The Talent

posted Mar 20, 2012

He knew how to eat fire, spit snow.
His eyes radiated madness, hands
clenched as if they could strangle someone.
People stayed far behind the stage,
uncertain he’d ravage the audience,
sure only that they wanted to live.
His performance ended with him
shooting flames out of his blue eyes,
while the backdrop of planets and stars
flashed off and on, until they exploded
into smoke, leaving an empty spot
where the performer had last been seen.
No one waited for autographs. It seemed
as if the proper thing to do was leave
before they came face to face with him,
certain to be hypnotized into death.
Backstage he smoked a cigarette,
perused a catalog for attaché cases
where he could put his magic supplies.
His manager patted him on the back,
but he shrugged it off, smiling at him
as if he was an overly generous fan
who didn’t see the flaws that he did.
His girlfriend fell in his lap, kissed him,
her mouth full of the seasons, summer
toasting her lips, winter frosting her tongue.

Donald Illich has published in The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, Passages North, Cream City Review, and other journals. He was selected as Honorable Mention for The Washington Prize, and was named a semifinalist for the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest. He works as a writer-editor for the federal government in Rockville, Maryland.

We’ve published two more poems by Illich: “Disaster” and “The Mistake.”