Sonnet that Only Exists in the Tropics (and other poems)

Sonnet that Only Exists in the Tropics

It’s organic     he says     fleeing into swamp culture 
leaving behind the years of espresso and Roquefort 
observing the way that light illuminates the mud 
that thickens the water     a haven for all types
of menacing organism     it’s fundamental     he 
repeats     locked inside a bathroom as refuge from 
the hellscape of his family     trying to find a distance 
where he might recoil at a non-alarming pace     inside
him is a certain darkness that evades the moonlight
that fails to propagate the shrilling of tree frogs
the screeching of owls     this magnificent heat 
that even nightfall can never break     a sweat as 
pungent as sex     divergent across the infrastructure 
of conduit     the taste of nectar on his tongue. 

Sonnet for the Inner Suburbs

You were still a distance before the city line
where the fires were burning     flames swelling 
like an ocean of narrative     Cy Twombly 
flower-kissed in orange and red     a desert 
blossom that seeds the dreams of a dying planet…
remember the concept of millions     and how
it expanded beyond all limits     remember the shape
as gesture that surrounded the idea of seasons
fading now into unrestricted congruence
it’s a time for craftsmanship to resurrect itself 
after all these years of specialization     it’s time 
to work on the shape of our bleeding gums 
and the frightful condition of our once fragrant 
gardens     where weeds are spreading furiously.

Stained Glass Lights Up a Sonnet

Taking this as a harbinger of time still to come
these brass and silver memories of childhood religion
tall and bone-skinny in long black robes and white
collar     the choral trills and pocket change 
that clinks into the collection plate     blue hair 
and crinkled skin     everything observed from 
a place of never-sanctioned mockery     the leaves 
are falling in the churchyard     horse chestnut fruit
splits open     spilling out the rich brown seed 
ancient language on ancient stone that fades
back into forgotten centuries     the stained-glass
windows are dull from outside     but once 
within the light spills color     opening up the space
where kind-hearted folks are sitting quietly. 

Sonnet for Friendship in the Workplace

A mystery is welded into platonic irony     sharp metallic
edges     glinting silver in a concrete world     harsh
sounds are magnified     echoing through a cavernous
space     when attempts are made to define the exact 
meaning of friendship     parameters mapped as axes
as a graph is formed in n-dimensional space     where one
is always gleaming     edging light through bandwidth
defined as elegy     beyond the wire perimeter you find 
a meadow sinking into indigo     as day’s end looms 
there is still sufficient visibility     cars leave one by one 
a delicate dance of compact spacing     home is just 
a metaphor for temporary relief     hoping there will be 
no rain tonight     because the one thing everyone is sure of  
is that this grid has been breaking down for decades. 

Sonnet on Post-Coital Tristesse

The taste of nectar was on his tongue     but his feet
were frozen into blocks of ice as he walked through the rain
just another man in a long dark overcoat a brimmed
hat protecting his head from the weather a head full
of memories of oiled torsos slithering and naked
in an overheated room of breakfast mornings
with coffee and eggs and fresh fruit driving though
the sunlit valley with the snow-capped peaks all around
and the sound of laughter the softness of memory
and touch and a heart-bursting tenderness and then
so suddenly it was over and now he walks the city
blocks oblivious to weather driving his thoughts
like a nail into the firmament watching it crack and split
apart rendering into darkness elliptical darkness pure.


  • Paul Ilechko is a British American poet and occasional songwriter who lives with his partner in Lambertville, New Jersey. His work has appeared in many journals, including The Bennington Review, The Night Heron Barks, deLuge, Stirring, and The Inflectionist Review. He has also published several chapbooks.

  • The Making of Books (stills) by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films 1947