About the Poems
by Donald Illich
I wrote almost all of these poems on bus rides to and from the Montgomery Mall in Maryland (except for “Oedipus on Mother's Day”). My mission was to buy dress shoes for my wedding, but I took the bus in the wrong direction, and had to spend an extra forty-five minutes getting on the right bus and getting to my destination. When I reached the store, the shoes I’d come for were not what I wanted, either, and a less expensive, but more comfortable pair, worked. Maybe that’s why these poems dwell on appearances vs. reality, like a bus that seems to be the right one but isn’t. The ugliest in the “Cyclops’ Eyes” have the kindest hearts, while the real mystery in “The Conqueror of Dull Mysteries” is the one we deal with everyday, mortality. People who don’t see beyond the surface, like in “The Boy Who Cried Chicken,” fail to notice something good when it comes along. Love, its mysterious power and intensity, is the subject of the other two poems, especially “Old Europe and Love,” where no conflict, even war, can overcome it. On my way home, walking from the bus stop, I realized how important that was to me, and how this would impact my life from here on end.