Alexei Tsvetkov

going medieval and wasted opportunity


the tree wherein i dwell is spun of mist
dust is the stuff of which i weave my nest
the realm behind my tail i call the east
so that my beak is leveled at the west

it's thus creation wholly turns around
if i reverse my chassis on the sly
when hanging upside down i call the ground
what normally one would have called the sky

i set myself the task of setting free
the cardinal points and the poles of space
except that when i fail to keep my tree
within my grasp it melts without a trace

the future dwindles followed by the past
the present is the void still holding fast


i was wandering once in a turbulent shopping mall
as the saturday rush started slowing down to a crawl

and i asked this girl as my tootsies were getting sore
for the shortest way to the nordstrom department store

not that finding that nordstrom was such an imperative task
just a random thought and she was on the spot to ask

or it may have been macy's somewhere on the limb of the grid
it just seemed like the right time to ask her so ask i did

she was hawking some dead sea ointments with time to bide
but she ceased her commerce and offered to be my guide

we kept traipsing like clockwork bunnies all day and night
through the ever thickening throng through the fading light

where the very breath got sticky like cheesecloth that clings
to the skin as my guide escaped on her clockwork wings

leaving me with a voiceless multitude barely awake
on a desert shore of some unexpected lake

neither nordstrom nor frigging macy's in sight but instead
an old gent on a hill to judge the quick and the dead

on the dead sea shore handing verdicts out in the nick
of time and i looked and i wasn't among the quick

thus was totally wasted a gainful trip to the mall
picking someone to ask the way is a judgment call

ALEXEI TSVETKOV (b. 1947) is a contemporary Russian poet with more than a dozen books published in Russia and the United States, both poetry and essay collections. In 1975 he emigrated to the United States; he also writes in English.