Rich Ives


Exception Without a Rule

The dead often sleep on a hillside. Shouldn’t you see more
from where we’re going?
The philosophy of wind considers the evidence
and alters its trajectory.
I’ve traveled in a balloon and lived in a book. I know
how to celebrate escape.
I saw something familiar on a wall in the wrong colors.
It captured transience perfectly.
There may be sand with a better excuse, but it doesn’t arrive
with much of a future,
not even reading a children’s book without imagining
the mind of the child,
not even the kind of guy who plans to rob banks and lives
in his own checkbook,
and finally there’s bright yesterday in a used-cigar store
with your dirty white collar.
The news from elsewhere feels important, but sooner or later,
it no longer explains refusing.


Failed Implement for the Repair of
Breaches, Leaks, and Escaped Convictions

                                                                                                                  Cuba, 1957

With a telephone and a sparrow I’m presently entertained,
having held the tongue one used for dancing while watching the other,
but the baby walls of the experience are too short to make a house,

so the residents outlaw appendages, but then
no one can leave, and the house fills with too much
existence, and the baby roof keeps jumping on the baby floor.

The residents in between have to bite and bite and bite.
Why can’t maturity be taken for granted? scream the baby borrowers.
That’s when the roof evaporates, and the sky seems to be falling.

The corruption spreads, so that the moon is only a girl crying
across the long hall that doesn’t end in a way out.
There are no unnecessary dwellings in such a wound.

The vampire too is entirely unnecessary, which makes
the vampire happy and the moon even more unnecessary,
which makes it indispensible. Before causation,

the copper in your extra mouth was softening,
which the rose bushes welcomed. They knew who you were.
The borrowers tried to evaporate the roof again, but it was absent.

What remained unspoken: the sunlight that swallows the damp need,
and this, the thingness of the thing, rent with its own weapon. We stand
aimed at the stairs undescended, plunged into our clothing and questioning,

as if to say What doest thou think of me, Housedress? This time
the bag of medical waste is me. Treatments to fix treatments
to allow cures, magnificent cylinders of unbelievable perfection

hidden inside the local bird, the incident a cool report, a withheld
bottle of exhaustion breaking, softened by the bloody sleeve of sunset,
the one brushing me open with her knowing (circular),

a wave of collusion suspended between a cloud and a cloud,
a shiver (linear) inside, reveling in accomplished missteps
so wide the bag of rain (cylindrical) can’t contain it.


First Day

Over the warm I go and driven,
on to go where the snow goes.

Melt, of course, and swallow.
Fall down into arrival, and go there.

Clear the available and listen,
and do so papered to its seal.

O bucket of melt, bucket of possible,
empty bucket of arrived at,

the forest of gone is the children,
back in the mind only of

parent and sibling, not captured
by but joined at the home

we have little of but
release, as a hoe releases

the neighbor’s shovel and the fallen shoe. O
use someone else for your grave,

the empty antelope-skull cathedral
you met at the office in the whistling wind,

potentials hollowed out among bone buckets.
I should have assembled you without a yesterday.


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 the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. In 2013 he has received nominations for The Pushcart Prize (2), The Best of the Net and Story South. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. His book of days, Tunneling to the Moon, was serialized with a work per day appearing for all of 2013 at Both Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press) and Light from a Small Brown Bird (poetry––Bitter Oleander Press) are scheduled for paperback release in 2014.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014