Winter 1994, Volume 11.1
Poetry

PETER ILLICK
You Can Check Out, But You Can Never Leave "Hotel California" The Eagles

He escaped the draft,
yet beneath his skin
he fights the living.
He describes that day
he drove through Minnesota,
the land, each mile marker,
Canada. He says he
lost his mind in Sweden
where he forgot who he was
until another man's amnesty
brought his body back
to a place in Iowa.
He says he tried to live alone
inside a three-room house
on main street
in this town
with one bar. Men
asked why he ran,
and he fought back.
In dreams he killed them
until there were no fathers
and no sons, and their women
filed into their fields
and made love to the rain.
One morning he walked away
toward a place in Wisconsin
where he knew men like
his father, men with
trunks in their attics
filled with war souvenirs,
medals, and helmets like
the ones he wore
as the child who played war
with wooden swords, wooden guns.
Then, to South Dakota
where he left the highway
to follow unmarked miles
of grass. Now, he drives to town
on weekends and his
young wife is pregnant and
he prays for a daughter.
In sleep, he reads the wall of names,
says he will go there this spring
after the ice thaws
and grass grooms the softened earth.