Monday, October 3, 2011

“The Invention of Restraint” by Rich Ives


The crook of Billy Epstein’s arm was murdered first, followed by the hollow at the base of his neck, which had enabled him to open empty jars of sky without resorting to the corrugated flesh of his sleeping posterior. If he didn’t choose to do so, it was merely because the first act was not yet in the first place. Perhaps the odor was overwhelming.

With each further anticipation, the containers released a clear salty fluid, and the witnesses became less convinced of what they had seen. The investigation proceeded with several of the previously cloud-driven held in quiet abeyance.

At the intersection of the first murder and the speech to which it was attached, a small concern was uncovered and placed in the location formerly inhabited by that portion of the body once thought to have been capable of reaching away from the rest of the body. This delicate appendage was lifted at an angle that allowed it to precede the rest of the body, which held together several digits inside one of its pockets that had become joined by the porous stained knuckles of hardened experience that can be found at carnivals, carved into the shape of dice and garishly painted in numerical sequence using the tiny bowl-like declivities prepared on each of the six equidistant surfaces. The physical capacities necessary to pick up the resulting assemblage were said to create the appearance of a grasping of the kind found only in questionable museums and occasionally in bottles of amber fluid displayed in poorly lit tents by gypsies following in the wake of circuses and medicine shows.

All of the orifices are indeed edible. It’s the idea they represent that are indigestible.

In childhood, an old wooden rocking-horse waited on a slanted linoleum floor, patterned in a shifting sequence of Teddy-bear cowboys happily lassoing the battered legs of a generously abused crib, floating on swivel-mounted casters. A young outlaw named Billy Epstein, wearing a Carmen Miranda fruit hat and sporting an outrageous mustache, was still awaiting his fate in the grainy black and white photograph lying beneath the broken glass of the chocolate-stained wooden frame discarded along the worn linoleum trail.

The emotional positioning of the hopefuls has been identified in secret texts carefully guarded by practitioners, who meet in public only in order to pretend mockery and cast misdirecting dispersions upon the activities in which they are happily engaged. This has become necessary to dissuade the many aspiring hopefuls that have been drawn to these activities by dangerous misunderstandings. Witnesses seem not to understand the deep faith with which the participants perform these contradictions and view them as merely overzealous crusaders. The clear salty fluids surreptitiously recovered by low level “sanitary engineers” are rumored to contain valuable intellectual coloration pigments.

In this way, we may have surrendered some of our less conspicuous impulses and altered the densities of archaic tact, although they are still believed to have survived unaltered on the farmsteads of extreme northern South Dakota and extreme southern North Dakota, where artesian well water used for irrigation contains an absorbable constituent of sunlight that reacts to certain combinations of vocal patterns with roots in Scottish and Scandinavian subcultures of Viking and Celtic influence. These include the expressions, “By golly, and fiddlesticks, and wouldn’t ya know it? and you’ll be wantin’ some a that.

Scarring occurs when resistance is prolonged.

On schooldays the Malt-o-meal sits silent in a fat warm bowl circled by small plastic boots filled with milk and orange juice and a pale blonde saddle covering three pieces of toast with liberal doses of marmalade applied, all awaiting the soft slap of footed flannel pajamas from the small room at the end of the innocent hall.

An illegally immigrated dog tributary originally located in the homeland and now activated by latent desires within the uncle begins a low wet moaning related to cries of ecstasy emitted by mating centipedes but without the intellectual discussion. Some witnesses have suggested that the movement contains an aural color of visceral iridescence reminding them of squeezing fireflies, but the lazy trajectory of the tributary remains much larger and does not attempt to rise from the lowest possible declivity.

Viewed from the wing of the local crop duster, the barking can be seen to exert a unifying influence on the chaotic testimonial of the contemporary family, but there is no discernable greening of the offspring, which remain sullen and moist, a condition which makes the occasionally wind-disturbed deposit of crop dust adhere in potentially dangerous quantity. From this tendency to normality we can extrapolate a cultural perspective towards survival, which might allow the density of territorial imperatives to overlap and thus exchange relatives.

Small green birds remove the chewing gum from the young boys mouths and plant it. Pecking begins when a donor resists and can result in tap dancing, stomach nesting and, eventually, death. The introduction of handcarts into the recovery efforts has proved useless.

All feminine models have been endowed with a masculine component. All masculine models have been endowed with a beast of random selection.

The voice of the mother is watery and cool. The father does not participate until the mother’s resources have been depleted. Artificial elevation of the body is adamantly resisted.

If the heart is missing, you must attach a wire to the finger to determine sensitivity. If the wire discolors, the specimen is polluted. If the body lights up, it is not to be trusted. Disconnect the wire before explaining what is required of the specimen. Some specimens will provide service only when they believe they have been lied to. These are particularly desirable as they seldom believe the truth.

This is where you will find the women weeping.


The reformed transgressor gives his little sermon with heated passion edging his knowing chill. A lighted match falls towards the fireplace, already roaring with hunger.

Big and tentative, three boys, simple with yearning. The fat wet flakes of snow hold apart just long enough to fall. The boys are laughing at a joke about their shop teacher, a jovial amputee.

A Volkswagen, farting through the snow, like a dispeptic overturned motorboat, plows to a thick crunching halt and disgorges an excited nervous couple of surprisingly diminutive stature. They’re chattering like sparrows planning a vacation.

The boys who wish to become men have been drinking, dared into a pub where a woman’s life was recited in fits and starts and boos and guffaws, a beautiful tragedy where the heroine does everything wrong, and everyone cheers and begins singing. It hurts the boys to want that.


What is behind the strategy of such an author?

The freedom of the mind, not the tyranny of the body.

Why does he admit this?

Because it is not possible without complicity.

Why are his tarnished dreams so transparent?

The polished window does not see itself clearly.

Are there others like him?

Yes, too many. And they all want attention, though there are many who seek it in other ways.

Why are they not satisfied to be alone?

Some are, until the mind wants to hear itself think.

And if you ask these questions, have you not added another layer of difficulty to the problem?

Yes, but the layers existed before the problem did.

How do we know this problem really exists?

In someone else’s dream the library is closed. A column of ants has been working on the steps where a sweetly flavored text has fallen.


In the schoolhouse between the wheatfields, a priest is eating the onion raw. Behind the schoolhouse the boys are solving a problem with recently introduced foreigners and telling a joke about a burping monk. How much fear does it take for them to forget themselves?

Something backfired and the boys jumped. They were hoping it was a car.

Hobbed up and enlisted they were. As if they were talking to a masculine pearl.

The pale pink panic of flesh.

Fugitive, Warholed out of context, a bolted daisybuff began boxing his way to Lapland.

A truancy of one after one among many. Its ruffled pelt on the imaginary cabin door.

“Give the dodger yer bleedin’ chit,” said the foreign silence.

Wait. Someone is coming, someone who is holding his head as if it might fall off and break. Clockmouthed and doggo, a one-man zoo.

“I’m the prize, Puckerbutt. Suck it up,” said the green voice clothed in caution, ya cheeky little bleeder.

Thusly spills forth the meadow drugged in fog, somnolent.

Twigged with the recurrent her, I was, a paltry sod.

To see was there anything worth taking.

“It’s yer own doin’ then, enit?”

A dodgy scam, okay, Y’d have ta sidewalk a contender.”

“Shut yer filthy gob, ya wanker.”

Pucking the horse turd around like a cricket match.

Bulbous, ham-headed. Three dolts on their way to a discovery.

Don’t believe a word of this. Somewhere deep inside the mastodon, the father lights a green candle. The flame is red, of course, but it helps to know it’s a green candle because it’s so long ago, because the father is naked among stones sitting in a circle.

The boys form a circle outside the circle and begin dancing. It’s a dance of defiance. It’s a dance of helping each other separate.


There’s a hole in the dark that leaks more darkness. The inner walls of heaven are flesh, the outer the flesh of another, separating us from air. The boy’s feeling at that moment is a small furry thing caught too far from its hole.

Them as knew ‘im’d take is face off ‘im fer a lop hole. ‘E thought ‘e loved ‘er ‘e did, the sorry sod. She weren’t no woman but a platoon. Tiny little acorn shoes on a rainmarch, eh. And that there’s Gobble the Muffin, a bloke on the lam, that one. I seen ‘im do it and the Bobbies not far behind. Heard ‘e was from the states, ‘e was, and bound ta go back. I didn’t hang aroun’ none with the dead one needin’ a killer ta point to. I was gone before I knew what I knew.

The wind testified while he lay awake that night, the truth of her in his nostrils. “How surprised you seem to find me here,” he says to himself.


Rich with absence, an ambulatory garden, the evening lanterns’ tasty suggestions of bearded whaling ships slip off into the welcoming fog. His tired furry hull draws him on. His closed eyes brighten, as if daylight had been dreaming its own echo.

1) An amelioration of the cloud’s fickle justice.
2) The intimate architecture of reluctant flounders.
3) Grandpa Epstein still tuning his waldzither.
4) The intimate truss of surrender cupping defiant necessities with a beggar’s hand.
5) My throat full of rose petals grabbing at my breath.

Every word I have written is brown. Each one chased by a gray wolf that never catches it. I was glad to be in that life, though I knew it would not stay in me. Burnt oil and bone dust, the fire was talking. It was rarely a happy thing. I was a brother just like me. And another.

Maybe you died and then kept going, the bump in the road a missed signal, like so many, but what ever really ends beside the moment?

And the woman opens to let you out, not in.

Rent asunder has been thy darkling plain.


Nothing holds still for long. Just when you think the shell you saved won’t sink, boytoy Neeson the Neighbor shovels the drunk’s wet spot into the rosebed, thinking tomorrow you’ll be smiling acid love, and soon there’s kisses for stolen redness, soft unprotected petals folding out, flatter and then flat, on the water, crystal-coated, circled round, but to breath its mouth fragile, it opened and was pleased with its tongue, previously conditioned to wait just like Neeson.

Something whispers I love you, and it’s not yours, but it’s there for you to leave alone and witness and to experience as if it had been. Probably it wasn’t aware of your existence and therefore maybe honest, which you took away with you, leaving the thing that carried it, where it couldn’t hold even the end of it anymore and had to move on right there, where it had happened and then lost the ability to contain itself.


Billy Epstein tried to keep from placing his finger upon the end of the assemblage, which had not yet been fully identified as Neeson or any other manifestation of his unexamined childhood. He held himself not in abeyance but in Billy, in what Billy had become and not in what Billy had done.

One need only speak of blue to redden the lips, the words (first upper and then lower) open between the open pause (here and then here again) uncontained and certain only of a delinquent fleshy punctuation dampening the area of exchange.

The inspector’s raincoat began leaking. Shiny black shoes. The confident tip of a fat-brimmed mobster hat.

Sleep began bumping against the pier.

Sleep was the first thing that occurred before that.

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