Mauvais Temps

by Jack Foley

In French it means
Bad weather
But it could also mean
Bad Time
We live in mauvais temps
Storms gather
Impossible to know
What dreadful weather
What storms
Will stun
What stones
Will fall upon us
Mauvais temps
Rain and hail
Pour out of the mouths
Of the reckless men and women
We call our leaders
Mauvais temps
Bad times
Fall upon us
How many of the good
Have perished
How many who wished to be good
Have discovered delight
In corruption
How many fires
Have gone out
How many of the corrupt
Have taken power
And used it
To defeat all hope
Mauvais temps
What historical violence
What bad time
Has fallen upon us
What rage
To answer it
Shall we march
Shall we write poems and articles
Shall we treasure
What sweetness we have
And use it
In the coming darkness
Shall we answer the storms
With voices that know
Another possibility
Shall we speak to the storm
Without becoming
Mauvais temps
Bad time
Bad weather

Jack Foley has published 14 books of poetry, 5 books of criticism, a book of stories and sketches, and a two-volume “chronoencyclopedia,” Visions & Affiliations: California Poetry 1940–2005. He became well known through his “multivoiced” performances with his late wife, Adelle, who was also a poet; many of these can be seen on YouTube. His radio show, Cover to Cover, airs every Wednesday on KPFA-FM in California. In 2010, Foley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Berkeley Poetry Festival. California poet laureate Dana Gioia writes of his work, “This is experimental poetry with depth and intelligence as well as intensity.” Poet/critic Christopher Bernard calls Foley “a many-tongued master…one of American poetry’s essential thinkers and practitioners.”

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