There is a myth, long forgotten, of a centaur
Who came from a barren planet to taste
Potato chips, dandelions and whatnot.
Before he lost his conscience in the slums of
A city with the name too banal to remember
The residents didn’t know what to do
With their fingers, toes, tongues and ears.
He told them that history was pure refund,
That animals had the right to forgive,
That dreams belonged to the pool in the middle
Of Saturn, that all the Martians were stark mad,
He told them some other nonsense too.
There are years and centuries inaccessible to the wise.
A flower born of a passing goose on
the verge of an unfinished sky
never hesitates to become a memory
of an insane supermarket cashier.
Trees are but scars of the air, forests
but mutilated alphabets of the horizons.
Leaves are to stick to the faces
of merciless water.
In the shadow of a fire truck we played dice.
Snakes were coiling around everything –
tree branches, wires, pipes, our legs –
but we forgot all we had been taught about them.
You said that if not for your scoliosis
you would have always worn odd shoes.
It doesn’t mean shit to me, you said,
how it would look, I just like it.
It is a proper thing to do, man.
Flies caught in our coffee bloomed into oblivion.
We were able to extract understanding from everywhere
but couldn’t learn the names of the fingers.
Nor could we invent the names for the toes,
the titles of paperback novels we had never read
stained with biscuits we had never eaten,
the names for trees, for fish, for numbers,
the names of our neighbors – hunchbacks,
hairdressers, soothsayers and retired colonels.
We were not angels and we hadn’t fallen,
we abandoned our mission millennia ago,
we were ashamed to expose our wings,
we didn’t know for sure how many of them
each of us might have boasted.
We didn’t care to protect the soil we walked on,
The stars we ate. Even geese didn’t like us.
Ivan Peledov lives in Colorado. His poems have been published in Fevers of the Mind, SORTES, Book of Matches, Active Muse, Eunoia Review, and many other magazines. He is the author of the book Habits of Totems (Impspired, 2021). Ivan recommends supporting the Sunflower of Peace Foundation.