Poetry: Brian Foley

Yesterday Was My Birthday

In the company of
a goldfish trapped
in my throat.
A hot triangle.
The sun falls apart
in a clear plastic bag
a child carries.
It dies before home.
In the opera house
a pig in the bathroom
Boiling water.


I finally had the dream I murdered my father.
I rang him to apologize, but no answer.
There was instead a new answering machine message.

There were harsh buzzing insects
sewn into the impression of my father’s voice,
the one that told me he was not there.

Had these bugs always been there,
stitched below his modest surface?
I rang again for another listen.

When he answered, I hung up.


Inside the whale,
a little wet, but
everything intact.

The people I met—
a muleskinner,
an Austrian doctor,
had severely aged.
“No” they said.
“It is merely
the damp which
has wrinkled us.”
And It was true.
Nothing had aged.
Everything was
It was like a fine
British museum,
right down to
the cockroaches
under our feet.

Sweet Charity

In the middle of a war
you walked over
the frozen pond
on your knees

a shaved head
on your shoulders

to lick the snow
from the glass eye
of the paralyzed fish

Blue Roomate

The moon is my enemy
I wipe my mouth with it

I hide behind a bush
Faster and faster

Like a sleeping city
It barely lifts itself

A warehouse, a ship
that is never empty

the poet forever unpacking

Lullaby To The One Who Won’t Say Goodnight

You wear my missing ribs
As night jewelry around your neck
I gather firewood
Flexing darkness
A humid greenhouse
Of spines and needles
A night without words
Absorbed in extinction

If my steps cause you suffering
Take a knee
Take both

Brain in a Vat

Here is every story told
as if it happened to someone else.
One who has never had a headache
has never felt the exhaustion
of peeling twelve centuries of black onions
and each night returning home on prosthetic heels
being unable to enjoy
the relaxation of love.