The Tower Journal

Jack Foley


“Another one of those plural personalities!”
—Edward Everett Horton about Eric Blore in Mark Sandrich’s Top Hat (1935)

The thin, white
man dances
in a whirl
of taps that sound
like “rat a tat”
and “run around”
and “rattle rattle rattle”
and he wears
the elegance of evening
as his thin, large, white
hands extend and flutter
hands extend and flutter
and he catches
at a whirling cane
and twirls it
and shoots
the troop of white
all dressed like him
all dressed like him
who come



and they fall (what dancers fear!)

and this man who wears the famous    symbol of the rich

whirls away erect



rat a tat rat a tat
rat a tat rat a tat
roodle de do roodle de do
roodle de do roodle de do
whiff bam roodle de do rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whiff bam roodle de do rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
rat a tat rat a tat
rat a tat rat a tat
biddle biddle biddle biddle
biddle biddle biddle biddle
biddle biddle biddle biddle rrrrrrr
biddle biddle biddle biddle rrrrrrr wham!
with a quick with a quack
with a quick quack
(quieting) rat a tat rat a tat
rat a tat rat a tat



You know, I can’t do a thing with my
          Got this book, The Astaires
hair, this is the worst it’s been in several
          About Fred & Adele
years. With weather like this who can
          Found out that George Gershwin's last words were
even make an effort. Mon dieu.
          “Fred Astaire”
Do you know the story of Little
          He was trying to say something about him
Red Riding Hood? Well, there’s this
          but couldn’t get it across
Little girl and of course she’s wearing
          At the memorial to Gershwin,
A red hood so you can see her a mile off
          Fred sang,
In the forest and she has this little basket
          “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”
To bring to grandma and there’s this wolf who’s
          Astaire’s whole life
Eaten grandma (not too tasty a dish there)
          was ruled
And Fantômas, where is Fantômas when we really
          by a triumvirate
Need him. For that matter where is
          of women:
Anybody really, if you
          his mother,
Get down to it, and that’s where we are.
          his sister,
White lilies in the bowl no not the toilet
          his wife.
Bowl the vase over there, you ninny. Don’t
          And they
Pronounce it “vase” to rhyme with “ace.”
          didn’t necessarily
Pronounce it “vase” to rhyme
With Gaz in Gaza strip, and speaking of strips
          After her retirement in 1932
(Get your mind out of the gutter I was going to talk
          Adele contemplated
About the comics)… Ho hum it’s so boring in this room
          returning to show
With just you to talk to and me sitting here
Blah blah blah I think poetry ought to rhyme don’t you
          but she never did,
I wrote a sestina once who cares blah blah
          partly because Fred’s success
Where is Frank O’Hara? Oh yes, I remember
          frightened her
And Bunny, you remember Bunny? All in the same
          She had been the star
“Interminable,” as the French would say,
          but now Fred
And further as the French would say: merde
          was the star.
Oh, the fifties, nobody would want them back
          She feared failure
Nobody wants us back either,
          and the headline,
Especially after our behavior at Jeremy’s last party
          “Astaire’s Sister Lays Egg”
Disgraceful, yes? O tempora, O mores!
          J. M. Barrie wanted her to play Peter Pan.
I think of The Yellow Stream—not the movie
          Irving Berlin wanted her for Annie Get Your Gun
But the novel by I.P. Daly.
          She said, “No.”
          She married a drunken

Copyright © 2014 Jack Foley

Jack Foley is a widely-published San Francisco poet known for his "spoken-word performances" which involve choruses. His Cover to Cover radio show, can be heard online at Berkley Radio KPFA

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014