Donald Illich

Age of Silence


Noise from

previous centuries

rattles in the apartment below,


the Age of Silence nuts.


It politely knocks,

apologetically explains

its whispery trees and tea cup

people can’t sleep


when its leaves

fall like bombs on carpets,


its steam hisses high-pitched

from pots. 


The Age of Iron

promises to drop its swords.


The Age of Robots writes

a new law into its chips:

7.2.6. Keep it down, please.


The Ages of Guns and Germs

shoot each other into bits,

croak from shared diseases.


Silence is ready to go back

to bed, puts on its cap

and pajamas, adjusts its

sleep shades on its eyes.


Then it hears a loud bang.


It sends a hush down steps,

armed with


quiet explosives,

black gags, mouths full of

peanut butter. 


Once it

reaches the landing, though,


it quakes, pins drop,

and the world,


grumpy from

being interrupted

smashing lives,


swallows it whole.




You want

a lollipop

from the doctor,

but he’s


them all,





His germs are


he puts

his hands in

your ass,

but all their

flavors have




have lost

their berries

up a nose,

rubber hose

coming soon;



have turned

into pine,

a fall of


at Christmastime;


root beer

has received


under its tree,

dry as

desert earth;


even bubblegum


has stuck

its gooey body

to emergency

room floors.


You can ask

the nurse

for fresh candy,

but she

offers you

a striptease



zipping down

her skirt,

your pants,

to discover

what makes

you cough

and scream


She licks

your symptoms

gives you

a prognosis:


more time

with her

in bed;


a lover affair

with death,


your frail stick;


a strong desire

to ask fate

for one more

bite of life

before you go. 









The Event


The event is a powerful force

for peace,


filled with the prayers of sick children,

doves ducking bullets from hunters,


wings outfitted on saints at the rally,

graduating from martyrdom and hair shirts.


The organizers hope ice cream and cake

will please the guests:

convince mercenaries

to drop  machine guns for frosting,

persuade companies

to make ploughshares instead of nuclear bombs

replace the reaper’s scythe

with balloons that lift him into piñata skies,

that explode into manna and life everlasting,

everyone catches

to fill their open graves.





The Brain


Tired of owning a head, I asked

the laboratory for a hood ornament

to be clamped to my neck instead.


The scientists wondered if I wanted

a brass sculpture of Zeus adorning

my body, or a symbol of hopeless

peace, or a werewolf dodging silver

bullets, its claws tearing a locked door.

I thought about it, then picked

a glowing red brain, water bubbling

around it in a jar; pulsating, angry,

forgetting it even had a body.


The operation took a day and a half.

I said goodbye to the hapless face

I used to look at in the mirror.

My lips formed a blank line parallel

to the soul, my eyes perpendicular,

glaring upward to the heaven

so many people had promised.


This change was wrong.  In the end,

I chased technicians around the room,

knocked over dangerous experiments,

bashed them with test tubes

so glass shards shredded their flesh.

Only acid stopped me.  Boiling chemicals

melted was left of my arms and legs,

leaving only my mind on the floor.


I commanded the scientists to freeze,

but they laughed at my mental powers. 

They suggested a game of chess; 

they’d move all the pieces for me.


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