Paul Ilechko was born in England but has lived most of his life in the USA. He currently lives in Lambertville, NJ with his girlfriend and a cat. He has at various times been a visual artist (painting and photography) and a writer of both short fiction and poetry.
Paul has had poetry accepted by Ibis Head Review and the Peacock Journal, and short fiction by Grab-a-Nickel.
Old Photograph on Facebook
The curling edges of an antique monochrome,
chemical imbalance trending to sepia tint,
the acid reflex recoloring her eyes to brown.
Under the magnolia tree, a whimsical smile.
Cigarette smoldering as she tousles the head
of the bedraggled child in hand-me-down pants.
Electronic wizardry undreamt of in her time
allows me to digest and regurgitate the image,
sans stains or creases, pleading for admiration.
A Plain House
The hypotenuse slash of the fire escape
carves the pale frontage into isosceles segments.
Creamy stucco, rumpled as old newspaper,
a desultory troweling of archaic proportion.
The oblique diagonal of that serrated stairway,
mirrored and repeated by the angular branching
of an erect pin oak. Parallel lines, cleaving
their architectural pantomime across the sky.
Ornate metallurgy, whorled and curlicued
beside the homely windows, adds a piquancy
of Cajun flair to the Yankee drabness of the
boxy house, unnoticed by the marauding tourist gangs.
In the Gallery of my Mind
The giant stalk of red broccoli stands disconsolate
in the corner of the yard, overshadowing the deep
blue ranch house. Each floret is a trunk, branching
from the main stem at ground level. Acer Palmatum
to those who know, Japanese Maple to the rest of us.
I imagine it painted by Picasso. Executed in late
cubist style: the red of the leaves and the blue
of the house intermingle, each plane a refraction
of some small glittering facet as seen from a specific
angle. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I imagine it painted by Matisse. Brilliantly lucid in bright
Fauve color, a shocking interaction of brilliant pigment,
a riotous disdain for traditional notions of what a
painting ought to consist of. In the foreground, there in
the lower right, Madame Matisse relaxes in her chair.
I imagine it painted by Paul Klee. A miniature in pure,
clear watercolor, almost pointillist in execution. Framed
by the white paper left untouched, a work of sublime
beauty. It shines like a distant star, imbued with greater
nuance than its minimal size might lead one to expect.
I imagine it painted by Motherwell. A massive canvas,
raw primer showing through between the blocky planes
of blue and red. Flat from a distance, but close inspection
shows a magisterial touch, a painterly elegance that
belies the scale, harking back to the masters of old.
The tree is nothing in particular. The house is but a house.
On the same street are many houses, many trees. Some
of them are more impressive, others are less so. But this
particular house, this particular tree: they will rise above
all others, persisting as they do in the gallery of my mind.
Going to a Patti Smith concert at age 60
You step up into the large space. That’s where the
stage is. It’s already filling up and the room smells
of beer, you see it sloshing over the rims of plastic
glasses and spilling onto the shoes of the oblivious
audience. You might feel an unanticipated thrill, something
electric yet familiar, tearing through the crust of time.
I remember this. It’s the thrill of being, of belonging.
Being with the people I call my own. The ones in
leather jackets and tight jeans, the ones who say “fuck”
without a second thought, the ones who paint on walls
or make cheap jewelry, who prefer to sleep during
the day and work at night. The young.
I remember Horses. I remember Radio Ethiopia. Not
just in recollection, but as new, as inspirational, as
an extended finger thrust into the face of the stale
and predictable. Our daughters can’t understand what
this meant to us then. They see her, understandably, as
just a cool old lady who makes interesting music.
Our children have their own cultural signifiers, their
own way of having a stake in a rebel generation. But
Patti speaks to them. So perhaps our generation did
do some things right. For me, she is a role model of
how to grow old gracefully, how to resist the pressure
to conform to someone else’s stereotype.
Standing here for three hours leaves me in physical
agony, but this is worth every last painful second.
The ambience is empire bordello.
Color schemed in orange and brown,
lighting dim and sconced, making an effort,
one presumes, to hide a certain decrepitude.
I sit at a solitary table, dinner for one.
Alone, I’m pressed up against the tiny stage.
Two guitarists, young and nervy,
resplendent in jeans and checkered shirts.
The musicians pick their nylon strings,
trading jazzy riffs beneath the full wall mural.
A breathtaking cornucopia of fruits and flowers:
pumpkin, poppy and eggplant catch the eye.
From the surrounding tables comes polite clapping.
These multi-generational families accept
the unfamiliar music as part of the price to pay
for a night of pasta and cheap wine.
There’s a new mural almost every visit
but the families, while different, are always the same.
Each table is aloof, self-absorbed, oblivious
to the richness of life that surrounds them.
I feel like I ought to take the guitarists home.
A private concert, absorbing their blues and Latin jazz.
We’d laugh and drink beer while they jam, and
follow up with whisky and deep conversation.
But it’s clearly much too hot in here.
The ceiling fans struggle valiantly, unable to keep up.
I sip my glass of iced water and wonder,
where do these curious ideas come from?