from the editors

current issue

past issues



Follow UCityReview on Twitter



Rich Ives


A Cold, Unapproachable and Yearning Forgetfulness

A Fragile Object Perched Precariously on the Edge of a French Glass Plate

A Comparison of Indulgences

A Cold, Unapproachable and Yearning Forgetfulness

the bookcase will not desert you to vulnerable excess
                        you tell it to hold on to itself and it does
                                    but what can you tell the staircase

there is something you can read climbing the slow words
                       between the puppet’s dressing and its dress
                                   golden silence reads from the nightlight

the book doesn’t need to raise the limits of the known shelf
                       something else will desert you something else
                                   circulates the understandable staircase

it’s you that holds on to the holding on to the dress you’ve
                       arranged to fit the need of something not yours
                                   which seems to be yours like the puppet

what you thought you wanted in the dressing grows prosaic
                       and it’s hard to know if the same book remains
                                   or the dress remains speakable because

its meaning will not desert you with obvious conclusions
                       you tell it to lighten up and it does so rising
                                   but what can you tell the staircase


Return to list of poems


A Fragile Object Perched Precariously on the Edge of a French Glass Plate

Misinformation was required by dawn. The car
bled all over the road and started singing.
(4 AM, a blanket sleeping in the trunk)
It can’t remember where I parked
the girl. 
       The prescription was nearly vacant

and spoke about a dead doctor and grazed
quietly in the glove compartment. The nurses
were glad I had separate bedrooms. A flag
of skin began whistling.
                                         She couldn’t get out

or even assemble peacefully, so

I approached my estuary of sleep with
a pair of shoes inhabited by moonlight
and watched the unlit match of a moth
looking that first night for something

distant and bright enough to strike itself on.

Return to list of poems

A Comparison of Indulgences

First I wrote the story and then I wrote a letter to the story, which, in its own way, the story answered. The story was full of confidence and didn’t mind being questioned.

(The man’s voice stings and I reach to slap it, but it’s not there. It’s the voice of the story and it comes and goes. Sometimes when I cannot find it, I take its place and hope you will continue participating. It’s not something I can do without you, but it’s not something with you in it. I don’t even know my loneliness well.)

The letter to the story was feminine and seemed to be the queen of everything absent.

(I found it in the starlight of closets, my closets, but I’ll share them with all of you, who are wearing the possibility of your appearance.)

a man who had become his shelf
                      put himself there a piece at a time
                                  until no one was left to place the rest

a shelf won’t ask questions
                      and a shelf won’t leave you
                                  but a shelf can hold you up inside

You wash the story’s leaves, impatient with piddling on its roses, anxious for the nostril-heat of the creature, who has broken her chain.

You feel bad for me and you start to release a sweet smell that grows slowly through itself to a vinegar, and I quickly cover my secret moans.

It’s only time the story kills, and the story tortures time, just as it tortures the sequence of you.

like whiteness falling in a movie he’s fat
                     and soft and not as cold as you might expect
                                 and always back when you’ve forgotten him

he suggests cubicles and ballast unknowing
                     a vegetable sound with a slight limp to it
                                 invasive and surprising as substantial yellow

I’ve watched the story’s roses drop their skirts and still hold on to a fragile stalk of thorns. It bought me some freedom, and I carried it around with me in a bottle I kept open.

Ask a woman on the street (and you’ll have to) and she’ll give you directions while holding her coat tighter and looking off into the distance at your future, which you, of course, can’t see.

(The internal sky of words and music with the warmth of yesterday bottled up still received us when we listened. I thought I saw cowboys and ducks on my shirt. It was a comfort and a replacement.)

I’m meaner than I look in my speech, so don’t expect surrender.

(The story’s administration of funds seemed to be dangling from a helium balloon, the kind with distant and tender cactus blooms. There were some escapes living in the Washington that came after me, looking for substitutions in all the places you could hope to refund. Deep in the existential meadow, the itinerant insects were harvesting the leftovers of dehydrating rain.)

the novelists next door with the blinds drawn at noon
                    steal away to someplace exotic with the advances
                                they negotiate for their most expansive shame

it’s what you throw out that makes you
                    verb what’s left so hastily on over to
                                the sultry old noun that needed a lift

There’s a third darkness the fall blackbirds sometimes capture between them, and the second, which has already taken up residence in their bodies, gets lost in it while the first shakes my hand and opens the window, through which I can see that a tremble of dark ribbons was allowing one kind of knowledge, light’s clothing pulled tight by the horizon’s drawstring.

(The story counted evenings numberless. I stopped leaving. The irascible crone tenderly cupped her husband’s bent fist. So many worlds and this one claims you. The dark town bordering my desert sunk into something about the middle of its coal chute.)

It’s a good thing I scare so easily.

(Several good reasons for any death arrive, but they’re seldom our own. It looks bad for the point of view justifying our confusion. Reason is never the only reason. There’s a viewpoint that loves honesty more than truth.)

Return to list of poems

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 Mississippi Review. In both 2011 and 2012 he is again a finalist in poetry at Mississippi Review, as well as receiving a nomination for The Best of the Web and two nominations for both the Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. The Spring 2011 Bitter Oleander contains a feature including an interview and 18 of his hybrid works.

Return to list of poems

copyright 2010-2013 ucity review