“Aches and Pains,” “Timber Tantrums” and “Chicago Sunset”

“Aches and Pains,” “Timber Tantrums” and “Chicago Sunset”

Aches and Pains

There is an indigo ripple in my eye,

sending me backwards through time

on cresting waves that roll into themselves

Tightened by their energy,

these droplets form ropes

that flay my memory

Sent skipping like a stone

back to the hand that caressed it

before it was thrown away

This is the fate of all

rocks that plough through waves

instead of riding them

I am as dense as sea sand,

afraid to sink beneath the white cap

that curls and tucks its tail

Taking me to the white wall

where the tidal door beckons

to be opened by an instinct

This primordial scar hastens its

phantom pain—to be let in,

to rediscover the weapon

That laid waste to the flesh.

a flailing mermaid that fans

my optic nerve, stimulating

A thought that, too—pirouettes

somewhere in the halls and

caverns of my past

Like a place of hiding on the

ocean floor, to dart backwards

fully armored to the teeth

Waiting to be waylaid by scores

of pincer prickles in the dark,

a soft, quiet place, not to be found.

Timber Tantrums

In The Iliad

the epic simile reigns supreme

speaking of death

the way poets speak of lovers

One in particular speaks of a prince who falls

like a tree in the forest


to be hewn into the weapons

that kill him

When a thing as lovely as a tree

feeds the war machine,

the Sarumans of the world


And soot satiates

the fiends,

the hounds of all that is green

and breath-giving

No satisfaction

until a


ad infinitum

Scions of industry


low ceiling and black lung

A treeless Gaza

walled by sea and desert

An Amazon drinking dirt

from rootless banks

like an addict

thickening its blood supply

A destiny manifest

with aching dryness


A cypher into the mind

of a tree

until the gray ghosts

of tentacled timber

screech to the crows

to bury their nests

in a splintered graveyard

Chicago Sunset

The monkey bar reached toward her

instead of she to it

Cold steel meets

warm, soft, small hand

an expert at this kind of play

focused and talented

—swift and free

Another hand, effortless

between bar and bar

like a future dominated

by purpose

Then a firework


as if congratulatory

She bows before the final


in gratitude

but the ground

meets her cheek


like hand to first bar

Screeching tires

instead of applause

is din to dim ears

In the oasis of child play

she leaks what her heart

had pounded

seconds before

About the Author

Khalil Elayan

Khalil Elayan is a Senior Lecturer of English at Kennesaw State University, teaching mostly World and African American Literature. His other interests include finishing his book on heroes and spending time in nature on his farm in north Georgia. His poems have been published in A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine, Dime Show Review, About Place Journal, and The Esthetic Apostle. Khalil’s most recent essay appears in bluntly magazine.