posted Dec 18, 2006

Only 1 second away from complete disaster;
that's what the movies would like you to think
or the TV shows, both screens are the same.
The bomb was made of chocolate, the red
and black wires of licorice. A union of stunt

men stood by in case we had a can of brittle
that might turn into a bundle of springing snakes.
Likewise, a mannequin took my place on top
of the roof. It was irresponsible to say jump,
but he had nothing to die for, you could tell

from his blank expression he wanted to live.
The children who were kidnapped, forced
to work under the city on the emerald backs
of giant alligators, didn't really exist either.
Dwarves who loved lollipops cried on cue

when the once-great-but-now-looking-for-work
actor grabbed the sticks from their hands.
Which isn't to say I'm not one missed beat
from a broken down heart, the jalopy running
to the human shop on its last oxygen fumes.

I'm a performer, a life-must-go-on-it-can't-
go-on-impresario. When the curtains hang
down over my coffin's stage, don't be shocked
if I stick my head up and smile. I might
welcome your screams like unending applause.

Donald Illich has published in The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, Passages North, Cream City Review, and other journals. He was selected as Honorable Mention for The Washington Prize, and was named a semifinalist for the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest. He works as a writer-editor for the federal government in Rockville, Maryland.

We’ve published two more poems by Illich: “The Talent” and “The Mistake.”