About Neeli Cherkovski

is writer-in-residence at New College of California in San Francisco. His books of poems include LEANING AGAINST TIME.

A Prison Poem

Bison - lcumings / sxc

I wrote this for America where I wept In America where I could not sleep I wrote this in my homeland where I keep counsel with the founding fathers and the founding mothers and the dreams Chief Joseph wrought when he threw down his arms before shock and awe

I wrote this in America where I find myself being born day in and day out

I thought this poem up in America on the day they showed a soldier treat a naked Iraqi man as if he were a dog simply because she had weapons of mass destruction trained on his body in a prison near Babylon

I made this poem in America on an assembly line of anger and disgust

I wrote this while the Secretary of Defense sat before the Congress, the lights were bright and he could not open his eyes

I wrote for love but love was lost I wrote for freedom but it is just a word I wrote for dignity but it belongs only to the rich and powerful I wrote for God but he was not home

God bless the other God the good God who does not die in a bath of blood perpetually on a wide screen

I am trapped, trapped like the President trapped in the death of language feeling lonely there

I’m the Secretary of Another War a Deep War of Words

when I testify bison stir the prairies the grassland weeps: “Give my country back to me”

America cannot hide from the world as the chambers of torture reveal just how anxious we’ve been to seek an empire

I cry for American words that slip out of pure street lingo gone wild they were sweet in the farmland, clearheaded when Jack Kerouac crossed the Rockies sublimely joyous citizens covered their eyes in clouds that folded-in on the folklore of hope Give me the strength of President Lincoln and Martin Luther King two voices who sang, two eagles who soared

I cry for American eyes

I cry-out for Iraqi poetry for Iraqi pride, for their desire for their lives, for their deep history

“simple eyes” see everything

where has our America gone? ...{read more}