Grant Avenue Soliliquoy by Neeli Cherkovski

NOW IT IS SEVEN A.M. and the streets
turn Chinese, so many men and women
still asleep, the Li Po Bar opens soon
an old Vet of the Spanish War
unfolds his vision of a full moon over
Barcelona, the Irish barkeeper-artist
turns a blind eye, another walks with
a hook for hands, he wears
a pirate costume, I have become down
on such things – I feel naked
here on the sidewalk, hesitate
wishing I had the power
to stay home where I may
execute the dark walls

wouldn’t it be okay
if I found a slim young prince of darkness
to enter the castle
and offer his blue solitude if only
for a few centuries, then when he is a thin
aging man I’d put my arms around him
in thin air and speak of the rain
that covered these sidewalks

awaken on another morning
when marching bands collide
and spooks show up to squander
coins, everything is settling-in
on THE SEA AROUND US, all life sounds
limited, splendid like red flowers
in a vase at window’s edge

oh mothers, fathers, go sweep the halls
of your sons and daughters, re-arrange
the plants, give to the animals a simple
set of chances, walk your boyfriend
into the castle, go for a walk
on the wall, the moon is still waiting
for us, the executives of sleep come
into the café, well-dressed account
clerks mingle, now the doors open
at the bookstore, I carry out the
collected poems of a famous doubter
and tie my shoes by the pizza joint

the day we met you were in a red
plaid shit, still I love thee, still
your skin is smooth and soft,
tomorrow your hair streams down
over your shoulders, maybe I
should never dream again, close down
the fortress, I’d love to explain
why everything crashed, how we’d sit
in the kitchen and frown at the simple
pleasures, your smile when you sleep
forever fascinates, how dumb I am
today, the trade-off is grief, lo! words
grow like wild flower on the far side of
my dream, then turn to dust
as the sun rises, and we’re on the street

slaughter is the rule, rude, plague was
a means, power wanes, people talk and
smoke, cigarette butts lie at the café’s
front door, a few blocks from here
Chinese statues stare at the traffic
we love those movies in our heads
and the insignificant talk over espresso
down below, we move in strange ways
and step into the river of concrete
and asphalt, there was Jack and Ken
and books on Zen, there were “Whispers
of immortality” in the blooming air

the owner of our café was named
Gianni Giotto, he came from Trieste,
how we long for the night, how we hunger
for fortune, what we wouldn’t do
for an invitation to dreams that do not
impose limits, the good ones, the overwhelming
trust, a blue eye, a blond sign, a small
and unassuming set of odes to propagate
secretly, a set of keys for the castle


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