Poetry: "Tongue at the End of Time"& "I Could Not Help"

Tongue at the End of Time

Tongue had written history into motion a silver-fire

thread of memory that twisted itself into a physical reality

(there being no evidence without the word)

describing with soft-floating tones the feel of skin

and hair the shape of muscle and bone the ways in which

we existed as smallness beneath the outspread arms and

gesturing hands of sky and wind and forest and


latent in language the cascade into emptiness a

semantic drift a syntactic loss as tongue struggled to

hold the center intact a sun-blasted desert crossed and

re-crossed pressed against the walls and fences of


tongue exchanging greetings till fading to babble

as the madness spread.

I Could Not Help

Pardon me I could not help but notice the viscosity of those fat and naked infants as they

rolled around in mud as gray and solid as the bourgeois gentlemen of Calais


I could not help but feel the weight of time pressing harder and harder as your father

declined a little more each day trapped inside a cage of his own devising


I could not help but watch him as he lingered at the back of the small stone church that has

been crumbling ever since the day it was erected


I could not help even though I promised and even though I made that promise with at the

time the best of intentions and yet life intervened as we sat at a table in a poorly lit

place and drank ourselves to oblivion as we each waited for the other one to speak


I could not help when the words failed to arrive stuck somehow in the mud of my throat as

my windpipe slowly closed as the inflammation spread


I could not help as the dog slept quietly at your feet and your eyes slowly closed and

together we sank like a ship into deeper waters where the pressure slowly built and the

light gradually faded into black.

Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Juxtaprose, As It Ought To Be, Cathexis Northwest Press, Thin Air Magazine and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.