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

                    into silence.

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.