You Can’t Take It Home With You
Little Nonsense played in the ocean. Little Nonsense waited for the waves to knock him down and drag him under the water. And they did. They knocked him down and dragged him under the water. And then they let him go.
Little Nonsense said, “Fuck you very much” and Little Nonsense said “What a cuntlicker.” Little Nonsense didn’t know yet what these things really meant, but he could tell that the young men felt good when they said them.
Little Nonsense wrapped a lantern in his silky black coat, next to his body. Little Nonsense thought he could wake up that way. Little Nonsense thought he could do that because he thought he was sleeping.
Little Nonsense didn’t have a pet to play with. Little Nonsense didn’t have a pot to piss in. A stone along the path hopped to the side and Little Nonsense hopped to the side. The long green grass nodded and swayed and went back to insignificance. It was tight with the great beyond. It didn’t need special attention. Being noticed didn’t mean you were lighting the way.
Now the mystery was on the other side and Little Nonsense had forgotten how to get there. It always happens when you begin to grow up. You think you want to make it clear, but you don’t want that anymore. You want something more complicated.
Again Little Nonsense waited for the waves to knock him down and drag him under. He thought there was something under the waves he had missed the first time. It was like he had a progressive eye that had to be covered to let the other one catch up.
So Little Nonsense finds a street and walks on it. There under the bottom of the waves. Furled and un-, he set sail beneath for objects of endearment. He carried a jar of falling and a jar of turning around. He came to a place where a man and a woman were eating, and he watched a man and a woman slice off a finger of tears. The trunk of a father was there and was sturdy but didn’t hold much that wasn’t his own. The man and the woman practice the melodramatic sweeping back of the hand across the forehead. The father wore a shirt that had accepted dinosaurs into its future. It had something to do with Indiana and with beef jerky.
A muffled sound came along with the light that had escaped from somewhere distant and Little Nonsense remembered where he was. Up above waves were playing happily and not worrying about where they were going. That’s what Little Nonsense was thinking. He wanted to go home, but he didn’t know where that was or if it was a good place to be, but he had discovered something he wanted to take there. He put some of the deep water in his backpack and tried to become lighter. After that the backpack was holding on to the water, and he had to let it go. He thought about some things to say about the water, but he didn’t say them. He thought about home and how it made him feel and he thought about how it might have changed, might have changed a whole lot, but he didn’t care. He knew it would always make him feel that way, even if he never went there again.
The water was falling out all around him. These thoughts had made him lighter and he rose to the surface. Above the water, snow was falling. He didn’t know if he wanted to get out or not, but he knew it didn’t matter anymore. He knew he was where he needed to be.
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 and many more. He published a three-volume series of the best of Northwest writing as well as an anthology of contemporary German poetry titled Evidence of Fire. He has published a limited edition collection of his own poetry and translated Yesterday I Was Leaving by Johannes Bobrowski. 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.