Paul Ilechko

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 

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. 

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