Paul Ilechko


Preparing for War


Imagine a beach in Florida     the sun     blazing from above     with a slight hint of breeze from the ocean     a typical lazy day     but suddenly     everyone in sight is a soldier in uniform

every flag is black     every soldier is dreaming of war     of Vietnam     or the deserts of the Middle East     as the sand creeps into their boots     and infiltrates their socks

every surface is parched and golden     every face is burned and stoic     there is death in every mouth

their tongues are hanging     as they pant like dogs

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

there is no weather in Florida     there is merely heat     and the endless drumming of preparing for war

you can’t help but the think that the beach is symbolic of something

if you don’t look too closely     you might imagine that the only things left alive are the seabirds     that dash between the frothing spillage of the waves

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

a beach filled with soldiers is more like a church     than a parade ground

and you recite a prayer     as a mother falls to her knees in grief.


The End of Fruitfulness


There was fruit in the bowl      there was

fruit on the trees      fruit in so many colors

in red

and orange

and yellow

and purple

all of it waiting to be plucked

and peeled         and sucked dry


until the seeds could be spat out

spat into the dirt    where they might grow

and prosper

and create a new tree


with new fruit     for future tables

and future feasts of color…


but at that same instant      he discovered

that there was chocolate on his fingers


and so        he sucked them clean


and as he did so      the sugar

rushed      into every crevice of his brain

and the taste


across the surface of his tongue…


and then the fruit was left uneaten


and it rotted     into blackness and stink

and there were no more trees

and there was no more color


and the world had become a place

of suffocation and darkness.


Summer Blind


Sweat gathers            in crevices


as humidity wraps     in blanketed warmth

a liquid sheen that collects


until gravity twists

and pulls     a single drop





and then another        and another


and soon the stench is thickening

into the encompassing weight



we communicate by smell


we trade the depth of perfume     a lilac endeavor

a taste of peach


a flimsy discharge of swimming pool sounds

of silvery notes that ring the alarm


then fade

beneath the oppression of heat

Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press, 2018) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville Review, West Trade Review, Yes Poetry, Night Music Journal and Rock & Sling. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.