Sunday, February 10, 2019


Yesterday was the fifty-fifth anniversary of The Beatles first appearance on The Ed Sullivan show. Many of my friends weren't born then, others reminisce about being little kids watching it with their families or having fathers who objected to the fab four's appearance and/or music. I was in the military at that time, stationed outside of Spokane, Washington. Here are a few unpublished sonnets about that night and era from a series called THE SPOKANE SONNETS:


stairs was a large TV in a big open room full of
white teenage girls vibrating with anticipation.
Waiting for the show, I slow danced with one
to a 45. An old lady rushed over with a ruler to
ensure the space between our bodies was at least
six inches. About to split, a young cat with a
hound dog face walked up to me and said You’re
a musician. I nodded. Jazz. I nodded again. He
was Jimmy Dunaway, nineteen, a drummer air-
man from the base. With his tightly curled hair,
skin darker than my Irish parchment, and thicker
lips, I guessed he had some African ancestry.


If Jimmy had Negro blood he didn’t know it.
He talked like a typical Southern good ol’ boy
sentimental about the Civil War and the Old
South his daddy told him all about. After Ed
Sullivan, a triumph for The Beatles but to us
just pre-adolescent girl stuff, though secretly
impressed, we bar hopped till I found a spade
joint, by then so skunky drunk when we got
angry looks I climbed up on the bar and did
some rhymes, what older black folks called
toasting: I might be too thin to win but I ain’t
too light to fight or too lean to be mean. An
old ploy to distract people till it was too late
to battle and I was accepted as a crazy Paddy.


I formed a jazz trio with Jimmy and another cat
from the base, a short black dude people called
Rabbi cause he always wore a long dark raincoat
when not in uniform, even on the bandstand.
Sometimes Rabbi didn’t show so Jimmy and me
played as a duo. One early AM after a gig while
eating breakfast at DENNY’S we were ambushed
by a voluptuous blonde with sparkling blue eyes.
I flirted till she invited me back to her place. As
we undressed in the dark I realized there was
someone else in her bed. When I hesitated she
said Haven’t you ever made love to a woman in
front of her husband before? I lied and said Sure
all the time. Her name was Sandy, his was Billy.

Copyright 2019 Michael Lally

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