Paul Ilechko

Searching for Pleasure

Certain pleasures are bounded     for example     
by the extent of the body     other pleasures 
are harder to calibrate 

I feel the need to leave this room     to entertain 
the notion of cold winter air purging my lungs

      *     *     *     *     *

desire locks us into patterns     the way 
in which raiment is used as a flag     as a lure     
the way in which we dress and undress together

indoors becomes stale     and yet 
it’s hard to push on out     when the chill  
sets your teeth on edge

      *     *     *     *     *

a body exudes heat     as blood flows 
closer to the surface     in this overbearing dryness 

a deep bone ache     or the shallow ripples 
of skin against skin 

      *     *     *     *     *

and once again     the retreat into winter     
into a concept of pleasure (in a curious fashion) 

and we remind ourselves to drink more water 
then we might     perhaps     seem to need

as you play me     like a half-empty glass.  

Broken Face

My tongue splits      as my organs melt      and I sink into the ice      waking to darkness      waking to a whisper of ointment      and bleach      and the three AM stink of empty beds      as the mirror reveals my broken face    lit by a single shaft of moonlight    and the claw on my left arm is hanging loose      with threads unpicked       as I walk the empty streets in my      nakedness passing the piles of garbage bags that line the river      passing the museum of pain      where statues copulate noisily in iron extremity       passing the silver metallic lust of our gift to memory      and the promise that we made to hold each other      until death      as the key turns      slowly in the lock     with a click     click click     before the great door swings open       and there in the empty kitchen      with the cold tile underfoot      is a single blue flame      which burns and sputters like a dying star      as it fades into the gray becoming of dawn.

Under the Knife

In the search for biometric sufficiency     a hunger of blood bags and the necessary ache of 
chromosome     I am    he said worthy of pain     I am    he said    worthy of love     and the fire 
burns within

an existential departure that stretches time to meet his own criteria     that mourns the 
emptiness of rain     a battering of fear that fills the collapse space     trailing down the vibrant 
edges of his spine

in search     he says     of blade-tainted skin that might perhaps signal a new beginning     an 
accidental collage     a body described by intentional taboo

he went “under the knife”     it was meant to be surgical in its precision    it was designed to 
provide for certain experiences that had been missing from his life

he only ever wanted to be fragile     from deep within that burning place     of fear of non-
existence     and onwards he moved     transitioning into a state of frail invention

his past a theme park of suffering     his life spent sleeping in the silent grass     beneath a 
darkening sky of approaching thunder

but the game ended before it ever began

counting the nickels for his dying wish

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 Manhattanville Review, Abandoned Library Press, Cathexis Northwest Press, Indicia and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.
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