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Rich Ives


It's No Longer Certain What Intentions Can Do for the Results


The bats’ wings had climbed inside the cloud
I had brought home early from school, and the cloud

had climbed inside my father’s eyes, who was always
arriving late and opening the wrong door. I still can’t count

low enough to reach him, but once a year I wonder about my
folding fingers and the way my unintentional subtractions add up.

I make a coat for walking to the woods. The buttons
used to see things from my Teddy bears. One broke

a welcome branch and sniffed his wandering paws.
It’s something a homebound chair might understand.

The moon is so bright tonight it reveals the second house
attached at its feet and lying there on the ground where

I could not see it, walking around in my
sleepy body as it looked for that place to rest.

It was a thirsty kind of music, that silence,
and it brought the scratching down from the rooftop.

If I had known that sound meant a watering hole,
I might have dreamt of zebras. The diplomat’s wife

would not allow this to become contentious and
even I could see that Africa would have represented

an export and could not return me to isolationism.
My eyelids nodded in sympathy, but refused

to conclude their study of intervals. A barn owl
descended from reality and took away a curious

mouse of the nighttime kind, which he worried
into a satisfying little ball of bones and fur. I found

myself the next day sleeping beside that leafless tree
that stood in the shadow of the second house.

I remembered my dinner and noticed several
of the onioned minions breathing on me. Often

I had these clues that brought one experience
in upon the other, suggesting the missing part

might actually not be missing. How then
could I expect to solve my complicity?

My paw looked like it was climbing the second stairs,
but the second house remained grounded, a dark

oasis in the moonlight of reasoning, a comfort
in which barn owls and zebras were the stars,

and I began listening to the arguments concerning
the animal nature of our agreements and found

I could not understand a single word
of what seemed to be flavored snoring.

When the darkness brought me back, the bats
clung to me while the first house sent down

encouragements to the second house disguised as
the relief I felt in filling the open containers and

revealing my excess to the appropriate receptacles,
which I recognized only from distant household habit.

My paw held me momentarily apart from any
unqualified intentions. I might have had to ignore

reaching for an unfolding of furry balloon-like
proportions, pretending to be something I had

previously known indirectly, and this gave me
a further distraction, which I can only explain

by referring to the laws of improbability, which claim
that a dream is not a straight line until you pass through it.


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It's No Longer Certain What Intentions Can Do for the Results

They’re old they say and they’re kissing. It’s disgustingly beautiful
to us in our younger clothing, a confluence of undeclared fucking,
wisps of it broken over, bought for the silk vow of later.

The neighborhood is brick and too heavy to close,
the appliances ornithological, its green gloves a hush
of sprouting the way it lives in the parable of the cloud.

Unreasoned settlements become a chew-less crunching,
Frank grazing the party-less after, his adjustable
Tibetan beetles liberating snowbound antlers.

Some things are mattered, some only holstered up and
together aroused by an excellent passage of sleigh-goats,
so they shed the ill-fitting literature of snowstorms and

a celebratory vision of deer angling away from fear
in the queer dawn of illuminated medicine cabinets,
where the mistakes are mostly made, and

truth be told, Frank’s a hoser and Frankly archival
sex seemed loaded down with emancipated dependants,
but after darkness fortunate sleep improvises the morning’s belt,

a trim knife of forgetful entrance kisses and kisses and
there’s a statue in there of the bank teller
leaving a note for the manager,

and Anna’s green gloves are the youngest
among us, holding that concern like a baby bird
that must die if she keeps on holding it, even if its release

just might be a celebration of no more than itself.

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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 six 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, is available from Silenced Press, 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, is now available.

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