Issue 8: Rich Ives

How to Locate Your Equivalent in the Real World

     I didn’t know what I was looking for, but a clever little wallaby like Jonathan ought to have been able to help.

     I knew that I was dreaming. Jonathan told me so. The sun was coaxing my eyelids to dance uncontrollably.

     When I went to shut the window, my father died. I should have let someone else discover the way we misinterpret our lives.

     A couple of very tiny sheep were dancing on my stomach. One of them was eating a hole in my navel. He danced and he ate until the hole was big enough for the other sheep to fall into. By the time the wound had healed, I was no longer just a possibility.

     By this time I knew that I wasn’t dreaming because Jonathan hadn’t said a word.  Jonathan was doing unexpected things to food and Jonathan was no longer uttering and Jonathan was no longer gardening. He was coaxing. Jonathan was partaking of restful silence.

     When I pulled back the curtains, my father’s dead body was smaller and clenched tight like a malnourished beggar. Jonathan told me I could find help at the market.  Jonathan told me I could find consequences easily, but initiating occurrences would be more difficult.

     You couldn’t see all the children because some of them had died. You could taste the missing pieces of information, but you couldn’t identify the flavors. They probably appeared new because the angel that lived there had stopped kicking pebbles into the weaklings’ faces.

     Then came the distant voice of a thunderstorm and it made me aware of the sand I had been walking on, not noticing how it had been accepting my feet but urging me to pay attention.

     I noticed that some of the dead children had gone away and the angel had gone away and my father had gone away.

     Jonathan had not gone away.  I still didn’t know what I was looking for, but I had realized I didn’t need Jonathan to help me find it. I didn’t need Jonathan to interpret the rain that finally arrived and I didn’t need Jonathan to witness the return of my father.

     The angel hadn’t grown entirely useless. But I couldn’t even conceive of the angel’s future anymore. And the dead children hadn’t just gone away. They had eliminated vast pockets of empty behavior.

     Mine, for instance.

     So I tried to wake up and my father was there. I don’t know if I woke or not, but the dead children were even further gone and there was nothing to remind me of who they had been. I couldn’t even remember what an angel was, maybe I had invented one, but I remembered Jonathan, and I remembered my name was his name. I talked to myself about Jonathan and Jonathan went inside, and I felt him take hold of me, and this time I knew I wasn’t dreaming. I told Jonathan to tell me I knew.

Sunlight, Another Shadow

     The husks of October insects. Dragonflies. A dog panting in the late heat. An old man in the sunroom. An odor of figs and mushrooms. Outside, the wind-thrown years of dust. Inside, the slow sip of memory. And the passing magic of windows and doors.  And always, one more detail . . .

     A thrush bursts from the brush beside the goat path.

     Smoke at dawn and the lights still marking the pier. The hour of fallen nests, leaves scuttling along the tiny sand dunes. Brittle thorns of lightning lengthen quickly across the sky. Weather won't be kind, but its indifference allows us all we need.

I’ve Given Everyone a Copy

     First I was from the sky and then I was a toad stuck in an oatmeal box. My opinion was lifted.

     Something I used to know was flying from the lawn sprinkler. Invented without rest, I was well taken. My opinion was redistributed.

     I was left behind. I was kidnapped. I wasn't available for coffee.

     A hot little number like him. Who knew?

     If it’s huge and it’s yours and it’s a likelihood, then who’s the likely hood? Now we've got us on each other. We'll both want the holidays. Time alone is our first affair.

     There’s a thrush trying to find itself in my window. I didn’t know it would thump like that and hurt me.

     I'm no longer here because I'm there, but a quality of kindness was missing.

     His shirt too white and clean.

     Why do the young always migrate west when the cool promises sleep in the north while the east unwraps itself and the south, well, the south just slows down and waits for what it needs?

     I don’t know much. I guess that makes me an expert on one thing. You don’t have to be suicidal to think a lot.

     So I gave unto it sixfold. Those after butchers.

     The evolution of the patient disease.

     And there was everything with its foot on the upholstery.

     And there I am. Beside it. Beside where it was. Beside myself. Still no longer.

     Then finally I was lifted from myself, an autumnal Finnish excess of bloodleaves brightening before the kiss that draws them down.

     Horrible things have happened to others and I can’t stop thinking about how it affects me.

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. His story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, was one of five finalists for the 2009 Starcherone Innovative Fiction Prize. In 2010 he was a finalist in fiction at Black Warrior Review and Mississippi Review and in poetry at Cloudbank and Mississippi Review. In 2011 he was again a finalist in poetry at Mississippi Review. The Spring 2011 Bitter Oleander contains a feature including an interview and 18 of his hybrid works.

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