Thursday, November 12, 2009


After I dropped my twelve-year-old off at his mother's (he wants to be there tomorrow so he's taking off school and his mom and him are heading over before I go into the operating room), I went to the gym and did a workout to get myself tired enough to go to sleep early.

Afterwards I picked up a few things at Whole Foods, including some mashed potatoes and yams and cranberries, nice and warm to eat with some leftover chicken a friend made for me and my boy a couple of nights ago. While I ate I listened to the messages on my phone from friends all over the country wishing me the best, and vaguely tuned in to the TCM movie on the TV, a black-and-white '40s flick with Bette Davis flailing her cigarette around a little less than usual, a more or less restrained performance for her in a movie I'd never seen before (one of my favorite things TCM and '40s black-and-white movies, which I know I've said before, recently).

I called as many people back as I could, spent some time on the phone with my older boy and my dearest friend (I talked to my daughter earlier, she's been kind enough to change her schedule around to be the one to take care of my in my first week of recovery) and now I'm writing this to say poetry saved me again, as well as black-and-white movies and the love of my children and family and dear friends. The day I got home from the hospital after a long stay (longer than usual) after they took my prostate out and the cancer in it with it, my friend Harry Northup's book REUNIONS arrived in the mail and when I felt up to it I started to read it and it brought me so much joy it instantly renewed my love of books, my love of poetry in particular, and my love of the honest creative expressions of others that seem so vital when we're going through tough times.

Today in the mail I received a little book of poems and artwork, all by my friend Geoff Young, and all so full of life and intelligence and experience and unique ways of using language to get at the important stuff while seeming to be making light of it all. Just what the doctor ordered. A little book called NOT TWICE ENOUGH he printed at Kwik Print in Great Barrington in a run of just 100 copies. It's beautiful in every way—the art, the poems, and the spirit behind and moving through it all.

I'll have to do a post on it when I get back from the hospital, but here's a taste:


Love how your bow's nothing but a blur
when you get that geothermal thing going
on Paganini's "24 Caprices"
and the way you toss your hair

like Midori at a bus shelter
closing a cell-phone with her chin.
I'm all ears when you ask me to trim
your short hairs; intimacy is a pair

of scissors. The art world may have swept
the painter of the moment off her feet
for painting "Fred As A Bee-Hive"
but we're closing in on the spot

where words fall silent and breath's so warm
we're laughing inside to feel this alive."

I've been reading a poem in it every now and then since it arrived in the mail around noon and made me smile when I read the first poem. I'm a happy man. I had some quickly passing worries that I hadn't written that book to my little guy where I wanted to tell him everything I've learned, or the one about my good friend Hubert Selby and all we shared, or my Hollywood adventures, or....

But then I was reminded by my friend Terence of all I've already done, and that I'll have plenty of time to do all I'm still planning to. Finally I said goodnight to my younger son and his mom and now it's time to slip between the sheets and go to sleep—one of my favorite things, getting into bed at night and feeling the comfort of clean sheets and the weight of the cover and quilt etc. Once a young woman I was seeing in L.A. remarked, when I expressed how happy it made me to get into a nice warm clean bed at night (especially since I'd spent time sleeping in lots of not so clean or warm or happy places in my life), she said "That's why you're not more successful, you're too easily satisfied!").

Thank God for that.


Anonymous said...

my prayers are with you; thanks for your candor... i'm reminded that where there is faith there is courage and your one courageous inspirational fella... peace & love, cindy

JIm said...


I hope I have the style you have demonstrated when I meet a similar challenge. You may not have gotten the letter, but your spirit is much more important than what you should have received in 1960.
Go Mike! Go Grey Bees!


Eric said...

Dear Michael,
I was checking in with you and intended to send you an email invite, which I will do to a show, when I read this piece. I send you a full heart of support. I have always been a big fan; awed, entertained and enriched. I love you and you just get your strength back real fast. Eric Holzman

Anonymous said...

God bless, Michael. Our hearts are with you. Love, Jody Worth

Robert said...

Michael -- Paul Violi alerted me to what's going on and I just talked to Terry, who brought me up to date, post-surgery. Donna and I send our love and strong exhortations to the luck of the Irish. Let us know if we can be of help.

Bob Hershon

Stephen said...

From your Republican friends (are we the only ones?!) - we are thinking of you and praying that all went well today and you are back ragging on us very soon! Love, Ronnie and nancy from mendham!

Anonymous said...

Robert, please, update us all post-surgery.

Anonymous said...


Poindexter here.

Thinking all the good thoughts for you today.


tom said...

You are in our prayers.

Tore Claesson said...

I didn't realize you're being operated on today. always thought it was done last week and you were recuperating already.
Hey, we all want you back as sharp as ever.
Don't let me them make a FOX man.
See you soon, and don't forget to let us know when you're back home. We're here for you, mate. And Flynnie.
You know you like my food if not else. t.

Shuttleshit said...

Michael, I've been secretly reading your blog for a couple of weeks and found it really involving, complicated, real. I send you my best loving wishes for a rapid recovery, and say a word of thanks to those who are close to you for taking such good care. Hope to see you smiling and soon ....
Ted Shuttleworth

richard lopez said...


this is a very beautiful post. heal well and get back to the word.

Anonymous said...

May you heal completely.

Annabel Lee said...

Hey, Jen told me you're doing fine! Great news! I've been praying for the best and have had you with me these past several days, including Wednesday at St. Mark's at the beautiful memorial event for George Schneeman. You were there with me and I think you enjoyed it: Ron genuinely missing his best friend, Bill amazingly fine with his replacement lungs, other members of the gang their authentic selves, maybe a bit more authentic, somehow, in light of the event they were attending. That authenticity often a relief, you know what I mean.

Andy Weinberger said...


I hope surgery went well and you have a quick and complete recovery.


Jeremy L. Goldberg said...


Jeremy here. I guess I'm too late to wish you good luck. Surgery on Friday the 13th? Talk about tempting fate!

I don't think I ever told you that I bought something of yours still in print a year or two ago. It was that long anti-war poem that I think you read live. I was pleased to see you still had stuff in circulation. And good stuff, too.

Finally, I had a joke for you, which someone else may have already made. Better to have surgery for a pea-sized cyst on a large brain than the other way around.

Hope it went well!

Jeremy L. Goldberg

Theresa said...

Michael, I'm thinking you're home from the hospital now. So good to hear your writing voice post surgery, and now reading your blog it's almost like being in your living room hearing your stories and riffs about poetry, which is almost, tho let's face it not quite, as good as the real thing. Be well, rest, and we'll look forward to being with you again soon around the table. love, Theresa

Anonymous said...

Welcome home.