The Son Was No Longer Dangerous
His parents watched him pick up leaves,
paint their house, lift it up by
its foundation to clean under it.
The neighbors were jealous.
Their children shot heroin with the dogs,
hunted for birds with their cats,
planted bombs in petunias and daisies.
They’d give anything for the kids
who didn’t beat them up daily,
stealing their lunch money,
hocking their computer drives.
The son used to do those things.
But he caught a glimpse of the future
when he fell on his head, dreaming
about his folks diving into graves,
waving goodbye forever as they sank.
He realized he never had a chance
for thank yous outside his anger,
which had consumed everything.
So, now he kissed them on the cheeks,
hugged them tightly, as if that could
press them to the earth, magnetizing
them to the porch, so heaven couldn’t
raise them, adorn them with halos,
make them forget him with songs.
Donald Illich has been published in LIT, Cream City Review, The Iowa Review,and other journals. He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. Donald lives in Rockville, Maryland.
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