A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Donald Illich

Intercepted by Fire


Our bodies felt light, as if we didn’t hold onto something,
we’d float away.  Maybe strangers had secretly filled us
with helium.  They wanted to paint us rainbow colors
but didn’t.  All they really wished was to see us float
over the city, with its anti-aircraft guns and its fighter jets.
They hoped we’d be intercepted by fire, that ourselves
would be punctured.  Then, we’d burst all over the sky,
our bits raining down on children, who’d stick their tongues
out to catch the bits.  We tried to stay under the table,
wedged in the closet.  Our lovers closed the windows
so we wouldn’t escape.  It felt exhilarating to be so close
to exploding.  We breathed in more deeply, pushed off
through the door, into the air.  Overhead a plane shot
through the dirty, grey clouds – always looking, looking.

My favorite souvenir is a dancing gingerbread man toy I picked up from Bellingrath Gardens in Alabama.  I had written a poem before that about a gingerbread man who was afraid of being eaten:


Donald Illich has published poetry in The Iowa Review, Nimrod, LIT, Sixth Finch, and other journals.  He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of New Award.  He lives in Maryland.