Jack and Adelle Foley

Photo of Jack and Adelle Foley by Katherine Hastings  


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.


Villanelle for Kevin Reilly

Among the Irish, charm is how we face
The “troubles” that afflict us year by year:
The bitter day, the losing of the race,

And even death, which makes its way apace.
Despite the wormy residue of fear,
Among the Irish, charm is how we face

The little daily poisons that we taste.
We make a joke and take another beer.
The bitter day, the losing of the race

Seem quieter, and less of a disgrace.
Drink can make a clown a chevalier.
Among the Irish, charm is how we face

The energy depleted from its place
Of courage in our hearts, which see and hear
The bitter day, the losing of the race.

And Kevin, how I loved to see your face
Aflame with courage, passionate and clear.
Among the Irish, charm is how we face
The blighted hope, the losing of the race



—I didn’t like the poem when I read it but when I heard you read it then I did. That’s because you’re a performer, right?
(Angrily) —It may be that the carelessness with which you read can be to some extent corrected by someone speaking the words with a proper emphasis. And yes, the voice is a different instrument from the page. But I don’t “do” anything to the poem when I read it. Learn how to read, and you will learn how to read poetry. But everything, everything you encounter insists that you not know how to read.


a fez for my fuzz
for my once-there hair: a fez
a fuse that’s red
for my fiery head
(for fizz!)
for the hair
not there:
a fez


Essay: I think that the notion of “individuality” (not to mention the related notion of “integrity”) is one of the things that gets in the way of genuine understanding. People want to think in terms of one “unified” thing—and are fearful of anything that smacks of dissolution. They fear “fragmentation” and (falsely) believe that postulating the poem’s existence in different media constitutes fragmentation or chaos. (Fragmentation may be “multiplicity” from the point of view of dislike!) Integrity/individuality/monotheism.

Copyright ©  2009 Jack Foley



Jack Foley is a widely-published San Francisco poet known for his "spoken-word performances" which involve choruses. His Cover to Cover radio show, can be heard online at Berkley Radio KPFA www.kpfa.org