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DYSFUNCTIONAL LICORICE: FLASH FICTION BY RICH IVES

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Dysfunctional Licorice

 

Horn’s Checkered Beetle

 

Is it peculiar to certain behavioral types to hold on to that which has damaged them? What if they do not understand they have been damaged? Would they still be attracted to moody lights at night attended by lounge music? Would they crawl when disturbed the next day into flower heads or feign death?

 

Suppose they are slender, these types, heads black with a greenish luster, shells yellowish brown, bordered with dull black, abdomen and legs yellowish brown. What if they are bounty hunters and the bounty is food, as in movies from times gone by that have not really gone? What if the children too are hunters? What if these destroyers hide in cracks and under bark or dried leaves? Might we not welcome them like quiet garbage men or efficient funeral directors?  In the Southwest, for example, would they not be welcomed to feed on the eggs of Lubber Grasshoppers?

 

Was Jonathan Swift right? Auto-cannibalism could save you. Mothers beware. Nature has shown us the collusions of survival and opportunity, but it’s not the stranger who recycles most efficiently.

 

Crop pest or consumer, is appetite not the demon? Do these two not equally want too much and always more? But would it not be true even if they could exist without eating? Does each of us deny another’s existence?

 

Perhaps you should try something less:

 

Measure the room with licorice sticks. Choose the color according to the available species. How big a portion of the room is left for each occupant? Now see who is still willing to eat the licorice? How long has it taken to measure the room? Have any other creatures eaten any of the licorice during this time? Perhaps some ate smaller portions of the room even before the licorice was used.

 

Who then decides what may be eaten? What will you do if you get a smaller share? Are there creatures that could be brought in to remove creatures without removing you? Would the new creatures then become a problem or could they exist upon the reproducing portion of the creatures they failed to remove? Would they reproduce beyond their sustainable portion? Or perhaps you would be the problem in their new room, and they would voluntarily solve you.

 



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) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press–hybrid).