Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, “Girls in the Sea” (1909) (detail), oil on canvas, installation view at the Museu de Arte Antiga, Lisbon (photo by Elisa Wouk Almino/Hyperallergic)

Friends & Family

However we
hold each other
under the attractive
weight & prior
extinctions, still
with us, but not turning
us still, we hold with
an inner calm that is
a closed, dying system.
the sky there
controls the stomach
and there is no
laughing melody.

Waiting to comprehend
hunger again, you reap
a thought to an object,
and because pain is
inexhaustible –
temples everywhere.

Suddenly to enter,
you’ll have to answer
for everything on that day.
That we are people,
we could have loved.

A Thick Description

You know by
going. migration,
pushing it, you did.
now, at greatest
possible distance
from what now is –
a turning
out the light
for a long time
after. about
these things that
don’t reach matter.
for what if there is
no more room.
what if I don’t
have a scent
in I say. do you
think it’s about
that singleness?
it isn’t ours.
for anyone arrived
at this point
anything’s better
than the grammar
here, made to grip.
it is radical what
you can ask after
words for mercy.
though there may
be other questions.
they are there.
they touch you
so you exist.
we can say within.
that each ego leads.
I leave off you
and the concept of you
you trouble to believe
in as much as I do.
maybe next time
I will be the you
who says no.
but even said,
we can’t say anything
about it that proves
we’re not yet
on our own.

*    *    *

Brian Foley is the author of The Constitution (Black Ocean, 2014) and several chapbooks, most recently Puritan Landfill (Black Cake, 2015). His poems have appeared in PEN America, Poetry Society for America, Boston Review, Verse Daily, The Volta, Denver Quarterly, The Fanzine, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UMass Amherst and a PhD in Poetry from the University of Denver.

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