The CSS Awards - Site of the Day


Rich Ives



     I knew we had lost everything when the celebration spilled over into the next era and the speeches sounded like everybody praising everybody for doing everything right.  We had never been in deeper trouble. We had never been without our enemy. That left only us to be the enemy.

     That's how our religion works. The winner always forgives. We come to the rescue with such certainty it makes us right again. That's how we stay ahead of the inevitable.


     I remember the year I was best at dying. They all knew I was a fake, but a nearly dead man who could still come out to play and was always willing to lose was the token no one had to cash.

     Let’s say it was Dried Onion Junior High and in my head I was taking the place of something I had killed. I was unshooting a partridge. A turgid atmosphere of righteous indulgence.


     Right now we see it as one more success and no one says it's time to stop because we achieve this happiness by declaring victory before it's over. We’ve defied our own years of struggle and we've deified the sunset. Tomorrow isn't another day, it's another yesterday, and the story's all over again before dark.

     Don't ask what happens next. No entrance to any heaven, just a slow drag across the ridge like coal dust, streaks of soot clinging to the trees like tiny insect casings.  Where has the creature gone?


     So good-day to my vertical. I might be ready now. Everything needed to put things together on one table, everything to take them apart on the other. 


     Each of them may be thinking, "Your tumor was benign, but you were not," but each is saying, "Trust me. I will lie to you faithfully."







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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