by Jack Foley

His mater is delectable,
            Something of a scandal
Solacious, and commendable;
            a disgrace to the literary establishment
His English well allowed,
            missing genius when it is right under their noses
So as it is emprowed,
            “publishers,” “critics,” and “academics”
For as it is employed,
            Ah, given the futility of much contemporary American culture
There is this mighty Void,
            our cultural “elites,” craven before those great gods
At these dayes moch commended,
            Culture, the race to the bottom
O Godde, would men have amended
            sheer disgust
His English, and do they barke,
            relearn self-respect they have forgotten
And mar all they warke?
            the darkening of thought’s tower
Foly, that famus clerke,
            sunset: fire retreating
His termes were not darke,
            where the open-faced smile of the American Emersonian, that    happy existentialist . . .
But plesaunt, easy, and plaine;
            meets the European Nietzschean’s burned grimace
No worde he wrote in vaine.
thr gsbot bivyim yhr derryinhd yhr nounfsty
yhr dvugg
yo slloe yhr dprvisllplainted grass bag
refuse to divulge
yhr eoetlf ot yr nrst nr vsllrf yo sloe yhr dpitiyd yhodr mrfis
I eill trvkon him
yhr rdyrrm in ehivh nre yrttioyyt
ehivh oyhrtd msy ginf yoo Vhtidyisn
the likelihood that the village
you ertr s punliv return had no connection sll in bsin
motr onr yhsn snoyhrt brty yhivk zz & Isthr
we talked of a part of the craving the fullest satisfact ion
errk dytryvh
I hsbr likrnrf you yhr noyr og s honh when he kills
llrlivi llrlfo

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The passage in Middle English is an adaptation of a passage by John Skelton in praise of Geoffrey Chaucer. Other phrases are taken from Christopher Bernard‘s review of my book, EYES ( ). The fractured passage at the conclusion of the poem is taken from my sequence, “LETTERS” — dedicated to the sixth Marx Brother, Typo.

IMAGE: “The Man” by Odilon Redon (1916).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Foley is a widely published, innovative California poet. He has published 13 books of poetry, five books of criticism, and Visions and Affiliations, a chronoencyclopedia of California poetry from 1940 to 2005. His radio show, Cover to Cover, is heard on Berkeley, California radio station KPFA every Wednesday at 3; his column, “Foley’s Books,” appears in the online magazine Alsop Review. In 2010, Foley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and June 5, 2010 was proclaimed “Jack Foley Day” in Berkeley. With poet Clara Hsu, Foley is co-publisher of Poetry Hotel Press. EYES, Foley’s Selected Poems, has appeared from Poetry Hotel Press and a chapbook, LIFE, has appeared from Word Palace Press. With his wife Adelle, Foley performs his work (often “multivoiced” pieces) frequently in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their performances can be found on YouTube. Read more at and on his website.