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Critical, Overt, Unloading

Rich Ives



     It got in our eyes. It got between our toes. Its love and betrayal remained inseparable, and seemed not actions or emotions but a single thing breaking into parts and entering from multiple directions, the nature of an organism to which such delicacies and tensions become available.

     One of us seemed to be talking to creek water and the other was anticipating clouds. Sometimes it’s me I see in the thick fur you wear and sometimes it’s me in the dribble of cold at the corner of your mouth.

     I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not going to let you have that superior feeling you get when somebody in a story says something and then later they say something different. And they know they’re doing it because they don’t want you to notice some third thing that doesn’t really make them look as bad as they think it does because it sneaks up on you and distracts you. Anyway, it gets on people you think you know in places where they don’t notice, like under their fingernails or at the back of their hair, and it sticks to their conceptions of the future and it seeps right into the images other people hold of them and it isn’t even trying. It’s gifted.

     This happened on a day like the one when we couldn’t help being thirsty. That day the clouds were busy distorting our sense of cloud realities, so probably some other deceptive things were happening too.

     My hiding thing is that I can be a real shit to people who get close to me. I know that. I’m not going to hide it. But don’t go getting superior about it, okay? Just because I don’t know someone’s weakness, it doesn’t make them stronger. Except for that one time when I nearly fathered at least three children and lost them and had to give up rollerblading for an entire season. That made me look worse, but the children didn’t mind. They were never properly received by their mothers and got left on three different washcloths.

     The clouds were everywhere after that. It was a disease. It got into my possibilities.

     I couldn’t risk it.







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 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. 

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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