E-Chap – Joseph Farley




by Joseph Farley
copyright 2013 by Joseph Farley

An E-Chapbook for Jeanette Cheezum’s Cavalcade of Stars April 24, 2013


On Fire

There is a fire in me
And it is burning
Soon I will become ash,
But not before I glow
Bright and red
For a moment or two
Bringing warmth and light
To this cold dark night.


Conversation with a Nuclear Engineer

“Christ, an earthquake that size?
A tsunami that strong?
Who designs a reactor
to withstand anything like that?”

I thought you did
until now.
Now, I just pray,
and try to remember
all those lessons I learned
as a school child
about ducking and covering,

useless except
to redirect your mind
while the world around you
disappears in a flash.


The Criminal Element

Pickpockets are out for your vote.
They stick their fingers in your ears
and force you to read their lips,
claiming they are saying words
of truth and meaning
while making faces at you.
When you are thoroughly confused
they will hand you a ballot
already marked with a skull and crossbones.
Then you may feel a cold hand
shoved deep in your pocket
or lower still against blushing skin,
grabbing as much as they can,
at least your vote, if not your soul.


For Those Whose Pens Have Been Broken

In the land of the iron fist
poets are feared
by those who hold the chains
and loved by those wear them.

Of course these menaces must be squelched.
Broken or dead their bodies bleed ink,
their words staining more than prison walls
leaving their black smudge
on the pages of history
and the consciences of readers.


The wolves

The wolves wait in silence
for our tears to end.

“Stiff upper lip,” they whisper,
as we lament our wounds

and the memory of being beaten
and abandoned in a drainage ditch.

“What is gone is gone,”
They remind us,

Their fangs appear so gentle
as they reassure us

of the deepening night.
and what will come with it.



The wolf has got me
in her jaws.

As I die,
this love must end.

Bless her teeth
and her paws,

and all her pups
with starving eyes.


A heavy sack

You can not take back your words.
You can not take back your deeds.
You can only carry your memories,
both good and bad,
in a heavy sack upon your back
as you climb hills and stare at the sun
wondering where the path you are on leads,
and if it will circle and bend
so you can begin again.


Learning Grace

There was an old priest
who taught theology
in my high school.
He always had a bottle
of 7 – Up on his desk.
He taught that grace
was a gift from god
that can be obtained
from partaking
in the sacraments.

One day we had a new teacher.
Our priest had been sent
to a rehab center.
His 7 – Up bottles
had been filled with gin.

What grace comes from this?
A drunken man’s sense of balance
as he weaves along the street,
negotiating the pitfalls
that arise from the cracks
in the sidewalk?

Maybe that is all
the grace we need,
and a strong drink
the only blessing
we can obtain.


To Be Is To Go

the light was green
so you kept going

driving through
city streets

farmer’s fields,

over mountains
from sea

to gulf
to ocean

if someone were
to holler “stop”

could you?


It is there

and insubstantial

as faces carved
in clouds,

less certain
than the wind

blowing sand
against mountains;

the vast canvas
of creation,

for granite sculptures

to appear.



words are needles,
a momentary sting
pain and pleasure,
memory and emotion.

these needles
sew together
bits of our lives,
and would bind them
with thoughts and dreams,
and make a tapestry

of cobwebs,
shattered as easily
as the small bridges
linking grass blades
in the morning dew.


Mist and Dew

In the vanishing mist
that was our lives
try to cling fast
to every blade of grass
so when sun beams
burn us away
some small part of us
yet may stay.


a grain of sand

one grain of sand
among infinite granules

one grain of sand

for a single drop
of grace

to create an oasis
in an endless desert

one grain of sand
one grain of sand

lost in the desert
of hunger and doubt


Crow Of Night

black crow black sky
feather fingers beating dark
carrying the seed of the sun
in yellow beak


About the Poet:

Joseph Farley is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Univeristy and Temple University. He edited Axe Factory form 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include Suckers, For the Birds, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Waltz of the Meatballs, and Her Eyes.

Variations of “To Be Is To Go,” “On Fire” and “Learning Grace” appeared previously in Sketchbook.

Photo of the crow from pdpics.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s