oh my aging starlet in the butter
bread me with hyphens wide-
eyed and strained of
wonder without reason
when I need help I go to sleep
there is no school for this
a string tied to my reasoning
like tiny aggressions pouring forth
from the military hole until
all those antennae twitch to one leg
climb it like a food source
I was busy criticizing a rock
a gardener with a little slug funk
dripping from his angry shoe
I’m between accomplishments but
the cast-off river has its own explanations
necessary things are not always beautiful
the privileged ocean’s temporarily illegible
there is nothing else to say about not saying
pessimism: the body’s half empty
optimism: the coffin’s half full
at the end of the journey a talking goat
he doesn’t have anything to say
I can’t sleep some nights it rains all day
a common man doesn’t want common things
something will happen of course
but I’m stopping now
only an opening whose words contain
it makes the first page read right into the last
I can’t remember what was said to make me feel this way
but knowing the secret exists makes it less secret
The Small Birds of Early Morning
Needing only a shovelful of air to float on,
tunnels of light open daily with a flutter and a dash.
Little feathered flutes of dream buttered with song,
I bring you fresh lessons of foam from the rocks.
All the way to the end of my feathers I go.
There can be but one infinity, and it’s incomplete.
You might wish to swallow a river.
You might want to taste a stone.
There are mines inside, there are ancient caves,
as if you could have just a delicate slice of lightning.
Incongruous as a sunbathing polka dot cat,
I have forgiven myself for being too available.
I stand in this ocean walking on the bottom.
Your accomplice surrounds me and enters me.
Why so many of you, and so shy, as if I might
spill the patient seeds or eat up all the destinations?
I think I’ll go now, or I’ll go thinking unreasonably, with only
my beak and my new empty bones, lighter than thought,
having begun something illogical and right and needing
to search for the nest with my partially digested cricket thoughts.
The Telegram Got Larger
every room in the sentence was a new color
I had trained these wolves
and I knew how to defeat a bear
I worshipped indecision
my daughter can pluck out all the eyes in a room
everything is hungry here
the meals are not spaced evenly
and the legs of a table can lead you on
we were some kind of violation so we had to quit ourselves
it’s like the door to the middle of a missing universe
it lives in the attic but once it’s opened
it cannot close
we were healing but we could have called it sex
she appeared to be one of those gummy
sentimental things fat and unreasonably relieved
encased in a pink snowsuit that made her look like she floated
he kicked the step again and hurt my foot again
tiny birds between his teeth
something brittle and transferred
I could not partake of the nontransferable emotions
one gooey personal shipwreck
if only I knew what to do with lost ponds
near the dacha on the Red Sea with Petrov
now tell me
The Way You Say Anything Is My World Being Careless
A cloud tattoo stains the sky’s vast back golden
as the lines reach across to the needle of feinting horizon.
There must be a clever dance on the other side
where the streetwise universe desultorily pierces
every unacceptable angle of unimaginable planetary skin.
Sorry We’re Open articulates the door with drunk humor.
You’ll have to borrow some light for the bleedin’ blunt.
Who can you talk to about celebratory addictions?
If you don’t talk about the law, you’ll find it
creeping up on you with a needy ass-kickin’,
part of an airy custody battle gone weathery
and feline with feral intent, oh rat-girl motherhood.
Where can we rinse our scavenging delicates?
Are there no spiritual remains to pick at,
no more incomplete catastrophes of faith dribbled
like griddle oil on the soul of morning’s argument
humming alive with golden terriers of tenacious possibility?
Somebody needs to say something wrong here.
Ten thousand obstacles just give us more to talk about.
Come in, come in, I’ve got a squirrel in the pot.
I can see that you’re a person of great substance
dominating a much smaller sphere of inaction.
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.