A Problem of Doubt

The lock on my gate holds things
together in order to hold people apart,
especially certain people who don’t know
how much I don’t want to know about them.

This helps keep me safe
from the unknown and from
certain conversations the wind
is now having with my gate,

but that doesn’t save me from
conversations with my neighbors
about the conversations I don’t want
to have with the persistent clouds

in which I have to pretend that
it’s a great flood that scares me.
How easy it is to lose your way
and need too much from others.

The lock freezes open sometimes and
I have to give it a drink of warm water,
which loosens its sharp voice to
a deceptively solid click, and that’s

the sound that keeps me sure
the outside wants to stay outside
and the inside wants to satisfy me,
but the key around my neck

bends me to the lock to listen.
I hear myself breathing loudly,
which scares me and makes me think
I could be breaking all the rules.

What if there’s another gate inside
my gate that belongs to possibility, and
I’ve nearly opened it many times, and inside
is the one lovely fear that’s been missing only me?


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 the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter OleanderIn 2013 he has received nominations for The Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and storySouth. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. His book of days, Tunneling to the Moon, is currently being serialized with a work per day appearing for all of 2013 at: silencedpress.com. Both Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press) and Light from a Small Brown Bird (poetry—Bitter Oleander Press) are scheduled for paperback release in 2014.