A Mélange of Poems

Paul Ilechko
Conference of the Century
The birds     in their conference
             speaking                           in tongues
     speaking praise         to someone
from the shelter
                                     of their aviary
     while the boy
lies dying                           in the mud

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

such an antiquated scene
         written                               on stone
   with chisels     and pigment
olive trees                         are scattered
     across the slope
                                       of the mountain
there is the memory of fire
    seen         in the blackened     traces
that always   face south 

     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

and somewhere else
                                               far lower
is a ring   of stones                           where
     a performance   takes place
each day
                       at precisely the same hour
a ring of memory                   locked in place
         until the century
                                           breaks apart. 
Pynchon in his prime     wading
through the syrup of his memories     the cracked
and groaning history     carefully placed
and pigeonholed     between the wooden
blocks and barriers     that separate the naked
theory from his warm and sticky appetite
ungrateful Pynchon     luxuriating like
a father’s child     that knows with such a deep
instinctiveness     that blood overwhelms
psychology     and that the craving he
suppressed for far too many years     can
only be extinguished by a quiet failure
oh Pynchon     your sweat stained body    
your filthy mind     how both of these cooperate
to flood the world with the quiet light
of excess     by the narrative fog
of objectified revenge     by the spreading of roots
and the untapped fruit of your unfolding.
Last Night on Earth
Bright light became a limit
a retreat from color     a fading out
as we stumbled past the pit
that constantly burned     smoking
and stinking     filled with
the detritus of winter
the moon glaring as it slid
along its well-oiled wires
shaping distant strategies
our fists of bone in white and blue
each hand unlocking a possible
future     tense and flooded
salted metals enclosing us
trapped within the sweetness
that we quietly despised
that terrible night when
the moon turned grass to silver
and all was liquid     and dissolute
bright lights     seen from underwater
triggering the pivot of an eye
triggering a longing for music
that floods from depths of mind
to the ice-coated surface   of
a silent lake          an empty lake.
Peacocks Hold Their Place in the Landscape
There were peacocks among the sculptures     deep within the muddy groves that we stumbled into     peacocks that flaunted in ways that the best art could never do     quietly fitting into its apportioned place within the landscape
the day was cold     the ice still clung to the surface of the mud that spread to fill the widening gyre of tramping     crushing up against the bamboo corridors
every work that we thrilled for   a compromise between abstraction and placement     seemingly impossible for it to be moved to any other location     its absolute sanctity identified by interactions     by lines that stretched on invisible wires to create a web of knowing   and beauty   across a field     a level that rose above the shape of individuation
and there we strolled in filthy shoes     unwitting as we traversed those pre-planned routes that gave us perspectives that we failed to recognize as manipulation     a perfect alibi for the joyous rush of our sensations
the whole a dialectic     a deferral of conclusion to the philosophy of movement     a world of stone   and wood   and the brilliant feathers of the peacocks     and the two of us     enmeshed within the structures that held us captive.
Moon Comes to Accept Winter
More moon     appearing so     continuous
it’s a mouth     it’s a corpse     it illuminates
the sex     we fight so hard to hold at bay
so restless     my angel   so desperate
for movement     as I communicate
by touch alone     my tongue still
trapped     as heavy as a granite slab
     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
what happens when this life is ended?
only one of us can be the survivor     one body
dust    the other     decaying organically
within an endless stubbornness     beneath
the moon that shines on our obsessions
the moon – a whispering of starlight     swept
clear by such a heavy-wristed sponge
an erasure of all residual egotism     gleaming
sickly     and painted by a blood moon
the pain-wracked glimmer of midwinter
we have traveled in time     unrecognized.
Maybe All of This
Maybe air     so hot and penetrating
maybe the body that fits
     exactly     spine against spine
maybe oil that floats on water
     like a second skin  
               never to molt     or shed
maybe the neon that floods our darkness
     that ripples across a liquid surface
               fragrant     with gasoline
the underlying perfume     of any city
maybe the flashes of fire that threaten
     to overwhelm a star filled sky
               on a night of clarity
maybe the interior of a silver maple
     where insects have turned the heartwood
               into dust
maybe a plume of smoke     visible
     from all six hills
               that surround this town
maybe a dirty window     reflective
     from the buildup
               of the soot of decades
maybe the weakness
     of arthritic fingers     failing once again
               to loosen a bolt
maybe pens and books and staples
     scattered across a desk
maybe the upper lip that you trace
     with your finger     remembering
maybe driving the lesser traveled road
maybe all of this     or maybe
                             nothing at all.

Paul Ilechko

Paul Ilechko is a Poet and songwriter. He is also 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.

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