PoetryMagazine.com
Since 1996 Volume XXI

Jack Foley
USA

PHOTO CREDIT: Wen Hsu

JACK FOLEY:


PHOTO CREDIT: Wen Hsu


Jack Foley has published fifteen books of poetry, five books of criticism, a book of stories and sketches, and a two-volume “chronoencyclopedia,” Visions & Affiliations: California Poetry 1940-2005. He became well known through his “multivoiced” performances with his late wife, Adelle, also a poet; these can be seen on YouTube. His radio show, Cover to Cover, airs Wednesdays on KPFA-FM in California. In 2010, Foley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Berkeley Poetry Festival. California poet laureate Dana Gioia writes of his work, “This is experimental poetry with depth and intelligence as well as intensity.” Poet/critic Christopher Bernard calls Foley “a many-tongued master…one of American poetry’s essential thinkers and practitioners.” Foley’s most recent books are The Tiger & Other Tales, a book of stories, sketches and two plays; Riverrun, a book of poetry; and Grief Songs, a book documenting his grief at the death of his wife, Adelle.







THEY DIE, 



the ones around you

this is morbid

no one tells you

I want you to emphasize

when they wish “long life”

life

that not everyone has it

how nice it is

that people don’t die together

to have friends

but piecemeal

to have lovers

some today

how good the taste

some yesterday

of ice cream &

some tomorrow

hamburgers

room for sorrow

of Vietnamese

room for cessation

pho

of anger

stop with the whining

room in all of this

grow up

for love

you have plenty to live for

(sometimes)

you have money

death

friends

the great

projects

contradictory

why complain

force

be

in

positive

the

love life

room


[published in the book by the author, Grief Songs






YAHRZEIT (June 27, 2017)

for Adelle 



It is

What the Jews call Yahrzeit,

A year since your death. 

The word stings.

If you retain any consciousness of the world

You know 

That I have found a new love. 

She has been 

A wonder and a comfort

In my grief for you. 

I think you would have liked her

(And mothered her!).

Going through your dresser drawer

As we attempt to find room for her things,

She found

A fancy, almost comically sexy garter. 

I had forgotten it

But recognized it immediately. 

You wore it only once,

On the night of December 21, 1961,

Our wedding night;

You kept it, as you kept many other things, for all these years. 

How we formed each other. 

How we treasured each other’s hearts. 

If the stories are true,

You may be in bliss

While I find my way through this quivering wall of sorrow and tears.

And love.

My first love, my dear first love,

It has been a year

(Has it been a year?),

Yahrzeit.


Your ashes 

Remain     in the vanishing morning light. 


[Published in the book by the author, Grief Songs]




FOR JAMES JOYCE’S BIRTHDAY (FEB 2)



Is it yer birthday is it, says I. Yes, it is, says me. Well if it’s yr birthday what do ye do with the thingamajig? says I. You mean the fact that I’ve been dead for a good many years now? says me. I do indead, says I. Well, it’s true that I am among the not so recently decessed, yssss, that’s true. But I don’t decay, you know, says me. What do you mean you don’t decay? says I. I stopped being a man but I became something else, says me. And what is that, pray? says I. It’s a book, says me. All lion hearts are Catlick in the tomb. And we Rise awake when you shake a page. When you shake a page, we rage. These pages are the leaves that grow out of Yggdrasil, the dendritic centaurs branching out and out. And when we fall we fly. Do we now? says I. Yes, says me, we fly UP when we fall. Into the arms of Seamus O’Toole the great Cocksman, who cockadoodle doos in the year of the Roister. Hear his cry. And every cry is a birth of a baby and every baby is a dooer and a door and every tear is a cry and every cry tears the heart till it opens. And when it opens it’s a birth and a bath of heartsblood. O the Catlicks. We know it down to our paws. And our maws too, if it comes to that. Well, says I, if you open your ma it’s surely a birth and the birth must be a day and the day is today in the vast Fibruary in the great ocean of time on the second day in the year of the Orange fool in the Great White House (where is the Green where is the Green?). I’m with you there since how could we be separate you and I? When I open the book I fall and it’s Fall but it’s Winter and Spring too with snow falling like leaves like words like wonners that come with wings. And the dead spring up and sings: Ah, Blarney Castle, ah, drunkenness, ah, sweet irrevocables and vocables, and we wing it as the day moves on and the night (ah, night) falls too.


[Published in the book by the author, Grief Songs






SHE IS IN MY LIFE

for Sangye Land


innocence 

innocence

matched with

matched with 

intelligence 

intelligence

sweetness 

sweetness

matched with 

matched with

guile 

guile

(& wit)

(& wit)

a deep

a deep

awareness of

awareness of

suffering 

suffering

(“I have been in pain most of my life”)

(“in pain most of my life”)

desire

desire

matched with

matched with 

compassion

compassion

fear

fear

of 

of

abandonment 

abandonment

fear

fear

of

of

sleep

sleep

wish

wish

for structure

for structure

&

&

cleanliness

cleanliness 

shy

shy

but with extraordinary

but with extraordinary

capacity for listening

capacity for listening

wish

wish

for the holiness

for the holiness

of Buddhahood

of Buddhahood  

incredibly 

incredibly

passionate 

passionate

eyes

eyes






 




    
 Copyright, 2017, Jack Foley
All Rights Reserved.       
 
   
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