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Guest Poet Gallery:
Poems by Jack Foley


ELI, ELI

"It would be bad enough if I were the next-door neighbor. But this is like God doing it. Jesus doing it."
              "First Person: The Confession of Father X"

Father O'Fondle comes to town
Hoping that your pants are down
What's your sport, me lad, says he
Can you sit upon me knee
(I have sport enow for thee!)
Let me look upon your dangle
Try Confession from THIS angle
What I beat is not a drum
Who put the "cum" in "Vobiscum"?
(Which of you dare call me "scum"?)
Bishop, Bishop, though I'm lacking
I know you will send me packing
To another parish bright
Where I'm sure I'll do all right
I'll bring "God" to them and theirs
And they'll remember in their prayers
In the night when dreams are wet
They will see me smiling yet
Holding out God's helping hand--
There's a sweet and sacred band!
Till Hell turns to ice and freezes
You'll make Love to me--and Jesus
I'll apply the priestly arts
To your troubled private parts
Here, my lad, 's a welcome solace
Let me touch your throbbing phallus
Hear the Sacred Choir thrumming
As I prepare my Second Coming!
Father O'Fondle, troubled man
Needing love, and under ban
In such desire for the Son,
Would I have done as you have done?

 

leaf

 

FROM "THE TEMPTATION OF SIXTY"

Story about a mad scientist whose fear of dying impels him to invent a pill which reverses the aging process. On his next birthday, the scientist gets one year younger, not one year older. The difficulty here is that he is still approaching death, only now from the other direction. He knows exactly how many years he has left; he knows the exact day and hour at which he will "die." His new problem is to invent a second pill which will reverse the effects of the first pill and start him aging again. As he ponders this problem, he crosses the street against the light, is hit by a passing truck, and dies immediately. The obituaries list his age inaccurately as 61; he is in fact 59.

the temptation of sixty

is to believe

that everything

is possible

and not to believe

that anything

has changed

the temptation of sixty

is to justify

behavior

by

delusion

and to justify

delusion

by

need

to justify

everything

by

fiction

the temptation of sixty

is to believe

anything


so here we are in Oakland
where it's beginning to rain
("east side, west side")
in this vast state of California:
some little that we hoped for came about
something weathered
the deep transitions
and adjustments
the anger
of displacement:
some dear thing
lingers in consciousness
too many people die
such fury
beckons
I slide down
the years
one of those "American Flyers" from 50 years ago!
where is
the mortician on the corner?
where the Elks Club?
here is a rose for it all
here is a stick
I touched in 1949
it was a sword
oh, god, do we get it all back
including our discontent?
your hand (absent)
touches
my hand (absent)
your voice--
do we live the whole thing over?
these absences these
vanishings these utter--

are how we hold
to life

 

leaf

 

AN EPITHALAMIUM FOR MY SON SEAN AND HIS BRIDE, KERRY HOKE

epithalamium: epi (on, upon) thalamus (bedroom): a song in honor of a bride and bridegroom

What does it mean to be lonely?
What does it mean to be one-that longing?
The world
explains it
as desire for a mate:
find someone   get married   reproduce   consume as much as possible   die
and if you have problems, solve them
What does it mean to be lonely? Can it be held to
the way one holds to faith or to a marriage?
Is there a lifelong loneliness which no mate can solve
but which nonetheless
animates
and extricates
love-
and
joy.
(What does it mean to be lonely?) There is
another kind of loneliness
which appears initially
to be
sexual
but which cannot
be resolved
by sexuality.
(What does it mean to be lonely?)
There is another kind of loneliness
which is nothing less than
the search for self
a search which is finally
fruitless, frustrating
because selfhood
can only be created
not found
and so uncreates
itself
continually.
It is the search for the self
in the other
the search for the other
in the self
which transcends
the task of pleasure.
What is a marriage?
It is not a union
of two
so that one dissolves in the other
but a constant conversation
among equals
a constant
interruption
of
loneliness.
It is the creation from two
of one
relationship
It is the search for the self
in the other
the search for the other
in the self
a search which goes on
endlessly
and which fails
endlessly
It is not the end
of loneliness
but the
beginning
of a loneliness
which is like a letter
from a stranger
which suddenly
penetrates
your being
and makes you say: "I'm not alone"
What is loneliness
but the realization
of selfhood in another
of otherness
in self
which is the beginning
of consciousness
the beginning
of love
which has so much
of selfhood
in it
The ring
is an endless circle
It does not signify
the end of loneliness
but the beginning
of a new, conscious
being-in-the-world
It signifies
love
which goes out
and comes back
like a letter from a stranger
which, received
is answered
"With all my love."
How can I
say anything
to a son
I have loved
and treasured
throughout his life
except:
be well   be conscious   be loved
don't take
anything I say
too seriously
To Sean
and Kerry
we give
whatever we can
of love
and a life lived
as well as we could
Words-
There is no end of loneliness
There is no end of love
May your children
give you the joy
that you gave
us

 

leaf

 

MISSING U

this is a poem abot
missing yo
i know what dr. fred wold have thoght
and what carl jng wold have cleverly taght
oh, hear my nhappy shot:
I miss yo!

 

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Jack Foley Jack Foley is an innovative, widely-published poet and critic who, with his wife, Adelle, performs his work frequently in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past several years he has hosted a show of interviews and poetry presentations on Berkeley radio station KPFA. His current show , "Cover to Cover," which can be heard by streaming audio at www.kpfa.org, is on every Wednesday at 3 p.m. Pacific time. His poetry books include Letters/Lights--Words for Adelle (1987), Gershwin (1991), Adrift (1993, nominated for a Bay Area Book Reviewers' Award), Exiles (1996), and (with Ivan ArgŁelles) New Poetry from California: Dead / Requiem (1998).  A contributing editor to Poetry Flash, he has published three chapbooks: Advice to the Lovelorn (1998), (with Ivan Arguelles) Saint James (1998 ) --an homage to James Joyce-- and Some Songs by Georges Brassens, translations of work by the late French singer. Foley has also edited Fallen Western Star Wars, a collection of essays dealing with the controversy caused by Dana Gioia's essay, "Fallen Western Star." O Powerful Western Star and Foley’s Books, companion volumes of Foley’s essays, reviews and interviews, have recently appeared from Pantograph Press. In a review, San Francisco Chronicle Book Editor David Kipen describes the books as “galvanizing”: “an unparalleled cultural history of the past half century from Bodega Bay to the Pacheco Pass.” O Powerful Western Star is the recipient of the Artists Embassy Literary/Cultural Award 1998-2000.

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