James Foley



Summer was almost over, the magazines read, the flirtations beyond Capricorn

When she walked by in the surf, looking resigned enough to rescind it,

There was a flaw in her right eye, nearly invisible in the sun-dazzle,

And a slight stuttering lisp, almost imperceptible by dinner candlelight.

That night between the wet sand and the sandy sea-swirl,

There was no moon over the water
Except the one that tagged along with her.

Without these memories of her now
Would I still have her?




Where a sallow leaf is falling,

A yellow butterfly flutters by—

Unhurried, though its days and this year are ending.




If Diana, a goddess,
Could not bring back Hippolytus,
Or Theseus, a hero,
Break the chains around Pirithous,
How can I cure December, this midnight chill in my heart,
Or the indifference in yours?




Scour away the mildew and rust, pack up the wool and down blankets,
Dare to call friends again that you thought were thankless;
Hold a cookout on the beach, hope once more by starlight,
And burn away past regrets
In springtime’s fires.
April is the newest month—
Reviving old desires.



Rap of the Star-Stoned Genre-Junkies


We think you think that we’re not yet
In sync with genteel, lawful angels.
We'd like to be, our mindset set
With Starbucks’ and toasted bagels.

High tragedy’s not now the rage
In this age of prose and Prozac Nation.
We'd toe the line, but our renegade
Muse wanders off the reservation.

Some literary critics deprecate
“Genre”—but for something really scary,
Call back Old Billy’s ghost to make
Hamlet and Lear more “literary.”

In Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles
Does low-cal justice triumph in the end,
It’s a Wonderful Life style? No, in all these
God takes your gift if you’re God’s friend.

(Those whom the gods love die young.
In the modern version, The good die young.)
Before Troy’s wars the best among
Men died brave—but they died unsung.

So we trust Today nor Posterity.
Posterity can be a drool case too.
Bitch Time may gnaw your name away
With your works as fast as it gnaws you.

What’s done for itself alone can’t ever
Whore out: art, battle, love—whatever
Lives for its instant—the fever river
That trucks our minutes from here to forever.

Shun death? But don’t be afraid to greet her?
Better, kiss and embrace—fuck death entirely;
Then, death growing sweet, life’s all the sweeter;
Death/life’s all one—death’s life’s last glory.

Flowers bud, flowers bloom, flowers burst and fly
Away on the vandal wind’s wild rampage.
But there’ll be flowers by and by—
Warmer moons to repair the seasons’ damage;

No comebacks, reruns, avatars
Restore us. Our best shot must be:
Live hard, die hard, then casually
Kiss soul farewell to the farthest stars.

Our theme’s heart’s dreams. Our writing tells
That brown-nosing man nor the Man’s the answer.
These outlaw hearts are at least themselves—
Near heaven as some that never venture.

So the star-stoned soul claims:
What I am is what I would be,
Rather dead than destined for chains,
Confident Socrates will not disagree.

Copyright 2004 by James Foley

James Foley is a native of Alabama. He studied Latin and Greek classics and philosophy for six years at Jesuit colleges; then became a naval officer; later, a special agent for naval intelligence, working in North Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe. About a year's experience as a private investigator was followed by two years of English literature studies at the University of Alabama. He is now self-employed in the boating business in Florida. He began to write short stories last summer--four now published: in The Write Gallery; The Toasted-Cheese Journal; storySouth (their featured story); and The Southern Ocean Review.
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