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CHERITA [1--2--3]
[pronounced CHAIR-rita]



Cherita is the Malay word for story or tale. A Cherita consists of a single stanza of a one-line verse, followed by a two-line verse, and then finishing with a three-line verse. It can either be written solo or with up to three partners.

The Cherita tells a story. It was created by ai li on the 22 June 1997 in memory of her grandparents who were raconteurs extraordinaire. It was also inspired by Larry Kimmel's sensitive recognition of a shorter form contained within the opening three-verse stanza of ai li's LUNENGA, which had been created on the 27 May 1997.


Copyright ai li 2002



ai li's collection
The Larry Kimmel Collection
Four Cherita by Anthea Arnold  
One Cherita by Richard Cheevers  

Three Cherita by Michael Meyerhofer
Two Cherita by Felicity Brookesmith




ai li's collection of twelve cherita






old woman at the door


collecting for
hungry ghosts


the shroud
she wears
for shawl












drifting paper boat


the rain
on banana leaves


by an open window












black limo on a wet day


the empty florist


on stone












christmas eve...


the presents wrapped
a cup of camomile tea


anonymous call
your eyes
avoiding mine













a passing phase...


the drawers full
of lingerie


he orders
by phone
asking for black lace













a stingy moon


the cotton sheets
between my legs
are wet












tiara in a pawn shop


the missing ticket
with the sacked companion


autumn dusk
she sits in a ballgown
fraying at the hem












the hush in a library


a fly
on the woman's nose


to sneeze
or not
to sneeze












gemstone on her fat finger


the colour of
dark ocean


her face
in the obituary column
lost at sea












4 pm


a cuckoo clock
bringing forest into afternoon


the crumbs i leave
sitting  on
their own shadows











missing child on a sunday morning


the priest
finds a clean frock to visit in

shadowed path
the broken doll
no one sees












another rainbow


this one is quiet
for the hospice


the face
at the window
already not there








Copyright ai li 2002



The Larry Kimmel Collection of Sixteen Cherita





Thanksgiving Day


candles and wine
a 3lb turkey


snow falling
through maple trees
a man and a woman...











tangled sheets


tainting the walls
a neon's pulse


by the window
the glow
of a cigarette











      it's her wedding tomorrow


    she comes to me in the night


        will have to last
        for a long time"













10,000 apple drops
lie in the untended orchard


in the kitchen
a floor board












the radiators bang


cod liver oil washed down
by fresh squeezed orange juice


he sits by the oven
warm on one side
shivering on the left











power outage


no candles
can't find the flashlight


the copper tea kettle
by a ring of blue flame












beyond the window, a bony dump*


as late as 1946
each classroom heated by a wood furnace


in summer
from the mine's maw
cool scary air




*slag heap












a table set for two, a roast in the oven


the phone rings
in a white dress she goes out


whether by choice
or chance, she steps
into traffic











storming out of her home


in night and blizzard
getting as far as the bachelor's house


staying all winter
and never going back
having the last say












two moons too many


turning a deaf ear
living a life of braille


only makes the macrame

more tangled











"danke schoen"


shying away
she leaves her sly smile


where she stood
a twist of blue smoke lingers
in the misting air












family barbecue


burnt offerings
the 'chock' of croquet balls


old, her eyesight gone
she sits apart
faintly smiling














"oops, sorry"


me on the can
she in my lap














six months missing


anonymous phone call
"your daughter's at the train station"


crippled and mute
she rocks
the years away












cherries ripe


"those aren't yours to pick"
"me thinks this free country"


after three days
frothing at the mouth
the poisoned cow dies













they'd nothing for christmas that year


a cut spruce by the side of the road
the luck of a pheasant to run over


not a tale
to tell
at a New Age gathering








Copyright Larry Kimmel 1997




Four Cherita by Anthea Arnold






One little boy sulked, sat silent,


another shuffled food round his plate
complained he was tired, cold, bored;


a third drank too much fizzy drink
made rude noises, had to go home.
They were all over sixty.














I peer at the mantel beam


for marks to intimidate intruders -
the devil, witches, posing as birds.


There they are. Vs, Ms, Rs.
My black cat watches, tail curled over his back.
He too keeps birds away.
















He never ran his bath away.


Green as the Thames,
it remained...


Other things seemed strange later,
not to a child.
He was my grandfather.















It's not a violin..


you don't put a voice away.
Worse than a baby, a Siamese twin,


always to be considered,
always there,
never leaves you alone..







Copyright Anthea Arnold 2000




One Cherita by Richard Cheevers







Drinking wine


she mentions her fiance
in bed with flu


Avoiding eye contact
cures . .








Copyright Richard Cheevers 1999




Three Cherita by Michael Meyerhofer






i pretend not to see.


in the shopping mall,
a blushing child


trying to hide
that he has just
wet himself.












a mother breastfeeding


bare infant and breast
in the summer light.


so beautiful
i try not to stare
but she winks at me.












i cook the broth myself.


when last i caught the flu
it was a year ago . . .


we stayed in bed
for days,
making love.






Copyright Michael Meyerhofer 2002




Two Cherita by Felicity Brookesmith







I did not see you.


I heard your footsteps
when you passed my door today.


I tell myself I'm foolish
to wait in all day for you
and I wait in all day.






Copyright Felicity Brookesmith 2002









seeing you again


you saw me first and followed me
I turned to your hello and saw


your dark glasses through my own
and I knew, as our hands touched,
our eyes    were on each     other's mouths.






Copyright Felicity Brookesmith  2002




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