Big Blue Monster

I told the ocean I’d return
with offerings of drowned swimmers,
the vision of a mechanical shark.

Waves would welcome me, crashing
into my face, spitting in my eyes.
Sea would laugh at floaties on my arms,

the boat I’d glide over its spine.
Sunlight would stream like a ghost,
my sail would flail in wind and drop.

As I flowed over the big blue monster,
whirlpools would follow me like dogs.
The scenario would end with a ship

saving me, dead in the water, thinking
of drinking the sea to save my body,
clutching at delusions in the air.

No way would I leave land again,
satisfied with Fords and buses,
with dull pollution and safe clouds.

But my dreams would continue,
captivated by jellyfish and whales,
animals I would no longer witness

clogging the surface of the tide,
or flashing a tail in the distance,
preparing its own way it would die.

Delay of the Monster

The monster knows how to dream.
To see its victims fall toward it,
unable to climb the slippery ladder,
hands feeling only grease and fear.

But it does not eat them.
It waits until they try another route,
but the door is locked, no matter how
hard they shake it. The monster laughs,

lets them attempt to pry open a manhole,
but their fingers aren’t strong enough.
Their breathing is desperate, disheveled.
When will the monster close in on its feast?

It could keep blocking the true entrance,
ready to claw them to death when they
seek to run around it, its big body
blocking freedom, like a goalie protects

a net. But it lets them pass it by
to the town it roams around at night.
Its dream isn’t about devouring youths.
It’s about pursuit, the monster’s true interest.

It bounds through the swamp, smells
where they’ve tracked across the moors.
Its heart is gladdened that day, pumping
gleefully. It can’t wait till they see its fangs,

even in this dream. The scream is worth
any delayed hunger. Soon enough, it’ll
make them bleed, crunch their torsos
beneath its tusks, its razor-sharp teeth.

Donald Illich has published poetry recently in The MacGuffin, Slant, and Okay Donkey.
His book is Chance Bodies (The Word Works, 2018). He lives and works in Maryland.