Issue 22: Hugh Foley
Situational judgement test:
bitter, unforgiving east
winds, when wilted lawns
whose desiccated patches grow
daily larger, come into contact
with them, soften into an impossible season.
I describe it only so you know
what it’s like for me specifically to have a wild climate.
I loved you in my cratered reason.
A slice of lemon reflected in
the water says you can’t
drink the summer sky.
What belongs where?
A whole cohesive, outraged creation
thrums, dragging me away from it
slowly, by the gentle path.
You were somewhere slightly older,
and lost to me at last.
Argument (under the awning)
Sincerity is just somebody speaking through you.
The accident that promises to happen
happens every time you blink. It hovers, for example,
above these pools and puddles. It's not over, after all.
You cared for me when caring was
unhinged and I am thankful. Again,
when it seems increasingly clear that we could shiver
out our essence and still see triumphal
processions of everything we hate rendering the sky
opaque and starless, I feel it necessary to stress
an emptiness of sorts. And then some
raindrops merge and fall
in a sheet from the awning's edge, blocking my way
back out to the world. I'm watching
a video with headphones in, not actually looking
but it seems wrong to call it listening to a song as such.
I wanted to relive the tunefulness of it
without accepting it. They used to call
this weakness of character, but from inside this ghost
that hardly seems the right way to describe it.
I want to cut eyeholes (in the rain? In the sheet?), not even out of necessity,
but because they grant a weird dignity, like saying
If I'm trapped here I'm going
to do this right. Or correctly.
It's not that any way the wind blows, I lie flattened
with my head towards its endpoint,
or that I'll always hide and wait it out, but tonight
it seems impossible to speak with any
confidence about the connection
I've forged with all the objects,
except in this pantomime fashion. As if the vowels
were someone else's sigh I was trying to control,
and letting out in intermittent bursts rather than howl
at the red plastic roof which keeps the water
off my head. Ah well. You'll soon
have me playing it again to you.
There's nothing near at hand, nothing abroad
and little to write home about.
Perhaps behind me? No, and yet undeniably
the words that come to mind are yours,
on having it both ways; the mystic
in me would suggest it's tempting fate
to promise an end to thinking in this vein, caught
between the need to admit to certain
mistakes and misconceptions, and yet embody, not
this failure, but why this failure matters (
It shows the things we care about, for starters).
The song has faded out; the video, though,
keeps playing, or rather freezes on some plaintive text
thanking you for your time and asking for
subscribers. I think in loading up the next one
I'll pick something that might fit
walking out into the rain and ignoring
it, and mouthing the lyric as if I meant it.
Hugh Foley’s poems have appeared in Poetry London, The Boston Review, and the Rialto among other places. He was shortlisted for the 2018 White Review Poet’s prize. He lives in London.
Copyright © 2019 by Hugh Foley, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.