Jack Foley




FOLEYSAGE
 

The multiple voices within the mind trajectory has really gotten me thinking—never formally studied psychology—but it certainly is an intriguing explanation for much.  And makes the multi voice poem revolutionary in more than one way...maybe prophetic as much as revolutionary.
               
               —Lee Slonimsky



Mither Ireland

 



FIRST POEM, WRITTEN 1955 IMMEDIATELY AFTER READING
THOMAS GRAY’S “ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY
CHURCHYARD”:

I see the night—the restless, eager night
That spreads its shadow softly on the day,
And whispers to the sun’s red, burning light
To vanish like a dream and pass away.

I see the night—the darkened mist of night—
And feel the velvet sorrows mem’ries bring;
September’s leaves have fallen, old and bright,
And autumn’s winds have blown the dust of spring.

I think of days long past, and gone, and dead,
Of all the ancient, withered hopes I’ve had,
And wonder where the passing hours have fled—
The ghosts of yesterday—forever sad.

O ghosts, my dreams, once breathing, once alive,
Like flower petals in a hurricane,
Were sundered from their stems, no more to thrive,
No more to feel the gentle touch of rain,

No more to hear my reckless, youthful calls,
But banished into bleak eternity,
To come again to me when darkness falls,
As waves upon the seas of memory.

And now the night, with stars and shining lights
All winking, sprightly, like the woodland fawns,
Is fading fast, for with a thousand nights,
There comes the brilliance of a thousand dawns.





HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK POEM (1958)

VALE

We shall return no more, no more; our days
Have swept aside the dream of endless time
And will return no more. The misty haze
Of autumn will return, and spring—sublime
And simple—will return, and winter’s chill,
And summer’s sultry shade. (The seasons come
And come again, reflected on the hill
And in the valley, resurrected from
A wind-blown death.) But we shall come no more.
The hills and valley will bleak blackness bring,
And from the shadows emptiness will pour,
And, far behind us, memories will sing.
Alone, we stand in darkness, yet, somewhere,
Our ghosts remain to haunt the silent air.





UPON LEAVING ATLANTIC CITY (December, 1961)
—“Romantic Atlantic City”

The mother-sea exploded with a roar
before we put the lights out and it vanished.
Not even the ladies marching on the boardwalk
were storm enough to pull us down;
we rode out the daylight, dreaming
of drowsy islands where the water's calm.
Night was our harbor, when the midwife, love,
folded us in with its impossibilities,
fished out our pieces till the game made sense.
Sweetheart, forgive the liars and the fools
who shipped us to this place: they thought it best.
Sleep will bear you into gentler water
where painted characters of kings and castles
glitter like islands, and I will close your ears
to the disarranged palaver of pawns and landlubbers.





THE SKELETON’S DEFENSE OF CARNALITY (1960s)

Truly I have lost weight, I have
lost weight,
grown lean in love’s defense,
in love’s defense grown grave.
It was concupiscence
that brought me to the state:
all bone and a bit of skin
to keep the bone within.

Flesh is no heavy burden
for one possessed of little
and accustomed to its loss.
I lean to love, which leaves me lean
till lean turn into lack.

A wanton bone, I sing my song
and travel where the bone is blown
and extricate true love from lust
as any man of wisdom must.

Then wherefore should I rage
against this pilgrimage
from gravel unto gravel?
Circuitous I travel
from love to lack
and lack to lack,
from lean to lack
and back.





CONTRA ACADEMICUM, GENTILLIES (late 1960s)

She whispered, saying Love
and so I loved
and layed a lovely time
She laughed and said I do
and so I did
and did she too
She said O heartless one, O wretch
because I strayed away a stretch
because I would not stay
 
I hung my hark upon a limb
I would not listen to her whim
I rumbled like a cloud and roared
For forty nights I poured and poured
Until she said Re-turn
And so I did and made a ’bow
And layed her high and layed her low
And left her then (a lass!)
 
She said Come back but I said No

I left her weeping on the grass
And softly said ado, adoo
For who can join a Jill and Jack?
I turned and saw:
And told the bundle on my back,
There will be other loves to lack





FALL
(late 1960s)

Break then
Plummet—
Crack!
I fell
crashing into Vallombrosa—caught!—
but not by Milton’s simile
and not for naught

                        Limbless and forlorn
                        I had no love to give
                        nor any purgative
                        So let the born be borne:
                        I vanished in a bog

                                                  Dolor, doloris
                                                  singing thus
                                                  it was not less calamitous
                                                  it was not less that leaf and leaf
                                                  mourned that I should come to grief
                                                  Upon this doleful bog
                                                  I fell amuck agog
                                                  repeating leaf by leaf
                                                  the paradigm of Grief

                                                              —No, no: mendacities!
                                                             These dead leaves tell no tale
                                                             All lamentation done
                                                             one is not anyone:
                                                             a thunderclap and off!

                                                             2

                                                             Here where the leaves lie thick 
                                                             thus sang my elegy
                                                             and trembled to the quick
                                                             To what finality?

                                                              Inextricate so long,
                                                              I lingered in the wind

                                                              Before I turned to dust
                                                              I drifted (ah!)
                                                              Superfluous


 

TWO FROM CHARMES (1972)

 

1.

 

              rake under some be silt          dark render dack          -fog-

              linger (look    -sop-     sigh in marvel     almond medium   un m

 

 

               Dream.                                       Drift.

 

 

                Bender   (ing)

 

                _____________________________________________

 

               suckle                                                                                 some

 

 

4.

 

randy belly      .       look & come      .      there are clouds in the - -

 

.

 

hardly the ice      .       ends

 

.

 

folding                  lines

 

quiet is the

 

.

 

cross-ing the

                                                                   crossing                 toss-

                                                                     crossed

 


 

From LETTERS (1974)
            dedicated to the sixth Marx Brother: Typo
                       
                       
a waking dream.
Someone (me, not me) on a rooftop. Being chased?
   Crowds. The man’s friends, below, holding a
net which looks like an awning, urge him.
            Tremendous distance!
The man jumps!—he misses the awning.
I remark (it is remarked to me): he didn’t check
                which way the wind was blowing.

if there is any truth at all (there is)
it is the greeks I blame
the lines in which
                              speech takes place
& Melville did
                                   no chance to take away
does not change
                                     the sun was done with her
and the meeting-edge, the
                                       off-shoot culture
      a place called Pueblo
noting what you have noted
                                             bone muscle nerve brain blood
definition & expression of it
                                          reindeer language permits
           in his last poem
to the women who are buried in England

 

               a wajubq dreanL
    sineibe Oone.bit neOOib a riiftioOObeubg cgased.
       Criwds   the man’s friends bekiw
          gikdubg a bet kiijs kuje ab wawbubg ’greeb
                                 tremendous distance
yrge
      urge him

                                 to killowatts

it is not done yet
                              figure on this (as so many things)
the rain jumps
the man jumps

historic fiction with a bearing
                                                in Latin lettering
the story contains
                             any account of
naturally divides itself
                                    the
dawn in a period when no dawn is possible

rare    blue    and green unknown

          _____________________________

the page is not the
                               natural dividing point


 

thr gsbot bivyim yhr derryinhd yhr nounfsty
yhr dvugg
yo slloe yhr dprvisllplainted grass bag
refuse to divulge
yhr eoetlf ot yr nrst nr vsllrf yo sloe yhr dpitiyd yhodr mrfis
I eill trvkon him
yhr rdyrrm in ehivh nre yrttioyyt
ehivh oyhrtd msy ginf yoo Vhtidyisn
the likelihood that the village
you ertr s punliv return had no connection sll in bsin
motr onr yhsn snoyhrt brty yhivk zz & Isthr
we talked of a part of the craving the fullest satisfact ion
errk dytryvh
I hsbr likrnrf you yhr noyr og s honh   when he kills
in new territory
in domr indysnvrd yhr nrst id pryiyionrf
            fur yo hhr dhspinh hsnf & yhr philodophivsl minf
to allow the spirits
iy id ptimstily sd s vtiyiv eiyh Johndon I quarrle
plrsde etiyr.       Snf iy eill trsvh mr.
Yhsy duvh udrd dhoulf hsbr rcidyrf eiyh duvh trginrmrny
hr fif noy hrdiysyr sd yo yhr voutdr ihr esd yo putdur
the dpsnidh volonisl hidyoty
to hold to this communivsion
nsvk yo yhr brddrld
yhr duvvrddion esd vonyrnyrf
yhr glrry hrlf iyd voutdr
yhr golloeinh motninh
yhr mrn eotr s doty og s msnyir
ig you trgudr yhry vonvlufrf imiysiond yhr dyshr in ehivh
            for greater mortifications
likened to the note of a gong has survived however noble
yhr life of las cases hs been several times written
pudhrf on yhtrr 2o to5u 14wyu4e
llrlivi llrlfo
snoyhrt ysnk vondidyrf on s gull lion
vuy in yhr dolif tovk
            my bslusyiond og poryd hsbr trmsinrf ptryy vondysny

 





FRAGMENT
for Fran (from Turning       Forty, 1980)

 

To which my Lord responded:

            That though for his part he cared not whether there were witches or no; yet his opinion was: That the confession of Witches, and their sufferings for it proceeded from an erroneous belief, viz, That they had made a contract with the Devil to serve him for such Rewards as were in his power to give them; and that it was their Religion to worship and adore him; in which Religion they had such firm and constant belief, that if anything came to pass according to their desire, they believed the Devil had heard their prayers, and granted their requests, for which they gave him thanks; but if things fell out contrary to their prayers and desires, then they were troubled at it, fearing that they had offended him, and not served him as they ought, and asked him for forgiveness of their offences. Also (said my Lord) they imagine their dreams are real exterior actions...

I leave it to you, O Nut of Knowledge
The Girls at home and the Boys in college

“Promise me that you won’t do it.”
So
I promised her.
But
I did it.
Rip cord of the sky’s acetylene.
It was a raft of purposes, who could have told what came of it

After the night, expenditure
at the high
what clouds this morning
who could have said--

you
are neither Substance nor Shadow

The roar of Thor Gadwa’s chainsaw shattered the spooky silence of the ashen-gray wilderness around him yesterday. Rip cord of the sky’s acetylene.

Good morning, Carolyn! Rip cord of the sky’s acetylene What are you doing up so early? Great blue I’ve got to be out of here by seven! All We’re taking a group of our special ed kids out to the island on a field trip! Out of proportion You like your work don’t you? It was a raft of purposes who could have said what came of it  It can be the most frustrating--but also the most rewarding when you see the results you can get with slow learners Rip cord, rip cord of the sky’s acetylene
There is a certain kind of light which can be seen only at certain times of day. I had tried to find it then but was not able. There is a certain hint of dusk as well which can be seen at times though rarely written of or praised. I had hoped to see you. Afterwards it was necessary to begin, again and again.

Dearest, neither you nor I in this late sun can be seen more clearly.

In Crete there was the procession of the Sacred Heart

He was a boy of high spirits and impatient of rest; but at the age of seven he fell head first from the top of a ladder to the floor below, and remained a good five hours without motion or consciousness. The right side of the cranium was fractured, but the skin was not broken. The fracture gave rise to a large tumor, and the child suffered much loss of blood from the many deep lancings. The surgeon, indeed, observing the broken cranium and considering the long period of unconsciousness, predicted that he would either die of it or grow up an idiot. However by God’s grace neither part of his prediction came true, but as a result of this mischance he grew up with a melancholy and irritable temperament such as belongs to men of ingenuity and depth, who, thanks to the one, are quick as lightning in perception, and thanks to the other, take no pleasure in verbal cleverness or falsehood.

From flock and from down to rise--
Take it to heart!--were folly for thee

This is the oppressor. This is the oppressor’s language. The wind, the wind cut short the speech of George W. Bush to a GOP delegation at the Hilton Inn near the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, yesterday, at four o’clock, here, in the capital of Hatred and Bitterness!

Dignity and Good Luck be yours

After biting the mouth merges with her skin

Flock upon flock--up
in the sky

one feels that he would have agreed with the Duke of Newcastle who, in his discourse with Hobbes, affirms in the clearest fashion his belief in the religion of witchcraft as a fact

‘contrarie’ rites and ceremonies

look, at the first rift of the sky he
turned his head and
severed his attention   clouds
rammed into clouds         the dark

and com and daunce with me
in Irlonde

“Faggot, I burn thee”

Love speaks, barely, in this century. He kissed her hard upon the mouth, thrusting his tongue inside. Her hands were caressing his ass then pressing his cock against her cunt. Uh.

They are images of longing, she said. Often sexual. They were walking, quickly, away from the building. She spoke without design, spontaneously.

Her hard eyes followed him along the corridor. Darkness

having in the name of the Holy Trinity, sprinkled a little water, quelled the

I am become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all

This
is the ship I am
building
It is
a ship of death yes
Harvest. Darkness. They
split the air with their cries          Love

There is nothing self-contradictory in the thought of many actual entities with the same abstract essence, apart from the reiteration gained from never societies. In proportion to the choas there is triviality. There are different types of order; and it is not ttrue that in proportion to the orderliness there is depth. There are vari us types of order, and some of them provide more trivial satisfact than do others. Thus, if there is to be progress beyond limited ideals, the course of history by way of escape must venture along the borders of chaos in its substitution of highter for lower types of order.

Speak, animal,
ere I be brought to ground

The depression
in your voice stays with me
What to do when there is something
always hanging over your
head “And the weather is cold.”
Dockside, the boat is moving
How to express anything
Look, there is a possibility over there on that far
island, and a tree, which,
once gazed upon, can barely be
forgotten. Leaves fall, even in California.
How do we look when once those eyes
which others praise more finely still than
I
cease looking, and the word “change”
and the word “kill” and the word “cold”
come close, and your voice,
which was only a projection of the
telephone,
                  comes close:

                





From SWEENEY ADRIFT (1985)
            for Ivan Argüelles


welcome to the house of failure
see these are the structural bases of the house its beams and arteries
its artificial light its hands its vast appendices
who is
not here?
the range of things
delights us welcome welcome

see there is the door it opens for us
welcome

what sweeney what
have you done and
where have you done it?
sweeney clubbed the man
not once but twice; bashed his head in, hurt
him badly. Oh,
Sweeney they’ll
not stand for that surely—                                                      cf. Buille Suibhne
surely that’s                                                                             trans. J.G. O’Keefe, 1913
no way to behave—                                                                trans. Seamus Heaney, 1984
Sweeney
ended his tirade
his wild life then—
They all said, Enough, enough, Sweeney,
surely that’s
no way
for a man to behave
Sweeney
kicked his eyes out hurt him broke his ribs twisted the tongue not once but twice
bones broke, brittle for Sweeney, his trophy, taken, the life taken, the balls
bashed
the life
ended
oh Sweeney
she bespoke him sorely oh
and Sweeney repented then
turned churchman spoke vows made retreats novenas bled holy water ended his wild life
told tales made miracles believed end-
ed his wild life turned goodman churchman died of age and
soul
now surely turned—
to
heav’n.
sweeney.

SUN-

the slow turn of resolving
            moved (as ever) us (as ever) if
            (stay)

I go out again with
            money in my pockets

click!

how many times have I
asked you—spoken your
name—in this darkness—
I have nothing to offer—
in the air—endless
variations—speech!—

Bear
     turns—
open to the
   light—

She stopped for a moment and looked back. It is not easy to tell. They saw each other only momentarily. It was not easy to tell.

Your book is…
a big crazy delicious effort, fundamentally great, highly interesting, jocular, kinky, lovely, magnificently nice, opulent, pretty, quick, redolent, snazzy, tricky, undoubtedly very whimsical Xmas yummy. Zounds!

The night came, and a storm, and Sweeney’s misery and mania were so great that he cried out:

I who have neither another nor now
in the dim light (love)
            possibly
  frame (make) this (how) (love) quick

“I wrow rowe wrote chu
yesterday”—

Sweeney returns, and the lies about his son’s death have caused him to

All day, all night,
Sweeney clings
   to the branch, and opens
                        (spreads his)
                                                wings

He is now
                “adrift”—

 


 

From FIFTY

Larry says the last word of his poem must be past. I suggested, since it was p-a-s-y, it could also be easy. But he pointed out that the y and the t were next to each other on the typewriter and so that typo was more likely.

My favorites are PARABOLA: MYTH & THE QUEST FOR MEANING, RARITAN QUARTERLY, and BOMB MAGAZINE that that last should perhaps be BOMB A MAGAZINE

These are the signs of a failing relationship!

You might be asking, “Why are people consulting me about property values?” You inspire confidence, many seek reassurance by being with you, obtaining guidance. You exude qualities of mysticism, intellect.

The world is damned

—in the crowded
dept. store
hope
blossoms
in the
underwear
aisles—
leave out the vowels—like Hebrew—
Yr eyes
search me out—
they want to have a
“relationship” a
“relationship” don’t they?
High above,
clouds lour—
fragments—
as the mind?
moves around objects, not into them
or else
centers in NOTHING
this dept.
store this
crowd:
nothing
Forgive me,
them—
people
pass & smile
clouds,
like
mind—
meditative
but not ecstatic
mind awake
but not
intensely so—
“born to shop”
the poem a
response
to the boredom
& the weight
of
bodies
which is
what I feel
as these                                                                                    (gesture: indicates
strangers                                                                                  audience: “strangers”)
walk about me
“These pants are WET!”—
I
   close my eyes
                        to
                              SLEEP






From THE LEAP

A woman—you may have read this story—was plagued by what she regarded as an irrational fear: she
dreamed she was leaping from an airplane and her parachute failed to open.
Her friends told her, “You must confront your fear. You must do something about it.”
So she took lessons, learned to jump from a plane, jumped.
Just as in her dream, her parachute failed to open.
On her way down
she may have thought (amid her terror):
“It wasn’t an irrational fear;
it was a premonition.”






From VILLANELLE
(1993)
            for Ivan Argüelles

(she, angrily) Aren’t “most” men not in touch with their feelings?
            (he) I’m not one of them & I know plenty of men who aren’t. You tell me I’m an exception, but I don’t think so. I was aware of the Men Shouldn’t Show Their Feelings, They Should Be Tough, Men Should Do This, Men Should Do That kind of thing as I grew up. I thought it was silly because it didn’t seem to apply. No thoughtful person—and there were & are plenty of thoughtful persons—needed to take it seriously.
            To put it another way: The myth of the “rough tough” male was over & it was perfectly clear that it was over. Even John Wayne was always “feeling things”—compassion for buddies in war films, love, etc. It perhaps had been one (not the only) way of being male in our culture but, really, nobody seemed to believe in it anymore.
            What seems to be happening now is that we are taking this stick figure, knocking it over, & congratulating ourselves at our bravery in doing so. Why should we do that? Well, at one point the stick figure of the Tough Man might have been taken (with qualifications) as the Norm, the image of what a man should be. By my time it was no problem for me to knock it over. But if I knocked that over what else might I knock over? What other stick figures were there just waiting for an inquiring mind to knock them over—in the realm of religion, for example, or in social relations?
            That, I think, was the real question. How could the Status Quo deal with that?
            Well, says the Status Quo, let’s make a big deal about getting beyond the myth of the Tough Man. Nobody believes in it anyway so we aren’t losing anything. Let’s congratulate men on not becoming the stick figure (which they weren’t in much danger of doing anyway). We’ll make such a nice fuss about that that they won’t ask other, more difficult questions. Let’s keep men asleep. Remember that the Tough Man not only didn’t feel, he didn’t think. He went along with the way things were. What we need is a new image of man which will do the same thing. We’ll create the aware man, the man in touch with his feelings. Only we’ll make certain that he isn’t too aware...That way we can make a great pretense of change without having to change anything at all, without having to lose a thing.
            (And what, she said, about Arnold Schwarzenegger??)

be editor of the dead!
tell the dead
which verses will be saved, which not
be editor of the dead
let the dead throng to tell you
how they worked this poem over & over again until they got it right
or how it came
                                    so suddenly
                                                            they distrusted it
or how the words
                                                flowed in an unusual & satisfying way
or how they are experiencing just now a temporary
                                                                        BLOCKAGE
be their editor
who come     breathless
                                    to meet you & greet you & give you
                                                                                                their
                                                                                                            poetry

-in the special light
the mind casts
the special light
of sweetness clarity and anger
in this
light
this
sweetest
comprehension
you, or I
casting
looks, words
at nothing other than ourselves
at nothing other than
the world
emptied
of everything but:                           lightlightlightlightlightlightlight
how are we to speak?
song
            clarifies & empties
in           this       light     Love
lingers, asking
everything
as a child asks
everything
all-powerful
enunciation
sweetness

                                    .  sweeter than the honey
                                             gathered by the bee .

 

(gesture, towards him) “you know what I mean fellow traveler in music”






FOR NORMAN GOLDSTEIN (1925-1994)

Grown accustomed to elegy
in this rainy weather,
I think about your warmth and dry wit,
the way you could say “woo woo”
and make it funny and pertinent at the same time,
the jokes you spoke to waitresses
with your smile and beard,
reminding me that the word “satire” comes from “satyr.”
Norman
I rented The Secret Life of Plants
so I could see you in it
What can I rent now to see you as you are
“Is it really you or did I get an especially good recording?”
I was not easy to reach by telephone
“Shall we dim sum it?”
And we did
often at your expense
“How about that Japanese place in Montclair?”
The secret of your life was food and wonderful talk
You knew much and always took the risk of learning more
            You loved:
the American Movie Channel, Bravo, and musical comedies
Now when I hear again Kurt Weill and Gershwin I will
            remember you and your kindnesses
            “I've got it, I'll record it for you”
“Lou Harrison–yes, I knew him in the old days.”
You knew Duncan and Varda too, and you put on a poetry reading
Mais c’est un rêve
you would recognize that I think
            une folie                                                                      
It’s a dream a
                        madness
                     Il n’y a pas                                            
            There’s no such place
                        de Youkali
                        as Youkali
But it’s a dream
            a fantasy         
There’s no such place
               as Youkali

And now,

            dear Norman,
there’s no you either
In that near, far, totally other place
what lunches will you have?  what companions?
I can say anything to you
and know you will understand me
with that thoughtful, intelligent, witty, compassionate, Buddhist mind of yours
(and is that scattered?)
You chose the moment of your death with courage and determination
“It's enough,” you said, “enough”
There is a restaurant in Montclair
where I will have lunch
and hope your spirit
comes to me
All lives are secret
or, as you might have said, loving puns,
                        sacred
It’s not a dream
We lose those we love
               but we love
                    anyway






BLAKE & VARIATIONS

1
HOLY THURSDAY
from Songs of Innocence

Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean
The children walking two & two in red & blue & green
Grey headed beadles walkd before with wands as white as snow
Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow

O what a multitude they seemd these flowers of London town
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own
The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs
Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among
Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door
—William Blake

 

2
VARIATIONS

WHAT WE HAVE HERE—AS WE HAVE AT THE CONCLUSION OF “THE ECHOING GREEN”—IS A KIND OF GRADUAL FADING OF THE LIGHT IN WHICH THINGS ARE NO LONGER SEEN CLEARLY AND IN WHICH THE SOUNDS WE “HEAR” TEND TO BECOME SOMEWHAT DISTANT: “ALL THE HILLS ECHOED.” AT THIS POINT, I THINK, LANGUAGE BECOMES SOMETHING CLOSE TO PURE POTENTIALITY, TO PURE “SOUND” OR “MUSIC,” TO THE “SONG” THAT THE PIPER PIPES. WHAT BLAKE IS ATTEMPTING TO MAKE US DO, I SUSPECT, IS TO TREAT ALL OF HIS WORDS IN THE SAME WAY THAT WE MUST TREAT THE NAMES OF HIS CHARACTERS: WE MUST CONTINUALLY RECOMBINE THEM, MUST TURN THEM AROUND AND AROUND IN OUR MINDS UNTIL THEY BECOME WORDS WHICH, THOUGH DIFFERENT, INVOLVING OTHER LETTERS, RETAIN IN THEIR SOUNDS THE ECHOES OF ONE ANOTHER. BLAKE HIMSELF USED WORDS OF THE BIBLE IN ORDER TO CREATE NEW HARMONIES, HARMONIES WHICH “CHIMED” WITH THOSE OF THE BIBLE, AND I THINK “HOLY THURSDAY” WAS MEANT TO SERVE THE SAME PURPOSE. TWAS ON A, FOR EXAMPLE, MIGHT EASILY BECOME TWAS HONOR, HOSANNA; THE SEATS OF HEAVEN, THE SAINTS OF HEAVEN, THE SEEDS OF HEAVEN; BENEATH THEM SIT, BE NEATH THEM SAID; WHITE AS SNOW, WHY ’TIS SNOW, WHY ’TIS NOW; TILL INTO, TELL UNTO, TOLL UNTO; THE VOICE OF SONG, THEY VOICE HIS SONG, THEIR VOICE IS SONG, THEIR VOICE, HIS SONG; THE FLOWERS OF LONDON TOWN, OR LAND ATONED, OR LENTEN TIME; BUT MULTITUDES OF LAMBS, BUT MULTITUDES OF LANDS, BUT MULTITUDES OF LIMBS, BOUGHT MULTITUDES OF LAMBS; THOUSANDS OF LITTLE BOYS, THOSE SANDS OF LITTLE BOYS; O WHAT A, O WATER; THE HUM OF MULTITUDES, THE HOME OF MULTITUDES, THE HYMN, THE HAM, THE HIM OF MULTITUDES; THEY LIKE THAMES WATERS FLOW, THEY LIGHT TIME’S WATERS FLOW, THEIR NIGHTTIMES WATERS FLOW; RADIANCE ALL THEIR OWN, RADIANCE ALL THEREROUND, RADIANCE ALL THEREON, REGENTS ARE THERE CROWNED; THE CHILDREN WALKING, THE CAULDRON WAKING, THE CALLED ARE WALKING; HARMONIOUS THUNDERINGS, OUR MOAN, HIS THUNDERINGS; THE VOICE, THE VOWS, THE JOYS.







PORTRAIT AT SIXTY
for Anthony Holdsworth & Leonard Breger

This man looks out at me
eyes full of interest and perhaps suffering
whatever he looks at registered on his face
It was not the actual circumstance the artist painted—
me, posed, at ease, happy to be with an interesting friend—
but something “other” which only he saw
and which makes me look over and over again to see what it was
Is that me?—that whirl of light in which red (fire) predominates?
It is only the sun reflected on my forehead
but perhaps the artist sees me as the sun—
Apollo? The poet?
The artist is my friend,
but it is not our friendship which is reflected here
but some inward, powerful thing
which manifests even in these public circumstances—
a café, a little table, my glass before me.
It is a gloss
I guess at.
Does he know, does the artist
or was my face a passageway
into an underground
in which he was as lost as I?
It is vivid life
I look at with such intensity
and which looks back at me,
life neither “in” me nor “in” him
but something shared with the sun,
life all around, in my glass, in the lamppost behind me,
life insisting on its own facticity, its utter presence
so we cannot look away
but stare
into this heart.
“I’ll paint you so you’ll know what you really look like,”
said the artist, smiling.
What he painted was not “what I really looked like”—
though everyone says, “It looks just like you”—
but something like the real
something like life itself
leaping and dancing.
When I hung the painting,
I put it in a place
where the light shines
deeply.




BUKOWSKI

I wrote this poem in response to a poem in Charles Bukowski’s book, Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck. The words in the first, third, fifth, etc. lines are Bukowski’s poem; the words in italics are by me.  I call this way of responding to a poem “writing between the lines.” When I perform the poem, I speak the Bukowski portion in my “normal” voice; I speak the words by me in a whisper.

 

the mockingbird had been following the cat
there was this cat
all summer
and I only saw him
mocking mocking mocking
once
teasing and cocksure;
when he gave a
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
reading
tail flashing
and burped
and said something angry to the mockingbird
at the audience
which I didn’t understand.

yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
and he read this poem
with the mockingbird alive in its mouth,
about a cat
wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,
and a bird
feathers parted like a woman’s legs,
and he was both
and the bird was no longer mocking,
the cat and
it was asking, it was praying
the bird
but the cat
and he was devouring
striding down through centuries
himself
would not listen.
through the poem.

I saw it crawl under a yellow car
And I listened
with the bird
letting him die
to bargain it to another place.

summer was over.
Bukowski.







WRITING BETWEEN THE LINES [JOHN DONNE]

white side under goes
            who are all these Buddhists?
bleached blank the frame
            no man is.
music in its 17th century
            in the rectory standeth
resounds its unsounded Note
            the lewd don,
to name such things to sleep
            Donne
in the beneath whorled leaf
            Alight
sundered from the starry throng
            in Seventeenth Century
mind’s single core relents
            clear sunnelight
wake then Thou! worm devour
            Dayseye
heart’s restless entity alive
            shines in the heart
in search of what underbrush
            Un-
turn each blade around its green
            Donne
link to nerve its everyness
            Lord, Thou singest
the holiday of aching dolorous
            (eye of bone)
will we pine then in the hostel
            Lord, Thou singest
wearing each other’s wretched
            Flaming
skin a mask of flame and dross
            Sword’s words!
the smoking cadaver in your eye
            Start with stars
will it not wait for the avenue
            Then (all) is donne
with what tense invoke the Holy
            Light is shee
being and its unexplained event
            whose grave (a bracelet of bright haire!)
such is hush the eventide
            hath kisses
its instrument yet now dulled
            placed thereon
why the glass in its bleeding
            Shee weeps thy—
light why the merry-go-round
            “Death, be not—”
its painted tigers whirling
            No man is an I
in the eccentric lamp of time
            Nor woman neither
do sit then Soul and nod off
            Stand stille
reckon as no more the day
            and I will read
when thought creates its Air
            This is the shadow
move then around Love’s pyre
            This is the deepest shadow
and sitting for the hour whole
            John Donne
divine which is the entrance
            Anne Donne
and which the exit of Paradise
            Undone

—Ivan Argüelles / Jack Foley






East St. Louis Toodle OO
“EAST ST. LOUIS TOODLE-OO”

 

Gee, baby, you ought to know I’m a viper
No good
I'm delighted for you, Jack, and I admire your obsession—
But I’m out there struttin’—

            How do they say goodbye in East St. Louis?

.

Have you noticed people in Oakland who look like images from Mayan friezes? I was paying my bill at Walgreens. The checker looked like that. I asked her, “Do you have Mayan blood in you?” She answered, “Yes, I do. I just found out about it a few months ago.” Oh, I could have told her!
When she bears a son several years later, Walter again has him taken from her under identical circumstances

 

That muted trumpet: Sportin’ Life, Cab Calloway, down dirty...
It’s all there in Bubber’s sound
Hit the note off pitch and then bend it up.
Bubber Miley—TB took him...
(But I fear Owney Madden.)
Mood Indigo...           
                                    Despair and money...

The Viagra ads keep coming
and you (speaker indicates himself) are about to take another dangerous airplane flight
on a kindly errand to someplace
you don’t very much want to go.
Note the “you”—
the self, which is complex, divided simply into two,
the “speaker” and the one addressed,
and what about those others
with whom “you” are in a problematical state of identification
many of whom died before even reaching your age?
“Better diet,” says my son,
explaining why so many people live longer these days,
“we take better care of ourselves”
Despite the diet, some die.
As you are complexly selved,
so you are complexly old
various ages manifesting
none wholly dead until all die
And the hope for wisdom
useless
And the hope for understanding
a laugh
And the hope to be free of neurosis
hilarious.
Listen to the stomach:
Vahrahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

.

Lordly men—and women too
Duncan & Jess who fill this film
of where they lived—their “household”—
with their beautiful         absent
presence
Lordly men
leaving the shell of a life
so we may see
the sea

 

 

NOTES

“East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” is the title of the great 1926 Duke Ellington-Bubber Miley composition. The title refers to music played during a funeral procession. The song, Ellington’s earliest hit, features Miley’s growling, plunger-muted trumpet—an extraordinary sound. “Our band changed character when Bubber came in,” Ellington remarked. “He used to growl all night long, playing gutbucket on his horn. That was when we decided to forget all about the sweet music.” “Viper” was Harlem slang for a smoker of marijuana; Clarence Major’s Dictionary of Afro-American Slang defines the word as “drug dealer.” Owney Madden was the gangster founder/owner of The Cotton Club; Ellington’s orchestra was the house band from December 4, 1927 to June 30, 1931.  “Mood Indigo” is a 1930 Ellington-Barney Bigard composition with title and lyrics by either Irving Mills or Mitchell Parish. (Irving Mills is officially credited but Parish disputed that.) The line about “Walter” is a reference to Chaucer’s “The Clerk’s Tale.” “Lordly men” refers to a line in Ezra Pound’s translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem, “The Seafarer”: “Lordly men are to earth o’ergiven.” “Duncan” is poet Robert Duncan, whose lover was the collage artist, Jess. I take the stomach’s Vahrahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh to be an equivalent to Bubber Miley’s gutbucket. Erst kommt das Fressen. This is a 1927 recording of “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”:

 

Ivan Argüelles responds,

(variations and circumflex
                        on a poem by Jack Foley)

 

The Viagra ads keep coming
                  ads keep coming
and you (speaker indicates himself) are about to take another dangerous airplane flight
                  another dangerous airplane flight
on a kindly errand to someplace
                            to someplace 
you don’t very much want to go.
       don't                  want to go 
Note the “you”—
                                Note the “you”—
the self, which is complex, divided simply into two,
                                         the self, which is complex  
the “speaker” and the one addressed,
                                  divided simply into two,
and what about those others
                         those others
with whom “you” are in a problematical state of identification
                                       problematical state of identification
many of whom died before even reaching your age?
                                         many of whom died
before coming to see
before coming to the sea
                          wave lengths of time
before time matters much
before tide matters much
                           and drown
being complexly old
being once Lordly Men
                  in ships adrift
between two unfathomed shores
between two unfathomable
                     and drown
before coming alight
                       on continents unknown
how old the drowzy world
how daftly odd the drowzy old world
                        tipping a hat
                        tipping a hat
in a dance  by the shore
twilit and darkening ever
twilit and darkening ever
                                       more
being once Lordly Men
         divided simply into two
who is it remains
               is it me or is it you?

7-24-12





THE MAN WITH ALZHEIMER’S



The man with Alzheimer’s
            The man with Alzheimer’s
                      MASSIVE ENGINES LIFT BEAUTIFULLY FROM THE DECK
A famous poet
            A famous poet
                      WINGS APPEAR OVER THE TREES, WINGS WITH EIGHT                
                      HUNDRED RIVETS
Now forgetful
           Now forgetful
                       ENGINES BURNING A THOUSAND GALLONS OF GASOLINE A
                       MINUTE SWEEP OVER THE HUTS WITH DIRT FLOORS
Of people
           Of people
                       THE CHICKENS FEEL THE NEW FEAR DEEP IN THE PITS OF
                       THEIR BEAKS.
Can still read
           Can still read
                       BUDDHA WITH PADMA SAMBHAVA.
Poems
           Poems
                       MEANWHILE, OUT ON THE CHINA SEA,
Aloud
           Aloud
                       IMMENSE GRAY BODIES ARE FLOATING,
But may read
           But may read
                       BORN IN ROANOKE,
The same poem
           The same poem
                       THE OCEAN ON BOTH SIDES EXPANDING, “BUOYED ON THE
                       DENSE MARINE.”
Again, ten minutes
           Again, ten minutes
                        HELICOPTERS FLUTTER OVERHEAD. THE DEATH-
After he has read it
           After he has read it
                        BEE IS COMING. SUPER SABRES
And not know
           And not know
                        LIKE KNOTS OF NEUROTIC ENERGY SWEEP
The man with Alzheimer’s
          The man with Alzheimer’s
                       AROUND AND RETURN.
Fades into his world
           Fades into his world
                       THIS IS HAMILTON’S TRIUMPH.
Fades
           Fades
                       THIS IS THE ADVANTAGE OF A CENTRALIZED BANK.
Sees a video
          Sees a video
                       B 52S COME FROM GUAM. ALL THE TEACHERS
Of himself
           Of himself
                       DIE IN FLAMES. THE HOPES OF TOLSTOY FALL ASLEEP IN THE
                       ANT HEAP.
And says, “I like him
           And says, “I like him
                       DO NOT ASK FOR MERCY.
I wish I knew him”
           I wish I knew him”
                       NOW THE TIME COMES TO LOOK INTO THE PAST-TUNNELS,
The man with Alzheimer’s
           Silence
                      THE HOURS GIVEN AND TAKEN IN SCHOOL,
Is a man
           Silence
                     THE SCUFFLES IN COATROOMS,
Like all the other men
           Silence
                      FOAM LEAPS FROM HIS NOSTRILS
With Alzheimer’s
            Silence
                     NOW WE COME TO THE SCUM YOU TAKE FROM THE MOUTHS
                     OF THE DEAD,
Distinguished now by nothing but the
           Nothing but the
                    NOW WE SIT BESIDE THE DYING, AND HOLD THEIR HANDS,
                    THERE IS HARDLY TIME FOR GOOD-BYE.
World,
           (Master of the snowy fields, progenitor...iron man)
                    BUT THE ROOM EXPLODES,
Fading.


Bly quotations, in capital letters, from “The Teeth Mother Naked at Last,” Sleepers Joining Hands (1973)




THE McCLURIAD

Octogenarian?
The word seems scarcely applicable to the man I see
sitting across the table
of this El Cerrito eatery.

Magnanimous
Inquisitive
Challenging
Happy
Amorous
Elegant
Laughing 

“Writhing multidimensionality of thought” *
“The surge of life drifts in every direction.”
“I think all art should be extreme.”

“Demands for communication are of small voice when art is pushing towards a oneness with the possibilities of imagination.”
 

“EACH. EACH SIDE OF EACH DUST SPECK
turning in sunlight is a movie.

C
A
V
E
S

in the movies
reach to the tiny end of infinity
and each speck grows
to fill all.”

“If the type and placements of lines seem strange, read them aloud
and they will take their shape”

 
MANJUSHRI
Comedian
Clairvoyant
Lover
Ursine (California variety)
Radiant
Energy

 “seated on his white lion,
swinging the sword
of
CONSCIOUSNESS
into deeper mines
than our knowing”

“a self portrait without a mirror”

Here is a perfect melting and merging of all realms, the all-in-one and the one-in-all, the dissolving of being and non-being, the convergence of Voidness and existence...All these mysteries of totality consist...in one basic principle: namely, all things...are void. In contrast to doctrines of various monisms and monotheisms, the Hwa Yen Doctrine holds that the wonders of Dharmadh tu  are brought into play not because of the one, but because of the great Void. This is as if to say that zero, not one, is the foundation of all numbers.

the mutual penetration and Non-Obstruction of realms **

“Would a sensitive man of Periclean Greece taken up from time and placed in the N.Y.C. Garment Center at rush hour, or in Peking, or Tokyo, or London, imagine himself in Hell?”

In the act of play, and under the influence of the rebellious imagination, even war transforms itself

 “the simultaneous expression of spirit and matter.”

AGNOSIA
knowing through not knowing

“Perhaps blackness is the best window”

“a full measure of black wine”

But now you put a question to me asking, How shall I think about [God], and what is He? And to this I can only answer you, I do not know ***

“I sensed that [Antonin] Artaud’s poetry, a breakthrough incarnate, was a way into the open field of poetry and into the open shape of verse and into the physicality of thought.”

Not symbolize but simple eyes

“Sculptured hands
of a seated figure.
Half-closed eyes.
Plain as disturbance and straw
and Grandpa’s tin snuff box.”
 

“thoughts
in
the
hands
make
one
big
zero”
 

“The experience of self is what
all things seek
because it is the deeper breath
they breathe”
 

“the mind
in a mirror of flames”

--

His mater is delectable,
Solacious, and commendable;
His English well allowed,
So as it is emprowed,
For as it is employed,
There is this mighty Void,
At these dayes moch commended,
O Godde, would men have amended
His English, and do they barke,
And mar all they warke?
McClure, that famus clerke,
His termes were not darke,
But plesaunt, easy, and plaine;
No worde he wrote in vaine.

surge blackness meat SWIRL gesture kid
grahhr

.

There are certain words that are forever Michael McClure.

NOTES

* All matter in quotation marks by Michael McClure. The passage in Middle English is an adaptation of a passage by John Skelton in praise of Geoffrey Chaucer.

* * Garma C.C. Chang’s The Buddhist Teaching of Totality—one of McClure’s favorite books.

*** The Cloud of Unknowing.

Photo of Michael and Amy McClure: Jack Foley


 

 

Copyright © 2012 Jack Foley