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

exploded

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.