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Neeli Straight Up

––after N. Cherkovski

he sings the praises of the usual cheap cigar and beer
downs literary discussion with cynical aplomb
followed by an increasing stream of genuine wanting
knows the differences between
established lines and those painfully condensed
through with sidewalks and battered ears
through with coming to the fore. simply saying

what he wants to say

which comes first? the low-life or the nose-blown bandana?
known to friends as Cherri—sweet, ripe and
goes easy into pastries like aching feet into felt-lined loafers
hank this hank that hank the other thing hank
but never mind. he blends into the necessary surroundings
be it cultural hub or blistering cement at noon
filling every available space with longing
for those angel days of haloes and wings
when suspense governed every effing moment
like a man taking blows in an alley
like a woman drunk on love and wobbling on 3-inch heels