Rich Ives

Posted on April 15, 2011

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Best of the Net 2011 nomination

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The first thing you should know is that the man’s children may starve. If you watch closely, you can soon see that a puddle is gathering beneath his feet. We’ve been operating according to another system, another system entirely. If you had been paying close enough attention to notice that the ripe ones float but the green ones sink and there are two brown berries inside each one, then you might not be making wine merely in order to convey electricity, day after day after day.

The second thing you should know is that the man in question has no children. Despite appearances, this calls into question nothing of significance. Neither does it have a religious dimension, that story of the single drop of rain that fell in the mouth of an abandoned carpenter, who may or may not have been a sane man, notwithstanding. And the first man who made clothing and tents by joining animal skins with the hair of saints, which still grows after they have died, his concept of God is heavy and hard and he has prepared it to be used for pounding.

The third and final thing you should know is that these absent children, the ones with toughened skins, are sometimes put into a deadly machine. Some of them have reasons for wanting to be crushed, but many of them are unaware of their fates. In such a place, it is easy to study the erosion of empathy and pretty soon, there will remain no confidence in benevolent metaphors whatsoever.

In the meantime, while we ponder the dilemma, the man in question continues pounding and the missing children continue swimming into his wet guilty hands. Their fat little bellies grow slick with seaweed and the ripe ones continue thumping repetitively with salty machine dreams while the green ones grow heavier and heavier with the burden of their promise, as if the ocean inside the man’s intentions were already theirs.

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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. 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. In 2010 he has been a finalist in fiction at Black Warrior Review and Mississippi Review and in poetry at Cloudbank and Mississippi Review. The Mississippi Review finalist works appear in the Spring, 2010 issue of that magazine and the Cloudbank finalist appears in the Spring, 2010 issue of that magazine as well.

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