Paul Ilechko

Paul Ilechko
is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Juxtaprose, As It Ought To Be, Cathexis Northwest Press, Thin Air Magazine and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.


Teeth Don’t Care to Travel

He said I believe in teeth and the way in which
they caress the skin without breaking it

She said anyone who could bite you would
just as quickly sell your bones for powder

He said I don’t believe in the myth of orgasm
the skin is too dry for touching

She said he drank from me till the liquid was gone
and then left on a train to a different city

He said I needed to be someplace there was a river
that could be crossed by more than one bridge

She said I always felt it deep within my spine
that his sexuality was more or less ambiguous

He said I left my teeth behind when I rode the train

She said I wear his teeth as a remembrance.

The End of Meaning in Art

Collaged inside the rusting square
          of a metal frame     bending
                                            with possibility   

 as words are connected to the end of image   

clipped and placed inside
          the transparency of contour   
               a prepared balance of the collective

such ribbons of profundity     holding back
                        the shock     of originality

there is a song to be found inside the device     
          imagine     cut-ups and loose chords     
                                            and a set of gold teeth

   lost from the stage     enveloped by
          the sweeping braids of an electrical storm

here     we discover fresh blood and deep sweat     
          and the stench of meat that filters in
          from the gray futility of a parking lot

there used to be a creek     but now
          the mud has settled into sculpture

sold as installation

sold as photography

refreshed with concrete that ripples
                                                     like the water     
          that slaked our need for art.    


The Softest Skin

He changed his passport to match his dreams        a world of bats at dusk       and empty truck stops       and a cold wind that could spread your bones across a field of dirt

a world of bullying sparrows that took control of the feeder        their chests expanded like pocket napoleons       guns tucked beneath their wings

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

every month she scraped the salt from window panes      and emptied the urine pool from beneath the stairs       

every single month this happened         every single time    a promise was made in order to be broken

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

he wanted a world without clogged hair in the drains       a world without handcuffs      or streetlights

she brought a plant for every surface        more green then blue         so that breathing was still possible        as dogs patrolled the streets where they had outlived themselves

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

she arrived without underwear                with bruises on her cheeks       and semen stains on the soft skin of her thighs

the sparrows had stolen his passport

the dogs had licked her clean.


Mine Workers

Chained and metric    measuring
the distance between the words

we uncover     and the flickering current
of thought     we carry tools

to deeper dig in search of rarity     within
our metal incidents     we sense the purity

and wealth of vision     each choice
an octave     measured against

the sounds of trees in autumn     
the density of winter’s entry     trickling

like ice-melt through our consciousness   
seeded and resentful of previous glory   

a blessing under starlight     the stacked
and livid boxes of the bloodless carcasses

of all the failed and broken paragraphs
we leave behind us     as we stride

with passion and jealousy into another day   
another month     another year     of shaping

bubbles into mountains     soaked
and slimy from the ones that burst.


The Endgame of Amusement

Amuse me     with your wildness
                                                                 he said
                    your childish insecurity
amuse me
                        with the shape
of your words                            your evacuated
                       vowels                  your limber

I remember             he said
                      when I saw you       by the pond
your actions
gunmetal gray
                                as you recited a tale
of darkness
                                and silhouette

I remember when
                                   he said       amusement
overcame the panic
                                      of our thrusting
                                     our rooting garbage   
locked behind a metal door
                           replete within the funk
            of staleness                           

convergence explored           with facets
         of redemption
                                     a spider web of ragged
leavings                  but now         he said
everything decays
                                   our looks      our brains
we may as well be rats
                                  fighting    over remnants

We might as well             he said
exchange         within finality
our incontinence               our dripping
our leaking genitals
                                       as words      sink
empty  into tension
                                        one last time.


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