Friday, June 22, 2018


Last night the event at unnameable books in Brooklyn was totally satisfying, seeing dear old friends and making new ones, hearing good poetry, good music, and being surrounded by creative folks, my people. Great way to celebrate the summer solstice and recharge the soul and heart batteries for the continuing struggle to create a world where love is the choice.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


My cousin Pat Lally (later Pat Lally Freeman) was fourteen when I was born, so her face was already familiar to me when this high school graduation photo was taken. And though the last time I saw her she was in her eighties, it was that same warm smile she flashed, the one that always made me so happy to see as a boy, a young man, and then an old man.

Every time I saw her, my heart overflowed. She was a highly intelligent, independent, and grounded individual, and a terrific writer who shared a wonderful piece of autobiographical prose with me (and others) about ten or so years ago that clarified some of her part of our clan's story (and is now in my archives with a few letters from her). Like me, she was fascinated with our extended family's history, and remembered and researched more than most.

Though she will be missed by many, Pat made it to ninety and passed surrounded by loved ones. And she will always live in our hearts, as will her contagious smile.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Turns out the reading I'm taking part in at unnameable books isn't next Thursday but actually tomorrow, June 21st, with two other poets and a band on the bill, 8PM, 600 Vanderbilt Avenue (corner of St. Mark's) in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn...if you can make it I'd love to see some familiar faces...


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

sorrow song

for the eyes of the children,
the last to melt,
the last to vaporize,
for the lingering
eyes of the children, staring,
the eyes of the children of
of viet nam and johannesburg,
for the eyes of the children
of nagasaki,
for the eyes of the children
of middle passage,
for cherokee eyes, ethiopian eyes,
russian eyes, american eyes,
for all that remains of the children,
their eyes,
staring at us, amazed to see
the extraordinary evil in
ordinary men.

Lucille Clifton, "sorrow song" from Next: New Poems. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
Source: Next: New Poems (BOA Editions Ltd., 1987)

Monday, June 18, 2018


The documentary Rachel E. Diken is making about my life and poetry has run out of funds and needs an infusion of money to continue, here's how to help:

and here's her recent interview with Ethelbert Miller:

Sunday, June 17, 2018


I want to wish a happy day to all those who
never had or knew their fathers…or whose
fathers were unkind, or even cruel to them…
may your day be filled with love and affection

...and to those who parented the young and 
old alike who needed it and had no one else
to turn to, may your day be as happy as the
hearts of those who benefited from your love...

Friday, June 15, 2018


Went to the opening of Charles Mee's new play, FIRST LOVE, and was swept away by the experience. The direction by Kim Weild makes the abrupt transitions in this story of "first love" coming to two seniors easy and more subtle than the writing indicates, and the acting is worth the price of admission.

Michael O'Keefe—a dear friend for many decades whose acting on stage and screen I have been observing since he made his initial impact in THE GREAT SANTINI—has never been better, displaying so many emotional variations that his performance becomes a master class in the art of stage acting. Especially when matched by Angelina Fiordellsi, both of them out pacing each other in the bravery of their performances.

Taylor Harvey, making her New York stage debut after being cast from an open call, in what could have been a thankless mostly silent role of observing spirit, transcends the limitations of the role to add an essential element to counter balance the two-character heart of the play. Her stage presence is so ethereal, the aura her character casts seemed to add a glow to the stage when she was on it.

Some of the credit also definitely goes to the costumer Theresa Squire and the set creator Edward Pierce, whose work enhances the story with flourishes of wit and economy. And all this in the intimate confines of The Cherry Lane Theater. If you dig live stage productions and are any where near Manhattan between now and July 8th, this one's totally worth experiencing.  

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Doug Lang, Terence Winch, me in DC in the 1970s
Terence Winch, me, Doug Lang in DC in 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


In honor of the late Anthony Bourdain, I watched THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY last night for the first time. I skipped it when it came out because of the terrible title and my guess that Helen Mirren, despite her acting genius, was a bit miscast. The title is still uninviting, and Mirren is miscast yet she mostly pulls off the role of a brittle French matron.

But like many movies that feature food and cooking as the central metaphor, this flick is sensually satisfying in so many ways it was worth watching. Part of the pleasure was also the delicious leading man, Manish Doyal, and his romantic partner Charlotte Le Bon. Another was the great actor Om Puri, who not only held his own with Mirren but pretty much stole the film in terms of performances.

Despite a predictable and even contrived script (a Steven Knight adaptation), the pacing and story development work because of director Lasse Halstrom, who makes even the obvious appealing. Check it out if you've never seen it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


I remember reading many decades ago a study that was done about people who had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge attempting suicide but somehow survived the fall and were rescued. As I remember it, every one admitted that as soon as their bodies left the bridge they regretted doing it. Most who jumped, of course, did not survive, so no knowing what they were thinking.

Monday, June 11, 2018


thanks to Bianca Scimmia for this photo of me reading from Another Way To Play at Politics and Prose in DC yesterday
 evening, great event (reading with Terence Winch) and great seeing so many old familiar faces from my DC days (1969-1975) and beyond....and thanks all for coming out...

Saturday, June 9, 2018


Though I didn't know who Kate Spade was when I heard of her suicide, many friends who only knew her from her public persona were devastated by it, or angry at her and devastated for the thirteen-year-old daughter she left behind. But I was surprisingly devastated when I learned Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide, even though I only knew him from his writings and his CNN show where he came across as a great embracer of life's pleasures and challenges.

Though they may have been part of the elite economically, I still see them as victims of the disastrous decline of the social environment caused in great part by the winner-takes-all form of "capitalism" that has turned our flawed democracy into a rancid oligarchic kleptocracy where human life is subservient to the relentless accumulation of useless wealth (useless except in the service of false pride and the illusion of control) for the one percent and soul-sucking despair for the rest of us.

Like victims of the opioid epidemic, or the suicide epidemic, anxiety and despondency are the legacy of the devaluation of human life caused by the drain-the-99%-of-all-financial-and-emotional-security-for-the-benefit-of-the-1% (even if some among that 1% fall prey to the same anxiety and despondency). The Resistance has to start, I believe, with not letting the bastards kill us—no matter what.


poets Terence Winch, me, and Doug Lang
June 7th, 2018
[photo by Sandra Rottmann
enhanced by Robert Zuckerman
who labeled the end product:
 "Don't Fuck with these Bastards"]

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Terence Winch and I sometime in the 1970s
(don't remember who took the photo)
we will be reading from our new books
this Sunday June 10th at 5PM
at the Politics & Prose bookstore
on Connecticut Avenue 
in Washington DC

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


Retweeted George Takei (@GeorgeTakei):
Trump disinvited Superbowl winning Philly Eagles to the White House over concerns some of the players had refused to come. In related news, Becky Sullivan won't go to the dance on Saturday if Shelley is showing up, even if she apologizes for what she said about her hair.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


For anyone who's in the Baltimore-DC area, I'm reading from my new book ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY, and Terence Winch from his, THE KNOWN UNIVERSE next Sunday, June 10th at 5PM at Politics & Prose in DC, more info here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Paul Schrader's films, the ones he's written as well as the ones he has also directed, are usually pretty dark, even despairing. So, even though I admire him as an artist (and have met him through his wife, the great, underrated actor Mary Beth Hurt) I often dread viewing his work. The reason I continue to is because his film BLUE COLLAR was at the time the most realistic take on working class life I was seeing then, and his film MISHIMA was, and may still be, the best biopic ever made.

Usually the first thing people mention is his screenplay for TAXI DRIVER. These and all his credits promise that his films will at least be provocative, original (often one-of-a-kind), and great for serious actors. But dark. Ethan Hawke (who I met when working on WHITE FANG) wasn't known for preferring that kind of material until recent years. Now he's choosing roles like the husband in MAUDIE and the central role of the minister in FIRST REFORMED.

It's a tour-de-force performance, way out of his usual range. But then almost everyone in the movie stretches what we would expect of them. Like Amanda Seyfried (another underrated actor, who the friend I saw it with felt was miscast as a struggling working-class woman because of her beauty and screen charisma) and Cedric Kyles. So, if you like to watch intense acting, FIRST REFORMED may satisfy you. But if you want an escape from the darkness of your life or these times, this might be a little too intensely overwrought, despite the mostly high level of artistry.

Monday, May 28, 2018


Memorial Day commemorates those who died while serving in the military. Although many in my extended clan served in the armed forces, including me and my three older brothers who served in wartime, only one relative and only a few friends have died in the service during wartime. I honor them on this day.

But since, as has been pointed out recently, more people have died in civilian gun violence in the USA so far this year than in the ongoing wars our military are fighting, I feel that there should also be a memorial day set aside for all the victims of gun violence at home here in the states, including members of the police, and the victims of police violence.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


As I've said probably too often, I was born with a compulsion to make lists in my head, in my poetry, in my conversation, etc. but the minute I came to after my brain operation in November of 2009, and ever since, I can't put a list of more than two items together in my head without giving up or having to consult my computer or bookshelves.

In conversation with a friend recently about how I can fall in love with a writer's words on the page so intensely I feel a deep need to read every word that writer has ever written, and still reread them, I started listing authors I felt that way about. Here's a much expanded version of what I came up with (with help from my bookshelves and limiting it to pre-my generation (unless already deceased)):

Laurence Sterne
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
Theodore Dreiser
Rainer Maria Rilke
James Joyce
William Carlos Williams
Blaise Cendrars
Edith Wharton
Zora Neale Hurston
Jean Toomer
Jean Rhys
William Saroyan
Martha Gelhorn
Muriel Rukeyser
Samuel Beckett
Henry Miller
James Baldwin
Jack Kerouac
Gary Snyder
Frank O'Hara
James Schuyler
John Ashbery
Diane di Prima
Michael McClure
Hubert Selby Jr.
Henry Roth
Joanne Kyger
Bobbie Louise Hawkins
Lee Lally
Ted Berrigan
Joe Brainard
Etheridge Knight
Lorenzo Thomas
Roberto Bolano
Tim Dlugos

Thursday, May 24, 2018


I've posted this before, but it's a favorite old photo as it shows me and my entire, living, immediate family on our back porch toward the end of World War Two, yet obviously mostly happy. My father, Jimmy, looking like a film noir character; my brother Tommy in his Army Air Corps uniform (he would later become Father Campion, Franciscan friar, missionary in Japan for almost his entire adult life); my brother Robert (his middle name, first name William); my mother, Irene, holding me; and my brother "Buddy" (real name James, who would shortly join the Navy and be on Okinawa when the final battles were fought); my sisters Joan (in dark coat); and Irene (in light coat). All gone except for Irene and me. But all still very much alive in my heart (despite some times of dissension among us, all healed now).

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Some fine actors doing their best to overcome terrible direction, writing, editing, and art producing (and producing period) and failing. The only thing positive I got out of sitting through this was the satisfaction that I'd read all the books I heard quoted from or mentioned or appearing on camera, and some of the quotes from some of those books. Otherwise not only a mess, but a mess that occasionally seemed to be trying to blame a dystopian anti-intellectual future on the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements! Ack.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Barbara Barg was so multi-talented you have to go to her web site (here) to understand just a taste of what that meant. She was so loved by so many, go to my Facebook timeline (open to the public supposedly) to read her dear friend Maggie Dubris's perfect expression of that love. I knew her first as a poet (and musician). So here is an early poem that appeared in Eileen Myles' magazine dodgems in the 1970s:


Doc &

Monday, May 21, 2018


This is an inspiring documentary because it's about the inspiring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and because it was made almost entirely by women—from directors to cinematographer, producers to editors, etc.—and because it's an important history lesson about how important Supreme Court Justices can be in their lasting impact on almost every aspect of society and gives the lie to the rightwing (and Russian et. al.) instigated misdirection that there's no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.... just watch this and see the difference between Justices nominated by Republican presidents and those nominated by Democrats. Watch this film even if you think you already know enough about "notorious RBG"—you're in for some surprises...

Saturday, May 19, 2018


hardcore conservatives like sec. of ed. betsy devos et. al. WANT people to abandon public education for home schooling and religious based private schools etc.and they want to take tax money from public education and give it to homeschoolers and private schools to do it....because public education is what helped create the logic and reasoning and evidence-based liberal reforms that led to curbs on corporate and one percenters' greed etc.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


[if you blow it up you can see me and mello-re houston on the program 25 years ago and many other friends, some long gone...poetry continues to save my life...thanks to mello for posting this today...]

Monday, May 14, 2018


"...human affairs still continue to be the consequence of mistakes, misunderstandings, and myths."

—William Saroyan (from Days Of Life And Death And Escape To The Moon)

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I want to wish a happy day to all those who
never had or knew their mothers…or whose
mothers were unkind, or even cruel to them…
may your day be filled with love and affection

...and to those who mothered the young and 
old alike who needed it and had no one else
to turn to, may your day be as happy as the
hearts of those who benefited from your love...

Saturday, May 12, 2018


I was at a discussion between Stephen Colbert and Ethan Hawke where a student in the audience asked Hawke something about RAGING BULL, and Hawke said it was a great movie and a great performance by DiNiro but he didn't like watching actors hurt themselves.

I was relieved to hear that, because I'd always objected to the acclaim DiNiro got for gaining so much weight (and in such a short period of time that his gut looked unnatural to me). When watching the movie I found myself distracted by the weight gain, thinking about the actor rather than the character.

I bring that up because in TULLY—a movie about the mother of two children pregnant and then giving birth to and caring for a third—Charlize Theron, playing the mother, has a body I kept wondering about, was it really that weight and shape or was it CGI or prosthetics or make up or?...

Theron does her usual amazingly competent acting, but I still couldn't help being distracted by her body, which she kept exposing as part of the plot about a woman overwhelmed by motherhood and its responsibilities and consequences.

Some of her scenes resonated with a kind of realism about being a mother that I haven't seen in any movie before, so kudos to the movie makers for breaking ground in some ways. And the story, by Diablo Cody, and the direction, by Jason Reitman, bring out the best in the cast (Mackenzie Davis is a revelation), so it's almost worth watching just for the acting, and maybe for the clever ending, unless you find it a little too clever.

But I don't applaud Theron for gaining the fifty pounds she is said to have put on for the role, because it seems to me like a very unhealthy acting technique. And because it kept me thinking about whether the weight was "real" and therefore too often focused on her acting rather than the story she was trying to tell.

Friday, May 11, 2018


The street I grew up on was a block and a half long, and the half block dead ended at the railroad tracks (the houses on the half block are all gone, replaced most recently by a giant CVS). There were a lot of kids on the street when I was growing up, most of them my siblings or cousins (the street was locally known as "Lally's alley").

Four cousins lived next door to me, in birth order a boy a girl a boy and a girl. The two girls were both deaf and the boys not. Both girls, MaryLynn and RuthAnn, became dynamos I have always been very proud of. The youngest, Ruth Ann, as I understand it, was responsible for forcing a change in the treatment of deaf children in New Jersey schools, guaranteeing a sign language interpreter in their classrooms.

I was older and gone when Ruth Ann married a fellow deaf person, Bill Schornstein, and set up house for a while in her widow mother's home next to my parents' home. When I'd visit, I'd hang out with Ruth Ann and Bill, and eventually their children when they were little, Tina and Bill/Liam. I haven't seen them that much in the years after they moved away and I moved all over (though Facebook has made keeping up with them easier).

I remember Bill senior as a kind and humorous man, and a loving and decent father and husband. I am happy to hear that he passed peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones, to whom I offer my condolences.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


So, the reading last night was an amazingly gratifying event for me. Hearing Douglas Crase read some of my favorite works of his (and without looking down at the books he was reading from for great lengths of time, having memorized lines so complicatedly brilliant and subtly intense I can't imagine anyone being able to say them without double checking the page)...

And then hearing Elinor Nauen (if you don't know her writing you should, she is one of my all-time favorites, as well as a favorite longtime friend) introduce me with such insightful and poetic terminology, ending with these words:

"Here is a man, a poet, doing what a poet ought to be doing: looking at the world with all his attention. Lally carries the bits and pieces of everything he has paid attention to—which is more than almost any poet I can think of—and turns that attentiveness into poetry. Here’s a chance to hear what he’s found out."

...and then to read to a room full of love and appreciation, I couldn't be more grateful, a delight despite my ongoing back pain that I was able to ignore for most of the evening...and it is better today and I know from experience will continue to improve...thanks to all the old and new friends who come out for the event. Here's some photos taken by my longtime friend Eve Brandstein:
old friend the poet and actor Michael O'Keefe and me
me and poet/writer Ben Brandstein 
singer/songwriter Dina Regine
me and Eve and the book (my tee shirt is a reproduction of the point in the Lincoln or Holland Tunnel that indicates when you've crossed over from Jersey to New York, or vice versa) 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


threw my back out, but I watched the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame show and though it's always a mixed bag lots of highlights, especially for me the Jersey accents when Bon Jovi accepted, and despite any pain I'm gonna make it tomorrow (Wednesday) night to The Saint Mark's Poetry Project (NYC) to read from my new book and hear Douglas Crase read his poetry, hope to see you there...

Monday, May 7, 2018


Bill Hader isn't someone I'm a big fan of, because I can never remember what I've seen him in before. But I fell into watching the first episode of his new HBO series, BARRY, and now I will always remember what I saw him in, and I've become a giant fan.

BARRY is a dark comedy, maybe what they now call a dramady? though the drama is so over-the-top, jump-the-shark, too-much, it seems closer to violent farce or hard-edged satire, but whatever it is, if you can take the sometimes extreme violence the other stuff, if you're anything like me, will have you hooked.

The cast is full of memorable actors playing almost caricatures (e.g. Henry Winkler as an aging actor/acting teacher can be both poignant and ridiculous at once) and writing with unexpected plot twists that at the same time pay homage to every TV series trope, almost, and yet comically expose realities I've experienced (not as a hit man, which is Barry's day job, but as an aspiring actor in acting class at night, which is the hook of the shows narrative).

As one of the creators, producers, writers, and directors of BARRY, this is Hader's production, and he proves himself more than capable of pulling it off. Kudos to him.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


Turns out that interview I did with Columbia University's 89.9FM radio station two weeks ago that was supposed to be live but had to be recorded for airing later, aired tonight at 9 but I didn't learn of that until after it was over. They were supposed to give a head's up, but, and, oh well, that's that, maybe next time...

Saturday, May 5, 2018


If you don' know who Bobbie Louise Hawkins is, find out. In my world she is an iconic figure, one of my favorite writers since the first story I read of hers. And the last. Someone I read regularly. Here's the book to get if you want to see why she's so great: Selected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins.
And here's a short piece from it that displays her skills, her insight into people, and her incredible control of narration and character, it's called: "It's A Phony"

It's a phony surface but who's to know the difference. Not enough time. All that flash.
     Hey, it's as good as real. Like living a life.
     "Who said that?" drawing back and centring. Let's show a little muscle here.
     "You saying this ain't my life?"
     Naw, I never said that.
     "I know what's real. I feel it."
     Yeah, we all do.

Friday, May 4, 2018


they sold out of my new book, ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY, at the publication party two Wednesdays ago, so I couldn't sign a copy for everyone who wanted one, but they'll have more at the reading at the Saint Mark's Poetry Project this coming Wednesday, May 9th, at 8PM, (10th Street and Second Avenue NYC) so come by if you want to get a copy, or just to hear me and Douglas Crase read from our books, or get a signed copy of one of his books from him (and support the documentary Rachel E. Diken will be filming the reading for at:

Thursday, May 3, 2018


early headshot and author's photo taken around 1979-80 when I was 38 and began acting professionally
[taken by Edie Baskin]

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


I got a little self-righteous and over sensitive in my comments defending my post yesterday, and just wanted to admit that and clarify what I was trying to articulate. I listened to Michelle Wolf''s White House Correspondents Dinner comedy set in real time and admired her bravery and her scoring of sometimes funny but always lucid points against those contributing to the dismantling of our democratic institutions (free press, independent judiciary, congress checking the executive branch, etc.).

But as she was saying, and I was slightly mishearing, her comments on Sarah Huckabee Sanders I predicted in my mind that this, whether misheard or not, would overshadow—and therefore distract from—all the great political points she was making, because it would be seen as an attack on Sanders' looks. And when I heard and saw the clarification that cleared up what she had obviously intended to be a very clever and even poetic zinger, it was already happening.

To some it seemed like I was joining the hypocrites who were attacking Wolf, but I was just trying to comment on what I've seen as a tactical misstep by those, like me, who want to see end to the policies and political rule of the right in this country. I obviously didn't do that in a way that everyone could comprehend.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


I understand most of my friends appreciation for and defending of Michelle Wolf's comments about Trump's Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House Correspondents gig by pointing out how much Sanders and the administration she was representing on the dais that night deserve to be called out for her/their lies etc...

...yet listening that night in real time I was happy Wolf called out the media for creating and profiting on Trump's candidacy and presidency, but when she said about Sanders that "she burns facts" my old post-op brain heard "fat" and then when she very poetically said Sanders uses "the ash" to create "smokey eyes" again my old post-op brain thought she was just doing what so many memes I see on the Internet have been doing since Sanders moved into her job, i.e. making fun of her looks...

Wolf made so many good political points that when I heard the Sanders remark my lifetime of political experience immediately registered that all those great points she made would now be ignored, or diminished to footnotes, while the media—and thus most folks—focused on what sounded like personal insults about a woman's appearance...

...I know I know what Wolf did was much more than that, and some would say not that at all, but Wolf is too smart to not know she was riffing on "burning fat" and cleverly replacing "fat" with "facts" to not realize that that would be the focus of the media covering the event and reacting to it in the days afterward...

...if I were someone working to create even more division on the anti-Trump side, and bolster the pro-Trump side even more, I would create a distraction from the real issues (i.e. the actions this administration is taking to create mistrust and confusion about our democratic institutions and to undo the checks and balances on executive power and any progress made in the last hundred years by the non-wealthy), I would have had Wolf make those comments....

...because now once again social and other media are focusing on the distraction of a comic writer's comments and not on the issues she otherwise raised, like the media's complicity in creating and sustaining the autocrat unraveling our democracy...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018


me and Greg Masters
Bob Holman introducing me
Steve Adams listening to Stephanie Hoeler making hand gesture
Lilian Reitz
Alec Baldwin talking to my godson Nick Browne
Karen Allen
Jim Coleman
the book on display
Karen Allen and Alec Baldwin talking
Hannah Bracken

Thursday, April 26, 2018

the book party last night (for Another Way To Play: Poems 1960-2017, Seven Stories Press) was one of the highlights of my life. So many old and new friends, a wonderful introduction by Bob Holman (Eileen Myles was called out of town at the last minute for an emergency), and all my kids and my grandson, and strangers turning into new friends...
and the art exhibit at Howl included a baby grand that at the last minute heading for the mic I decided to first sit down at and play some, and then was inspired to tell a story as I was playing...the whole thing felt inspired and today I'm still exhilarated... and exhausted...
the actual book cover as opposed to earlier designs on the Internet
[photo by Silvia Sanza]
me and my self-cut hair and poetry-reading tie
(either raining or crying or bleeding books, not sure)
[photo by Maggi Dubris]
me trying to smile with two longtime friends
[photo by Tatiana Lyons]
me at the piano
[photo by Stella Kamakaris]
me at the podium, obviously
[photo by Stephanie Hoeller]