Donald Illich's poetry has been published in The Iowa Review,
Fourteen Hills, and New Zoo Poetry Review. His work will be
published in future issues of Passages North, LIT, Roanoke
Review, Pinyon, Cold Mountain Review, Hubbub, CrossConnect
Magazine, The Sulphur River Literary Review, and Xavier Review.
He has been published in the online editions of Pindeldyboz
and McSweeneys. You can visit him here.
Public Storage, Climate Controlled
the orange cathedral
where bad things come to rest
never ends its services
the bishop is a broken hairdryer
trying to live down
its too stylish past
it inserts dead batteries
in video games' mouths
"do this in memory
of brown pixel footballs
arcing across green displays
for high scoring Hail Marys
do this in the belief
garage sales of the hereafter
will price their bones low enough
for hands to repair them"
in the overstuffed boxes
stale cardboard confining
a hand massager confesses
misuse it'd gone along with
a razor rusted with blood
says it was an accident
how the wrists got there
truly it'll never know
My chances for becoming a husband
dropped in the latest rankings.
In women's "Men Preview 2006"
I fall in the third tier, below dudes
who don't clip their toenails and
homeless guys whose credit cards
are made of tinfoil. However
unfair this system might be, I have to
live with it. Someday Trump might
crash, millionaires might join lepers
as undesirables, rugged actors could
blow up their star power, supernova
their prospects. If I work hard, lick
my bosses' shoes (he's in Tier 2)
I could earn enough to mortgage love
in the suburbs, down-pay children
as new recruits for America's
farm teams: select private schools,
foreign language lessons, preparing
them to sell out the world. I won't.
Poets need to escape team sports.
If beauty finds me it'll have to bunk
with my truth, an ugly Cyclops
whose one bright eye looks for
an honest response to a question
no one wants answered. She must
look beyond statistics, forget scores,
root for me even if I'm defeated.
A friend tells me he's on drugs.
I want to say
congratulations, gift wrap a clean needle, frost
a cake with cocaine for him.
He doesn't want
a party though.
A piñata filled with white bags
of heroin, pin the fat vein with the junkie's
hypodermic, and door prizes of LSD tabs
do not tempt him to celebrate.
He owes his friends
money, disappears in the pantry when they come
with hard pistols to roll him up as fast they can
in an unmarked bakers' grave.
Instead of streamers
I darken windows so agents can't see the deals
His mules use my balloons, carry illegal
substances in their bodies'
fissures over wartime borders,
casualties surprised by jail time and death.
"... in a matter of a few years foreigners may end up
owning most of the U.S. capital stocks ports,
factories, land, real estate, and even our national
parks." - NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini
When the French took over Yellowstone
they shaped Old Faithful into
an Eiffel Tower, strapped berets
to every tagged bear, introduced
a variety of smelly and unusual
cheeses to the park's gift shop.
Other countries had their own ideas.
Canada ran the Civil War memorials
just like Americans, except for
the annoying "eh" they placed
at the end of every sentence, and
the unconcern they displayed about
selling authentic amputee soldier dolls
and official General Robert E. Lee
t-shirts, saying "Go, Dixie!"
China turned Alcatraz Island into
a sweatshop. Prisoners assembled
souvenirs they couldn't escape from.
Drunk Russians auctioned off
nuclear secrets in White Sands,
throwing empty Vodka bottles
at armadillos and scorpions
crawling in the waste lands.
The assorted terrorist groups went
under an umbrella name, "Burn America."
They hung out at Theodore Roosevelt
Park, waiting for the big stick
to whack them, but the blow
never came. Some say we're
too afraid to visit, should invade in
gargantuan Humvees and body armor.
Others say they're not really there,
a park that's not a park, a war
that's not a war, a country that's
not a country, except for its flag
labeled "Fear," a gagged man
with blindfolded eyes writhing
on its field of solid black.
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