Rich Ives



Deriving the Greatest Benefit from What Happened

To see death you must forget what it’s called,
someone admired once said in their own way,

one of those birds with a polite flutter of color
you could miss if you didn’t waste time

like a rufous-sided towhee with license to
unleaf too many bugs snug through long winter.

I stand now in the room where I watch
a particular instrument groom, my generous

cat, bored tonight with killing, having gifted his
spittle-covered, ribbed knuckle-toy with an after-puff

of catnip still redolent in its muff of imitation prey hunkered
down now, fake tooth and nail with skin-papered

rib-struts delicate enough to lift on displaced
air before my foot arrived there unintentional

and shivered my imagination out of its evening hole,
oh stray exaggerations that bring me, yes,

once again home, where the end shall one day find me
played out and paper-thin and offer up the hollow remainder.

Even my hair seems comfortably bewildered, pointing
confidently in different directions the way I’ve been doing.

Then a stupid leaf falls on my preoccupied head. I don’t brush it away.
If you don’t have anything to lose, you’re not paying attention.



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, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. He has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart Prize. He is 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) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press—hybrid).