Sunday, April 30, 2017


I went into THE LOST CITY OF Z not expecting much due to mixed reviews, but...I left it grateful I'd seen it, especially on the big screen, finding it difficult to adjust to the reality of the world outside the film afterward.

Based on a true story the film is, for me, a true work of the filmmakers art. The cinematography by Darius Khondji—criticized for murky lighting because he chose to light interiors as they would have been at the time (early 20th Century)—worked so well on the big screen I could have kept watching it long after the film ended.

That goes for the acting as well, with Charlie Hunnam owning his character's determination, discipline and precarious strength so totally I felt like I was watching a much needed update on a classic Hollywood hero type. And Robert Pattison was a surprise, first of all because I didnt recognize him he so embodied his character, but also because he was so natural in every scene, as was Sienna Miller who also updated the classic Hollywood hero's wife role, not just by articulating the frustrated feminism of the time but by displaying strength of character and will that could have sustained my interest for the entire movie if the story had been her character's alone.

Though in the form of an epic—jungle exploration with typical dangers and obstacles, matched by the civilized world's version, class prejudices etc.—each scene broke with the tradition of the genre, especially in the pinpoint historic accuracy of detail and unexpected realism, while at the same time fulfilling the genre's expected settings and tropes but with dialogue that made their juxtapositions seem almost like poetic interludes, that all added up to an inspiring, for me, spiritual surrender to the infinite possibilities of any reality.

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.