Thursday, April 27, 2017


Read a poem from this book the other night, first time in a long time. The 1980 or '81 photograph on the cover was taken by the great Lynn Goldsmith for the 1982 poetry collection, put together and named before I decided to move to LA that summer. She caught me mid-finger-popping. I was "so cool" back then this was my outfit for New York winters, two shirts (opened at the neck) and a leather. Those were the days my friend.


I didn't know him but admired his artistry. Everyone I know who worked with him praised him and wanted to work with him again, like another poet/actor, Harry E. Northup (whose book REUNIONS brought me back to loving reading and books and poetry again after one of my major operations had me knocked down for a minute). Harry said Demme was an honest and honorable guy. Or words like that. And since Harry is an honest and honorable guy, I believe him. My condolences to Demme's family, friends, and fans.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I had so much fun last night at The New School sharing my poetry, experiences, and stories with an appreciative audience that included so many dear friends I can't name them all (and would probably forget some and feel bad, though I did give shout outs to quite a few who were in the packed room).

But I have to mention two who came the farthest, my oldest and dearest friends: the poet, writer, and traditional Irish music composer and performer Terence Winch, who came all the way from DC, and the actor, director (both stage and now movies) who I knew originally as a poet when she was young, Karen Allen, came all the way down from Western Mass. Seeing their faces sitting in the front row cheering me on, as always, made me feel comfortable enough to give as loose and revealing a presentation as ever.

And it was all arranged by the great writer and teacher, David Lehman, who introduced me and after I read asked questions in the Q&A session, with his usual wit and insight. Though for me, it could be called Q&AAAAAAAA... Since, as my friend poet Rachel Diken put it afterward, all you have to do is ask me a question and then hit record and sit back. I can go on. But I was happy to be allowed to.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


"Can we also remove the Confederate monument that's currently serving as Attorney general?"  —Tom Ceraulo

Friday, April 21, 2017


I'll be reading my poetry and responding to interview questions from David Lehman and the audience at The New School Poetry Forum, this Tuesday, April 25th, 6:30PM, Room 510 (Alvin Johnson/J. M. Kaplan Hall), 66 West 12th Street, NYC, all welcome, and it's free.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


It's National Poetry Month
From the great American Poet Michael Lally
"...all the forbidden fruit I ever
dreamt of — or was taught to
resist and fear — ripens and
blossoms under the palms of my
hands as they uncover and explore
you — and in the most secret
corners of my heart as it discovers
and adores you — the forbidden fruit
of forgiveness — the forbidden fruit
of finally feeling the happiness
you were afraid you didn’t deserve —
the forbidden fruit of my life’s labor
— the just payment I have avoided
since my father taught me how —
the forbidden fruit of the secret
language of our survivors’ souls as
they unfold each others secret
ballots — the ones where we voted
for our first secret desires to come
true — there’s so much more
I want to say to you — but for
the first time in my life I’m at
a loss for words — because
(I understand at last)
I don’t need them
to be heard by you."
Photograph Bobby Miller©2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


"One condition indispensable for the production of a poem is the existence in society of a problem whose solution is unimaginable except by a poem." —Vladmir Mayakovsky

"Poetry is a pain in the ass and vice versa." —Merril Gilfillan

"Poetry is shit for your fan." —Morgan Gibson

(all found in an old notebook but I didn't write down where I read them (or who translated the first one))

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


my Irish immigrant grandmother Lally, who lived down the street, my Aunt Allie, who lived with us, my oldest sibling Tommy in uniform, the next oldest, Buddy (AKA Jimmy) beside him, soon to enlist in the Navy, then my Grandma Dempsey, who would soon be living with us, my mom holding me, my Aunt Peggy who lived with Grandma and not-in-the-photo Grandpa Lally, and my Aunt Mary who lived next door, the kids are my sister Joan, next door cousin Rod (AKA John), down the street cousin Micki, my sister Irene, our father in the fedora, and brother Robert down in front, late 1944 I'd guess...
Rod, Irene and me the only ones still alive...

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Many of Elaine Equi's poems in SENTENCES AND RAIN made me laugh out loud. Others made me unconsciously hum approval, as if a song had caught my ear or heart. Her poetry is always smart and often smart alecky, but in a way so inclusive you always feel like you're in on the joke (at least I do, even when I'm not sure I get it!).

This collection in particular should be a delight for anyone who loves unique observations of what the reader, at least this one, never thought of but once revealed seem obvious. Like the poems below which are great examples of all of the above:


A slight implies
if not an insult
(real or imagined)

at least something

a slight cold,
a slight headache.

No one ever says:
"You make me slightly happy."

Although this, in fact,
is often the case.


The sky is melting. Me too.
Who hasn't seen it this way?

Pink between the castlework
of buildings.

Pensive syrup
drizzled over clouds.

It is almost catastrophic how heavenly.

A million poets, at least,
have stood in this very spot,
groceries in hand, wondering:

"Can I witness the Rapture
and still make it home in time for dinner?"

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Poets Doug Lang, me, and part of Beth Baruch Joselow
in DC (I was visiting from LA) 
after a reading on April 1, 1987
during my "big suit" phase

Sunday, April 2, 2017


I'll be reading my poetry and responding to interview questions from David Lehman and the audience at The New School Poetry Forum, April 25th, 6:30PM, Room 510, 66 West 12th Street, NYC, all welcome, and it's free.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


me with my mother and father in front of the house I grew up in, in April (Easter?) of 1966, two months after I got out of the military and stopped shaving, and only weeks before my mother died from a heart attack during an operation for the cancer that was growing inside her (but which she never revealed or complained about to most of us as she kept a smile for everyone but our next door aunt who she'd run over to cry with and then put her smile back on)...I was visiting from a Brooklyn apartment supplied by a patron (a woman editor who believed I was was going to write "The Great American Novel") with my wife Lee (taking the photo I assume)...the night my mother died in Saint Michael's hospital in Newark, soon after this shot was taken, with me beside her but when she called out for my oldest brother and me and I said I'm here ma, she didn't recognize me, I made a vow to shave the beard and did and to never have one again, a vow I've kept, as silly as it may seem...I miss her every day...him too most days...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


William McPherson, or "Bill" as I knew him, was a dear friend who I am very sad has died. We met at a dinner party in DC in the early 1970s, when I was still living there. He was the editor of The Washington Post Book World, which I told him was better than the New York Times Book Review, except for reviews of poetry books, which I thought were terrible. He challenged me to do better and sent me Ann Sexton's new book to review. I wrote a mostly unflattering piece and he put it on the front page of the Post's book section. Walking through Dupont Circle the day it came out a woman screamed at me because of the review, and another later spit at me!

Those people cared about books, and so did Bill. I reviewed more books for him at The Washington Post for years, even after I left DC. But when he won a Pulitzer for his critical writing, he came to visit me in the city just as I was giving up the only office job I'd ever had, and for less than two years, to try and make acting in movies and TV my poet's day job. He took heart from my risking that move, and with two children to support on my own, and subsequently quit his prestigious and financially secure job at The Washington Post to write his first novel, TESTING THE CURRENT. Which won acclaim (read it and you will see why), as did his second TO THE SARGASSO SEA.

Forever after, whenever we saw each other, and often in our correspondence and phone conversations (and in his inscriptions to me in his books), he would bring that up, even after living the life of a freelance writer led to his financial decline (see his obit in the Washington Post here), for which I always felt a little responsible, though I know in the end I'm not that powerful and he was a man who made his own decisions, often as unexpected as mine, which is just one of the things we shared.

Bill was a handsome, witty, highly intelligent, impressive wordsmith and, in my experience, a generous and kind person. I am so happy and grateful he got to write those novels and live the life he'd wanted to. My condolences to his daughter Jane, his grandchildren, and all his family and friends and fans.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Since first meeting him around 1970, my encounters with Iowa poet John Sjoberg—whether in person or through correspondence, always infused with his kind and gentle spirit—left me feeling filled with a kind of childlike sense of love.

There was an innocence and artlessness to his presence that translated to his poetry. His work wasn't what is sometimes called "faux naif"—because there was never anything "faux" about it, in my experience—but genuinely and uniquely a product of who John was, in the way that Satie's music or Henri Rousseau's paintings, are the results of who they were.

John's published output is minimal, compared to most poets (let alone a graphomaniac like me), but choice, as they used to say. Because no individual poem of his is duplicated, either in its approach or its outcome, and thus can't be compared to any other.

I'll leave you with three examples from his first collection (I believe), HAZEL, that he inscribed and sent to me when it came out in 1976 (a lovingly produced work of art itself and example of independent fine book printing and design, by Cinda and Allam Kornblum and their Toothpaste Press out of which later came Coffee House Press):

3's INTO 4'S

rattling leaves
wind blowing
music from a cello.

thin sensitive features
music from a cello
a lamp burning oil.

a slow drop of water
a second drop of water
a second drop of water
music from a cello.

a second drop of water
a slow piece of music
a raft, floating
a ball of string.

a lamp burning oil
music from a cello
the end of a long shaft
a slow piece of music.


Penguin Bread.
Penguin Bread.


my head is green
the songs here, the bird songs
here & here & here
are my heart.

the tractor engine beats,
drives fall corn up into the granary.
my whole body can feel it. i wonder
if they'll take me into town
in a  wagon.

i'll stop at your house
in a bushelbasket,
grinning from ear to ear.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I never do assignments that people post and request on the Internet but for some reason did when I got one that said go to the nearest book and open to page 56 and point and copy the sentence. There's a bookcase next to my little desk and the closest book to me is VISIONS OF GERARD, Jack Keroauc's elegiac lyric memoir about his brother who died when he was a precocious child.

But when I opened it to page 56 I found a blank page (because it's the back of an illustration in my hardcover first edition once-library-book that a friend from my DC days, Deb Fredo, gave me back in '74) that was that. But I skimmed the following pages and on page 62 found this full-to-overflowing memorable Kerouac-ian passage that I had marked (and assume the mistakes are intentional though some seem not):

"I curse and rant nowaday because I dont want to have to work to make a living and do childish work for other men (any lout can move a board from hither to yonder) but'd rather sleep all day and stay it up all night scrubbling these visions of the world which is only an ethereal flower of a world, the coal, the chute, the fire and the ashes all, imaginary blossoms, nonetheless, "somebody's got to do the work-a the world"—Artist or no artist, I cant pass up a piece of fried chicken when I see it, compassion or no compassion for the fowl—"  

Thursday, March 23, 2017


One of my favorite poets and people, Joanne Kyger passed after a full life of over eighty-two years. If you don't know her work, you should. I see she's being classified as "A Beat Poet" in some obits (because she was married to poet Gary Snyder back in the day—who is often associated with "The Beats"—and of course they were friends with those who basically were considered "The Beats"), but her work was too unique to have it classified with any group.

I didn't spend much time in her presence over the years, but occasionally since I met her around 1970, around the time the photo above was taken (the fuller version). But we corresponded and I think read together at least once, and she was one of the first poets I asked for work for the anthology I put together in the 1970s called NONE OF THE ABOVE.

Here's a great quote from what I selected for that:

"When there is nothing to seek, then
            there is ease."

And here is a poem from 2003 that's being quoted around the Internet since the word got out that she'd passed, this was included in her giant collection ABOUT NOW:

Night Palace

"The best thing about the past

                                           is that it's over"

                              when you die.

            you wake up

from the dream

                                             that's your life.

Then you grow up

                         and get to be post human

                    in a past     that keeps happening

                ahead of you


A lot of photos taken last Monday at The Gotham Comedy Club Poetry In Motion reading/performance, but these are two of my favorites: me reading from my 1982 book ATTITUDE, and hanging at our table with poet and dear friend Rachel Diken, who also read, my oldest son Miles, and his girlfriend Hannah...

Monday, March 20, 2017


For those who came out for this tonight, thank you, and for those who missed it hope to see you next time. The event was an explosion of creative energy: pointed, powerful, poignant, and often funny as hell. But most of all inspiring and comforting. Because everyone on the bill brought the kind of compassionate heart coupled with no-bullshit realism that make us a community of not bleeding-heart liberals but kick-ass love-generators. Let's keep making it happen.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


It's always been my intention, since I started this blog, to bring my personal experiences and connections to some topics of the day that catch my attention. I am so happy that many news and Internet outlets are referring to Chuck Berry in their obituaries as "The Father of Rock'n'Roll" because he was. His influence on me was enormous as his music hit the radio just as I was hitting puberty.

I posted the photo of the cover of the first anthology I had poetry in, CAMPFIRES OF THE RESISTANCE (Bobbs-Merrill 1971), because in my bio for it the first thing I mention is the influence of Chuck Berry. I attended the U. of Iowa Writers Workshop on The G.I. Bill and received an MFA in Poetry in 1968 and the title of the collection I submitted for my thesis was "Sittin' Down At A Rhythm Review." Which I thought summarized the workshop experience for me. Most of the professors had no idea what the title referenced.

But here's a video of Berry singing and playing the song that title came from—"Roll Over Beethoven"—in 1958, several years after the song came out, and as usual he is working with the house band, or local musicians (in an obviously foreign venue as the way he does his intro implies) and expects them to keep up with him as he sings his own lyrics and melody in a way unique to this performance (very much like a jazz musician, and like many rock'n'rollers who would follow in his footsteps, in one way or another, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan among many), listen to the way he changes the ending chords to minor ones distinct from the record...

His performances alone were templates for how to showcase rock'n'roll guitar virtuosity, and if that's all he had done would have given him the right to be called "The Father of Rock'n'Roll" but listen to the lyrics and the chords and the melody and acknowledge he was the great innovator who combined genres of earlier music—jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, pop and even country—into a guitar driven explosion of exuberance that changed not only music but culture and society...forever.

Long live rock'n'roll!  

Saturday, March 18, 2017


In 1981 I received my second National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant for Poetry. It was the start of the Reagan Era and the right-wingers were encouraged to start dismantling government programs that didn't directly benefit the wealthy and corporations. So two rightwing Republican Congressmen got up on the floor of Congress and called for the elimination of the NEA, and used my grant as their main reason for what was wrong with the federal government supporting the arts, saying it rewarded "pornography" because of my poem "My Life"—a ten page list of aspects of my life so far which included some graphic and at that time "deviant" sexual terms and what some consider "foul" language.

The problem with their subsequent campaign to use my poem as the impetus for outrage was that the parts they objected to were censored in newspapers and magazines and bleeped out on radio and TV, so no one could ever actually get what they were objecting to. Which is why the following year they used the visual arts to condemn the NEA, in particular the photo of a crucifix in a bucket of alleged urine. It was easier for people to use their imagination when they saw the image and become outraged, if they objected to the idea.

I had moved to L.A by that time and was called by the NEA to ask if I'd be willing to testify before a Congressional committee, but when they heard I was now on the other side of the country, they decided to save the expense of flying me back and putting me up and went with some East Coast visual artists and performing artists instead. But I remain proud and a little guilty at the fact that it was a poem of mine that was first trotted out to discredit the NEA. And by the way, my first grant from the NEA was in 1974 and was based on an earlier series of poems called "The South Orange Sonnets" that a Democratic Congressman praised on the floor of Congress and got mentioned in the Congressional Record where he called me "a major American poet."

Different strokes, as they used to say.

Friday, March 17, 2017

That's a photograph I took of my late cousin Paddy, who was the last Lally to live in the place behind him, an expanded version of the home my paternal grandfather, also Michael Lally, grew up in, in the late 1800s.
The cover of my first CD, WHAT YOU FIND THERE, designed by Jennifer Baxendale (recording of me reading my poetry in a studio outside L.A.) with my grandfather's birthplace, and a silhouette of me from a photo (taken by Rain Worthington) of me walking down Church Street in NYC in what would become known as Tribeca but back before anyone lived there legally, with my long hair and 1980s overcoat.
And the back of the CD. "Where Do We Belong"—an obviously very long poem—is about my Irish roots and first visit to the homeland. The poem is also in my book CANT BE WRONG.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


don't remember who took this photo
of Eve Brandstein & me in L.A. in the '80s
when we founded and ran a weekly poetry reading
(and monthly in NYC for a while)
(it was called The Temple Street Poets originally
but then we had to move so changed the name
appropriately since we moved several more times before
ending up at Cafe Largo when it first opened
helping that club find an audience)
which was on hiatus for a while
until Eve brought it back in both L.A. & NYC
and added story tellers and comedians and music makers
and at which I will be reading some poems this coming Monday
and would love to see you there:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


So the alleged "blizzard" didn't necessarily dump as much snow as they predicted everywhere, but it did some places. I looked out my window yesterday and thought it wasn't so bad. But when I went out in it, discovered otherwise. The snow was icy and very heavy and quite stubborn, hard to remove, if at all. And the wind had caused it to drift in odd ways that made the top steps of the porch of this old house I have an apartment in not look too bad, but the bottom steps invisible, just a big heap of whiteness impossible to gauge the depth of. I miscalculated and got a boot full of snow, and my boots are pretty high.

And it was slippery as hell frozen over, and cold "as a witch's tit" as they said when I was a boy, though for counter-sexism's sake we could say cold as the devil's dick I suppose. But somehow it also felt oddly peaceful and benign. The contradictions of Mother Nature, especially since her being so abused by the polluters and climate-change deniers. After many days of summer and/or spring weather, the animals and insects and trees and plants are now confused and most likely unable to sustain their usual rhythms and ecology.

Nonetheless, we are here, this is what's happening, and acceptance is the first step to changing it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


These shows are always rewarding, full of humor, insight, inspiration, artistry, poetry, storytelling, comedy, and much more....

Thursday, March 9, 2017


these are my paternal Irish immigrant grandparents
who lived down the street from us
c. 1952, not too long before they passed
with my oldest sibling Tommy
who'd become Father Campion, a Franciscan friar,
and the silhouette of I'm pretty sure my sister Irene on the porch behind them

my grandfather "Iron Mike" was a man of few words
my grandmother I remember dearly
she was kind and loving but also had a terrific wit
and self deprecating sense of humor

the last time I saw her was not long after my grandfather died
she told me she couldn't stick around
because she could hear my grandfather
giving the angels hell for not making his favorite dish right
she died not long after that

I loved them both

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


the youngest of the women above is my mother in her teens
to her right is her mother, my grandma Dempsey,
and sitting is her mother, my great-grandma Ward.
I wish I knew what that is she's holding in her lap,
from their styles and ages I'd guess this was taken c. 1919
(they all belonged to the daughters of the grand army of the republic,which may be what the medals they're wearing were about, and may explain the tags (names?) on the bouquet(?) in my great grandma's lap)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


When I was a teenager, back in the 1950s, before James Baldwin became a household name in the later '60s, he was one of the handful of writers whose work I sought out and devoured, every word he published I looked for to read.

I saw him a few times in bars and knew people who knew him, but never met him. I was sad when later in the 1960s and early '70s his reputation suffered among young radicals, like I was, because he didn't seem militant and revolutionary enough for those times. And I was sorry when he passed.

Now, many decades later, Baldwin is being rediscovered by an even younger generation, through the Internet and now this documentary, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, directed by Paul Peck using mostly James Baldwin's words in interviews and at a famous debate at Oxford, and by Samuel L. Jackson reading from Baldwin's never completed last novel—mostly notes—and letters to his editor about it.

The film works so well, I think, because it excerpts short clips and passages of Baldwin talking, and snippets of historic news and TV footage, all edited to keep the jump-cut nature of modern-media audiences satisfied. The historical footage alone creates a reality hardly matched today.

I have only a few caveats, mostly about the leaving out of some historical truths that I have to assume Peck didn't want his audience to get distracted by, like that Malcolm X's assassins weren't white (the editing implies they were), or that Malcolm and Martin Luther King Jr. grew close at the end not only in person but in perspective as each shifted their focus from activity solely against racial oppression and more toward commonality and economic inequality. (Which I pointed out in my own writing from the moment King was assassinated after he decided to lead a march on Washington for that very cause).

But the power of Baldwin's words and intellectual charisma overwhelms I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO in a way that left me wanting more, and wanting to go back and reread Baldwin's books. My advice about this movie: Don't miss it.

Monday, March 6, 2017


I never met Robert Osborne, but I feel like I knew him just from watching him introduce movies on TCM for decades. He was so genial and likable while sharing his knowledge of the details, large and small, of the making of the movies he introduced, and then added a coda to, that I wished I could spend time with him personally, sharing movie stories and movie love.

In a way I felt like I did know him, just from his TV presence, which says a lot about his ability to communicate to his audience of classic-movie lovers, like me. And I liked him, too, because he was so committed to preserving the movies of the so-called "golden age" of the 1930s and '40s (as well as other decades), movies that I grew up on, either seeing them in theaters when I was a boy, or on TV when that device entered my world.

It was obvious he was ailing, from the ways he aged on camera and then hosted fewer and fewer movies over the past few years. So I was already missing him before the news broke today of his death (this my be the most thorough obituary, from Variety).

He was eighty-four and lived, it seemed, a life he loved and felt fulfilled by. What more can we ask? He will be sorely missed by his family and friends and fans, including me.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


me reading from my books of poems CANT BE WRONG c.1997 (when it came out) in a San Francisco bar I forget the name of,
the other reader that evening was Malachy McCourt, who was a delight as always...
no small hands that evening...

Friday, March 3, 2017


I don't know why Laura Dern isn't in this poster as she's the fourth actor in this quartet of powerful performers—along with Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley—who make watching this show a treat, at least for me.

The story line is full of contrivances and the usual gratuitous sex (and the hint/threat of gratuitous violence), sort of a REAL WIVES OF SAN BERNADINO (or wherever it's supposed to be set) meets TRUE DETECTIVE.

Reese Witherspoon would just about steal the show if it weren't for Dern (full disclosure I knew her in my Hollywood days as a serious actor and a sincere person, who probably wouldn't even remember me). The two of them should have a spin off when this thing ends they're so much fun to watch as rivals.

But Kidman and Woodley hold their own. The editing and the rest of the acting is pretty good too. And the storyline, despite the obvious plot points and stereotyping, is almost one of those so bad it's good kind of campy narratives.

And all that after only the first two episodes. You go girls.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


My first born, darlin' daughter, Caitlin, at her high school graduation, can you believe she just turned 49?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


You can't be "a country united against hate" when your AG is a racist, your VP attacks LGBTs, and your top advisor is a White Nationalist.

You're not making "communities safer for everyone" by doing the NRA's bidding and making it easier for mentally ill folks to buy guns.

Pay attention: "Access to healthcare" is not healthcare. I have "access" to Ryan Reynolds. But he's not covering me.

"We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism form inside America." Yes. And let's start by putting a stop to Radical White Supremacist Terror.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


This Thursday, March 2nd, I'll be one of two featured poets—the other Julie Maloney, founder of Women Who Write—at the Montclair Monthly Poetry Series, at 7PM in the auditorium of the Montclair Public Library, 50 South Fullerton Ave., Montclair NJ. After we read there'll be a break and then an open mic until 9.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Me and my friend, poet Rachel Diken, doing our Hollywood poses in our Oscar outfits (my tie has bleeding, or crying, hard to tell, books flowing down it) as we step onto the red carpet in Orange NJ for my pre-Oscar reading of poems and telling stories about finding my way (after losing it) in "Hollywood"...great event that I am so grateful to have done (and received a standing o for, with the organizer, author and scholar Mindy Fullilove, asking for the gathering's approval for giving me "the lifetime achievement award" (thanks Mindy))...later watching the Oscars two things hit me, first, that the expansion of the academy with newer members worked because I don't think I ever heard the announcer before say so repeatedly "first time Oscar nominee" and the other was that old people get thrown easier than younger ones (a la Warren Beatty's confusion when given the wrong envelope with Emma Stone's name and La La Land on it, obviously for her best actress win, and didn't know what to do for several minutes finally announcing La-La Land as the winner and then after they were on stage accepting the award people ran out to tell them it wasn't theirs, that the best picture winner was actually Moonlight, further proof the addition of younger members and more diversity in the membership has paid off....the best picture of the year definitely won this time...)...

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Today, between 5 and 7 as a pre Oscar event (including delicious food) I'll be sharing poems and stories about my experiences working in movies (and TV) as an actor and writer, including the seventeen years I spent living and working in "Hollywood"...35 Cleveland Street, Orange NJ...

Friday, February 24, 2017


Back when I started this blog, in 2006 I think, I also started my own yearly movie awards as a minuscule counter to the other yearly awards. I covered pretty much every category the Oscars did, and added a few of my own. But the brain operation removed my compulsion to make lists, so it became more and more work just to do what I originally was doing for fun, and I stopped.

But this year I was so blown away by MOONLIGHT, I wanted to acknowledge that, for my taste, it deserves just about every award possible, from acting (I'd give actors in this film awards in every category, including for Best Actor the three actors who played the lead character, Alex R. Hibbert, Aston Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes, and Best Supporting to Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris) and directing and writing (Barry Jenkins so deserves this), to cinematography, editing and art direction.

And since I'm doing that, I thought I'd at least acknowledge other movies of 2016 that impressed me, if only for acting and directing.

Some of my favorite acting was done by:
Taraj P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, Kristen Dunst, and Mahershala Ali in HIDDEN FIGURES;
Annette Bening, Greta Gerwing, and Billy Crudup in 20TH CENTURY WOMEN;
Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, and Nicole Kidman in LION;
Emma Stone in LA LA LAND;
Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Birdges in HELL OR HIGH WATER;
Viggo Mortensen and the entire cast of CAPTAIN FANTASTIC;
the entire cast of SING STREET;
the entire cast of DON'T THINK TWICE (especially Gillian Jacobs);
Laura Linney in GENIUS;
Kate Beckinsale, Xavier Samuel, and Reginald De Courcy in LOVE  & FRIENDSHIP;
Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Matthew McConaughy in FREE STATE OF JONES;
the cast of CAFE SOCIETY;
Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, and Simon Helberg in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS;
Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, and Bradley Cooper in WAR DOGS;
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Timothy Olyphant, and Nicolas Cage in SNOWDEN;
Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup in JACKIE.

And for directing I'd single out (after Barry Jenkins for MOONLIGHT):
Damian Chazelle for LA-LA LAND (also wrote it)
John Carney for SING STREET (also wrote it)
Richard Linklater for EVERYBODY WANTS SOME (also wrote it)
David Mackenzie for HELL OR HIGH WATER
Mike Birbiglia for DON'T THINK TWICE (also wrote it)
Gary Ross for FREE STATE OF JONES (also wrote it)
Whit Stillman for LOVE & FRIENDSHIP (wrote the screenplay based on Austen)
Matt Bass for CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (also wrote it)
Woody Allen for CAFE SOCIETY (also wrote it).

My brain's freezing up so that's it, let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


one of my favorite photos of my sister Joan, who died over thirty years ago at age fifty, after a lifetime of dealing with the impact of having been a child diabetic at a time when that was a death sentence, and then through medical progress was able to live much longer than expected but not without the debilitating side effects of medicines and procedures and whatever else led to her many critical illnesses including the heart diseases and cancers that contributed to her death...
she became an "executive secretary" after attending Catherine Gibbs, where she learned not just how to type fast and take stenography notes, but also how to dress and speak and act like an educated professional woman...
to me she was the most thoughtful and kind person in my life, especially after our mother passed, and despite our different personalities was always sympathetic to my struggles...
she is always in my heart and thoughts and I miss her daily...
[click to enlarge so you can see how beautiful she was]

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


My good friend, Doctor Mindy Thompson Fullilove, has invited me to read my poetry in a series called FAITH + WORKS, featuring people who share how their FAITH informs their daily WORKS, at The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County, New Jersey (very non-churchy, casual vibe). Since the date was the same as The Oscars Awards ceremony, she came up with the title HOLLYWOOD AWAKENING and this:

"In 1982 poet Michael Lally moved to L.A. to work in film and TV as a way of supporting the two children he was raising as a single parent. While enduring the challenges of trying to keep his integrity as an artist, but also pay the rent and put food on the table, Lally unexpectedly had a spiritual awakening. This surprising exploration of Hollywood will precede the Oscar’s and get us all in the mood for the awards ceremony! We will have a red carpet for you if you desire to attire!"

Sunday, Feb 26th, 5-7PM, 35 Cleveland Street, Orange NJ Parking in rear and on street. And as Mindy put it, along with "spiritual reflections" there will be "delicious refreshments."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


I never met Larry Coryell but from what I heard from other musicians he was a really nice guy. He was also usually labeled a jazz guitarist who contributed a lot to the origins of what became known as "fusion" jazz, but he was so much more than that... in my opinion a lot of 1960s and '70s jazz, rock and other genres of music makers owed his technique and style for a lot of theirs (I'm talking to you Grateful Dead, and other jam bands, among others)... here's an example of the lightness and originality of his guitar mastery... condolences to his family, friends, and fans...

Monday, February 20, 2017


The other day I had to go to Newark airport which I hadn't been to in a few years. It was the United terminal, which I'm very familiar with having been in it many times since it was built. After parking you go in through the ground floor past the baggage claim area and up a short escalator to the second floor where you can check bags or get your ticket if need be and then there's two escalators going up to the next level where the gates are.

I'm used to going right up to the gate level, but there was a security guard at the bottom of the escalator on the second floor, and those devices they use for forming lines, with over a hundred people snaking through them, and then beyond that hundreds more people on a more or less straight line going all the way to the other end of the terminal, the length of a few city blocks. That's the one we had to go to the end of, but I noticed the second escalator going up to the gate level had two security guards and no line, so I busted my way through and went over to ask why.

The unpopulated line was for "premier customers"—maybe a term for first class and business class, or maybe for frequent flyers or something else, I didn't ask, I just got the visual and visceral reality of a two tiered system where if you're in the top category you breeze right through with no hassle, but if you're in the lower one, you're stuck on an endless line that represented not even 98 or 99 percent of the flyers at that moment but more like 99.9 percent or even more.

It seemed like a perfect metaphor, or maybe I mean example, of the ongoing and continually growing inequality of our society. Time to either make just one line, or if more, make them all equal.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Me as "Captain Bubb" on the DEADWOOD set, the first time I ever rode a horse, which I didn't tell the casting director but did the wrangler in charge of the horses on the show, so he gave me a very gentle, sweet one whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, but who I rode for three weeks almost every day, sometimes in the saddle for hours, even in one scene (that got cut) galloping into the town and jumping off, over and over again, doing it perfectly each time (the repeats were for technical reasons), thanks to this sweet fellow creature who I grew to love in those three weeks...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017



Lots of shit dies
Love doesn’t

Parts of me are
Already dead

But love isn’t…
My appendix

Dead and buried
My prostate and

A disc from my back
Dead and gone too

And parts of my brain
Cut out with the

Dime size foreign body
That got in there somehow

To cause so much trouble…
The twin towers died

And all those lost with them
Like a woman who was

Kind to me when
She didn’t have to be

Gone on one of those
Two planes, but

My love for her isn’t…
Five of my siblings and

Our old man and ma
Passed on now for awhile

But not the love we shared
When we were honest…

The mother
Of my oldest kids, my

First wife, gone, but the love
She and I shared never

Died, though maybe the
Like did…my first true

Love, too, the love of my
Life, gone now for almost

A decade, but my love for
Her, and hers for me,

Never died even thru
All of our husbands and

Wives and lovers over
The years when we

Were out of touch with
Each other, none

Of that stopped the
Love we both felt

And affirmed whenever
We spoke again like

The week before she
Passed still working

To help troubled kids
Find families, those

Kids still grateful for
The love she showed them

That’s still alive even if
She’s with the ancestors now…

Or other women I’ve lived
With who have passed on

Or lovers long gone
Like Joan B or Joe B

Her face so sweet and tough
Voice still admonishing me to

Just be myself and not
Worry what others think

His voice so quiet and
Stuttering in my ear as I

Write this, his image on
My bookshelves with his books

His art on my walls, I only wish
He’d lived long enough

To see it didn’t matter
How famous he did or

Didn’t become, his work
Living on among us

Who love it, exhibited
Often since he passed

Or Tony gone so recently
A young man who went from

Ripping doors off their
Hinges when he was

Upset with his wife and
Kids to the gentlest giant

Of many I’ve known
His ex-skinhead rages

Transformed as he turned
The pages of his life from

Anger to compassion
His punk Buddhist

Practice enabling him
To live with the rare

Brain disease that
Took his physical

Presence from us
But not the love we

Who knew him shared…
I think of him every day

As I do a lot who live
Now only in our hearts

Lots of shit dies, like

Almost everything that was
New when I was a boy

Including the people…
If you live long enough

So much passes it feels
Like another world…

But it’s the same one
Where love never dies…

—© 20013 Michael Lally (from my book SWING THEORY)

Monday, February 13, 2017


So I've been getting these assignments from friends on Facebook to post art as a break from politics  (who maybe haven't noticed that I've been doing breaks to post all kinds of creativity since the great catastrophe occurred), but of course I have to rebel from the assignments and choose my own art works like these three from one of my favorite artists (though you really need to see his work in person to get the full impact): Jean-Michel Basquiat