Paul Ilechko – Five Poems
The nets are old, battered and torn
through generations. For springtime,
the fishermen must make repairs.
Tedious work, to trace the length and breadth
of mesh and seek out weakness.
The job completed, and into use
once more. One end is fastened tight aboard
the shallow boat, the other held with care
by man ashore, as on this bitter day
they seine the river, collecting fish
within the dragging diamonds. As sun drops
into lurid redness, they round the point,
swinging the boat upon the rocky beach
where willing hands might grab and sort
the flashing quicksilver catch.
Among the watching crowd, an older woman,
dark beneath her headdress, waits patiently
until the workers offer up a trash fish.
She happily accepts, and takes it home.
A special meal to please her waiting family.
The Second Day
The second day of winter.
Awakening to the snow-covered ground,
and the sun scours the sky
as brilliance reflects. We walk
into an impossibility of light,
an implausibility of whiteness.
Hunched and squinting, the wet street
flooded and luminous, the melting
snow unwatchable. The sun relocated
for this one day, here to earth.
Walking with the Dog
Two limbs appear to be one,
penetrating the trunk, passing
clear through to create angles
of incidence as the skeleton stands,
wintering in blackness
against the dirty clouds of February.
The tree is a bone tree,
skeletal in its lonely indifference,
caring nothing about the red roofs
of the nearby homes, caring less
about you as you walk your dog
down the narrow street, the spice
of coffee already in your nostrils
as you zigzag through the grid
of town, stopping only for the furious
beast to extinguish his natural urges
against the base of some other lofty
the melancholic gatherings
of six-legged collaborations,
dog and human, bent only
on your fleeting sense of purpose.
Making your way to the listless
confluence of caffeine zealots.
Famished boys snatch
sweetness from the apple tree.
Rustic ripeness oozing
chimerical fragrance beneath
a grenadine horizon.
Distant fires falter
in the valley, exhaling
from their ripened hearts
thin tendrils of smoke
that lure you into a pearl abyss.
A gnarled oak, crusty
with age. Sucking you down
the pathway to the derelict church,
bright gold beneath the settling
hour of summer.
The shrine is padlocked,
guarded by a pack
of scrawny dogs, all rib and foreleg,
stretched and sleeping
beneath the rusted portico.
What tomorrow might bring
you will never know.
These undernourished creatures,
attempting to voice their unverified lives,
immersed in landscape.
A late channeling,
a dissipation of energy,
a prolonged battle.
A winter that refused,
against all sensibility,
to be completed. Now,
a hard scrabble as life
withers quickly, roots
and tulips fight for space,
hostas fight for air.
This is not what we mean
when we say “spring”.
A noisy, belated greening,
a fluctuation of color
as days flash past,
as time quickens,
as the season is seen
to rise and fall in a time-lapse
compression of itself.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
This is my fourth attempt at defining beauty for Peacock Journal. In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of love to the understanding of beauty; I’ve talked about beauty found in unexpected places, amid decay and ruin; and I’ve talked about harmony of mind as being essential to the creation of beautiful art.
Trying to think about something else to say on the subject, I came up with the thought that complexity is essential for true and lasting beauty. The superficially pretty might catch your eye (or ear, as the case may be), but it’s the complex, and perhaps even difficult, that stays with you over time. When you put work into the appreciation of something, you tend to get more out of it.
Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks Bartok in Winter(Flutter Press, 2018) and Graph of Life(Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Stickman Review, formercactus, Sheila-Na-Gig, and Heartwood Literary Magazine. He lives in Lambertville, NJ.