James Foley Death: Friend Writes Poem Elegy for Journalist Killed by Beheading

September 2, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

A friend has written a poem elegy for journalist James Foley.

Foley, a 40-year-old freelancer, is believed to have been shown getting beheaded by terrorist group ISIS earlier this month.

Daniel Johnson, who said that he cannot speak of Foley in the past tense, told the Boston Globe: “Jim was, and is, a brother to me. At every juncture of my life I feel Jim has played a formative role.”

The men met when they were in their early 20s at a teaching program in south Phoenix.

John’s narrative poem about Foley, titled “In the Absence of Sparrows,” will be published by the Academy of American Poets, as part of its Poem-a-Day series.

Johnson began the poem at first after Foley was taken hostage in Libya in 2011. Foley was later freed.

He started writing again after Foley was kidnapped in Syria.

“I could feel Jim’s hand in it,” Johnson said.

“In the poem, Johnson describes the protests against the American invasion of Iraq that the two men participated in, some of Foley’s boyhood hijinks, and the alternating hope and despair Johnson felt when Foley was captured in Libya and later disappeared in Syria in November 2012,” the Globe said.

“Don’t get me wrong; we expect you back,” Johnson writes in his poem. “Skinny, feral/ coffee eyes sunken but alive, you’ve always come back, from Iraq,/ Syria, Afghanistan, even Libya after Khadafi’s forces/ captured and held you for 44 days.”

Meanwhile, a reporter at the Sunday Times said that President Barack Obama’s “hesitation” to make a decision about the rescue mission to Foley delayed the failed operation.

Toby Harnden said via Twitter recently that a senior Pentagon official confirmed that Obama’s “hesitation” delayed the mission, which took place on July 4.


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