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Jack Foley

 

Jack Foley is a poet and critic living in the San Francisco Bay area. Foleyís radio show, Cover to Cover, is heard every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. on Berkeley station KPFA and is available at the KPFA web site; his column, ďFoleyís Books,Ē appears in the online magazine, The Alsop Review. His poetry books include Letters/LightsóWords for Adelle; Gershwin; Exiles; Adrift (nominated for a Northern California Book Reviewers Award); Greatest Hits 1974-2003; and Ash on an Old Manís Sleeve. In June 2010, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Berkeley Poetry Festival.

 

   

 

 

ARS POETICA*

 

first it must move

          first it must move

second it must stand still

           second it must stand still

if there is a third I have not discovered it

           if there is a third I have not discovered it

it must reach

           it must reach

into an area where it cannot be taught

           into an area where it cannot be taught

it must have the clarity

           it must have the clarity

of a black window (or a black widow)

           of a black window (or a black widow)

it must be abundant, dirty-minded, and fortuitous

           it must be abundant, dirty-minded, and fortuitous

an act of planned spontaneity

           an act of planned spontaneity

it must be nothing but mud

           it must be nothing but mud

it must have the qualities of the aardvark

           it must have the qualities of the aardvark

the only living species of the order Tubulidentata

           the only living species of the order Tubulidentata

or trumpettooth

           or trumpettooth

it must have the inevitable spontaneity of the bandicoot

           it must have the inevitable spontaneity of the bandicoot

it must be familiar with Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Charles Ives, Black Elk, and

           it must be familiar with Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Charles Ives, Black Elk and

George T. Johnson

           George T. Johnson

and have at least passing acquaintance with Basho, Issa, and Purple Pants Mulligan

           and have at least passing acquaintance with Basho, Issa, and Purple Pants Mulligan

it must be an act of political resurrection

           it must be an act of political resurrection

it must have womenís parts in its genitalia

           it must have womenís parts in its genitalia

and a ready-to-hand penis growing somewhere upon its person

           and a ready-to-hand penis growing somewhere upon its person

it must consist entirely of unidentifiable abandoned automobile parts

           it must consist entirely of unidentifiable abandoned automobile parts

it must not be artistic

           it must not be artistic

it must not be poetic

           it must not be poetic

it must fructify

           it must fructify

and be on good terms with Manuel T. Murtermater

           and be on good terms with Manuel T. Murtermater

if possible it must pissitate

           if possible it must pissitate

first it must move

           first it must move

second it must stand still

           second it must stand still

if there is a third I have not yet discovered it

           if there is a third I have not yet discovered it

 

(*Poet Jake Berry's comment after reading this poem was:ďhge hjanl ajkpo ejnfjh!Ē)

 

 

AFTER THE BOMBING OF LONDON

 

the struggle with the angel (where would a word) despite

the fact that one does not believe

in (like fortitude) angels   the force of the

blow (go) to the head delivered to

the spirit (if not here)

the struggle with the angel (where would I) is

(not) the struggle with some (be able) person who

(to cry unto) is superior in (thee) strength of body

strength of mind but not (to cry unto to cry unto) of will (thee)

 

 

THE MARX BROTHERS RUN THE COUNTRY

 

Foist-a we gonna tírow out da economy

Whoís-a need da economy,

Says Chico

Yes, I do remember we had an economy

Says Groucho. Say, who let this fellow in here?

(Harpo: Ö )

Den-a we gonna tírow out da army

We donít-a need da army

We nice-a fellas we give-a da army to da Arabs

Dat a way we get rid-a da terrorism

If they gotta da army they no need da terrorism

They can attack us fair and square

Makes sense to me, says Groucho

(Harpo: Ö )

Den-a dereís-a da politiciansó

Hey Iím a politician, says Groucho

You a politician? asks Chico

Well yes, says Groucho, Iím Senator Hugo Z. Hackenbush

Oh, says Chico, Iím a no recognize you

You da Hack in the Bush

Or da Bush in da Hack

Datís-a some joke huh boss?

Da Bush is a hack

Iím-a gonna tell-a you what

I like-a you Iím gonna give-a you Delaware

Well, thatís mighty White of you, says Groucho

Sho, Iím a good-a guy

You can-a wreck Delaware

(Harpo: Ö )

But you no can-a wreck da rest o da country

Iím a gonna give-a dat to him

(Harpo smiles)

Iím a gonna give-a him da bomb

(Harpo smiles)

and-a poisonous emissions

(Harpo smiles)

and plenty money

(Harpo smiles)

Den he can-a ruin everybody

Hey, says Groucho, you canít do that

Why not? says Chico

Because youíre Italian

Everybody knows Italians donít have any power except in New York City

(Harpo frowns)

And besides, you need to be a lawyer to be president

I need-a a liar? asks Chico

You sure do, says Groucho, and I tell you Iím your man

(Harpo pulls out an American flag and waves it)

Iím the biggest liar you ever met

And Iím gonna make the whole world miserable

(Harpo pulls out a trumpet and blows it soundlessly)

Armageddon here we come

Thatís a sound a good a to me, says Chico

Hey whadda you say you name is?

Hugo Z. Hackenbush, says Groucho

Datís a too long, says Chico

We gotta da short attention span

Nobodyís gonna remember dat

Howís about we shorten-a da name

Ok, says Groucho. What shall we make it?

Howís-a about BUSH

Sounds good to me!

We gonna make-a lots a money

(Harpo pulls out a dollar bill from his coat and waves it)

We gonna make-a war not-a love

(Harpo pulls out a sign that says DONíT GET LAID / INVADE)

We gonna be a fine bunch of comedians, datís a right

(Harpo silently laughs and laughs)

But wait a minute-a, says Chico, observing Harpo

Heís-a laugh but heís-a make-a no sound

Maybe heís a cryin

(Harpo sheds a tear)

Maybe heís a no happy about what-a we doin

(Harpo begins to weep copiously)

You know, says Groucho, Iím not so happy about what weíre doing either

(Groucho begins to weep)

Dats-a strange, says Chico, we da funniest guys dat ever lived

And nobodyís a laugh, everybodyís a sad

Everybodyís a weep

(Chico begins to sob too)

You bet your life says Groucho

And you know, he says, lying down on the floor, I think you lost the bet

(Groucho begins to moan)

Iím a think we all lost, says Chico

Even the duck is dead, says Groucho

As it drops from the sky and falls on his head

They all lie down on the floor and weep

Harpo pulls out a Black Flag from his coat and waves it above their bodies

They are all

Silent

 

 

ON A FEW WORDS BY THE POET GEORGE WALLACE

 

why is WRONG in GROWiNg

why is wrong in grown

why is to in October

and bet and rob and robe and tore and rot and core

and O  

 

.

 

why is tear in faster

and sat, rat, fat, sate, safe, rate, stare, and star

and fate

and ear

and boot in football

and all in football

and bat,boo,too,tool,fob,fool,tall,loot,lot,lab,lob,lo,loaf,atoll,toll,fab,flab,foal,bloat,float,boat

flat,fat,blot,loft,bolt,tab,aft,alto,foo,oak,fall,boola,aloft,afoot,aloof

and ďto ballĒ

and more  

 

.

 

what is WRONG with GROWiNg

what is ma doing in man?

what are all these hidden words

(like rods and died)

telling telling telling

if we let them (met hem the het few I Lethe) tell?

 

 

VALENTINEíS DAY CENTO (CHAUCER/MILTON/

POPE/BYRON/SHELLEY/BAUDELAIRE/JOYCE)

        the radio changes poet channels

 

Endeth thanne love in wo? Ye, or men lieth!

Virtuous and vicious every man must be

A forster was he, soothly, as I gesse

When she hath lost it in hir wantownesse

She gives in large recruits of needful pride

I was to do my part from Heavín assigned

Ask of the learned the way? The learned are blind

ďI se,Ē quod she, ďthe myghty god of LoveĒ

 

When she hath lost it in hir wantownesse

What dire offence from amorous causes springs?

Satan from Hell scapít through the darksome Gulf

Prescribed her heights, and pruned her tender wing

Full swetely herde he confessioun

And plesaunt was his absolucioun

 

Her blood was not all Spanish, by the by

And the fair shape waned in the coming light!

Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay

Like a pale flower by some sad maiden cherishedó

When she hath lost it in hir wantownesse

O blake nyght, as folk in bokes rede,

That shapen art by God this world to hide

 

Tisnít only tonight youíre anacheronistic!

Grandfarthring nap and Messamisery and the knave of all knaves and the joker. Heehaw!

She was just a young thin pale soft shy slim slip of a thing then, saunteringó

 

La Maladie et la Mort font des cendres de tout le feuó

 

Say, my heartís sister, wilt thou sail with me?

Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoo

hoordenenthurnuk!

 

 

 

 

 

copyright © Jack Foley