Leaning Against Time

Neeli Cherkovski

San Francisco writer and critic Neeli Cherkovski’s ninth collection of poems, published by Penn Valley press R.L. Crow, is at its best when his language stretches out to embrace his vision. Consider “The Road Taken,” an obvious spin on the famous Robert Frost poem. Cherkovski’s vision is of a willingness to accept life on life’s terms, an embrace of the difference our choices make: “there is always the road we had to travel / because of our wounds, on account of our joy / and in spite of ambition.” In other poems, Cherkovski looks at the simple stories of a life lived at least thoroughly if not well. These poems take a hard look at an unromantic past, as in “AIDS”: “listen, wind caught us / before we knew what was happening / then light disappeared / finally we were spared.”