Rich Ives


I look down and find a brown streak on my pants,
and realize I’ve been punked by a malformed candy wrapper.

In Japan it’s only funny if the banana peels
are cherry blossoms, but here I am thinking about

the way love needs respect even though it reveals itself departing,
and this is where I’d put the entrance of civilization.

You might want to go the other way, but the moments would still
come streaming in, and I’d make them pay for it, and I might be

the only one who knew. Sometimes a man has found himself
where he should not be, and an unasked for beauty breaks him open.

This house is busy imitating a home, and this door is only a door because
the countries grow quickly and misbehave, and because the map

found me dutiful and divided in the single intention of arriving.
As large as the behavior was, we had a couple hours to kill.

Such things come about and begin again.
The opposite of now is not always then.

Useful Conclusions Drawn from Flawed Reasoning

A woman with a green twig in her hair apologized,
and I didn’t know what I was accepting because I realized
there could have been many unnatural lights in evidence.

Time is transparent. You cannot live there, but you can visit
constantly. I’ve been chewing on the hill across the valley
for days now. I believe in exploding the one flower.

We pull time out of its box on a string, but time has no box. It’s built
on logic, and you live there surrounded by reasons for leaving.
A collection of guests beneath the table may not remain beneath.

A complete horse arrives slowly, his full presence preceded by
the amazing muscles that represent him. Maybe I’ve got
the wrong idea dancing on my shoulders. An Atlas might help.

You will not, however, fall into the past, but there are moments there
that will fall into you. If you do not argue or exaggerate, they will not
be available for regressive strolling down temporarily wooded avenues.

I dedicate my shirt to this warmth and remove it. It waits for
my garden to arrive at its location peaceful and lonely, a cat with a tall
firefly in its mouth, one of the more unnatural lights in evidence.

A Problem of Historical Perspective

Some of the things we failed to do for our neighbors
got in the way. We tried to remove them one at a time.

The whole point is to validate your anger
and eat less. The reason for this makes you angry,
which is not the same. You have to say it to the road
and choose to stay home.

So that you’re not repeating yourself.
So that you’re not just there where you were
and not here where you are either.

Aren’t you tired of tired and sleeping? Aren’t you sleeping?

You have to beat on it to loosen the meat’s attachments.

(In a textbook only the apprehended viewer lives in the event of a certain village, which otherwise seems to have forgotten its people and even its bees and miraculously produced independent flowers and houses and shelters for farm animals that have melted into the purposeful stones.)

Surprising then that such a disaster could create us.

What can I say? I’m a nail.
I got hammered.

Indifferent and not offensive, in the manner of children, these carpenters.

(She’s saying please don’t.
He’s saying when.
She’s saying time’s irrelevant.
He’s saying here have some.)

We walked as if each step had no need
of returning to the pavement.

(A great cow of darkness was repeating its useful stomachs.)

When the first cities arrived, we invited them
to contain us, but not all of us.

So that as neighbors, we wrote things down and tore them up and made things from the things we had made, which gave us a kind of pride to exchange for more goods.

Fathers collected the evidence in boats and sailed them faithfully.

Mothers held on to some things and let go of some other things. Mothers wrote it all down. We flew from these parents as airplanes might. If the airplanes in question had not been allowed wings.

(We admired the fragrant milky bleating of the risen lamb.)

Philosophers thought about which things we were getting right and which things we were forgetting. The latter they could not think about for long. And then the philosophers thought about why the philosophers were thinking about the philosophers.

(I was there with myself and I was
watching. No one could take me farther,
an historical lion purring like a powder puff.)

(The guy driving doesn’t like to drive, but then
the limping car doesn’t like to go anywhere either,
so we sit there and enjoy the compromise while
the garage ticks under the fat window-seeking rain
and the silent radio seems to be singing along.)

Our children seemed to be entertained by the developments in sewage conveyance but complained of the odor. We allowed them to move around freely.

Some of our neighbors got in the way. We removed them, but not one at a time.

Progress arrived and was given a front row seat. In this position, progress looked like progress. Fame made the disguise important, but infamous people did not understand this.

The elders disapproved of gambling and arranged time accordingly, which did not remove the element of chance, but may have reduced the hidden profits of the management, which may have been an even deeper secret, like an invisible blind man.

Some of us created an etiquette for the exchange of intentions, which included liberal interpretations of the circumstances under which the etiquette should be ignored. The most successful part of the etiquette placed Idaho between Washington and Montana and we left it there.

(Songs of our intentions floated,
and instrumentals required mud.)

(A friendlier form of isolation then,
or a destination all the way to possible?)

The soldiers followed orders only because there was no way to understand what was happening. The scribes failed to write that down. Later, the soldiers wrote that down and became scribes. They hadn’t realized the war was still the war. Their poems became more famous than the war. The war was still the war.

The neighbors tried many things that were doomed to failure. Some of them succeeded. We stopped calling them neighbors. We elected them to more distant offices (like the leftovers from the nut-seller’s cart).

If the new traffic signal said “Go,” we stopped, which proved to be a wise decision although we had to remove a great deal of detritus from the aggressive rear of the caravan.

We placed our understanding upon a line and broke it into unequal pieces. We didn’t argue about the inequality of the pieces, but exchanged places frequently, fondling the fob like a banker.

The fathers discussed “Yes” and “No” and came to conclusions they withheld from each other. The mothers discussed certainty uncertainly.

Our neighbors were placed in the farthest reaches of the empire. Often they decided there was another empire. We corrected them. We corrected them for a long time.

We appreciated wind tunnels. We decided to be amused at our amusements. We discovered contemporary fluting and placed it beneath the eaves.

(The dog-headed flowers barked the air awake.)

Finally we admitted we didn’t know
where we were going and changed bearings
to arrive with less wasted effort.

Innocence and forgetfulness.
We introduced them.

Some of the people we left behind
were still waiting when we arrived.

Rich Ives 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 from Newer York Press; Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press; and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available from What Books.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.