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Rich Ives

Never Any Doubt

No Longer In Residence

Never Any Doubt

     It was a great day for mankind when a true doubter arrived, but of course we killed
him. Electrical energy, rubber truncheons and forks were just some of the things this man
could not understand using the contemporary logic and political principals we had offered
him. A large quantity of Seneca oil was rubbed into the man’s burns before he died and
the young balding masseur they arrested was heard screaming, "You want a piece of
me?" all the way to the fountain in the playa of failed revolutionary ideals, where he
succumbed quickly, but the crows refused to pluck out his eyes, and some said it meant
we had captured the wrong criminal.
    The saliva of a suspiciously uninvolved crone was analyzed and the results remained
ambiguous. Next the questioning authorities devised a new test. A pebble and a boulder
were employed as measurements of the relative gravity of the situation by dropping them
simultaneously from the top of the shortened retirement home, which grew to only a
single story because, let’s face it, no one wanted to climb the stairs, and since no one was
arriving any faster at any conclusions because of this experiment, the result was an equal
portion of unease for every participant.
    Because everyone remained at this point unaware that anyone might be arriving at any
conclusions prematurely, Tiffany, the doubter's estranged niece, rushed outside with her
new double-barreled water gun in search of an intergalactic transmission code, a lurid
pink catalog of doll museums, and a 76-acre Daughters of the Revolution amusement
park in which to exercise her prerogatives and draw attention to her budding. She was
approached by a young intellectual with a fawning and irresolute manner. She said No
and it made him smile. He couldn’t wait to get there. He had known that her refusal
would be exquisite. Tiffany’s software company hit the stock market big despite the
revelation that she had never really intended to communicate with extra-terrestrials.
    Meanwhile Tiffany’s overlooked zipper mechanic gripped his wrench tightly.  Being
one of the most of us, he was prepared to attempt a generous dispersal of his dispersible
potential. Something was certainly revealing itself, but it didn’t know what it was. Of that
there could be no doubt.


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No Longer in Residence

     Choo Choo Davis, who was often angry, willful and disoriented, and as delicately
boxed as Mr. Rogers in drag, went to live in the commune and it was not working out. 
While all about him were generous in their demeanor, unselfish, kind and patient (except
for Slinky the Snake Boy, who grew more elusive by the hour) Choo Choo wanted to
    Something nonspecific, something flummoxed and geodesic, began brewing, and
aromatic aprons of uncertainty flapped in the itch's window. Choo Choo was beside
himself. Choo Choo was heated. Choo Choo was skulking. He had been in the
neighborhood of likeness and he did not find himself. There were statues of the best
clouds there that moved and appeared not to be statues. The life came in little expulsions
like coughing, the eyes trying to see themselves. You get there by falling out and you try
to be happy about it. Here a stubborn history of regret, there a consonance of
    So Choo Choo chewed the summer dragonflies happily to death and wintered in the
skylight, but he didn't harvest any blessed children. Local heroes, I’m told, appear
symmetrical, and Choo Choo leaned a couple of different directions at once. Okay,
maybe it's not much of an accomplishment, but it’s certainly not ordinary.
    I warned you in my own nonspecific way. Sometimes a fight’s just the thing for luke-
warm melancholia. Choo Choo's drenched now and Slinky's tied in his knot.  They’re
hurling insults like hardened raisins. They’re clad in white tights and purple padding.
They're serious, but who believes them?
    Yes, it was disturbing, but it came out surprisingly wedge-shaped and fit neatly in a
pie tin.  There was a lifelike quality to the experience. Thank goodness someone stole it
from the windowsill.

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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 has been a finalist in fiction at Black Warrior Review and Mississippi Review and in poetry at Cloudbank and Mississippi Review. In 2011 he is 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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