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The Conqueror of Dull Mysteries

Donald Illich

Planting a flag in the Who-Didn’t-Care-
Who-Did-It, the conqueror defeats

the easiest puzzles detectives leave
unsolved for harder mysteries
across town. He points to missing
glasses on a nurse’s head. Uncovers

a boy who ate the chocolate chip
cookies by finding crumbs on his hands.
He tells the attorney why his wife
left him by disclosing her “Dear John”

letter, explains to a weeping mother
her son died last week because he wore
an Army uniform in a faraway desert.
The simplest problem is who deposited

all the skeletons in wooden boxes
at the city limits. Several anxious sons
and daughters need to know before
they can talk to their kids about their

parents’ transformations into bone.
He finds the perpetrator in broad daylight,
drinking beers at the State Fair, his scythe
leaning against a post, a blue ribbon

pinned to his robes. I win every year,
he says, look at the results. A warehouse
filled with captive souls, each stall
imprisoning something someone prized.

Donald Illich

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