Neeli Cherkovski – A Poet

a poet
for sure
sauntering down
the avenue
to number 261
sporting a beret
wearing Levies
neatly ironed

a poet is all
he ever wanted to be
a poet and
bookseller and
of other poets

he’s a poet
who wrote 1001
Fearful Words
for Fidel Castro

ask Neruda and Dante
ask Amiri Baraka
and Diane Di Prima
ring up William Butler Yeats
and Edna St. Vincent Millay
go talk to Allen Ginsberg
who will say
“He’s a poet, he never
to be anything else”

listen to Li Po
who drank the lovely moon
and sipped a cup of time


listen for Apollinaire
and Jacques Prevert

Jack Hirchman might say,
“He is a great heron
flying over the hill”

he is a poet
troubled by the marvelous

ask those young writers
reading “A Coney Island. . .”
for the first time

The staff wants to thank Emilia Mirazchiyska and Yuliyana Todorova for this poem.

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Neeli Cherkovski
Neeli Cherkovski was born in Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles State College (now Cal State Los Angeles). He is the author of many books of poetry, including “Animal” (1996), “Leaning Against Time” (2005), “From the Canyon Outward” (2009), and “The Crow and I” (2015). He is the coeditor of “Anthology of L.A. Poets” (with Charles Bukowski), “Cross-Strokes: Poetry between Los Angeles and San Francisco” (with Bill Mohr), and “Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman” (with Raymond Foye and Tate Swindell). He has also published bilingual editions in Austria, Mexico, and Italy. A facsimile edition of one of his notebooks was published by Viviani Edizione in Verona, Italy. Cherkovski also wrote biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Bukowski, as well as the critical memoir “Whitman’s Wild Children” (1988). His papers are held at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Cherkovski received the 2017 Jack Mueller Poetry Prize awarded at the Jack Mueller Festival in Fruita, Colorado. He has lived in San Francisco since 1974.