Rich Ives ~ The Insect Group

Witness Holding Still

Prominent Moth

Dimitris offers you a bite of tree, his token of affec­tion. His medi­um-sized, brown­ish tor­so seems a short­er chopped-off ver­sion of that source, but of course he can walk away from less sub­tle approach­es. When dis­turbed, he freezes in place with the ends of his body ele­vat­ed, sex­u­al per­haps but imprac­ti­cal and thus mere­ly con­sid­ered behind a flur­ry of chil­dren, who are quite gre­gar­i­ous, striped, and obvi­ous enough to be called common.

When the chil­dren go for­ag­ing, they favor the trees and shrubs, and some attack orchard trees. Often they start at the top. If the moon fell, would they crack it open and eat, or is it the ten­der­ness of reach­ing for the sun and not mere­ly receiv­ing it that they desire?

A stack of clouds was slip­ping over, sus­pend­ed as if in a car­toon just before the fall. The knife of pre­con­cep­tions slices such thoughts down to dis­miss­ing por­tions. Perhaps no one lives there.

Of course it wasn’t the moon that fell in the ocean but some­thing large and celes­tial that did that dawn­ing. If only this were hap­pen­ing else­where and Dimitris wasn’t. A man can­not be a sea­son, he is think­ing, but he lives in one the way sad­ness and mar­ble allow touch and place­ment when the weath­er changes.

Here the nail and there the ham­mer. Here a lec­ture on the stor­age of spat­u­las. And there beneath them both in the sea­son­al house, you can find a sub­scrip­tion to Infinite Delicacies and Rough Hands Daily.

Now Dimitris has decid­ed the man he was was actu­al­ly a small brown rab­bit over­grown and dis­guised. Or was he an aging grey­hound dark­ened by a lack of nat­ur­al light­ing? Was this the stray dog incident?

Dimitris is wel­com­ing a cool mist. Is he gath­er­ing up the damp chil­dren, the din­ner trees in the mist? Is he study­ing absence, pon­der­ing leap­ing from a thin branch just before it breaks? Isn’t that life, the last chance to soar briefly before the inevitable grav­i­ties wel­come you home, which is real­ly the begin­ning of some­one else, just as you were? And for the moment before after Dimitris thought he could hear the earth root­ing and chew­ing and open­ing up the next trav­el­er, who might be an aging grey­hound or a brown rab­bit or a sta­tion­ary man ready to explore anoth­er country.


A Delayed Celebration of the Bright Stranger


Oh gall mak­ers, livid on hack­ber­ry, decid­u­ous nymphs, oval and flat, unlike even your own par­ents, pro­duc­ing waxy fil­a­ments that look like blobs of cot­ton, ascend to the pas­times of smoke. One dust among many, you may start by quit­ting. You could be a stranger, and the stranger might still be danc­ing between the bot­tle­brush and the snows­calp, between risen and failed.

This is a way of offer­ing that which curls around oth­ers and falls away gravid. Oh yes, the lover is faith­ful, but the more impor­tant ques­tion is not if but why. She attend­ed and ten­dered him, ten­der as unrea­son­able fur, her coun­try face so much more than a life beyond blur. Still anoth­er con­ti­nent approach­es know­ing. She returns the way a dream remem­bers some­one you do not know, the mud yel­low and rust-streaked, graz­ing on moon­light, as if it were wound­ed bread.

We are always but a mis­take away from per­fec­tion. Put the riv­er in the trees and the trees in the clouds. We’re already there and rain­ing. First the star­lings and then the stars, which dwell in the tongues of escapists. Can you see what I’m doing? How dark is ani­mal dark?

Now you are in the dark­er stars in the star­lings, shar­ing the entrails of starlight smeared across the morning’s ques­tion­able floor, and now I’m done singing the trees, blan­ket bugs still asleep then until the body returns. My pud­ding is addled, my mind thick­en­ing, and naught but an apple-thief for shade, who departs fly-like yet wing­less, these thoughts man­i­cured and green, wait­ing for the ris­ing, but my brain just lies there and runs while my body takes in every­thing. Before, I had been but a stain on that cloth.

Perhaps I should release my name now, Alexandros of the delayed for­tune, near­ly hang­ing there in the air, where you are, as only dust would when its dis­tur­bance is old, unclear, for­got­ten or over­looked as the morn­ing would have it, call­ing atten­tion beyond the win­dows and smil­ing with bor­rowed light.

If we could but read it, the future is fore­cast now by a comet, wan­der­er with a heavy load, who shall encounter unwit­ting­ly these risen morn­ing clowns, and we stand with our mouths open as if that offered some kind of a greater praise and not an inca­pac­i­ty. Who are all these strangers, with light to offer remem­bered dark­ness that would attend bleary-eyed and late the deep­er cel­e­bra­tion that does not end where notice is enough. Are we inside this prob­lem or cheer­ing another?


The Considerate Idiot

Pygmy Mole Cricket

First my body was weary of my lim­i­ta­tions and then I became weary of its fail­ings, which grew where noth­ing else would. The idiot I had been was stored there as I aged, and he raged against his restraints and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of fail­ings that had agreed to take over. In this he was wrong, for he had cre­at­ed many of them though their incli­na­tions may have arisen regardless.

I replied to Pygmy, Moist sandy shores of ponds and streams. I didn’t have much else to say, but I was not com­mon (eleven seg­ments up front, tib­ia enlarged, fit for dig­ging). I found a bur­row at the sur­face. I moved in.

I need­ed some fur­ni­ture so I sat down on some­thing and thought about places to put things that belonged to what I was doing right then. I did that yes­ter­day. If I were more con­vinc­ing, I’d be doing it today.

I was not on the alter­nate dance floor. I was not on the sub­sti­tute dance floor either though I do find rela­tion­ships between eat­ing and dancing.

My phone ate your voice in progress and wait­ed while I ate what you were talk­ing about., wish­ing you were here. That night’s unpunc­tu­at­ed asser­tions seemed to be say­ing, Every day I’m more me.

The mossy robe on the river’s back invit­ed me away, and I went, but slipped out to a dif­fer­ent riv­er. It said, We must be on our way home now, but we can­not go there together.

The ropes in my limbs seemed as if they had become a sin­gle mus­cle twitch­ing in the dark­ness, weak and wear­ing tiny pairs of mouse gloves.

Dance slow­er then, for you know the music inter­nal­ly. It has adapt­ed to your depth, your cau­tion, your patience.

Only the body can intro­duce us to real absence, for anoth­er body is not a replace­ment but a loss intro­duc­ing anoth­er loss.

Perhaps we should cel­e­brate before some­thing entire­ly new happens.


There’s Another World

Pyrgotid Fly

Mike and Joe and Lucy and Seraphinius were all medi­um-sized to large in their think­ing with large round­ed heads to match, their aspi­ra­tions spot­ted and pat­terned, noc­tur­nal, uncom­mon and attract­ed to glit­ter. When they had chil­dren among them, they were often drawn to a June Beetle. The kids didn’t actu­al­ly eat them, but they rode on them and played at insert­ing them­selves in those mis­er­able lives.

But there’s anoth­er world. Those whose suc­cess­es have last­ed live there in our hon­or. It’s too small to see, but know­ing it’s there could free me from indolence.

What do you do with so many intru­sive thinkers?

Just then Seraphinius remind­ed us of some renew­able sur­re­al­ist walk­ing his lob­ster in the cemetery.

And Joe was just the way a bruise with a name returns after the pain is gone. Starts again. Colors him­self and touch­es, touch­es, touches.

Mike’s suit­case full of stars is not the whole evening.

When you’re dream­ing of anoth­er coun­try, you’re already there, but you can’t stay.

Lucy, on the oth­er hand, attend­ed dressed as an account­ing error.

A gallery of red­dened walls, nuanced to dust, vis­its the fall­en and does not return.

So you’re back, clever Morning. How did you evade the dark­ness? I asked.

Leave me alone. I have less philo­soph­i­cal things to do now, the evening’s near­ly absent wind respond­ed. The rain made some trees hope­ful, but not me. I knew what was coming.

A gasp of deri­sion puffs up from the foot­steps of the trav­el­ers. Their direc­tion has turned away.

No, the ancient stone by the road­side isn’t sor­ry about deceiv­ing you. It has its own life to live.



Rat and Mouse Flea

The street­lights are not the ones who do this.

No, you were nev­er all lit up, but still we pre­ferred rid­ing the rats, the mice and the shrews. We ate them. We left enough to live on. We ate them some more. Every morn­ing a new car arrived. They came from the clouds, cum­ber­some and small­er than they ought to be. They came from mathbooks.

We were the fur­ther­more of pass­ing clouds the clouds passed. We appeared round­ed and flex­i­ble as milk. We were ones with the fad­ing of cast light one cloud after. It was not over yet but he was begun, that duti­ful wit­ness, remem­ber­ing you before you’re gone, yes, he would have said if he could,

I turned with you, fur­ther away on the floor where you cast me, away from the light, which did noth­ing to uncom­pli­cate your restraint.

The light changes. One shed is in the pas­ture now. It fell off the removal truck and the removal truck removed itself. There’s noth­ing in the shed but for­mer grass and cita­tions for lack of speed­ing. The recy­cling bins are filled with emptiness.

I sup­pose you could say I’m hap­pen­ing to myself, but I nev­er seem to come out on top. Underneath, there’s a lot to talk about, but what there is to do is already done. The shad­ows stay attached.

I crashed then my detach­able feet against my sun­dries until every­thing less impor­tant had fall­en away. I put the remain­der below foot lev­el, replaced the old feet with new ideas, and stepped on them with earth between that they might con­sol­i­date their neigh­bors. I put the shed door on the neigh­bors that I might vis­it them with respect.

We had some oth­er small peo­ple cra­dled in our arms. We man­aged to keep near­ly every­thing between the left side and the right side. We watched our­selves being seat­ed where some­one else was.

Oceans passed and we didn’t shoot them.

The great revi­sion was soon over and the greater revi­sion began. Not much came of it, so we tried to find a worm trail, but the worms had used them up.


Rich Ives has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coördinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poet­ry, fic­tion, edit­ing, pub­lish­ing, trans­la­tion and pho­tog­ra­phy. He is the 2009 win­ner of the Francis Locke Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and the 2012 win­ner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press–poetry), Sharpen (The Newer York—fiction chap­book), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking (What Books—stories), Old Man Walking Home After Dark (Cyberwit–poetry), Dubious Inquiries into Magnificent Inadequacies (Cyberwit–poetry), A Servant’s Map of the Body (Cyberwit—stories), Incomprehensibly Well-adjust­ed Missing Persons of Interest (Cyberwit—stories), and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press–stories).