For Harold Norse


yes the water is perfect and

still, the Flying Dolphin 

skids on the Gulf and slow

only moments before entering

the harbor and gliding

to the waterfront, it’s a rugged

land of rocks and whitewashed



on Hydras the Venetian

palaces give supplication

to Helios, Jackie O visited

while I was there, and

your pal Leonard Cohen

saw “a bird on a wire” which

landed in a song, there was

the British expatriate who

painted his way into an alcoholic

dream. . .


no, I haven't been there

for seven yeas, and you

were put into a home

in Hayes Valley, assigned

to a room that looks out on a tree

and you loved to wander,

the attendants took care

to meet your needs


I'd come to see you

in advanced age,

eyes shining and

poems burning up

in a drawer, we had to

walk the waterfront

and feel the breeze


on Hydra once

I made love to a

young man from

Salonika, (Hal, he had

dark, hairy legs).

we spent five days in a room

by the port, the chubby

matron who brought

us food would giggle,

knowing. . .



I loved your poems

about every Hydra

sprinkled over

many lands,

your shades of

sensibility flowing

on the wharf, awake

like a seabird

cawing at the action

on the waterfront


you told me

about the donkey boy

who was hung

like a horse, was

he the wizened old man

I saw gathering

memories on the

stone pier jutting into

the harbor?


I miss you

more than I miss

you, I guess it is

a love without

measure, you

were the man

who showed me

at least one way

out of solitude

and back to the self


I picture you

on Hydra in the 50s, sitting

poised to write

of the people

below your window, the

donkeys braying,

crowds milling

across the water

in the harbor over time

down to those catacombs

below the poem


 © Neeli Cherkovski 

9 June 09

Neeli Cherkovski is a longtime contributor to the West Coast literary scene.
Emerging from the Los Angeles underground of the Sixties, Cherkovski, is an applauded poet,
critic and literary biographer. Neeli was awarded the PEN-Oakland Josephine Miles National
Literary Award.
His books of poetry include the recent"Leaning Against Time", a new memoir is of his life and times
among the American poets of the late 20th century.
Neeli Cherekovski's other books are Elegy for Bob Kaufman, Animal, and the chapbook Naming the Nameless,
two acclaimed biographies, Bukowski: A Life and Ferlinghetti: A Biography; his book, Whitman's Wild Children
(a collection of critical memoirs), has become an underground classic. In the late 1960s Cherkovski co-edited
the poetry anthology Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns with Charles Bukowski.
Cherkovski has long been associated the American beat and post-beat poets.
Since 1975, Neeli Cherkovski has lived and worked in San Francisco.

ELEGY for MAX SCHWARTZ by Neeli Cherkovski

back to San Francisco Art and Poetry Event Calendar