Two Prose Poems

by Rich Ives 

These Are Not Vacancies Unwinding the Shrouds
But Vertical Trains of Supply Feeding the Frontier Clouds

The story begins nearby with manacles of lovely restraint. I’ve been waiting at the stop light. Nothing green enough has moved me, and every moment, lovely, sits down in its own hands, lifting itself into place.

Even South Dakota is still sleeping.

After that, my music door is opened, silently, and my hobbies become deer poaching and romantic taxidermy. I discover even criminals have their forms of advertising, and life is a wound that unfortunately heals.

Dear reader, if you wish to make something of this, which it is not, you may do so.

Preparations for the Journey

An owl is not a bird but a reason for leaving. A stone is a bird. It flies to the head of existence. It draws out the river of life. It contributes to the weight of indecision. It trades places with the reluctant shoe.

A reason for leaving is not a creature but a direction. You can go there when here has flown. You can arrive with the end in your pocket. You can offer the beginning a piece. You can keep the departing feathers in the dream of your lost arms.

An orchard does not speak like a crow. An orchard is not a direction or a place to escape certainty but an acceptance of excess and joyous spilling, yet there is no escape from certainty, which hides itself in doubt and sprouts in the first damp hint of once again, which is not always but nevertheless.

A crow is not an orchard but a vision. A stone can see this. It flies to the forehead of the man who enters and lodges there like a thought. You might be visiting wrongly. You can contribute to the mountain or you can disappear without an apple.

A taste of knowledge is not an apple but a curse and a reason for leaving, a direction. It flies to the mountain and falls and flies again and contributes to the river of indecision, offering only pockets in its dark feathers.

An apple is not an owl but a tasty stone. Its curse can still be thrown at the forehead of the man who waits for knowledge to fly to the mountain, which hides itself in doubt and appears to be climbing to the shiny top of the reliable shoe, but the reliable shoe is not the first step. The reliable shoe is not a bird but a reason for leaving.

Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He 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, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.



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