Monday, December 31, 2018


my youngest son turning 21 and becoming someone you can trust and admire, a role model for me (and others) in many ways...
the continued health and happiness of my other children and grandchildren, despite challenges...
the publication of a selection of a lifetime of poetry (ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017) by Dan Simon and 7 Stories Press, sparked by Paul Abruzzo's suggestion and initial selection of poems he'd include to help me focus on my own choices...
the book tour for ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY, organized by Rachel E. Diken (and Allison Paller and others at 7 Stories), and Rachel and Eve Bandstein convincing me to end the tour in California where I think I may have given the best reading of my life at Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach...
The documentary film Rachel is making about the book tour and me (called MICHAEL LALLY: I WANT TO CALL IT POEMS), and all those who contributed to making that happen (the only thing I have to do with the film is being interviewed and suggesting others to interview, I haven't seen any footage except what's already been made public), and Rachel's getting the film under a non-profit documentary support group so individuals and groups and charities etc. can make tax-deductible contributions to help get the film completed...
and a lot more, including my still being around to appreciate all of the above...

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Keira Knightley is totally miscast as the title character in COLETTE, but as always she so completely commits to the role she overcomes that obstacle. And it doesn't hurt that the cinematography and art production on this film are Oscar worthy, and the filmmakers so Britishize the iconic French author's story, they even use "Down By The Salley Gardens" to fill in for a French provincial song!

In my thirties I attended a fancy dinner party in New York with the cream of the Manhattan cultural elite (at least as I saw it then) where someone asked my opinion of Colette (as a writer) and I admitted I hadn't read her. A shocked silence ensued until the poet and dance critic Edwin Denby saved me by saying, "How I envy you Michael, that you have that to look forward to."

Needless to say I went out the next day and bought every book of hers translated into English and every book about her. She soon became one of my favorite authors and people. COLETTE the film focuses on her emergence from the French countryside to become the famous author she still is. Part of the reason I fell in love with Colette and her story was her unconventional sex life, which I identified with, as well as her talent for reinventing herself and her life. And this movie captures that lusciously.

Worth seeing (for my taste).

Friday, December 28, 2018


I got this photo off the Internet but wouldn't know if it's accurate or not because I haven't seen a photo of Morty Sklar since the 1970s and if my memory is correct I never even met him in person. I knew him through the old kind of mail you waited for the mailman (back then) to deliver to your actual mailbox. Morty was a New Yorker who was displaced a few times to Iowa City after I had left there in 1969.

He was one of the originators of the poetry movement called "Actualism" which he and others included me in initially (until I published a poem I wrote that mentioned I was included in without being asked or understanding exactly what it was (which no one ever definitively did I finally realized). The true founder was Darrel Gray, a dear friend who passed long ago.

Morty also edited and published the poetry magazine THE SPIRIT THAT MOVES US, in which he published poems of mine after he asked me to submit some. I have our correspondence in my archives (at NYU) but haven't seen his letters since the 1970s, but my memory of our contact is a happy one. I thought of him as a really good guy, honest, authentic, no front or bs, just digging what he dug and wanting to share it with anyone interested. Which could be said of all of us little magazine editors and publishers and poets back in the day.

I hear he passed pretty peacefully, loved ones nearby. I remember him fondly and offer my condolences to his loved ones and all those who loved him. Rest In Poetry Morty.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


I found this meme on FaceBook and felt compelled to share it because I so totally agree with the sentiment. I've been digging the uniqueness of the Kurdish culture since I first read about them as a boy (in National Geographic?). If you don't know, they are a distinct ethnic group in The Middle East who were deprived of a homeland when Europeans created the map for the countries there, so what is their natural homeland became a part of several other countries (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, et. al.) who then treated the Kurds' aspirations as terrorism. The governments and political movements and parties that have come out of the Kurdish culture are the most gender equal, democratic, and economically balanced of any in the Middle East (or much of the world for that matter). They should be our main ally in The Middle East in terms of the values we supposedly share, but instead we cozy up to ruthless dictatorships and misogynist oligarchies etc. and abandon the Kurds over and over again.  Bah.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Happy Christmas to all who celebrate it, and
here's another couplets list, taken from 2018 posts,
a list of some of my favorite movies I saw in 2018
(with the caveat that there's still a bunch I need to see):











Friday, December 21, 2018


I can't find the historic chart I posted not long after 45 was sworn in but it showed what I know from my own experience, that the Great Depression and The Great Recession and most of the other economic downturns that occurred in my lifetime happened after a Republican administration was in the White House for a while.

Others show conclusively that most of the periods of economic growth that created more lasting jobs and wealth occurred after a Democratic administration was occupying The White House. My father's Great Depression generation knew this in their bones. But the rightwing masters of deception (alternative "facts" etc.) have managed to misdirect and obscure and boldface lie about this truth.

But if you were reading my blog or FB posts or anywhere near my voice since January 2017, I've been predicting (and of course others have as well) another Great Recession. 45 may make it worse, but it was inevitable when the wealthiest were given tax breaks to accumulate more wealth they stick in offshore accounts etc. while the rest of us keep falling behind financially.

And as my father taught me happened to his successful attempts to succeed in a small business in the 1920s, when Wall Street crashed in 1929 he lost everything, or as he put it: "The big boys bought it all back a dime on the dollar, and sometimes a nickel." And they'll do it again, they'll buy everything back on the cheap while any wealth anyone other then the wealthiest accumulated in recent years will evaporate.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


me and new friend poet/playwright Lonely Christopher at our Brooklyn poetry conversation/reading
old friend and great actor Paul Lieber and me after he interviewed me and had me read some poems for his show on Pacifica radio in LA
 me with old friends poets Michael C. Ford, Phoebe MacAdams, and Harry Northup at Beyond Baroque in Venice CA

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I first met Penny Marshall at a small party in New York around 1980. I knew she was on a TV show but said something to her like "I never saw it cause I don't watch TV shows, I think they're all jive"" or a version of that kind of downtown punk/avant/anti-etc. perspective at the time, and she said, "Fuck you," and walked away. Next time was at a party at Carrie Fisher's house in Beverly Hills around 1983, and this time TV didn't come up and we got along fine.

Last time I saw her was at a party at her house in the Hollywood Hills (I really doubt I know, or ever knew, which hills were which), in the 1990s, where I knew by then I was lucky to be and lucky that she tolerated me hanging around with a handful of stragglers until near dawn, all hugely gifted artists much more successful and famous than me. Though I was still arrogantly certain of my own taste and perspective, and got in a mild disagreement with Gary Oldman over a recent film he was in (!), she didn't throw me out.

There was no one like her. I am happy I got be around her now and then and that she graced our world with her enormous talents. Condolences to all her family and friends. And to her many fans, among which I include myself.

Monday, December 17, 2018


The film Rachel E. Diken is making about my poetry and my life has partnered with the Center for Independent Documentary through a Fiscal Sponsorship, which means that donations are now fully tax-deductible!
Please help spread the word by sharing with family, friends, social networks, and anyone else who might consider the documentary in their end-of-year donations.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made online…/film_no_stats.php…
or by checks written to The Center for Independent Documentary with "Michael Lally: I Want To Call It Poems" in the memo line. Mail to: Center For Independent Documentary, 1300 Soldiers Field Road, Suite # 5, Boston, MA 02135.

Sunday, December 16, 2018


I'm still recovering from my trip to California and whatever I came down with on my return. Up until today, my brain has been too exhausted to function much beyond the capacity to watch movies on TV. So that's mostly what I've been doing (along with "lots of fluids" "rest" etc.). Usually it's an old movie, but two more recent ones I watched were ROMA and THE DEATH OF STALIN, filmic recreations of historic moments.
I'm still too fried to write much, but all the positive things you've heard about Alfonso Cuaron's evocation of the world of his childhood in early 1970s Mexico are true. ROMA is a movingly brilliant film with a stillness at its center despite the domestic and national dramas unfolding throughout it. And that stillness can be attributed to Cuaron's directorial (and scriptwriter's) restraint (starting with the choice of black and white film) at the heart of which is his casting of non-actress Yalitza Apacano, who as the domestic servant Cleo is the star of the film, and whose soulful presence elevates what might have been an otherwise mundane tale to great art.

I missed THE DEATH OF STALIN when it came out last year, though friends kept recommending it. Now I see why they did. I just couldn't see how this cast playing those historic figures would be anything more than bad farce. But I was wrong. The casting is perfect because it is so unexpectedly bizarre, skinny little Steve Buscemi playing the rotund Kruschev? Let alone the others. But Buscemi so owns the character of Kruschev as seen through director (and co-screenwriter) Armando Iannuci's eyes, that I bought his "essence-of" characterization immediately. Not an easy film, but a satisfying work of art.

What both movies have in common is their adherence to historic realities no matter how quietly or bizarrely they are portrayed, and the unavoidable connection between the personal and the political, at whatever level we experience them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Got back home late Monday night from the California trip and woke up the next day coming down with something and totally wiped out, so only enough energy to post some photos from the trip:
poets Mello-Re Houston and Yvonne de la Vega,
and me, at the book signing after the L.A. reading
poets Hilton Obenzinger (in hat) and Stephen Vincent
and me after the San Francisco reading
The Green Arcade bookstore that hosted the SF reading

Sunday, December 9, 2018


The last of the readings for the new book (and the documentary about the book tour and me) was another love fest. And though I was low on energy and my voice was giving out, it was so wonderful to see old friends (from DC and Iowa and the Bay Area and The Berkshires and New York) and to make new ones. I am once again so honored and humbled and delighted. Love never dies.

[PS: Photo by Barbara Wyeth. And PPS: The Green Arcade is one of the all time coolest bookstores (and Patrick is one of the coolest bookstore owners), so if you're ever in San Francisco, check it out]

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Saturday's reading at Beyond Baroque to a packed house of old and new friends was an explosion of love. The entire trip so far has been about expanding my heart, but it's also been exhausting for this old mind and body, which is why I've hardly had the time or energy to post. But here's a few photos of it that friends posted on FB and I "borrowed" without writing down who took them (hopefully I can do that in the coming days)...

Sunday, November 25, 2018


I don't remember ever meeting  Nicolas Roeg, but I sure remember the powerful impact seeing three of his movies had on me. PERFORMANCE made in 1970, I saw just as 1972 started and I was discovering the fluidity of my sensuality. I had taken a beautiful South American shoe salesman, who had earlier that day sold me a pair of lavender suede platform shoes and agreed to meet me after work.

We got high before sitting in the dark theater, so watching the lovemaking bedroom scene, where gender becomes fluid and gorgeous in whatever form, I felt like my head was expanding and my body was exploding with joy and anticipation. (Maybe you had to be there.) Then sitting in the same theater (in DC) the following year, watching the lovemaking bedroom scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in DON'T LOOK NOW, I couldn't help laughing with joy at what I still remember as the best lovemaking scene in any movie ever (at least at the time it came closest to my experience).

The third film was INSIGNIFICANCE, one of the most original storylines ever in film history. Let's just say it involves Einstein and Marilyn Monroe, among other iconic figures, and explains E's "theory of relativity" better than any other movie (ha). And the MM character is played with the underrated and unfortunately mostly forgotten Theresa Russell who for many years after was my favorite movie actor of that time.

Roeg was 90 and had a very full and impactful (obviously to me) life, good for him.

Ricky Jay was only 70, so his passing seems too soon to me. My condolences to his family and friends and fans. I met him twice, once on the set of DEADWOOD, in which I had a small role on one episode. He was a nice guy and, of course, an amazing cardsharp and magician. I saw him do some of his card tricks in person and up close and was as impressed as anyone. He created a unique space for himself in the world of entertainment, and that is not easy to do nor often done. He will be missed.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


Last two stops on the book tour for ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017 will be in California for readings at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice Beach, 7:30PM Dec. 1st, and at The Green Arcade bookstore 1680 Market Street in San Francisco, 7:30PM Saturday Dec. 8th.

Friday, November 23, 2018



On a perfectly clear Fall day, heading back to
Fort Monmouth, I watched as other cars on
The Garden State Parkway veered onto the
shoulder and stopped, the drivers not getting
out, just sitting there. At the toll booth the man
said The president's been shot. As I drove on,
more cars pulled off the road. I could see their
drivers weeping. Back in the barracks we stayed
in the rec room watching the black and white
TV, tension in the room like static. When they
named Lee Harvey Oswald, I watched the
black guys hold their breath, hoping that meant
redneck, not spade, and every muscle in their
faces relax when he turned out to be white.

(C) 2018 Michael Lally [from Another Way To Play]

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


me (in blue shirt) with my then three siblings still alive
(we'd lost three others over the years) around 1990
(can you guess which brother was the cop
and which the priest?)
and now there's only my sister and me left

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


The Coen brothers movies often leave me frustrated. Usually because the cynicism in them is too self-indulgent, as though they confuse cynicism with superiority. THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS (on Netflix and in theaters) is no exception. The acting is superb, the cinematography brilliant, the writing  clever, though sometimes a little too. But to what end? Entertaining, yes, engaging often, but when you reach the end of this series of unrelated tales (except for their all being set in the old West, with too many discredited tropes from the Western genre) how do you feel? I felt frustrated, and even swindled, like I just gave up two hours of my life (and at this end of it) to be unsatisfied, and feel frustrated and swindled.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Just a reminder that I'll be in L.A. for a Dec. 1st reading at 7:30PM at Beyond Baroque hosted by Eve Brandstein. It'll be my only reading in L.A. and the last time I'll be there (traveling that far has become more challenging for me)

 It's the second to last reading on my book tour for ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: POEMS 1960-2017, and for the documentary being made about the tour and my life and my poetry by Rachel E. Diken. Both of us have reached beyond our means to make this film and this last visit to California viable, and I appreciate all the donations friends have made to this project, but if you can donate to help pay for this phase of it, here is the link to Rachel's Go Fund Me page for the film.

Friday, November 16, 2018


I never met William Goldman. But I feel like he's been an integral part of my life since I first discovered him in the late 1950s. In 1964 when I married my first wife, Lee, we had only met once, briefly, but had corresponded for years, and our first deep connection was our mutual love of Goldman's first novel, THE TEMPLE OF GOLD.

When it came out in 1957, it was initially banned from many libraries and schools for its "sexual" content though by today's standards there is none really. But it had critics and others associating him with The Beats, who were coming TO prominence then, even though it was as far from Beat as a young rebellious novelist could be back then. Despite it being to me a way too "white suburban" tale, I loved it because it was told from the perspective of a young man and made the self-conscious embarrassments of boyhood and adolescence really funny.

After we married, Lee and I would periodically read our favorite funny passages from it to make each other laugh, and it always worked. But Goldman maybe wanted to make his mark as a serious writer, because his second much slimmer novel, YOUR TURN TO CURTSY, MY TURN TO BOW (1958), was very dark. Lee loved it, and would use lines from it as shorthand for various situations, like, "Nail me to the cross Peter, nail me to the cross." I lost my copy years ago so I'm quoting that from memory and might have the name wrong, but the sentiment was the essence of the novel.

He then wrote a novel about his military experience, SOLDIER IN THE RAIN, which I read just before I entered the military and identified with a lot. But the big success of his early novels was the major bestseller BOYS AND GIRLS TOGETHER, which I read as his declaration that if you can't beat what we called in those days the "hack novelists" who gave the then mass paperback novel audience what they seemed to want, might as well join them.

He went on to become the most successful screenwriter in Hollywood in the latter half of the 20th century. Where I ended up and partly as a result of writing screenplays too (though his were often made into movies, and very successful ones—like HARPER, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, MARATHON MAN,—mine weren't). And the year I arrived in Hollywood, 1983, he published a book about Hollywood called ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE, with the opening sentence: "Nobody knows anything." That book was as much a comfort to me during that period of my life as his first novel was to my late adolescence and first marriage.

The best example for me of his skill as a story teller though, whether in novels or screenplays, is the delightfully funny and poignant THE PRINCESS BRIDE.  His like will not pass this way again.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


I read somewhere this week is dedicated to honoring our trans bothers and sisters, and nothing I've seen has moved me more than this video, totally worth watching to the end...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


I've read and heard criticism of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY for it's being a typical biopic with the typical biopic tropes, and for not being authentic enough, like manipulating the facts to make for a more dramatic story arc, not giving enough time to Mercury's last big love, Jim Hutton, and too much time to Mary Austin, the woman he was engaged to and called his best friend (and left his home and most of his worldly goods to, Hutton got a big chunk of money, equal to a million dollars at present rates), etc.

But for my taste, if you see it in a theater on a big screen with big theater sound, it's a thrilling ride, despite some lulls and obvious contrivances. First of all Rami Malek as Freddy Mercury gives one of the great movie performances of the year, and the producers and director were smart enough to actually use the original recordings so it's Mercury's voice we're hearing, making the movie theater experience like attending a Queen concert with front row seats. That alone was worth the price of admission. The casting was amazing across the board, with the actors playing the rest of the band almost mirror images of the real guys.

Every quibble I had was balanced by another moment in the film that landed perfectly. Like when Freddy tells his female fiancée he thinks he's "bi-sexual" and she says "No Freddy, you're gay." I wanted to say Wait up, from what I've read he had sexual relations with several women (which the movie doesn't mention), as well as a lot more men (the opposite of my experience with mostly women but a number of men). Though I hate labels and categories (I used to call myself "pan-sexual" and to those who'd call me "bi-sexual" I'd point out that my experience is there's as many kinds of human sex as there are humans, not just two), lately I've revisited old journals and realize I was more into men than I remembered, which made me want to acknowledge and embrace what some would call my "bi-sexuality" since that category seems to be getting a lot of flack these days.

But then there's a simple scene after Mercury gets the AIDs diagnosis when on the way out of the clinic a sweet looking young man recognizes the Queen lead singer and quietly voices a two-note riff made famous by Mercury, which Mercury quietly echos, and the tears just flowed for me as every emotion connected to friends and lovers I'd had who died of AIDs—including survivor's guilt that I never even contracted it—overwhelmed me.

So, it might be how you respond personally to the emotional bits in the film, but for me, they mostly worked, as did the music.

[PS: I've been informed by Susan Anton in comments below that it's not Freddy Mercury's voice in the film, but I've read some reports that it is mostly, either way it works for me....I also want to make clear I'm not diminishing Mercury's being gay with my remarks about "bi-sexuality," just clarifying my own thoughts and feelings about that label and it's use to dismiss genuine feelings and experiences...]

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Willie Aron is one of the multi-talented music creators in L.A., and musicians there and elsewhere admire and respect his talent. But above and beyond that, he's just a really good guy. My oldest son, Miles, played bass in a band (originally called Spanish Kitchen, and later Mystery Pop) in which Willie played guitars and keyboards. He also played on some of the tracks for my poetry-with-music CD: Lost Angels.

He could not only instantly improvise the perfect riff I or Miles (he produced the CD) were looking for, but in any style of music we asked for! And he was always cooperative and modest. Working and playing with him was always fun for me. And hanging out with him was too, as well as with his lovely wife Giovanna.

My heart goes out to Willie over the loss to cancer of Giovanna, one of the kindest, most generous, most loving humans I've ever known. Our mutual friend Nancy Lee Nadel said it best in her post about this tragedy:

"To know her was to love her ... it was that simple. I met her when waitressing well over 20 years ago and it was love at first conversation and remained so throughout. I honestly never met a kinder more compassionate woman. Please send some love to her husband Willie and their 2 children in this sad moment of her passing. Another angel was most definitely needed in heaven. Rest in Peace Giovanna Aron you beautiful gift from god who never ever ever stopped smiling, you will forever be missed."
[I don't know who took either of the photos above,
but hopefully they don't mind my sharing them]

Monday, November 12, 2018


You probably already know this but no member of the current president's family, including his father his sons and himself, has ever served in the United States military. None. Ever. Happy designated Veterans Day.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, one hundred years ago today, "The Great War" as it was known at the time, ended. Before there was a second "great war" so they ended up being known by their numbers, the end of the first one, World War One, was known as Armistice Day, i.e. the day The Great War ended and there was finally peace among the warring countries.

When I was a boy during and after the second one, World War Two, most adults still called November 11th Armistice Day. The boarder who lived in my home when I was growing up, an old friend of my father's, was a veteran of WWI, a "doughboy" as they were known. His nickname was "Jockey" cause he was a very small man. Another friend of theirs who was in WWI was nicknamed "Frenchy" cause he made it to Paris after the war.

My three brothers who made it to adulthood (another died as an infant) and me, we all served in the military, me the longest (four years), and a lot of the men in my neighborhood did. Here's a poem I wrote about that, from "The South Orange Sonnets" and in my latest book: Another Way To Play:


At first the world’s great heroes were FDR
Churchill and Uncle Joe Stalin. The block
hero was FLYING ACE who shot down Krauts

on a seven inch screen. One brother served
with the Navy Band, one with the US Army
Air Corps. Before TV we sat through Sunday
matinees with newsreel footage of Nazi war
crimes. The boarder in our house had been
a dough boy in World War I. We called him

uncle. My third brother worked on tanks in
Germany during the Korean thing. I joined
the Air Force on February eighth 1962. I
went AWOL July fourth 
1962. For a long time
no one we knew ever went away a civilian.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Someone asked me why I didn't comment on the midterms, the simple answer is: they aren't over yet. But also, there's been so many responses and perspectives articulated online and off that the nuances of that many responses leaves me mentally exhausted. I'm happy the Dems took the House back. I'm overjoyed that there were so many firsts—first Muslim women elected to Congress, first refugee elected to Congress (also a woman of color), first gay out-before-the-election governor (Colorado), first indigenous (i.e. truly "American") women elected to Congress, first lesbian mother elected, and so many more.

As for another "mass shooting," how much more obvious can it get that the real terrorist threat in this country is and has always been mainly coming from white men. White men with any demonstrated domestic violence in their past, i.e. cop coming to their door for spousal or parental or pet or property abuse, or any affiliation with any organization that promotes violence, should not be able to purchase or own any kind of deadly weapon, period. Any kind of assault weapon should be banned too etc. etc. But the first suggestion would be a small start. Though unlikely to happen soon, possibly eventually.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


SATURDAY CHURCH is a small movie with a big vision. Writer/director Damon Cardasis put together a great cast, led by Luka Cain who is the reason to see this flick. His character, an adolescent seemingly trapped by the contradictions of his desires versus his family's and community's expectations, is so quietly charismatic he elevates what could have been a predictable message film (the message being tolerance and understanding for gay and transgender youth) to an exceptional and truly independent film. It doesn't hurt that the musical and dance numbers are totally unexpected and uncontrived, for my taste. Glad I saw it.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


me and my youngest (Flynn) voted
him for the first time!
(he's the bad ass
I'm the goof...)

Monday, November 5, 2018


to paraphrase others:
our votes count,
if they didnt some top Republicans
wouldn't be trying to suppress them,
if they didnt there wouldn't be
billionaires trying to buy them,
and if they didnt there wouldn't be
russians trying to hack them...
our votes count, so
if you haven't already,
let's all go vote Nov. 6th

Sunday, November 4, 2018


I didn't know him personally, but what a tragic loss for his family, fans, friends, and music. [here's the NY Times obit]