Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley and Nina Serrano – June 7, 2017

Several recent deaths cloud over the lively and affectionate badinage between good pals Nina Serrano and Jack Foley. Both have poems honoring the dead.
 
Two by Nina in memory of her much-loved brother:
 
For My Beloved Brother Philip Serrano
(We’ll go no more a roving ….Lord Byron)
 
I was shocked and grieved
as I disembarked from the ferry
to see the long line of people
waiting to board
knowing that even
if I carefully scanned all their faces
I would never find my brother among them again
like I did that precious day
when I heard him surprisingly call my name
and I slipped into the line next to him
in delight that we were now neighbors
his house standing only blocks from mine
and could unexpectedly sail home together
On the boat we launched into endless conversation
plans for artistic collaborations
long walks fantasies and projections spun
over the noisy vibrating ship’s engine
all the way to Vallejo’s shore
We said goodbye
confident of countless days ahead
But death came suddenly
His heart stopped but not my expectations
of our endless sibling-ness
So I went into grief and shock
as I disembarked from the ferry
to see the long line of people
waiting to board
knowing that we will go no more a sailing
a sailing o’er the bay
though my heart be still as eager
and there’s still so much more to say
 
SOLITARY CELEBRATION
Octo
(8 line 8 syllables
Lines 4 & 5 rime line
Lines 3, 2, 1 repeat decendingly)
Today would have been your birthday
You are gone though May blooms fiercely
I was there the day of your birth
You haunt me in song Little Brother
Lyrics in tune I will have no other
I was there the day of your birth
You are gone though May blooms fiercely
Today would have been your birthday
*
 
Two by Jack, the first for Nina:
 
FOR NINA
 
the dark ferryman
takes phil to the other shore
the live one
takes you to Vallejo
wind & water…
listen to the music
rising in your heart
 
And the second in memory of the poet Chana Bloch:
 
FOR CHANA BLOCH (1940-2017)
 
Unblessed in a downburst, I lost
            Dear Chana,
My leafy summer, my lovely,
            Gallant in the struggle
My crest, my crown.
            Against what we all struggle against.
 
I sleep in a flannel nightcap.
            Bronx lady,
My wig sleeps in a closet,
            Born in my year,
Comb and brush in a drawer.
            Your voice carried the Bronx with you wherever you went.
 
“God blessed you with curly hair,”
            “Roger Fogelman, oh yes,
my mother used to say
            I remember him”
and dressed me like Shirley Temple.
            (We were at Cornell at the same time)
 
I wake to a still life—
            He had a vast crush on your sister, Debbie,
a clock that marks the hour
            Ended up, not surprisingly, institutionalized
before it strikes.
            But continued his practice of formal verse.
 
No skull on my desk.
            You praised my love for my wife.
Just a face in the mirror,
            How many praise you now
unrecognizable.
            And the love you gave.
 
—Take these lines from a poet you loved
(And whom I love too)
As you enter that dark place,
That nothing,
Take George Herbert with you
Take Easter Wings as you vanish
 
Imp your wing on his:
 
My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.
With Thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day Thy victorie;
For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.
 

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