Poetry Drawer: Universe of Lies: Religious Rightness: The Meaning of Survival: Smokeless Noir by Paul Ilechko

Universe of Lies

The universe is dissolving into
silken skeins of fire     dripping

glistening threads of protons
and neutrons     that dissipate into

an echo of atomic waste     leaving
behind a soft electron whisper

if there are survivors     do they
remember when the world was

tokenized     do they recall the years
of stripping meaning     discarding

all we once had known in favour of
the romance of our corporate dreaming

working men and working women
gathered in a human river     flooding

through the central demarcations as
a wavelength of forgetting     carrying

their hand-made flags that still
proclaimed the truth of lies

true believers of the myths
and legends that evaporated

in the cold hard morning of the end
of time     when the structures

we had long imagined     were
finally revealed as emptiness.

Religious Rightness

Bodies filled the undergrowth
as religion swamped the land

your citizenship merely
a pattern of crosses   punched

into cards and misplaced in
a cupboard at the Pentagon

your birth was accidental
vomited out like volcano steam
erupting as clouds of tear gas

the shelves of your market creaked
under the weight of ammunition

I used carrots in my cabbage
soup to add the extra sweetness

but damn   and if it wasn’t
time to start our engines.

The Meaning of Survival

Morning begins with carnage
the heat-glaze of an exterminating sun
exploding as gasoline

organic chemistry reaching
its limit as the safety fails to trip
the sky filling
with a diamond glare

light tightening its grip
from red to blue and finally
to a blistering whiteness

the smell of meat and burning rubber
as a necklace melts into the purity
of flesh and thought     leaving behind
little except sharded bone

heat death of a city
the broken facades of crumbling homes
phased and zoned into map-written
territories beneath the still white sky

smudged and cindered by
smoldering remnants     the air
adrift with wave and particle
fighting for survival

the shattering
of so many lives as the future is destroyed
by inarticulate sloganeering

every banner laid to waste
the last survivors lingering by a river
breathing in the beauty of the silence

Smokeless Noir

We’re lacking something
now that even the bad guys
no longer smoke

where is the shadowed room
the blatant chiaroscuro
the curl of blue smoke
the carefully illuminated profile

what we have gained in health
and cleanliness
we have lost in the purity of art

but where is the forgotten actor
the one whose name we never knew
cigarette clutched
between brown-stained fingers

and in his throat
or the deepness of his lungs
the first tender stirrings
of the tumour.

Paul Ilechko is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Pain Sections (Alien Buddha Press). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Rogue Agent, January Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Book of Matches and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

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