sporklet 11

Donald Illich

Ghost Factory

At the ghost factory no one breathed,

made mistakes.  Workers ripped spirits

out of the bodies, putting them


on a conveyor belt to be delivered

to haunted houses around the world.

They didn’t question their work.


Paid in gold coins to place on their eyes,

they’d easily cross the murky river

with the boatman’s help.  No being


stranded on shore, shivering in darkness.

Their feet wouldn’t get wet.  None

of them would be flooded by forgetfulness.


They’d remember what happened

even when they didn’t wish to.


I didn't mean to be an enemy.

To force you to wave a white flag

over your cubicle, to crawl on 


your hands and knees to my office.

Or make you give me your lunch

from the fridge, an egg salad


sandwich and a deli pickle,

watch me eat every last bite.

I didn't want reparations for our war,


a coffee from Starbucks each morning,

a sweet cinnamon roll on the side.

In my life I would've been happy


never knowing you, plunging

through the office, my friendly sea

with not one shark.  Then you set


your fangs on me, took a chunk

of hide with your insult at the meeting,

implying I was useless as a floppy disk.


Now you're realizing how wrong

you are, as I take your assignments,

strip you of worth.  You slump over


your desk, fated to mediocrity,

while I'm the one remembered

in history, awards, certificates,


falling in my lap.  A big promotion

on the horizon, land I will conquer.

Give Light

Shake hands.

Then stab one another.

Drink milk.

Turn the ocean red.

Give him five.


Gather broken fingers.

Stick them back

together with paste.

Find each other's

bodies in dreams.

Try to awaken them.

Or make them disappear.

Here they are

as constellations.

Here they are,

surrounded by chalk.

Both give light.

Both hurt the darkness.

Let wounds talk, too.

How accurate the blade,

how reckless the cut.

They have mouths

that won't give in.

Shake feet,

however impossible.

Wallop one another

with a hammer.

Drink milk.

Change the ocean.

Change it to green.

Donald Illich has published poetry in journals such as The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, and Cold Mountain Review. He won Honorable Mention in the Washington Prize book contest. He recently published a book, Chance Bodies (The Word Works, 2018).