Paul Ilechko has always lived by a river, although he sometimes dreams of forests and mountains. He currently lives in Lambertville, NJ with his girlfriend and a cat. Paul has had poetry accepted/published recently by Oberon Magazine, Dash Literary Journal, Stickman Review, MockingHeart Review and Saint Katherine Review, among others.
If I could walk across the water,
I would walk across the water to you.
Imagine a swimming pool, ancient and mildewed.
Perhaps in a courtyard in Italy, a relic from Roman
times, a place where nobles once bathed. I see you,
squatting down, photographing the scummy
surface of the greenish water. If I close my eyes
I’m crossing over, floating above the aqueous crust.
This is what I imagine those times when I lie on the sofa,
eyes tightly squeezed, attempting to levitate.
Indoors, in the nearby chapel, there’s a religious ceremony
being performed. It has a sense of intense gravity that is hard
for me to comprehend. You are on the ground again,
clicking away, capturing the brilliant reds of the robes, the
flickering of the torches, the abrupt angles of the shadows
thrown by the rampant crucifix. The Madonna silently observes.
I try so hard to leave my body behind. It’s a desire for
lightness. An urge that is eating me from the inside.
There’s an island in the lake, but it’s not the same island,
it’s not the same lake. In the streets of the town there are
jugglers. Their balls and clubs in constant flight, barely
touched by the magic of their fingertips, crossing and
swooping in arrogant patterns. A curly headed genius
tosses three lit candles into the air, catching them all.
I have nostalgia for a time that never existed. I need, so
badly, to play the starring role in the film of my own life.
I had two tongues in my mouth and neither one was mine.
I had two hands in my pocket, but nothing was stolen.
When the rains finally came
the snakes refused to hide anymore.
We had to pour out buckets
of ammonia to chase them away.
I had two feet for one shoe, but I was still able to walk.
I had two hammers, but only one nail.
After the flood, the town refused to sing.
The church bells no longer played.
The river changed direction and
flowed away from the sea.
I had two fathers. I had two mothers.
I had two towns, but only one of them had rain.
My town sank beneath the waves.
My other town crumbled into dust.
I don’t care anymore that I will never go home again.
If I have a home, I carry it on my back.
I will take my hammer, one of my hammers,
and I will build a new home. It will be fragile,
but it will be mine. I only have the one nail,
so I can’t afford to waste it. It has to hold a
lot of pieces together. I think maybe you can
help me with this construction project.
Are you up for it?
The eidolon marches up the stairs,
along twisting corridors, through empty
bedrooms. Refusing, in principle,
to take the easy path through walls.
Refusing, in principle, to be the jester.
To be the foolish ghost. And yet…
The eidolon hides behind his mirror,
replacing his morning image with that of itself;
growing more hair as he shaves it off.
Dripping blood, as he stares in horror
at his almost severed ear. And then,
silently, healing with prudent amnesia.
Inconsistency, for the eidolon, was the
very model of consistency itself. To be
consistent, to be repeatable, would be
in opposition to its own nature. In opposition
to the being of eidolon qua eidolon. Against
the very constituent essence of itself.
Covered with a great white sheet like a
childhood myth of ghost, seeding the air
with the unforeseen scent of orange and
cinnamon, trickling like melting snow
across a bleak and frenzied winter, the
eidolon displays the quiddity of eidolon.
Thus, finally proving the existence of the love
that it carries in its own empty, rattling chest
for that man, that irresponsible man, that
capricious, irredeemable doppelgänger.
The November sun, a frail and acid light,
shines yellow-gray from out the somber
cumulous pelt that lines the sky. Beneath
the gloom they stand together, side by side
at head of pier, and lie to each other.
It’s easier to be dishonest if you don’t look
in the other’s eyes. So thus: shoulder
to shoulder, each one staring damp-eyed
into the pummeling wind. He shivers in his
too-thin coat as she corrals her flapping hair.
Each feigns disinterest as they listen
to the cacophony that surrounds them. For bass,
the steady rumbling of the pounding sea, falling
and crashing on steady interval. Above,
the keening wind, surging and ebbing constantly.
And then, from far backstage, the strange
metallic sounds of the amusement arcade,
sounding like nothing more than a cavalcade
of cardinals, screeching all together their wild
electronic chirps in loud and angry warning.
The boy plays on, with slap of flippers
and ching of machine, his score advancing
as he breaks the spirit of the game. Filled with
elation he departs, and, looking ahead to pier’s end,
sees there, perched on a rail, two crows.
Revenge of the Samurai
I had two elm trees in my garden;
tall and graceful, a Siberian variety
with pale green leaves that shimmered
in the summer light. They stood there,
lithe and limber, casting mottled shade.
Till beetles came, a clustering mass of
iridescence, blackish-green and ravenous,
eating every single leaf, then, pendulous
like grapes in bunches, slowly drying,
turning into coarse and fragile husks.
The corpses lost their shine, they fell
to earth, disintegrating on the hard clay
ground. Soon leaves returned, as pure as lime,
it seemed that all was well. A winter passes,
then, as spring arrives, a new disaster strikes.
Eggs had been laid by the polished hordes,
buried underground where they might still
survive a winter, eating roots of tender
grass; and now the lawn is brown and scurvy,
the withered corpses claiming their success.