A Capsized Boat Barely Bigger Than a Maple Leaf

Rich Ives

1. [Suspicions Are Even More Suspicious]
The poet’s house is a painting,
                                                          the notoriety missing. 
I’m going inside myself until the bones of it, brittle as old nails, are replaced with fat new ligatures greased with midnight fishermen and lost time, the need merely tugging politely until the damp coat falls and the wardrobe appears reversibly mounted like a trophy inside what used to be my inheritance,
(there’s an industrialist humming generated by ironing his shorts)
but the tears cannot turn back, and the fire cannot turn around, and, like us, they put one another out, and they pass in the night where the anguish doesn’t need words to pick you up and take you home, and home is where you’ve always been lonelier with someone there,
its landscape thick with creek, the blackbirds thick with landscape. (There’s a house inside the canvas.) The poet’s floating house
can’t absorb its vessel’s excess (nor anticipate the sinking leaf).

2. [Banjo and Pan Pipes; A Ballad from the Hill Country]
I wasn’t so long ago, on an innocent apron, congealing and
frigid in the ministering wind. I suppose you were still writing
the eulogy, but you don’t have to squeeze that stone to release it.

I sang the Black Walnut’s hoary clawing. The flute someone made from Sally’s leg-bone traveled through the night that barked in my head. What’s gone that I need this much? How could weather be so experienced
and still leap out like a thought excited by nothing but itself? I wish I could live in my thoughts. I sing their confusion and pluck the strings down.
3. [A Computer Generated Invitation Too Late for Condescension]
I buried my grandmother today.
            It was raining a little under the only tree.
                   The sky had fallen off the robin’s Spring hinge. 
Possibly it would happen faster if I didn’t do so much, darling thrush arriving with its hedge luggage on the other side of a cooperative swallow.
I could ask for something contemporary and turn away, a vacuous burrowing occupation of its light and insecure hardware. I return to the number two
in search of the first impulse vining above and no more brilliant mornings can be found there, where I hadn’t ever been. That’s what was sailing on the lake in my head
all the way to where trafficking performed in tiny violins like a larvae pimp closing, and hazel-colored bathwater thickened, and
spilling magnificent dither closed itself, the seedache of unbegetting oscillating, O the way we all move together becomes a bird,
a weightless officer, memorable handshakes, and warm cereal language, if by x you mean y and delicate water on the fullness where pixilated Chesters
become an untouchable thickness, and the river of the upper torso adjusts a lever behind the right shoulder-blade that raises then lowers the dual frontal appendages, which may be
considered either arms or wings, depending on the speed of the lever as operated, if by point the lower end towards the earth, you mean that which is falling deserves to hold the rest above.
4. [There Were Closed Doors Inside the Closed Doors]
I seem to be collecting impulses with a hidden denominator,
common, but frequently fleet. Everyone there was working on a theory
                  to explain the theories that weren’t working. 
(My ovens were not acceptable, but my steam tables were floating off with little wisps of Manhattan flying from their antennas. More than enough endearments had been collected and children were pouring out of their own ears. Golf was played blue and loud.)
There were hummingbirds flying between the unoccupied rooms. There were rooms
that occupied themselves with emptiness. There were places to go from which you could
not return, and the only space available was the space between spaces.
5. [It Takes Only a Fool’s Native Wisdom to Return]
The wasps were harder to identify than tree surgeons,
                  who didn’t even consider identifying with them. 
The garments I wore were buzzing. They led me to an understanding farther north than possible.
You should have seen the herd of eyebrows galloping. [I hold them gently, and they know their promise.]
6. [It’s Not Often Such a Wedding Remains Benign]
Who am I with a broom chasing sparrows?
                  [T-t-t-t-t-urtle luggage blubbers in her lowly fluff church.] 
They say ugly. They say hungry. They say no evidence but a milky fog as smooth as the aftertaste of aged cream.
A simple stilled smoke falling away–– considerate limbs between us, a thicket of posturing.
You do not know you deliver me and I do not know to what. The desire speaks further because the goal remains silent.
7. [A Life of Patient Excess]
Where then my ephemeral experiments,
                  my tidy drawers of winged samples? 
[A breath, too tentative, too slow, to be trembling.]
The dream breaks open in the waking, [if only the elusive meaning would]
and we do not have to believe in a death come softly tough it believes in us and emerges from its belief slower than the exhale of stars,
[tiny ice bells ringing in the meadow as a warm breeze stirs].
To breathe with them requires uncertainty and a conclusion larger than the leaf we row to become lovers.

About the Work

Rich Ives

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, Dublin Quarterly, 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. In 2011 he received 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. His book of days, Tunneling to the Moon, is currently being serialized with a work per day appearing for all of 2013 at http://silencedpress.com.

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