closer to the end of a drought than the rest of the country. 
I am no longer, as they so frequently and deprecatingly say, disgruntled, for it remains clear, I believe, to all concerned, from my unequivocal attitude, that I am, indeed, most fully gruntled. When the heart is full, the tongue shall speak. And so, My Dear Pessimistic Shithead, my hopes for another are rekindled, though I have no good reason. Experience enters the flower like a bee, eats the heart out and departs. The fruit remains bright and begins tasty. And it makes you think of other flowers.
One by one the stars ignite their pinpoints, even though they’ve already been swallowed by oblivion. It’s like the moment before the accident. It’s like the accident before it’s an accident, but I go about my day today as if my life is not ending and it doesn’t.

The Photograph Takes Itself to Task

The disturbance was not a full disturbance but anchored behind the stone hat my father wore. You could kind of see how it might become troublesome, but it wasn’t your problem, was it?
Mother suggested my fear had grown as large as the buildings they use for retirement homes. My sister had her stuffed panda squished face first against the window looking more desperate than mischievous, eyes turned two directions at once. Her unregistered voice was crayon-colored. She had a registered one, but I didn’t listen to it.

Somewhere past that, the people I meant have faces.

You might wonder why a stone hat would cause so much trouble. You might wonder that. Now that my nose is in my shirt’s armpit let’s take a deep breath and continue.

One day I was walking downtown and there was a lake on the side of a huge building, and for a while my eyes went fishing in the clouds there.

Your father was not a man of idleness, my mother said, without him there to explain, and I listened to what I thought she had said, which was surprisingly close to what she had said, and I went on with my misunderstanding.

I have this theory that life does not prepare us for death, but death prepares us for life. Every frightened child has learned this, but it isn’t easy to remember. There’s always a garden from which we can depart. It would mean little to leave a desert.

We may not die, after all, but the dark will find us, and we will live there, which may be as much like death as we need to know and forget in time to be moved. The power is not in the fully understood, and the easily seen is never all there.

The future, in which I exist, has been removed from the scene, like a photograph of the moment at which we become history, and then more than history by viewing it,
and then a different history by forgetting what we felt. What we have saved is what we have lost, and it’s still there in the photograph, but we aren’t, not the part we wanted to continue, not the part that was the reason for the photograph.

The moment we lost ourselves in the photograph, however, continues without us. Anyone can see it and think it is the record of what happens when it is only the record of what we wanted to save, and you have to look past the photo to see it.

You know it means you were here, but it no longer feels like you were even there, where history found you, a history no longer yours. Anyone can find who you were, there in the photo, but not there in the place where the photo took time to stop itself.


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.