St. Petersburg, 1893
Don’t just do something, sit there.
The blue-black almost of evening, deep golden
loping meadow waves rolling beautifully nowhere.
No moan from the fencepost, no sigh from the wire.
Only a steady going on about, a reliable indifference.
The longer the journey the sleepier the roads.
If I try to explain, it moves further away.
A preoccupied gray bird flying from his limb and back again.
It’s hard work leaving home, harder returning.
So you think about how you wake up and
don’t know where you are,
but you didn’t wake up and you still
don’t know where you are.
Body of a tree left lying on the beach,
the clouds scumbled over--
too much presence to be real,
the way reality often arrives.
A pile of stones marking
another pile of stones,
a fat bee bumbling over the musky rose--
in some distant room children are sleeping.
One grain of gravel and one more,
the last thick bolt of dry blackbread,
a slip of air here, not here, here again,
little gesture-births unwielded.
Then the rain gone and something breathing,
a whisper spilled like insects.
When you look at it long enough, the sky
comes back out of the sky.
I built a little silence, thought about adding a door
and a tiny little god with a walking stick.
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.