Issue 22: Hugh Foley

Wild Climate

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.