Rich Ives: Two Pieces of Fiction

The Way a Month Still Cares for a Year

Golden Hairstreak Butterfly

June has someone’s ocean in her closet, but it’s dried out and hangs with her blouses and old homies, the neighborhood just not the same hood anymore. The darkness has settled in but has a great deal of trouble swallowing these days.

June nibbles on chinquapin, oak, one eye on her father, his topside golden yellow with brown outer borders, wider than her mother’s. His short tail makes him angry, his underside pale yellow with a faint inner reddish brown mark like a label for what he does. You’d never guess it from looking at him.

In the forests June selects the leaves for her pale blue eggs, attaches them to the undersides of leaves, often near the tallest branch on the bush. They go unnoticed all winter and open in the spring.

Chinquapin is June’s source of golden nectar and dreams. This life is not something you can do alone.

June used to be afraid of her father, but now she too has touched evil¹ and it is not the terrible thing she feared.  She’s gone deeper than damp clothing. She’s arrived at the gates one life before departure and waited, just waited.

June wants her night back. She’s sleeping in the clouds without a candle. Her angels are softer now, beginning to leave home, which scares her.

¹ found rolled up in a bullet casing beneath an empty armadillo shell shellacked to a nostalgic sepia sheen beginning to flake off 


First You Must Be Erased and Then You Can Walk Slowly Home

Golden Skipper Butterfly

It’s a frightening pleasure to be knocked down by a wave of the sea’s long hand, to find how much not dying feels like love, the male above brilliant light brass-gold with narrow scalloped dark margins, the female mixed brown and tawny-orange below with violet pronounced at the busy lips.

This is how the mind’s other reasoning works. You don’t even have to be there to participate. The happier response often creates a saddened question, vast seas minnowed with insignificant possibilities and unimaginable mortality rates.

Putting things together wrong amused Nicholas. His confidence leaked and got all over things he shouldn’t have questioned. Already I’m not drunk enough to notice something like that. It’s not your story either, is it? (The deep wacked laugh of youth still appears to be random.)

One brooding assignation is enough in the shaded gullies and valley bottoms, the grassy areas near waterways, the pine forest clearings. There were no names then for Nevada, Wyoming, the Dakotas or Nebraska and the lovers dribbled south to New Mexico, Arizona and Northwest Mexico, equally nameless. Nicholas the Name Boy squeaked alone, so softly he barely heard himself.

But Nicholas’ big bright skipper grows active in cloudier weather than most will tolerate, his wave-drawn cutter lifting and lifting, one fluid obstacle after another. The approach is the life, not the conclusion. If only we could never arrive. No one should be able to fly away now, your last wish and the one after still approaching.


Rich Ives has received 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. 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).

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