Archive for the Neeli Cherkovski Category

Sent from my iPhoneI Talk To My Hebrew God by Neeli Cherkovski

Posted in Neeli Cherkovski with tags on May 1, 2018 by Scot

         For Alan Kaufman

I talk to my Hebrew God
Everyday now,
I tell him how sick it is
To see anti Semitism
On the rise in Europe

He says I must write
My poems
About butterflies and
Tulips, he tells me
I do good with pine trees
And my dog
On a
Leash at the beach –
He asks me to
Forge it, so a few
People are killed

He says he has
A universe to run
And it’s not easy
You never know
When a galaxy is
In trouble

I felt bad, I still feel
Bad, the world
Never learns its
Lesson, bad ass people
Step out of the
Shadows an murder
Thousands of work-a-day
People,  all ages, all sizes

One woman in France
Was 85, Holocaust
Survivor, slain to pay
For the sins of the Jews
2018 a civilized year
She is called me? No
She is many, she is endless


DESTRUCTION by Neeli Cherkovski

Posted in Neeli Cherkovski with tags , on November 23, 2016 by Scot

For Leonard Cohen

I wish we didn’t have to kill
The sunlight and
The ocean tides
I wish we could walk
Alongside the animals
And build Cabins
In the mirror
But we’re drawn
To fair destruction,

I wish this trail
Led over the high peak
And narrowed
In the gorge
We would camp
Alongside the sequoia
And draw water birds
On our dream scenes
Like Goya in the
Dark paintings
But we’re drawn
To fair destruction

I wish those trees
Would stop talking
In cruel and ruthless
Voices and our
Language would return
To the tidal ponds
Before they are gone
We might build a carnival
Of handsome losers
Who live to lie in sand
But we’re drawn
To fair destruction

I wish Orion would
Come indoors and curl
His white and brown
Body here where we
Meditate between
Loss and pure praise
Under the moon of
Thieves and grand
Deceives who only
Rise to cut men down

We need loathe
Only those who cheapen
Light and curse night
But we’re drawn
To fair destruction

Nov 13, 2016

DIANE DI PRIMA by Neeli Cherkovski

Posted in Neeli Cherkovski with tags on November 3, 2015 by Scot



Orbs of trees
Splendid Light patches
Pinwheels sunflower
Worn sunlight brazen tune
Stern strong shoreline
Empowering and thoughtful
So much night falls
Over the fence
Here tundra powerful grass
Of lower Manhattan
She sweeps the upper
Atmosphere and
Throws the moon
Into the Hudson

Atlantic swells
In realms of
Imagination’s proud island
When you loom down
Beyond the gate

Heroic sight in hand
Turns summer into fall
At midnight
After the storm
Past sleeping fathers
In the churchyard

Daughter for winter’s
Handsome mirrors hung
Where white tips
Read trees on banks
Of a wild River
South of the
Roaring iron ribs


When she was young
Diane makes her way
To Ezra Pound incarcerated

Under the shade
His voice a crackly jolt
Birds settle

Asylum’s stand
Of trees
so many birds
Two poets
In the land of brazen
And distant cat-calls


Ezra worn from
Traveling to
Where stubborn Bulls
Pace the odes

Young Di Prima
Sitting on a piano
In the niche, her
Smile rests
On my palm

Now the sad rain
Hits our window
Down Bernal Hill
We meet for lunch
With Landry on
24th Street sweet
Moment cherished
Read for your birthday
You kissed me when I said
She raised the bookshelves
Of the neighborhood library
and later found
Duncan and Olson
In the monolithic fable

We be fine

We live in this fire


On our island stronghold
Ships arrive

One fatal day mortality
Gloom rude tule grid
The shipyard struggles
A poet bleeds
Under light rain
Every drop
a momentary ocean

Your mind voyaging
Intimate rock forms
In the middle
Of a word
Over darkened slope
Of a hillside

Your voice of liberation
On granite plates

Watch out
Wall Street
The lady brings
Solitude and splendor
Through a door
To the redwoods

Diane I feel
Words riding clouded
So much precision
In right moves, window
Wide open
You were torn
For the poem

Born into traffic
Of sons and daughters
Your library brightens
Single letters words
Like wood finches
In a light snowfall

Back east, one eye
On Whitman’s ponderous
Stone a hand
In ecstatic silence
As seagulls measure
The footsteps
Of a fallen star

TALKING TO LI PO by Neeli Cherkovski

Posted in Neeli Cherkovski with tags on July 27, 2015 by Scot


Dear Father
of drunkenness
and poesy
some of us
idolize you words
as they step into English
on a high wire
over raging rapids
of an anonymous river
that has cut a deep gorge
through the ceramic earth

we bow in reverence
to the gods of mercy
who lay us low in due time,

I want to ask you
if there is any reprieve
because the beams of death
do not fit
they seem so ill
with faint deception
and wild eyed delusion

mercy is
is a flower
you tickle on the trail

as you ascend
to the snow field
past the last
hearty pine tree

your jacket is
fine, you stop for water
from the canteen, your
leather-faced father
smiles, an elderly priest
hikes on past us
at the cosmic tear
in his complex
system of belief

he must be well over
one hundred and thirty
five years of age
by now in 2015, my father died
at ninety-five, an old
hobo, son of Russian Jews

we had no money
but we had plenty of
honey which he has passed on
for me

at thirteen thousand feet
above sea level he handed over
the tough sky and the hard slate
of the mountaintop

for the children I will
never have

BUENAS AIRES 1 by Neeli Cherkovski

Posted in Neeli Cherkovski with tags on September 25, 2014 by Scot

we see how ugly the moon can be
frozen in place

these stars are not mine anymore
I abhor them

how sad a woman will be
when her son
is lost

we feel the incomprehensible nature
of the inner core and shake our manes
like horses

the old driver will save us
as we descend from the luminous

he takes us to the secret room
where love allows
a few silent moments

I live inside of you sometimes
as decades roar
and you turn your back

what I see are streets
and plazas
and the grand theater reborn

amor este es mi mano

I am tempted to impress
the shabby facades of these
big white buildings

what is more important
than my fear? I fear sitting
in a room full of inquisitors

who’ll examine paper
and ink and my entire toolbox
and make me pay for the chance

to be? up the dose
of day by day life
never give-in to the bees

without a struggle
pain and endurance love
and mistrust all the above

then rust nail
on the sidewalk
past the liquor store

the ruins
of a far off galaxy
in the tango bar

lithe Diana
loves to lead in the wind
again to pretend
she is not done
with childhood

the whores gather
and prevent the light
from entering

slow slowly the women
enter the funeral parlor
on a serene noon

in the cafeteria
miles of lonely men
sipping soup

Café Tortoni
opens at one p.m.

like the army
in a dead empire
we dream of now


Posted in Neeli Cherkovski with tags on June 23, 2013 by Scot

In memory of Miriam Patchen

when the crow and I are alone
life is much easier, he alights
onto my shoulder and listens
to the traffic as a crow must do
in order to survive

he keeps a list of other birds
on a tablet in his heart

I scream and the crow caws
I rage and the crow
ruffles his feathers

a people must understand
what is important
in the life of a crow

love is important
and thus I offer mine

a man and a crow

the crow and ceremonial song

come along and speak to the bird

he has a hallway of his own

he loves the gold chain
in his cage

he likes to come out and fly in his hall

one day he took me up to the sky

out of my window we soared

over the low fog

and the other crows gathered in flight


look into the mind of this universe
take your storage boxes and toss the souvenirs
into the sky

crow is not a god

crow is not a medallion

the crow is not a charm

he will look for seed on my open palm

he will roost on a branch of the cold tree

we sit around together

he wrote this poem in order to save himself

he looks for redemption

he says Miriam dear Miriam so long ago

now you are a plant in the window

the great talons of this crow

I feel his power when sleep comes
rushing into the room

the dark is like his feathers

I have seen the cruel white hand of night
and my forehead beaded in sweat


you know he rests
alongside all the crows imaginable

and they are beautiful
and primitive
just as we are, primal
and dangerous, heading forever toward disaster
this is what the fire is for
not only for warmth

here in the cold
it is possible to believe
that one may die a better way
not suffer so much
make it easy to disappear

the crow comes into the room

he flies into the room and I shut the window

dear Miriam there is a reason
and I have held it in hand

the crow is alive

“I say the drums are going like mad”

when the crow and I are alone

–March, 31, 2013

Neeli Cherkovski

Posted in Neeli Cherkovski with tags on October 8, 2012 by Scot

Back in 2008, I went in a book buying binge via Amazon and other online sellers.  I suspect during the 6 month period I purchased 125 poetry books.   Of that number at least four of those were written by Neeli Cherkovski.  Leaning Against Time has been in the basket by my chair for the last few years.  I keep the special books there—close at hand. Hell we even have the same hat (by coincidence).
You will see by his new poetry published here that he is a poet’s poet.  That may sound like a cliché but in a time when so many people who write poetry sound the same, try to be the next Bukowski or write what they don’t really know, his words are poetic by their very nature– by his mastery of the language.   He knows who came before him. He is a student of poetry and a teacher.  His poetry sings the welcomed song of a thinker, the song of a philosopher and the always  lyrical song from a lover of words.  Make no mistake, I didn’t do Cherkovski a favor by doing a feature/interview—as a fan he did me one.