From the Middle Woods

Neeli Cherkovski has been active in the Bay Area Poetry since the 1970’s.  His latest book, From the Middle Woods joins his many other published books of poetry, including Leaning Against Time (2004), Elegy for Bob Kaufman (1996), and Clear Wind (1984).

Not only is Cherkovski an applauded poet, but he is also hosts popular poetic workshops, for those who want to improve their rhythmic structure (or for those who want to know what it was like to hang out with Bukowski).

His next courses, entitled Before, During and After Writing are co-hosted with accomplished poet David Meltzer and held at Readers Cafe & Bookstore, August 22, 24, & 29.

The Readers Review is honored to publish a selection of poems from his most recent work.

“These poems began as a communion with The Confucian Odes as rendered into English by Ezra Pound. The more than three hundred poems of that anthology, compiled by Confucius, are ripe with the spirit of  ‘the common folk,’ the world of nature, the search for inner peace, and a desire for civility and order in society.  As I read the Odes and went off to write my own poems, dealing mostly with nature and our constant search to live in harmony with it, I realized that the voices of the old Zen masters were whispering in my ear.”  –from the Author’s Afterward


A selection

crystal eye
of oak, roots planted
in the skull, rings of fine light, ribbons
of fire, think
“ancestor” and dwell on “why?”

cross the yard of wood, cut
and planed, listen to the last tree

tough-minded juniper
on Mount Whitney, the boy
and his father, the boy
and “the good man who is not
wanted,” but who earned
a love as deep as the rush
of wind over words rising
out of the wood
“they say they can’t help
what goes on” in this world
of pine and sycamore, the cruelty
of a small heart
smudged in an oil slick
beating on the hopes
of a commune
called to do more than simply
praise his eyes and how
he listens, vision
directly drawn, he is
near us, we see him full and
halved, and quartered, we
think on him

he pulls the tides
“the white flower decade”
refers to your thinking as it is now
in the last hour of the wild land

this is that hour, day by day
the wheel turns, day on day
no respect for a jagged crag
of rock alone, a stand
of mahogany alone, a monkey
with wide dying eyes, a cage
for all the wisely wild

alone, try testing your mind
against the four realms:

here, there, nowhere, everywhere

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