The People ~ Donald Illich

They arrived in a vehicle, all together,

sweat covering their bodies, top hats

in hand, dancing their preferred means

of communication, a jump rope swinging

between them as they climbed stairs.


We wondered who summoned them

to the birthday, but no one would admit

to booking this odd crew.  While we drank

the punch bowl’s ocean, we watched

them pretend to swim across the floor,

while others coalesced into an octopus,

moving slowing toward their bodies

to consume them.  We would’ve asked


them to leave, because we needed to light

candles, see its Las Vegas neon be blown

out of power, but they kept transforming,

from explorers climbing up each other

like they were peaks, to disco performers

who mimicked Travolta winning a trophy

that was the center of their delight.


A somber chant started.  They brought out

cardboard tombstones, where they lay

across themselves, then popped out as ghouls,

white faced and bloody, parting the crowd

on their way to the exit, to the underworld.

The only thing we could do is pretend

they’d never come.  Toasts were made,

gifts unwrapped, in the presence of death,

still haunting the rooms, as if each person

had seen what it was like, then had refused.