Monday, December 30, 2019


READ IN 2019:

Burt Kimmelman's WINGS APART
Ernest Thompson's and Mindy Thompson Fullilove Thompson's HOMEBOY CAME TO ORANGE


Eileen Myles' EVOLUTION
Loneley Christopher's THE RESIGNATION

RE-READ IN 2019:

Yvonne de la Vega's TOMORROW, YVONNE


Elaine Durbach's ROUNDABOUT

I know there's many more, but these were the ones that came to mind this time. If I forgot a book you may have sent me in 2019 I'm sorry, but I can assure you my compulsiveness made me read it, even if I haven't finished it yet, or have but like I said it didn't come to mind this time.

Sunday, December 29, 2019


"The 20 Lessons I've learned in the first 20 years of the new Millennium (because I don't take a lot of photos to do the ten-year thing).

1. Charm can get you through every door, but what keeps you there is the work you did before you knocked.

2. You can’t grow to be who you are in places that only remember you for who you were.

3. If you are truly genuine, nothing is corny

4. Everyone is waiting for a fun, funny, interesting person to start a good conversation.

5. Judging people’s sexuality and fantasies is a good way to end up with a boring sex life.

6. Boundaries will keep you sane.

7. Never be “genre” specific. You miss out on a lot of special by only listening to one sound, viewing one style, or spending time with one type of people.

8. Say “Yes” to life. This moment won’t happen again. So move to that city, it doesn't matter if you don't know anyone. And go to that music festival...even if it means sleeping in your car.

9. Read great literature, and bad literature, and good poetry, and bad poetry, and biographies on the good and the bad. Just fuckin read.

10. Whatever you spend all your time thinking about is what you should be doing.

11. It doesn’t take much to uplift or support the ones around you, everyone needs a pat on the back.

12. There will come a time when you will be alone, full of doubt, sadness, and regret, with only your belief in yourself to cling too, and that must be enough.

13. Stand up straight, look people in the eyes, and smile.

14. Following trends is an excellent way to be interestingly dull. Find your vibe, and live in it. Be passionate, be a classic.

15. If you master your strike zone, you can crush “wild” pitches.

16. Thinking “outside the box” is capitalist bullshit used to drive you into debt with shit you don't need. Learn to make the box unique with what you have.

17. Your life should include both the smell of crisp morning adventure and the taste of late-night stories.

18. People are people, so you have to let them be people.

19. It’s ok not to know where you are going. You’ll figure it out when you figure it out, and you’ll get there when you get there. However, make sure to appreciate and enjoy all the roads you have to take along the way.

20. Being confident is all about knowing that you are doing the best you can to be the best version of yourself; while at the same time being happy with where you are now on that journey.

*********** BONUS #21 ****************

21. Ignore people's additions and critiques to your own list."

—Timmy  Lally (a grand nephew) (and a great nephew too)

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Best thing about last week's Eddie Murphy SNL live (for me) was the two performances by Lizzo. Watch this to the end and dig her and her band and her dancers and tell me it didn't make you happy.

Thursday, December 26, 2019


Allee Willis was a force of nature who I ran into at times in my years in L.A. ('80s and '90s). You can look her up to see what she meant to the music world and the culture of this country, but my most memorable anecdote is much less impactful, except on me. I had an antique shirt from the 1950s, dark blue with a strip of yellow diamond patterns across the chest that I often wore when I read my poetry. After one reading where I wore it, she came up to me afterward to say how much she loved my shirt and how much did I want for it. I said it was an old favorite and not for sale, but she kept going higher and higher, and I kept on resisting. From then on whenever I encountered her she'd ask about the shirt and if I was ready to sell it to her. I never was and still have it, but I'm happy it brought me in contact with such a determined and dynamic  creative soul. May she rest in the power of that creative spirit.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019



I always worked on Christmas. Well
not always, since I was about 13.
My father had this home maintenance
business, which meant we cleaned up
after rich people and fixed things in
their homes. There was always a lot
to do around Christmas, including
selling trees out in front of the
little hole-in-the-wall store front.
We had this one special customer who
got this special fifty-foot tree every
year. On Christmas eve, after his kids
went to bed, my brother-in-law the cop,
Joe Glosh (short for Gloshinski) and me
would drive up with the tree and put it
up in the middle of this swirling kind of
Hollywood staircase, wiring it to the
banister here and there until we got it
steady and solid, ready for the silver
dollar tip we always got. My brother-
in-law would always wonder why the best
tree we ever saw always went to a Jew who
didn’t even believe in Christmas, right?
Then he’d drop me back at the store and
go home while I waited there alone just
in case somebody might be waiting til the
last minute to buy a tree. Usually no one
was, and when it turned midnight I could
call the local orphanage and they’d come
by for whatever we had left, which my
old man would let me give them for free and
then I could walk or hitchhike the few miles
home. When we were little my sisters and I
would exchange our gifts before we fell
asleep, because we all lived in the attic
together. The coolest thing was waking in
the morning with this sound, like crunchy
paper, and realizing it was our stockings
at the foot of the beds that our ma had
always somehow got up there without us
catching her, and we’d get to open up all
our stocking stuff before we woke the rest
of the folks, our older brothers and grand-
mother and the border, Jack, and our mom
and dad. Then we’d all open stuff and go
to Mass and come home for the big dinner.
But by the time I got the attic to myself,
cause my brother-in-law and that sister
got a place of their own and my other sister
joined the nunnery for awhile, I got to
working for the parks department too,
because my old man didn’t pay me, figuring
I worked for room and board, so I had these
other jobs, and the parks department had a
busy day on Christmas cause all these kids
would come down to the park to try their
new sleds or skates and I worked either on
the hill or on the pond as a sort of guard
and coach and general alarm man. I used to
love seeing a wreck on the hill so I could
slide down the snow on my engineer boots,
the kind motorcycle dudes wear now, showing
off my teenaged skill and balance for the
teenaged girls who might be watching. I
don’t remember ever falling down, it was
something I was totally confident about. Now
that I think about it, I guess working on
Christmas wasn’t so bad, even though I always
kind of felt sad anyway, especially after I
started dating black girls and knew I couldn’t
take them home or share the holidays much
with them, but there was always something sad
about Christmas anyway, once you were over five
or maybe ten, how could it ever live up to your
expectations again? I also dug being a
working guy though, you know? Even today
when I see young working guys going by in
the backs of pickup trucks I catch their eye
and feel like I know what’s going through
their heads, because of what was going
through mine, which was, any time now I’ll be
out of this, a big star or wheeler dealer or
intellectual or anything that means a kind of
success you couldn’t guess when you look at
me here under these conditions, cause now,
I’m a mystery to you, you don’t know who I
am, you think you can categorize me but you
got no idea who I might be someday, or the
the richness of the life I live inside, and
you’ll never know what it’s like to be as
cool as I sometimes feel when you look at me
and see a guy from some kind of ethnic mystery
you can’t comprehend except in the most simplistic
terms, and who is so free he can work in public
and get dirty and sweat and wear his hair greasy
and his tee shirt rolled and know you would never
mess with him unless you’re a woman and get a whim
to find out what it’s like to give a piece of ass
to someone from the working class—I dug the
kind of coolness of it, of knowing I was a lot more
than these ordinary citizens could comprehend,
that I could be sexy in ways their men were too
restrained to be, that I could be threatening in
ways their men would be too frightened to be, that
I could get down and dirty and not give a fuck
what I looked like in public, even though I knew
I looked cool, that I could be inside a life and
world they could never even guess the intensity and
romanticism and pure exhilaration of because it
didn’t depend on material goods and worldly
success but on loyalty and honesty and standing
up for yourself and all the rest of your kind
when you were put to the test—hell I used to
love looking back into their eyes and thinking
some day they’ll be so surprised to find out
what was going on in my head when I put it in
a book or on film or tell them about it in their
bed—so even though I came home late for the
big dinner and my fingers and toes all froze
cause guys like us could never make a fuss about
the cold by wearing scarves or gloves or any of
that rich kid stuff, and maybe I’d get a little
drunk when nobody was looking and try to get the
phone into the closet or somewhere where I could
be alone for a few minutes to call some girl
they might call colored and wrong, and end up
later that night sleeping on the floor of the
kitchen with the new puppy so he wouldn’t keep
everyone awake with his scared yelps and in the
morning scandalize my grandmother when she found
me in my boxer shorts the puppy asleep on my
chest and she’d rouse me and make me get dressed
but not without telling me I was just like my
father, I didn’t have any ashes, which was her
way of implying I didn’t have any ass to speak
of, and then I’d help her get her stockings over
her crippled legs and have something to eat and
go to work again, maybe this time on the pond,
where I’d get to slide across the ice to rescue
stumbling teenaged girls while “Earth Angel” or
“Blue Christmas” blared over the loudspeakers
and in my heart, knowing for sure I was going
to be a part of some important history, and I
was—and still am.

(C) 1997, 2018 Michael Lally

Saturday, December 21, 2019




Yang was steady as usual, no surprises or fireworks but no flubs either. Mayor Pete and Warren both took some body blows. The mayor scored on Warren who attacked him for big money donors and closed events for them, but when he countered with his claim that he was the only one in this debate who wasn't a "millionaire or billionaire" she suddenly seemed defenseless, as if she and her handlers weren't even prepared for such an obvious comeback. She didn't point out that she lived much of her life on the low end of the economic scale and was a self-made person who didn't come from anything near wealth while the mayor did, she just folded. And Pete, when he tried to dis Klobachar got pummeled by the winner of the debate, the female Senator from the midwest. Klobachar was quick and smart and sometimes funny but definitely the most together candidate in this debate. Biden had a "no harm no foul" night and Bernie was more vigorous than ever and as consistent as usual also but repetitive and reductive. Steyer was just in the wrong arena. I'll still vote for whoever the nominee is.

Thursday, December 19, 2019


A shot of who happened to read their poetry one night at the weekly reading series me and Eve Brandstein ran in the 1980s and '90s at different clubs in Hollywood and environs, this time at Cafe Largo. Top row: Anne Beatts, Hubert Selby Jr. (R.I.P.), me, Jack Grapes, Eve, Lotus Weinstock (R.I.P.), Joel Lipman (R.I.P.), bottom row, Tommy Swerdlow, Katey Sagal, Yvonne de la Vega (R.I.P.), Michael O'Keefe, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Harris, Miriam Mezzierres, Michael des Barres, Caroline Ducrocq (photo by Nancy Rica Schiff). Some of the regulars not there that night include Ty Grandson Jones, Nana-ana Danquah, Lynn Manning (R.I.P.), Meriline M. Murphy (R.I.P.), Harry Dean Stanton (R.I.P.), Susan Hayden, and too many others to recall at this moment.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


The "pledge of allegiance" Nancy Pelosi referenced in her opening remarks today was an advertising gimmick from the late 1800s and didn't include the words "under god" until the cold war 1950s when you were a commie if you didn't constantly proclaim allegiance to "god"...the so-called founding fathers weren't about allegiance to a flag, or "god" but to the Constitution, so I've always felt if school children and senators and people at public functions want to display their patriotism, they should pledge allegiance to the Constitution.

Michael Lally (C) forever

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


I got the distressing and depressing news last night that one of my dearest and most intimate friends in my years "in L.A."—Yvonne de la Vega—has passed on. The last time I saw her was at the reading I did at Beyond Baroque a year ago. Here she is with her arm around me at the book singing afterward, and another dear friend from L.A., the equally unique performer and poet, Mello-Re Huston.

Yvonne was one of the most dynamic and essential presences in my almost twenty years in Southern California, and in the lives of everyone who knew her in her lifetime. Her life-affirming creativity and joyful presence, at least for me most of the time, despite her struggles, was inspirational. She never gave up it seemed. So I'm finding it difficult to accept the reality of her physical presence being no more. Fortunately, her work is still in the world extending her life force even to those who never knew her. Like one of my favorite books of all time: TOMORROW YVONNE, Poetry & Prose for Suicidal Egotists (Punk Hostage Press). Here's part of what I posted when it came out:

Yvonne is an L.A. poet, singer, musician, dancer, spoken word performer, and much more. This is a collection of pieces that she's been reading and performing around L.A. for decades, some newer than that, but a lot have been knocking live audiences out for a while. Including me.

I'll quote my own words that I wrote for her to use on the back of the book:

"Yvonne de la Vega is our steampunk poet laureate, mixing not only the classic and the contemporary in poetic tradition and personal expression but doing it in her uniquely original way. There is no one in the world of poetry quite like her, or the world of anything for that matter."

I hope Yvonne doesn't mind if I reveal that I first dug her as one of the "native girls" who rushed out to meet the plane on the TV show FANTASY ISLAND. Discovering her that way was like the first time I caught Rosie Perez dancing on IN LIVING COLOR. But Yvonne is also the woman who Herb Albert wanted to, and did, record when he heard her read one of her classic poems, "Flamenco Sketches."

She's a self taught performer poet in the classic tradition, and when she's cooking her poems are as much music as language. Many of her best known classic pieces, like "Everything Pink," are too long to quote here, but I'll give you a shorter one that conveys the power of her approach at its best:

In Being My Father's Daughter
                                 -for Daddy, Silvero Duro de la Vega RIP
               June 12, 1928 - May 8, 2007

Because laying on the bare hardwood floor
is too gentle and aesthetic and still
does not offer that masochistic solace, and
because crawling under the bed to weep is
only an instinctive feral urge,
it seems the next thing
that might do it,
that may finally satisfy and replace the urge
to cut my face with an exacto knife, would
be to
break something,
smash all the windows, burn my guitars,
topple the piano, club the TV to pieces,
slash my sofas like the D.E.A.
break all my dishes
...and etc.,
Still, playback of the sequence
"madness as medicine" only
proves that
out of every single object in my home
I can't find one single thing
that can present to me
the perfect punishment,
here and now needed
so badly...
Daddy & I were deemed "wild eccentrics".
Infamous, the both of us from L.A. to Manila.
We remembered being peacocks in a past life together
we never gave a shit about
what the Family thought.
la la la...
I could jump off the roof,
I won't die but it'll hurt.
I did not kill my father.
But someone else did.
Yet I am guilty,
after longing to be with him all
these lost but hopeful years.
Of not being at his side to kiss his mouth at his final sigh,
breathing in to catch and hold his fleeing ghost inside me,
for just one moment for the parting in this lifetime,
our spirits' last embrace
here and now. Instead,
I was fucked up, drunk and jacked up in Hollywood,
when I should have flown straight to Luzon days ago.
I was the worst daughter
he was a worse Father,
which is why I was his favorite, and why
every man
I've ever truly loved
is exactly
Almost Him.

[PS: I might add that Yvonne's prose Preface to the book is worth the price of admission alone, like an introduction to her voice, her life, her unique personality—seductive and engaging, impressive and effective...]

My heart goes out to her kids and all her family and friends and fans. May she Rest In Poetry.

Sunday, December 15, 2019


7 Stories Press is having a year-end sale, and my book, ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY:Poems 1960-2017, a 540-page "new & selected poems" which is normally a bargain selling for just under twenty dollars can now be purchased from them at just under ten dollars! It would make a great gift for most poetry lovers and supporters of the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice and honesty and more. Lots of other "leftist" books on sale as well (including ones by Howard Zinn, Kurt Vonnegut, Noam Chomsky et. al.). Here's the link:

Friday, December 13, 2019


I just watched the last half of LOVE ACTUALLY for the third or fourth time this holiday season. I'll be surfing cable movie channels and stumble on it and stay. Despite at times it being what some might find a little cheesy or contrived (and let's not even mention that excrutiating scene with Mister Bean doing his gift wrapping schtick) there is so much great acting and clever, even brilliant at times, writing, it wins me over until by the time it reaches the airport arrival montage this old sentimental Irishman is dropping a tear or two. Not as perfect as some other Christmas movies (starting with the 1951 black-and-white Alastair Sim starring version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL) but my favorite in this century.

Thursday, December 12, 2019


Lyn Lifshin was born the same year I was, 1942, and her poetry started being published in little magazines when they began to blossom and multiply in the 1960s, as my poetry did too. We both had poems in many of the same magazines back then so often, I felt like I knew her, like we were some kind of secret poet friends. I don't remember if we corresponded at all, though I feel like we did.

I was often advised by poet friends that I published too much, and to be more selective about where I published. But my policy was to say yes to life, including anyone who asked for poems. Although whoever wrote the wikipedia entry on me links me to The New York School, and I certainly was influenced by the poets originally self-branded with that name, though they meant it ironically at first, I always felt like an outsider, along with Lyn, even though all the poets in the original generation of The New York School who were still alive when they discovered me in the early 1970s generously accepted me and my work which appeared in many magazines associated with them.

Lyn's work didn't appear in those mags, but in so many others that for every hundred poems of mine published in little mags back in the day, a thousand of her poems were published. I write every day and have since I learned to write as a boy, but Lyn Lifshin has written and published so much more, and most of it distinct, and good.

She deserved a lot more recognition from poets and critics and academics who dismissed or disparaged her kind of poetry (as many have mine), and I'm sorry I never wrote about her until now. Especially since her work has never not been a part of my life. We appeared in magazines together when we started out, and we appeared in a little magazine together just this year! Our poems sharing space in literary magazines for six decades!

As an example of her best work, to my mind, here's a poem of hers that was published in a 1999 Penguin poetry anthology called Identity Lessons edited by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan that I too had a poem in as well:

Yellow Roses

pinned on stiff tulle,
glowed in the painted
high school moonlight.
Mario Lanza's "Oh my
love, my darling"
over the basketball
floor. When Doug
dipped, I smelled
Clearasil. Hours in
the tub dreaming of
Dick Wood's fingers
cutting in, sweeping
me close. I wouldn't
care if the stuck
pin on the roses
went thru me,
the yellow musk
would be a wreath
on the grave of that
awful dance where
Louise and I sat
pretending we didn't
care, our socks fat
with bells and fuzzy
ribbons, bloated and
silly as we felt. I
wanted to be home,
wanted the locked
bathroom to cry in,
knew some part of me
would never stop
waiting to be
asked to dance.

Sunday, December 8, 2019



One warm night, when I was a kid,
we were all playing ringalario in
the high school field at the bottom
of my street when Mrs. Murphy, known
mostly for the time her hair turned
purple when she tried to dye it, stuck
her head out the door and yelled across
the street to us, “Go on home now and be
quiet, Babe Ruth just died.” And we all
did go home where everything was somber
and serious and adult and strange,
worse than when one of the family died,
because then there were outbursts of
emotion as well as jokes and stories
and good drunken parties, but
the night Babe Ruth died, everyone
felt as sad as if it was a close close
friend or a sister or a brother,
but no one was really related so
there was no call for an actual Irish
wake or funeral party. I couldn’t help
remembering that night again, the
night John Lennon died. Nobody
threw a wake or a party where we
could all get drunk and high and
have a good cry together. We all
went home and wandered around our
rooms and heads looking for answers,
unable to sleep or forget or accept
or understand what had happened.
It had to be a mistake and it was,
a fucking senseless, horrible,
deadening mistake.
                               It’s hard to
recognize even the most familiar
things. I don’t know where I am
half the time, the other half I’m
flashing on some song or line or look
or attitude so close to my own
personal history I thought it was
mine. But it ain’t, cause it’s gone
with John and I feel like I got to
go do something now to spread a
little joy and loving and honest
fucking answers and questions about
the world I live in and the only times
we ever have, our own. I hope I’m
not alone.

(C) 1982, 2018 Michael Lally
(from Hollywood Magic and Another Way To Play)

Saturday, December 7, 2019


I've taken some flack for my criticisms of THE IRSHMAN. But if you want to see a real masterpiece about mob life and some of the history covered in that film, though a lot less distorted, check out GODFATHER OF HARLEM, the TV series starring Forest Whittaker and a mostly impeccable and in some cases revelatory cast, including Vincent D'Onofrio and Paul Sorvino as historic mob bosses, and incredibly realistic performances of Nigel Thatch as Malcom X and Clifton Davis as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Giancarlo Esposito is a little over the top as Reverend Clayton Powell, though Powell himself could be over the top, but never as much as a buffoon as Esposito plays him. Otherwise GODFATHER OF HARLEM is a refreshingly new take on the history of mid-20th Century organized crime.

Thursday, December 5, 2019


This sonnet is part of an unpublished memoir-in-sonnets that I've been working on for too many years. and I meant to repost yesterday, the 50th anniversary of Chicago Black Panther Fred Hampton's assassination on December 4th 1969.  I met Fred at various radical activist gatherings in Chicago in the late '60s, mostly thanks to Mike James, a radical organizer of RISING UP ANGRY and its newspaper, for which I wrote many articles under my own name or anonymously or using a pseudonym. Fred was a seriously intelligent young man, an inspiring leader who could connect with every kind of person, which obviously made him a threat to the powers that be. 

In early December Fred Hampton, a young
Chicago Black Panther leader I knew and
admired, was brutally slaughtered with
Panther Mark Clark, when police raided
Hampton’s crib, after firing hundreds of
bullets into it, and into him, asleep in his
bed. It was the last straw. I’d objected to
Panthers calling police pigs, thinking of
cops in my clan who were decent, but this
time it seemed insulting to the actual pigs.
I wrote a poem called DON’T LOOK NOW
with the end couplet: like this short ugly
knife you are mine/Black Panther Fred
Hampton murdered in bed by pigs 1969.

—(C) Michael Lally 2017

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Sorry Kamala Harris dropped out of the race, she brought an unpredictable energy and perspective to the debates, the last of which I watched all the way through and the best thing about it was the four women moderators and the Tyler Perry venue making it the smoothest running debate yet, in which all the candidates had high and low moments except for this guy, who was totally steady in making his points and should have been given more time.

Monday, December 2, 2019


A unique story—well directed, well shot, well acted, well told—and yet totally representative of the universal story of our times: the divide between most of us and those wealthiest others whom we all seem to serve in one way or another, like it or not. THE PARASITE is a grand cinematic metaphor for the new Gilded Age, or worse The New Dark Ages. And an artistic representation of the universal predicament despite the movie being Korean (with subtitles) and the cultural and social differences. Perhaps not the "the best picture" ever, or even of the year, as some are claiming, but definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, December 1, 2019


In honor of AIDS recognition day, I honor lovers lost to the disease—like Greg Millard, Joe Brainard, and several more—and dear friends—like Tim Dlugos, Cookie Mueller, Brad Davis, and many more—and those I knew, but less well—like Anthony Perkins and Keith Haring et. al.  They all still live in my heart.

Friday, November 29, 2019


As one of my favorite wits (Terence Winch) said before either of us even saw this move: there should be a warning saying "No Irishman was harmed in the making of this movie" and I got the joke, because "the Irishman" of the title is played by Robert DiNiro. And the Jimmy Hoffa character, played by Al Pacino, is constantly making derogatory remarks about Italians! Al Pacino pretending to be an Italian-hating non-Italian and DiNiro pretending to be an Irishman! That's only two things that bugged me about this film.

There are some classic Scorcese (director Martin) moves (including casting Italians to play Irish) like the opening extended dolly shot and mobster jargon and theme, with some new tricks thrown in like CGI used to make the main characters look younger and older than the actors playing them are, and jumping back and forth in time as if in an attempt to wow us with this gimmick. But like most gimmicks it only partially works (mainly in the old age scenes).

There's some good acting (Joe Pesci at his best, for instance) but to what end? To spend three hours watching soulless men joust for power while they kill people without care or feeling or remorse. I have friends who loved this movie, but not me.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


On this date, November 27th, fifty years ago, 1969, my son Miles was born in Children's Hospital in Washington DC. This photo was taken by Beate Nilsen in 1976 when Miles and I were living alone on Sullivan Street in NYC in the period before his sister came to join us. It captures the sweetness and expressiveness of his personality then and still. Every day of his life has been a blessing for me.

Monday, November 25, 2019


Most people know Michael from his scene stealing performance in BONNIE AND CLYDE, and that's the way I first knew him too. Then in my Hollywood years (the '80s and '90s) I encountered him at social events and ended up being acquaintances who stopped to talk whenever we ran into each other. In my experience he was a very sweet, funny, and unique person. And a brilliant actor. He is already missed. I'm only sorry I never saw him after I moved back East. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Friday, November 22, 2019


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]

Thursday, November 21, 2019


me in the window of the loft I rented for 200 bucks a month on Duane Street in what would become "Tribeca" in the late 1970s where I lived with my then only two kids, Caitlin and Miles, and the composer/photographer who took this shot, Rain Worthington

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Today is transgender recognition day, or so I read, and besides commemorating all those who have lost their lives to transphobic terrorists and supporting transgender rights, I want to once again publicly declare my love and respect for the transgender people in my life and pledge to defend theirs, and all transgender people's, lives however I can.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Ever since I read a translation of Dante's LA VITA NUOVA when I was a teenager, I've loved books that mix poetry and prose, and even did that myself in several of my own books—ROCKY DIES YELLOW, CATCH MY BREATH, JUST LET ME DO IT, ATTITUDE, HOLLYWOOD MAGIC, OF—and mixed the prose up too, like essays, memoirs, fiction, etc. with poetry in IT'S NOT NOSTALGIA and IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE.

The other night I made a list in my head of my top five favorite books that mix poetry and prose:

Jean Toomer's CANE
William Carlos Williams' PATERSON
James Haining's A QUINCY HISTORY

I know there's many more but that's all I came up with.

*But just as I was falling asleep I thought of three more:

Eileen Myles' INFERNO
Yvonne De La Vega's TOMORROW, YVONNE

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Two photos taken during the few years after my cataract operation when I didn't have to wear glasses all the time. The first is me with my longtime buddy Karen Allen, and the second, shooting into a mirror at the gym, is the only selfie I ever took.


If I was in DC today (Wednesday) I would have been outside the White House protesting the visit of the Turkish Trump, Erdogan, who the resident of the people's house was entertaining while Erdogan's death squads were murdering Kurds who beat back ISIS for us. Made my blood pressure explode just thinking about those two murderous power-mad men meeting while Kurds die. Why aren't people in the street protesting any visit of Erdogan's?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


A four-hour distillation of the last decades of Russia's 18th Century ruler, Catherine The Great, this HBO mini-series depends for its appeal on Helen Mirren who is up to the task. Her ability to transcend any limitations of casting or script (including being too old for the early years of Catherine's rule) is once again on display. As a period costume drama it's sometimes campy fun, but the story is episodic and not very gripping. Mirren's performance, however, makes it all worthwhile, as always.

Monday, November 11, 2019


me and my buddy Murph during basic training in February or March of 1962 when I was 19 and at the beginning of my four years in the military...Veterans Day celebrates all veterans including those like me who didn't see combat (it's Memorial Day that commemorates those who died in wars)...

Saturday, November 9, 2019


"To oversimplify for a moment, it may be said that life stinks, the human experience stinks, every individual stinks, and having said that, from having known the truth of it, the validity of it, you begin to come out from under when you reply to this truth by saying, So what? By saying, Even so."—William Saroyan (from Here Comes, There Goes, You Know Who)

Friday, November 8, 2019


Thanks to my youngest, Flynn, for reintroducing me to this version of a classic:

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Nadia Osuwu (a new friend and favorite writer that everybody should read) and me after our reading at Pace Monday evening. Thanks to our host, old friend and poet Charles North, for pairing us for the event and giving me the opportunity to hear such a brilliant new-to-me voice.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


So I did this reading at Pace in Manhattan Monday, a day when my body and brain weren't working so well (some days are like that). It felt like a struggle for me. Though a lot of people said they liked it including dear friends there to give their support, and several students bought my book.

But the revelation that put the evening over the top for me was the brilliant prose of the other person on the bill, Nadia Owuso. When she began reading from the beginning of her slim book—so devilish a fire—it made up for any problems I was having as I was totally swept away by the imagery and lyrical originality of her sentences, more like a poem's lines (as poet John Godfrey pointed out later), each paragraph the poem.

I bought the book, and when I got back to Jersey stayed up half the night reading it through and being more and more impressed with each page turned. It joins the company of my all-time favorites, this  unique blend of memoir, history, journalism, and literary essay, that gives a deep glimpse into an equally unique life and intelligence. Get ahold of a copy and see for yourself.

Sunday, November 3, 2019


Tomorrow, Monday, November 4th, at 6PM, I'll be reading my poetry and Nadia Owusu reading her work at Pace University, Schimmel Theater entrance, 3 Spruce Street (a block East of City Hall), up one curving flight of stairs, then bear left to Bianco Room on right, introduced by Charles North (includes a Q&A). Free and open to the public. And for Old-Timers who can't do stairs, there’s an entrance on Spruce St. halfway down the block, before you get to the Schimmel entrance. The Security guard will know—by 5:00 p.m. probably—that some outsiders may be entering there for the reading. Once past the turnstyle on the right (which the guard will have to open), walk straight to the Bianco Rm., first along a courtyard, then through a door and down an indoor corridor (maybe 100 ft. all told?); the Bianco Rm. will be on the left.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


First movie I was in as a member of The Screen Actors Guild, so had to add my middle name David because there was already another Michael Lally in SAG. It was also the last movie Gloria Grahame was in before she died, and one of John Carradine's last. 1981. Originally called THE NESTING but I found this poster with this different name online. It's in a few cult classics books.


me as Sykes the pit bull owner on the set in Alaska of the movie WHITE FANG in a costume I helped pick out, with James Remar on my right and Bill Mosley behind my left shoulder 1990


Maybe posting about the movie THE RIDER recently sparked my unexpectedly making an alphabetical list of movies in my mind with titles that begin with "THE" as I fell asleep last night, here's as much as I got (and yes, I realize a few of these films have scenes or themes that are politically incorrect, and characters that are at times far from being "woke"—but they were old (mostly) favorites of the art of movie making that came to mind):

The Americanization of Emily
The Big Sleep
The Commitments
The Devil And Daniel Webster
The Equalizer
The Full Monty
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009 Swedish original)
The Hustler
The Informer (1935)
The Jerk
The Killers
The Last Of The Mohicans
The Maltese Falcon
The Naked Civil Servant
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Princess Bride
The Quiet Man
The Rider
The Searchers
The Thin Man
The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
The Verdict
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
The X?
The Young Savages
The Z?

Monday, October 28, 2019


Just a reminder that a week from today on Monday, November 4th, at 6PM, I'll be reading my poetry and Nadia Owusu reading her work at Pace University, Schimmel Theater entrance, 3 Spruce Street (a block East of City Hall), up one curving flight of stairs, then bear left to Bianco Room on right, introduced by Charles North (includes a Q&A). Free and open to the public.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Another movie I missed last year that was recommended by friends but only just caught tonight on cable, NONA is an incredibly powerful film that will open and then break your heart, and is meant too. But still totally worth watching, partly for the cinematography and writing and direction. But mostly for Sulem Calderon's performance in the title role. Exquisite work. Deserving of an Oscar.

Friday, October 25, 2019


I finally got to watch THE RIDER straight through and now understand why my friends kept recommending it. It deserves every award it was nominated for and more. It's as perfect a film as there can be. Director/writer/producer Chloe Zhao uses "real people" (as opposed to previously professional actors) so well, anyone in the film could have been nominated for their performance.
And the breathtaking cinematography by Joshua James Richards only enhances the performances. But it's Brady Jandreau in the lead who carries the entire film on his shoulders, and wow is he good. A must-see film I'm sorry I waited so long to see, but know I'll be watching it again and again over the coming years,

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Two photos from my reading in LA (Venice, actually) last December, hugging old friend Eric Avery who I hadn't seen in years, and with old friend Eve Brandstein who helped organize the reading, and old friends Blaine Lourd, Emil Schneeman, and Flo Lawrence behind us. Yay poetry.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


That's me in the last row with my hand to my head (astonished by a word or line I'm guessing) (and to my left poet Jeff Wright and to my right, my youngest Flynn and next to him his friend Luke) at a poetry reading last night in Manhattan, where everyone of the five poets (Keisha-Gaye Anderson, Gillian Cummings, Heather Treseler, George Guida (who took the photo), and Mark Statman), and one prose writer (Katherine Koch reading from a memoir) had their moments of word magic. I had gone to see Mark and Katherine and was pleasantly surprised to discover some of the others, and totally delighted by the work Mark and Kathrine read.

I've been attending poetry readings since the late 1950s and running weekly reading series for a lot of that time, so at this point and age I not only have some challenges getting to readings but my initial impulse is to feel the cumulative weight of sixty years of going to them at least once and often several times a week and decide to skip them. But when I do feel up to it, I am always engaged and even entertained and often inspired. And despite the occasional disappointment, and even then, I find it always worthwhile and almost always fulfilling. Happy to see so many others still do too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Almost ten years after the brain operation that knocked out my lifelong list-making compulsion, or even capacity, the latter occasionally returns, as in my waking up this morning and starting to compose in my head a list of favorite movie musicals or movies with music in them (probably prompted by my ROCKET MAN post yesterday) and for some reason they came in couplets (I'm sure there are more, because I have always loved musicals, but these are what came to me):


AMELIE (I don't remember if this is an actual musical
but somehow I remember it as such, the music of her whimsy?)



















Monday, October 21, 2019


Finally caught ROCKETMAN on cable and sad to say I was disappointed. I like Taron Egerton but he was either miscast or misdirected or both. And not served by the script, so reductive the story could've been a fifteen or twenty minute movie. There were a few scenes that worked but the framing device of the group therapy sessions where it's all about Elton and no one else didn't help (except when he finally embraced his boyhood self). The rest was music videos that did not bring me, at least, anywhere near as much emotion and engagement and sheer joy and exhilaration than just listening to the original Elton John/Bernie Taupin songs still does. Oh well.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


I didn't know Kate well, and in my memory of our few encounters they were contentious, which I certainly could be and so could she. But I was happy to have my work in a poetry anthology along with hers. It was called "POETRY LOVES POETRY" An Anthology of Los Angeles Poets edited by Bill Mohr and came out in the mid-1980s when we were both still living in L.A. She had lived there since she was nine and was famous for her darkly lyrical prose about the city. You can find many quotes online from her novels and interviews that are exceptional, here are two:

"They will say I smoked cigarettes and marijuana, cursed hoarse as a crow in all my languages, and loved morphine and Demerol and tequila and pulque, women and men. I will shrug my illusion of shoulders and answer that I am a water woman, not a vessel, not something you can sail or charter. I am instead the tributary, the river, the fluid source, and the sea itself. I am all her rainy implications. And what do you, with your rusted compass, know of love?"

"Women have waited millions of years, growing separate as another species, with visions and priorities no man-words, no man-measurements can comprehend."

They sum up nicely her intentions and impact I think. And here's a lovely stanza from "Fortunate Season" one of two poems of hers in the anthology:

In a silk-lined drawer
I keep a gold bracelet
wide as a fat man's thumb.
And a ruby ring bright as Mars
that one night in August
when she hangs low and close,
almost touching the gate
like a great rare moth.

If you don't know her work, check it out, that's where writers rest when they're gone.

Friday, October 18, 2019



Michael Lally & Nadia Owusu

Monday Nov. 4, 6:00 pm

Free and open to the public

Pace University Bianco Room

Schimmel Theater entrance: 3 Spruce St (a block east of City Hall)

Up one curving flight of stairs, then bear left; Bianco Room on right

Introduced by Charles North

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Photo booth shots of me in an amazing coat someone gave me in the early 1970s when I was still in DC (taken on a trip to New York) and in the mid-1970s when I was living in New York with my second child, Miles (making what he thought was a funny face), who stopped needing glasses a few years later and hasn't needed them since. He turns 50 next month.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


I watched all three hours and can say that everyone on the stage had at least one moment I could applaud or even cheer. But also most of them had moments that bugged me. I'll vote for whoever wins the nomination anyway. But here's my short take on this debate.

Sanders gave us classic Bernie lines and passion and energy. Looked good.

Biden showed why a lot of older African-Americans and white blue-collar men like him. He still has what I call political charisma at times. But his language glitches and fumbles are growing more frequent.

Warren fielded the most incoming and for my taste handled it all with her usual schoolmarm/professorial charm and poise. (The moderators and a few candidates kept trying to get her to say the phrase "I will raise taxes," but she knows any candidate who says that will be hearing that soundbite for the rest of the campaign and will lose, so she made her point repeatedly that her plan will lower overall costs for working folks etc.)

Klobuchar did her best yet, I'd say. Clever at times, tough at times, but also shaky at times.

Booker may have done his best yet as well, and won the not-demeaning-other-candidates medal.

Castro seems to have less and less political charisma the more debates he takes part in, unfortunately.

O'Rourke's moment has come and gone, too often he looks like an ambitious child among adults, despite his good positions on some policies.

Harris still has impressive moments, where her intellect and experience make her seem the toughest and smartest debater on stage, but she also always has a moment of too obviously thinking she's clever when she actually seems mean.

Gabbard is still the most mysterious, which adds to her attractiveness but at times comes across as on the wrong drug or in the wrong cult. Not meaning to sound so snide, but at times she just seems like she's almost unaware of what's actually going on.

Steyer was a pleasant surprise to me. I liked pretty much everything he said, but he definitely doesn't have the kind of political charisma necessary to win.

Yang said some great things but seemed disconnected from the wider world of experience and reality and more like an ambassador from techville.

Buttigieg scored in the eyes of the TV pundits, but not mine. For the first time I saw his manipulative and even cold side and didn't find it reassuring.

That said, any of them will still make a better president than the present one.

Monday, October 14, 2019


John and I were friends during a few years in the 1970s. He introduced me to William Burroughs and took me to Burroughs' pad—"the bunker"—in a converted men's locker room in an old "Y" on the Bowery (at least as I remember it). John was a star in the downtown scene and poetry world, with his reverb style of reading poems where the words echoed, each word or phrase or line repeated. He admired the confrontational sexual honesty in my sometimes controversial poetry of the time, not unlike some of his. But then he included part of a reading I did at The Saint Mark's Poetry Project on one of his "Dial-A-Poem" record albums—this one a two lp set called BIG EGO—that caused him some flack from some other stars of the downtown scene for including my piece they misinterpreted in ways that made it seem I was what I was writing against. After that I didn't see him much, but he went on to have an even bigger impact on the world, and rightfully so. Here's the group photo of some of those on that recording:
As far as I can tell from the viewer's left to right, that's the late great poet Ted Greenwald, Laurie Anderson, me, John Giorno, Jackie Curtis, Harris Schiff, Eileen Myles, Robert (I can't think of his last name), and Steve Hamilton.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


I didn't see anyone filming it, but I hope it was at least audio recorded, as today's Mass-Transit-reading-series-from-the-early-1970s-in-DC reunion was a deeply moving and satisfying event. I so love to be among my poetry clan and share the creative spirit that moves through all of us. Happy to have seen old friends even if I didn't get a chance to talk to all of them. May the spirit of that time and place continue to live on.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Photo of me taken by the late Len Randolph, around the time I came out as gay in 1972, because calling yourself "bi-sexual" in the radical circles I traveled in was considered a liberal cop out. I never liked the idea of "bi-" anyway, since it implies only two kinds of sexuality and love interest, when I feel I've experienced as many kinds as I possibly could in one lifetime, and every experience with every love and lover was different, thank the gods and goddesses.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


My recently turned 22-year-old son Flynn, between his friends Chloe and Dante, in the set up spot for photos (with a choice of various words for backdrop) at the venue I read my poetry at in Manhattan a couple of Wednesdays ago. New generation.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


On October 13th, at 3PM, I'll be reading at Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street NW, in Washington DC, with other poets (Terence Winch, Tina Darragh, P. Inman, Bernard Welt, et. al.) commemorating the early 1970s weekly poetry reading series Mass Transit. Here's a link.

Monday, October 7, 2019


I've always romanticized The Kurdish people. Probably because they're an ethnic group without a country that has never given up fighting for their land since white Westerners created the arbitrary boundaries of The Middle East and left The Kurdish territory divided among several nations. And because they are more democratic, including socially, respecting women in ways most other Middle Eastern countries do not. Some of their most famous warriors and leaders, even now, are women.

Yet in recent times the democracies of Europe and the USA have sided most often with the repressive authoritarian misogynist Islamic countries against the Kurds in their struggle for a homeland, with the few exceptions being when we need them to fight for us, like against Saddam Hussein or more recently ISIS. And now that they've helped, even led, in the defeat of ISIS, once again we're abandoning them. This time to the Turks, who have been waging a war against The Kurds for decades, including trying to wipe out their language and customs in the Kurdish parts of Turkey.


Sunday, October 6, 2019


I never met him, but admired his musicianship. Here's the isolated drum track for "White Room" where you can hear his solid yet subtle rhythmic genius. What drum machines attempt to emulate but never can.

Friday, October 4, 2019


I never knew her personally, but admired her "from in front"—as we used to say. She was a political activist, but her acting career as an "African-American" leading lady on TV and on Broadway and in films was its own kind of political activism, breaking barriers that should never have existed in the first place.

Thursday, October 3, 2019


I saw where there was some kind of designated and separate days recently for honoring "sons and daughters" but I celebrate all three of my children every day in my heart. These are my oldest children, Miles and Caitlin, when they were little and briefly blondes c. 1971. [Not sure who took the shot.]
 And this is my youngest child, Flynn when he was fairly little c. 2002. [Jamie Rose took the photo.]