local_library The Poor Boy Gives Up The Burden of Being Good

by Robert Klein Engler

Published in Issue No. 12 ~ May, 1998

High above the Illinois prairie a jet flies eastward.
A man sets his drink down on the tray in front of him
and looks out the window at an expanse of snow.
He sees the skyline of Chicago in the distance below.

Perfect love drives out fear, yet who is perfect?
Once a year a dove’s wing brushes against Golgotha.
The land is in the grip of a great winter, even above it,
the cold persists and the reach of ice seems infinite.

Robert Frost says that freedom is simply departure.
The plastic cup of soda vibrates from the engines.
Little bubbles, like worlds, rise with effervescent fire.
We carry a long time-desire and the memory of desire.

A vapor trail draws out a white arc across the sky.
Turn from the window and look at your dry hands.
The execution is over– a guard cleans his fingernail.
Seat belt on. We’ll be landing soon. Relax. Why so pale?

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Robert Klein Engler lives in Chicago. His poems and stories have appeared in several magazines and journals, including: Borderlands, Evergreen Chronicles, Hyphen, The James White Review, and Literal Latte. He was the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for his poem "Flower Festival at Genzano," which appeared in Whetstone.