Friday, December 8, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This


No poem is capable of expressing life,
no lyrical phrases adequate to the task,
no bleak aphorisms suited to the tears,
no adjectives alive to expressions of joy,
no metric rhythm sufficient.
So we have to try another angle,
weep like babes torn from a mother,
laugh like kids playing hopscotch in the street,
frown like scholars pondering Sartre,
make love as if death is ruffling your sheets.
See how simple it becomes?
Love and Death dance around
autumn blown leaves,
soft lips brush your cheek
as doors close on starlings.

But, and there's always a but,
you peer around the corner of
desire and find only mist,
then touch the stars and cry
for lost words.

– Tony Foley

Tony Foley is an Australian poet, a friend of mine, and married to another friend I've known even longer, poet and musician Whitefeather Light. They live in Melbourne (where I once lived too) and we keep in touch on facebook.

The bio at his blog says:

I've knocked around with lots of different jobs from cab driver to forklift driver, postal clerk to pollster, but since 1989 have worked in an academic library. I've performed in plays - mostly in character roles with a Russian theatre company. In performance poetry I've been feature reader at many venues around Melbourne including The Perseverance Hotel, La Mama Poetica, Montsalvat Poetry Festival, Victorian Writers' Centre, Dan O'Connell Hotel, Westword, and even been a wandering poet at the Melbourne Wine and Food festival (that was one weird gig). I've had few poems published here and there but don't really care much about chasing publication, mostly I've contributed a piece when invited. I've been filmed for community television and been interviewed on community radio. Oh, I love reading, but that's pretty normal for a librarian.

As a book lover and former librarian, I'd have to agree with that last! 

(The places he mentions are among the most notable poetry performance venues in Melbourne.)

I think most of us must have known those times he talks about, when the words seem inadequate to express the richness and depth of life itself. Of course, he does a wonderful job, here, of expressing that dilemma (smile) and creating a beautiful poem while he's at it. May all our poems 'fail' so successfully!

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. To successfully say how words can't express something seemed to me a particularly Shakespearean task. Your friend does it well!

  2. I really like this poem, Rosemary! And I know I would like the poet. poets, it seems we are always ready to try another angle.

  3. What a fantastic poem! The first stanza expresses the difficulty - the second stanza takes flight and zooms one's heart around the ceiling. So incredibly beautiful, the touching of the stars, crying for lost words.

  4. Beautiful. Strong, I see why you like it so much, dear Rosemary!

  5. Another fabulous poem and poet...thanks for sharing

  6. A stunning poem - and I enjoyed the bio/context, as well. Thanks for this, Rosemary.

  7. Mr Foley wrote the poem I think we all wish we'd written. I'm so familiar with those times when my words fail me miserably and I can't express what I'm feeling/living. Thanks Rosemary for selecting such a rich poem and poet.


  8. lovely poem. I think the end stanza is stunning
    "But, and there's always a but,
    you peer around the corner of
    desire and find only mist,
    then touch the stars and cry
    for lost words."

    Thank you for this share Rosemary

    much love...

  9. I love the simplicity and depth that is so appealing in this poem. It's stark honest & his bio tells me that 'style is the man'. Thanks for the post Rosemary.


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