Donald Illich

Donald Illich's work has appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review, LIT, Nimrod, Passages North, Rattle, Sixth Finch, Memoir(and), and Barrelhouse.  He's been published in several anthologies, and he was named Honorable Mention in Word Works' Washington Prize Competition.  Recently, he was selected as a Finalist in Gold Wake Press’ Open Reading.  He lives in Rockville, Maryland.

The grass tells me what to do.

To water it past thirst, so tiny pools
float on the surface. Fight off ants
that are tearing up the yard. Pinch
the child with the magnifying glass.
Lay in it in the sun, reading it books
on photosynthesis. Even when
to drop into the dirt, to let a fresh lawn
cover my body. Don’t worry about
a thing, it says. Your breath will be
waiting on the other side. Sometimes
I believe it, and find my bones freed
from anxiety. But other times I sit
inside, away from what can hurt me.
I take in oxygen. I love everything else.

The Alarm

All night my alarm waited, spiked
with excitement, looking forward
to buzzing me awake when I wanted
to stay asleep, buried under a pillow.

It had a job to do, and it was proud
of its occupation. Within, its electronic
nerves summoned up noise that exploded
out of its brain. Nothing elsewhere

had the same importance: preventing
loss of work for being late, making sure
I made it to the wedding on time, dressed
in a tuxedo with everything zipped, tied.

Years ago, it decided that it was bored,
sought out a new livelihood, to find
something that kept its love of sound.
But being an air raid siren would tire

it out too much, and becoming a whistle
felt like diminishing its existence,
to be stuck to a referee’s neck, or
occupy a child’s momentary interest.

No, it was better here on the front lines
of slumber and wakefulness, between
the task and the desire to be unconscious.
Even when I punched snooze, both

of us knew what would happen, again.
Its mouth soon blaring out, shaking me
awake, as the sun popped into the sky,
wanting only me to occupy the ground.

photo by: murdelta