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Neeli Cherkovski


For Corey Wade

"She confided, I hate being Middle Eastern today."


news kiosk owner from
Palestine, rabbi's son out of
Brooklyn, Puerto Rican
poet new to the city who never
had time to write
an old poem, son
of an Irish cop now
working at an investment
desk, cosmic dreamer, bodies, body
parts, American eyes, flags, body
bags, Afghanistan, what can we do
under morning skies burrowed
into words that will not
breath deep enough, and who
will suspend both time
and our liberties just long enough


Lewis and Clark move backwards
They hope to discover Washington D.C..
the Cherokee nation comes home
to the diamond-headed Exchange
John Brown rises from dust
at the foot of the Pentagon
Abraham Lincoln crosses the prairies
on a moonflooded night
Walt Whitman is confused by fire
tumbling out of American eyes
Chief Seattle dreams of Indians
dressed like clowns in a Wild West Act
Miles Davis is Dark Magus in daylight
performing for the bankers


I am an Arab
my feet are burning
I am an Arab
my hands are feeling
for stones that can speak
I am an Arab
with a memory
of woven sky
I am an Arab
with a Jew in my body
I am an Arab
in fear for my country
I'm Ibn Arabi
I'm the Palestinian poet
Adonis who will weep
in blue air
I¹m the casbah
on clouds
and my head
turns inside out

I am a single child
raising an arm
upward toward God
or silence

I have subway dreams
and islands in my head

my hopes
are here in America
rooted to the streets
and the bison headed
emptiness at the heart
of what we face tomorrow