top of page

C.N.P Poetry 

Various; Traversal; Tidal

By: Paul Ilechko


They met at various times

for some version of various

meaning     perhaps     derived from

 “variety”     or just a scattering

a dance across the decades

pulling in   and pushing out 

finding and losing     in various ways

as if they could see through time 

knowing already how they would recur

just a small glimpse of a future

that was sure to be waiting     across

the sandbanks of history     beached

and wailing   as they stepped lightly 

their minds locked into the same song

lyric     in the same key     listening to 

the same silent sounds     that she heard

when he returned as a scarlet cardinal 

tapping that same rhythm on the pane 

of window glass     above the plastic 

flying saucer     where she kept his ashes.


The power of a leaning stone extends beyond its own mass     and into the surrounding

space that it confronts       a sense of threat   is manifestly present in the coldness of

the air     the cold winter air of nighttime   in the desert     that surrounds the leaning


men track across a deathly expanse of desert     twisting their way between the rocky

cliffs     keeping a safe distance from the leaning stones   as they pursue their prey      

protected from the coldness of the night 

the tracked ones live inside their fear       gasping for breath   as if their lungs were

filled with water     drowning in dryness   between the shadowspaces of the leaning

stones     starlit and empty within the persistence of the night 

one man remembers home       remembers a different space of color and light     of

people contained within their stoic poverty     a people who were free until the

shadows appeared     until the leaning stones blocked out the sun   and dried the

colors into gray   and burned the waters from the bay       leaving nothing behind   but


and the man sits on the ground   as the others leave him       continuing on their way

across the valley of stones     leaving him to his own internal emptiness   his mind

clear    his body weightless       leaving him to wait without waiting     to dream

without dreaming     and to die without dying.


I was words before I was a writer

I was color before I smeared 

my brush through pigment

Don’t tell me that these are not the same

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Things improved as the sea receded

leaving fragments of shell and bone

there were couples everywhere

sinking into wet sand     their bodies

stained in abstract patterns 

blending into the ghost images

of ripples that the waves

had left behind

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

The sea had no memory of bodies

not even the ones contained 

within its bulk     it spilled its containment

fighting against the influx of river

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Somewhere within the indeterminate

depths where warmth meets coldness

is a temperate zone of human factors

where the couples who are washed away

converge     still clinging tightly

still marked with the painterly 

flows of sand     and the skin 

deep imprint of shell

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Life was abundant

as the sea returned     bearing 

its usual offerings of kelp

and husk     to be collected

by the sons and daughters of the lost

their naked feet avoiding

the broken bones of ancestors

that the sea had once again discharged.


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, West Trade Review, Yes Poetry, Otoliths and Indicia. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.


bottom of page