Donald Illich

The Facade

You’d think they’d give us food or coffee breaks,
as we chip through this façade they put up
in the sixties. It’s held together, shielding
a candy center from all the readers
who’d like to chew or suck on its sweetness.
Instead, we have to swing our pickaxes,
sun-up to sun-down. A supervisor
aims a rifle, in case one of us rhymes
or scrawls an English sonnet on the concrete
poetry. We start a call and response, sing,
“I saw the best minds of my generation,”
lift our axes, then on the down stroke yell,
“starving hysterical naked.” The guards snap
their fingers, play their crazy bongo drums.

Contempt for My Audience

Because you’re down there,
and I’m up here.
Because tortured genius pays,
just not very much.
Because a girl turned me down for the prom.
Because she might be reading this poem,
crushed by a boring life in Ohio
with three children and a dull husband,
and wonder “What If?”
Because I wouldn’t give her
the time of day now.
Because each word I write
gives an angel its wings,
feeds a starving child in Africa,
puts us one step closer
to curing the common cold.
Because this poem should be
used instead of airbags,
strapped to backs like parachutes.
Because I don’t know
what I’m going to say next,
but it’ll sure be goddamn entertaining,
whatever it is.
Rhino Snot.
Because “I am your father,”
the Lindbergh baby,
the Red Menace,
the Green Hornet,
Because I have my own action figure,
star-struck fans buy me at toy stores,
pose me in a black beret,
move super-powered wrists to write
in miniature plastic notebooks.
Because you’re dying to hear me,
coroners checking your necks for pulses,
morticians standing by
to embalm your happy faces.
Because I will tuck you in your blankets.
Because I’m the last thing you will think of.
Because I’m the snores your lover hears.
Because I’m the reason she gets up at night.

Donald Illich has published poems in The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, and New Zoo Poetry Review. He has poems forthcoming in several journals, including Passages North, Nimrod, LIT, The Sulphur River Literary Review, Plainsongs, CrossConnect Magazine, Xavier Review, and Cold Mountain Review.

He works as a writer in Rockville, Maryland.

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