Sunday 5 March 2023

Five Poems by Paul Ilechko


Sonnet for Mountain Ash

Fearful of the encroaching flame of the field

that hugs the mountain pass a burned grey field of

devastation a fire was stoked then left to resolve

shining in the bitter clarity of cinder holding

the space where a tower was once constructed a lunar

landscape that glimmers under sunlight as you pause

to catch your breath still searching for language

to complete the instant a drum pounding in your

ears it’s as if a kind of love is holding you trapped

and motionless but the berries in the trees are red

as blood hesitation now over you take the winding plunge

drunk on speed alone an eagle tracking as you flee

this volcanic place faster and still tighter until you

relax into the cracked grey asphalt of a parking lot.

Once in Sinai

We walked out onto the silent

trails as the lights slowly dimmed

it felt like a good place to die

so peaceful and inevitable

the women already knew what

would happen but we were slow

to realize as always it was

the time of day for drinking

plain tequila without salt

we left the main path and cut

through the thorns of primitive

religion making our way to

the churning river nature had left

us so many clues it was time

to leave fear behind time to

accept the burning of the Egyptian

desert the waters having been

parted already by force of mind.

Thanksgiving Sonnet

The stuffed shirt stands erect straw spilling

from empty hands thanks given for the morning’s

chill he wears a mask to hide his lack of feeling

painfully aware that this is a time of many

deaths both great and small crows flock

around his feet feeding on the excess seed

vultures swirl above locking their spirals into

thermal columns driving to such heights

as can be triggered by convection our ragged

mendicant believes in progress in the song

of the lark and the gut-scraping wail of violin

his lifeless days are filled with newspaper

and sentimentality once again he fails to cast

a shadow still fearful of the encroaching flame.

Nation Building

They rode through the night

on lame horses limping

at the speed of nation building

via tunnels once flooded

with the amber of maybe

someone rolled a pair of sixes

with the mysterious luck of

a drunken grandparent

stacked with wood and garnished

with the despair of penury

* * * * *

it was already too late when

they arrived at the airport

the last flight had left without

them somewhere in the south

was the sound of festivity

balloons released as appeasement

a military attaché appeared

performing the last rites of television

his empty gun a sad reminder

of the life that was to come.

Burning Landscape Sonnet

The middle class arrives searching for a better

school searching for a better life enveloped

in air conditioning they pay no mind to

the intensity of the heat the world translated into

a furnace where everything blazes a carcinogenic

squeal of blackened edges a pine forest

destroyed an ashen landscape interwoven

between the golf courses built on cemetery land

all corpses removed for mandatory cremation their

children blonde and almost naked beach brats

with futures set immune to failure never seeing

the coyotes who cross and recross the boardwalks

their eyes ablaze with the memory of a forest fire

the stench of burning trapped still in their nostrils.

Paul Ilechko is a Pushcart nominated poet who lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. His work has appeared in many journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Tampa Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Sleet Magazine, and The Inflectionist Review. His first album, "Meeting Points", was released in 2021.



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