Denis Foley ≈ Five Poems

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HEY JOHNNY

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Was Moji only yesterday

Callao the day before

The swaying creaking gangway

To purple night and neon light

As we hotfoot to the shore.

In Buenos Aires the sailors bars

Tangos, Faro, Goldilocks

In scented booths

The flowered frocks

The wicked laughter

Would tease the cocks

Of tan randy youths

Hard tattooed hands

Span silken thighs

With beads of sweat

And flashing eyes

They’d frisk us for the pesos

Hidden wisely in our socks.

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OUBLIETTE

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There are holes in time where I shelter

Out of the cold and the pain

I slip down the slide helter skelter

And vanish into my brain.

In there I’m not strange nor famous

Life’s neither a blessing nor curse

I have my own fey refrigerator

And a magic replenishing purse.

It’s a place I found in my childhood

When I flew with the soaring birds

When I learned how to be invisible

How to hide in books with the words.

The words like Typhoon and Euphrates

Cataphract and Heaven Born

I painted my mind with Corsair Gold

And sailed the Golden Horn.

But now and again I can’t hold on

My dreams all turn to dust

I stumble through my memory

strewn with broken promises

Tripping on traitors trust.

Then the Cloth of Gold becomes a shroud

I struggle and fight for breath

The Unicorn dies in a welter of blood

And the Orchids all smell of death.

O Lord of Dreams don’t forsake me

I’ve tried my best not to care

Don’t force me into this murderous world

I want a pen and a desk and a chair.

Just leave me be,with some music

Something Blue in a minor key

A smile, a joke,cup of tea and a smoke

I’ll spin yarns about going to Sea.

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SEEING

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I see  you believe

Said the blind man

Referring to my soul.

I said “O eyeless Seer

Of what consists the whole”

The whole is just your heartsong

The perfect melody

It’s not what you believe O child

But that you believe

You see.

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Tournament Of dreams

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She came to him once again

In the small hours when

He waiting, bereft in four dimensions

Saw her face once more; a living jewel

Brighter than the evening star silent shimmering beauty

Moving across the skies of his nostalgia

Time and fading memory desperately polishing the lens.

They are now in one of those medieval romances

With the unrequited love of courtly verse

Where chained males and admiring women contest

The lethal game that entrances more deeply than a purse

 Or the Tourney Lists of Mace and Lances

Chargers curvetting frolic and prances

And youths in brocade tabards

Flaunting brightly coloured silken hose

Vaunting pointy shoes with turned up tasseled toes

While gauzy wimples float love’s banners

 Above the ebb and flow of dancers

It was well known then that adultery is a curse

And for courtly love to flourish; it has to make it even worse

That sadly infidelity irretrieveably betrays

The fearsome wedding oath, sworn upon a naked sword

All it needs is a wanting woman and a hard young man

Who will have to wear his armour for the rest of his days.

However, he may be going home alone

But not quite according to his plan

Nor any known or chosen course

But led slowly, by a child, face down

Across the saddle of his blindfolded horse.

The old man, thin and pale, somewhat shrunken in his cot

A nurse said about him ‘He doesn’t say a lot.

He has a healthy normal appetite,

But I think he lies awake at night.’

Sometimes, very late, we hear him laughing

It can give you quite a fright, but he seems alright

Dreaming in the silent ward

Reviewing his long romantic life.

His lady’s favour, a silver thimble

And a handkerchief that still holds

The perfumed phantom of his long departed wife.

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Working In Alberta

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When the slick muscled hydraulic door

Barricaded for so long gasped me into now

I changed in tense but in no other order

Wind spun from the whirling sky

Time slipped, I’ve walked this way before

In hammered streets clogged with flesh and steel I cringe,

Remnant genes remember I should not be here.

Across forever black swelling night

Faint music whispers through the crackling never and where

A single phrase repeated sadly, your home is here not there.

Tears run into your ears when you’re crying lying down

When dark night flares with what might have been

If only. What if. I wish.

Your wet face alone on the tiny half of the endless,friendless bed

Stifling sobs into silent scissors

To snip petals from the flower of your love.

The clattering of your broken breath

Wakes soft voice, ’What’s the matter Honey?

But nothing and only nothing can

Describe the scale of utter desolation.

Dead sunless planets alone in three directions. Cold mirrors

Reflecting emptiness and glimpses of a stranger

Laughter cruel and faraway.

Love flutters in the killing jar

Powdered wings thrash the curving glass

Beating weaker weaker; waiting for the pin.

We live in dusty corners whispering in dead tongues

Vaguely aware of other times wading in trivia, waiting, waiting.

Emotional amnesia is seeping through my heart

In an age of lining up, listening for my name

Learning how to play my part

Yearning for a lover to find me

Who will know I am not the same.

High on Blake and steel I watch the west

Waiting for a signal;

Dreaming of your eyes.


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