Fall/Winter 2014

Neeli Cherkovski


the poet mixes with crows and sparrows
he calls the seagulls to a glistening shore
when he is alone, pipe in hand,
thinking he should stay forever and allow
the salt from the ocean to enter his skin

the poet is a madman in disguise
he has plans for those younger men
who adore beetles and hedges
he believes in a revolution from the ground up

in the morning he walks to the beach
after putting out the fire
his body is filled with coffee grounds
and charred toast,, he watches wasps
swarming by the windmill, he thinks
the wild west might return, and so on his walk
he strides like a lawman
in a town on the plains
he stretches his mind over the canyon

the poet walks a thin line
he lives in grace, body draped
in a silver lining, he likes to think
of women and women’s clothing
but he loves hard young studs
who frown at Bob Dylan’s aging face

the poet will die, he will “go gently”
and then come back again, he sings
in a chorus of angels, yeah, he has
the goods, you see him by the tidal pool
looking at starfish, you know
he loves to bring order to a wall of fog
and to be alone in one sweeping dream

the poet is an ocean, a grain of sand
he loves to return and kindle a new fire
flames shooting over The Divine Comedy
he wants to soar like the gulls
but the beans might burn and so
he turns his attention to what is near and most real

Neeli Cherkovski is author of Whitman's Wild Children, biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bob Kaufman, and Charles Bukowski. He was producer of the first San Francisco Poetry Festival, and in the early-1990s helped to found Café Arts Month, a yearly event celebrating San Francisco’s cafe culture. His body of poetry includes Animal, Elegy for Bob Kaufman and Leaning Against Time, for which he was awarded the 15th Annual PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 2005. His most recent work is From the Canyon Outward.



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