Issue 26: Hugh Foley


[No Monument]

Who counts as human?

Major Charles Ingram, for sure,

Duns Scotus, some drooling lackeys of the dominant

regime, the least of sisterly feelings leaking

into the squallscape. You watch your TV shake

in your hand, showing golden showers descending

on the land, all Danae to the stars.

Our fate is ours, but I have stewarded this crawl-space

and hope to leave it to the future

as I found it. For my finder’s fee I ask to be

a millionaire, a sterling one, remembered for my villanelles,

my private hells, my waves of mute elation—

My shrunk face maps

onto its own confirmation lapping at my feet.

[No Monument]

Life a little grandiose.

Loss is what’s engrossing, not

shaking leaves, then scales, then sea.

Can you see the Magna Carta

in your hand? My hand is rough

and beige as parchment but

not large enough to cover the window

from anywhere in the room. It shakes.

The tree inhales, like a fish opening its gills

on the floor of the boat.

My planet charged with forgetfulness.

I eat the world, and wait for it

to return the favour, singing natural justice

as the sizing up flaps away.

[No Monument]

Soothed by the sound of running water:

waste and waste and waste and waste and waste and waste and waste.

Continuity with the past cannot be overstated.

Densely the affairs endeavour to be put in order;

I torture the hooded sea, clamp these electrodes over it—fly it

to the periphery of my imperium where its appearance, 

all one big bruise in the sundown, in the senile civilization I inherit

cannot be commented on.

Readacted for reasons of added pathos.

The tap stops dripping and the focus returns to the ear’s own screech.

All level.

You, in the heartswell, say 

something at a cancellation frequency,

its rarefaction party to the secret rhythm of all evil, but inverted, quietly unworlding.

[No Monument]

When we talk, law calls itself into being, then

bends like a diving board

under the weight of the life that it provides for

before the leap—

when you slap the strings and then they snap

they look like that.

I am flailing here, a failure who hits the sheer

water wanting to bring about an island

in the swimming pool, real sand, real palm

trees, wrecking the fake pirate ship

of my childhood memory. Lying is this;

smooth motions. Thousands soften

the stone to make the groove. My footprint

is you; after me the luge, before me the flume.

Hugh Foley’s poems have appeared in Poetry London, Poetry Review, The Boston Review, and the Rialto among other places. He teaches in the English department at University College London.

Copyright © 2021 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.