Poet and songwriter Paul Ilechko is the author of three chapbooks, most recently “Pain Sections” (Alien Buddha Press). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Rogue Agent, Ethel, San Pedro River Review, Lullwater Review, and Book of Matches. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.
Coming From Torture
The twisted gnarl and stump of malignant trees decapitated to make way for trails of looping wire that carry pulsing signals of an archaic technology their tortured limbs chopped flat their sickly gray torsos bending backwards away from the street arched and braced against the roar of traffic where the migrants drive to work early mornings they make their way to the plant their memories filled with broken bodies and shattered bones and the premature burials for those who failed to trace a path to safety not seeing the shadowy trees not seeing the abundant sprawl of latent growth bursting forth in all directions from where a branch was severed.
Shore Crabs Race to Freedom
Daughter … we saw the crabs once … at the shore … it was a sunny day … and it had been a long drive … and there on the pier … we watched as Keith caught the crabs Daughter … we saw them scuttle … across the concrete of the pier … and it was every concrete place … in every modernist building that I’ve ever seen … in this modern word of brutalism … pale and angular amidst the brilliant chauvinism of light and heat And as we watched the crabs make their bid for freedom … daughter … I was merging into the pier … and everything it represented … in this time and place I was falling … daughter … I was falling in so many ways … as the crabs reached the edge of the pier … and leapt back into the welcoming darkness … but I was already submerged as the water filled my nostrils … and my bubbles burst to meet the crabs as they broke the surface tension … and my bubbles … and their breaking … were connected … as we all escaped the concrete unforgiveness together Later that same day … I won you a stuffed animal … in the arcade
How many mouths do you have he said I feel swallowed as I melt into your skin your crocodile skin your crocodile tears are an impossible weight as our masses intersect within the language of mathematics * * * * * * * I am not you he said just as I was never she as I was never he I seem defined by negation by the thickness of my covering my crocodile skin my ruptured integument as my inside escapes into the weighted algorithm of atmosphere * * * * * * * Your hands are polished he said the way they slide over me like mahogany or any other ancient wood that gleams of leather and franchise of the wealth of centuries as my skin glistens with the sweat of fear and camphor * * * * * * * You locked all the doors he said such heaviness surrounding such empty interiors as I slide across the metal floors and carve my way through empty passages searching day after day for the source of the stink of disruption.