Donald Illich

Disaster Movie

At the theater we recognize the movie is us.
All kinds of awful things are happening.
The ocean has covered houses so they barely stick out
like broken teeth. The sun refuses to leave
because clouds have disappeared,
departing like fair-weathered friends.
Our stars look down, ashamed
at what we’ve done to the place.

We’re going to change things, we tell ourselves.
We wish to get up but the theater is air-conditioned,
there’s plenty of food in the snack bar.
People suffer, but how can we help?
They might’ve deserved their pain,
hearts bursting from the heat,
water drying up around them.
We can sit here and hope for the best,
so we sit here, hope for the best.

Let’s see if the hero arrives on screen.
Whether he’ll carry us out the exit
from this waking dream. Or he’ll save
himself, launched in a rocket to Mars,
a distance from disaster he’ll never think about again.
Our movie is surrounded by darkness.
Only the projector’s eye of god sees us.

DONALD ILLICH’s work appears in such journals as Iowa Review, LIT, Nimrod, Passages North, The Southern Review, Rattle, Fourteen Hills, The Louisville Review, Cimmaron Review, Map Literary, Spork, Cream City Review, and Sixth Finch. His poetry has been anthologized in A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry and City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry. His full-length manuscript, Chance Bodies, was published in 2018 by The Word Works. A full-length poetry collection, Rescue is Elsewhere, was released in 2023 by Red Ogre Review via a Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association grant. A new book, Love Poems on Bar Napkins, was just released by Red Ogre Review.

Read more by Donald Illich

Poem in Hawaii Pacific Review
Poem in Okay Donkey
Poem in The Lake