Sunday, June 30, 2019

“look behind the eyes
i said and i say
 worry about the plumbing later”

—dick higgins 

(don't know what poem of dick's this is from but it's been bringing me comfort since I first read it and wrote it down almost fifty years ago)

Saturday, June 29, 2019


I don't watch men's soccer on TV because it has rarely engaged my interest for long: too little scoring and too much histrionics (the phony injury act). But watching the USA women's team play France today (well, technically yesterday) was one of the most delightful TV sports experiences of the last few decades. The woman of both teams were so athletically tough and talented it was pure pleasure to watch them compete. And Megan Rapinoe, who scored the US team's two goals, is such a charismatic star, I not only have a hero crush on her, if I had room on my walls I'd put a poster of her up on one.

Friday, June 28, 2019


The top photo is the late DC poet Ed Cox and me around the time we did a poetry reading at Catholic U. in DC in Spring of 1972. Ed had just come out a few weeks before me. We both read poems about love and relationships between men, mine more sexually graphic, for what we were told was the first time at that institution and maybe in DC. The young poet Tim Dlugos afterward introduced himself and said we were his heroes. For a while Ed stayed at the commune I lived in with my first wife and our kids and where I would challenge him and myself to try poses neither of us ever had, like letting a wrist go limp (a la the second photo).  I went on to wear ribbons in my hair and mismatched clip-on earrings and sometimes dresses, but unfortunately have no photos of that.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


I took part in the first Gay Pride celebration in Washington DC in early May of 1972, and marched with the Gay and Lesbian contingent in anti-war marches in 1972 and '73. I remember being in a photo on the front page of The Washington Post for one of those events which garnered lots of attention at the Catholic women's college I was teaching at then. Eventually leading to my being fired, partly as a result of my being openly "gay"—though I was what others called "bi-sexual" but I always dismissed as implying there are two kinds of sexuality when my experience was there are as many kinds as there are humans.

Initially coming out as a gay man in my 29th year was a political act, to show solidarity with my gay cohorts who were at that time maligned and oppressed and jailed and called mentally ill for preferring  same gender partners. But in recent years I've been identifying more with the "bi-sexual" label, because as was true back then and unfortunately still is, people on both ends of the spectrum of sexual choice and identity are still too often at best suspicious of the possibility of anyone being truly attracted to both of the traditional dominant genders and at worst see "bi" as a cop out (as I was told in 1972 by a leading activist, it allows for the pleasure of same gender sex with the privilege of not being seen as strictly gay and therefore suffering the prejudice etc.).

When I arrived in L.A. in 1982 at forty, looking for an acting career in films and TV to support my life as a poet, my poetry collections Hollywood Magic and Attitude had just come out and contained many poems about my fluid sexuality and identity which I was told by some meant death to the predictions I was the next (fill in the blank for bad boy actor). Most of the gay and lesbian actors I met were in the closet and stayed there. I looked forward to being interviewed on The Tonight show and flaunting my varied sexual past. But those who had warned me to bury that past may have been right as the expectations of agents and managers et. al. were dashed, as they used to say.

But I have no regrets and am still here and still proud of my past and of the young people who are more accepting of all the possibilities.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


As my friends know, I was a compulsive (like OCD compulsive) list maker all my life, constantly making lists in my head or conversations or writing, until my brain operation almost a decade ago after which I woke up with not only no compulsion to makes lists but no desire to and no capacity for it. Best I could do would be two or three items and then I'd lose any and all interest and go elsewhere with my thoughts or words.

But, in the past year or so I've now and then felt compelled to make a list in my head, rarely but still it's happened. The latest was falling asleep a few nights ago when I found myself listing the names of movies I liked that begin with a hard "c" starting with five, and then the next day thinking of more, and then today writing them down and looking up some dates so I could affirm them because I listed them in what I believed was chronological order and on researching the dates I saw a few more to add until here I am with this list:

CABIN IN THE SKY (has problems but worth it for Ethel Waters and others great performers)
CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (saw it for the first time a few days ago which prompted this list, my new favorite film, and made by Agnes Varda when she was 25 with no film education or experience!)
THE COOL WORLD (Shirley Clarke's masterpiece)
COOL WORLD (Ralph Bakshi's uneven mix of animated and real actors and action, in which I did the voice for the cartoon character "Sparks")

Monday, June 17, 2019


I got this photo off the Internet and am sorry I don't know who took it. I was looking for an image of Kevin from around the time we met and couldn't find one; this was the youngest version of him I could find (at least on Google). We knew each other in the 1970s through the mail and mutual friends, especially the late poet Tim Dlugos who was one of my closest friends from the day we met until the day he died from the AIDs plague.

Perhaps the first time Kevin and I met was when we, and Tim, read at Stonybrook on Long Island in March of 1980 (which I know because on the ride back to Manhattan in Tim's car Tim interviewed me for Little Caesar magazine (issue 11) and mentions it in the intro to the interview. We saw each other over the years and perhaps read together again, Kevin and I, and he contacted me not that long ago about hopefully seeing me soon, despite the reality that he was sick and that was unlikely.

He was a generous, open poet whose personality and work had a big and widespread impact on all those who encountered either. The outpouring of grief from so many of us demonstrates that. My heart goes out to Dodie and to his many friends and fans.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Here's a poem from the 1970s that was included in my latest book, Another Way To Play: Poems 1960-2017:


The suffering in 1942 as Spring
breaks open my mother for me.
In Europe the Jews, the Communists,

the Queers, the proud and
loving Rom are brutalized
again. The Irish in me is
emphasized, not the German,
not the Gypsy
I hope is there.

“You can’t write books” my father said
before I did, and after. At 75
me 32 he warns “Raise your children
right, get them through college
okay, then you can write your books.”

He knows a lot I don’t. I know
a lot he never thought of. We share 

ittle of that, though we share a lot.
Not much through words, but gestures
and the looks of him I carry always.
We are afraid of each other
like con men, or lovers, we know
we can hurt.

Friday, June 14, 2019


I am happy I got to see Holly when I was in L.A. last year. She was a wonderful poet and person and beloved teacher, and the wife of the great poet and actor Harry E. Northup, whose poetry often confirms his love for and deep appreciation of Holly. Theirs is one of the most admirable and enviable literary romances of the ages. My heart goes out to him and to all of Holly's family, friends, and fans. May she rest in poetry and peace.

And in case you don't know her or her work, I repost here a review I wrote of one of her poetry collections:

This latest collection of poems by Holly Prado is for my taste her strongest yet. Oh, Salt/Oh Desiring Hand is a terrific book, beautiful to look at and hold and read. Despite it's wide page format to fit Prado's sometimes very long lines, and good size print, it feels like an almost delicate work of art.

But "strong" is the word for Prado's humble honesty in confronting her age, her losses, her gratitude for the small delights of everyday life. Some of the best poems are in the first section with the longest lines, which I'm not going to try and reproduce in this post because I'd want to convey the way they look and read on the page not on my computer screen and its limitations.

But I'll type up two shorter poems with shorter lines so you can see the power of her unique poetic strategy and the ways it serves her subjects so well in this highly recommended collection:


our own housecat
who has forgotten

the kitten births but years later
mothers me    settles where I am
makes sure of me

this cat we call Rose who wants to know
us and now and then in sleep she
with others has spoken clearly

why do they have language
only when we can't remember?

once in the canopy above
the forest we knew each other
everybody knew each other


so few experiences now    each one then
huge    today's is glare off the parking lot

nothing like appalachian murder ballads
or wild orchids    but summer glare
does recite the effort of groceries    many car
doors opening the drivers shapely in sleeveless
well-fitting tank tops

how huge?    I'm writing it down so
it's that huge because it's what I have
for Thursday's blank page

we know everything:
how to dress ourselves
how to choose a ripe avocado
how to raise our hands    palms out
to rebuke the useless

Thursday, June 13, 2019


"let me get this straight--the women's soccer team (who are AWESOME!), made more goals in one world cup match than the men's team have in the last THREE world cup matches, and who celebrated after every goal, increasingly excited, so by the THIRTEENTH goal they were into the stratosphere, understandably and beautifully, thrillingly exuberant (isn't that what WINNING at sports is about...soaking in champagne...tearing down a whole city...etc.)...oh wait. they are being BULLIES, unsportsMANlike, and..what? mean? and especially by MALE dickhead commentators. SEXIST, anybody? and does this have anything to do with the fact that the female soccer players are suing, because they get paid less than a THIRD of what the players with penises do....? just saying. and, meanwhile, god those women are GREAT!"

—Darrell Larson (FaceBook post)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


I had seen Sylvia around at events in Manhattan in the 1970s, but it was when that decade was ending, as I remember it, that we actually met. I was at Saint Mark's for a Poetry Project event, probably the New Year's Day marathon, I was standing, my shoulder leaning against a wall, when I heard this raspy woman's voice behind me say something I no longer remember but it was definitely sexy and about her admiring my looks.

When I turned and saw her I recognized who she was, but she didn't know who I was. She asked if I was an actor, which I wasn't yet professionally, so I said I was a poet and to avoid interrupting the reading we went outside to talk, where I wasn't sure if she was kind of acting out a role or was seriously trying to pick me up.

I'd known, and understood as best I could, for many years about feminist criticism of the way women often were objectified, appreciated only or mostly for their physical attributes. But as a man, and as someone who had done gender-bending semi-drag in my feminist and gay liberation days, I had no objections to being objectified. But though I dug Sylvia's in-your-face personality and bluntness, something I was known for as well, I had no desire to go home with her.

She reacted like it was my loss, which it may well have been, and whenever we ran into each other after that, would tease me about it. She was an icon of Manhattan's downtown scene back then and after her Oscar nominated role in MIDNIGHT COWBOY became iconic to a worldwide audience. She was an original and one of the most committed actors you'll ever see on stage or screen and will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019


I clapped and laughed and cheered all alone in my pad last night at the finale of the first season of the BBC and HBO's series set in the 1830s: GENTLEMAN JACK. Created by Sally Wainwright and based on the copious coded diaries of Anne Lister documenting her adventures, especially her affairs with women, it is one of the best written and acted (especially Suranne Jones in the title role) and edited and art directed and shot and original projects on any screen right now.

Monday, June 10, 2019


As I sat on a grassy hillside in a park not far from my apartment, listening to live music surrounded by a diverse crowd of people of all ages yesterday—from older than me to infants—all celebrating the LGBQT+ community, either as members or allies, I was moved to tears remembering all the friends and lovers lost to the AIDs epidemic in the1980s and '90s.

I wished they had lived to see this display of love and support and pride in at least this town (and my hometown next door, and more) and all around the country. But was also saddened by the realities that so much judgment and hate and violence still exists. Black trans women are still being murdered, as are young queers of all kinds, including in cities only a mile or so from my town.

The struggles continue, but the progress cannot be denied, for now. Vigilance and resistance against the judgment and hate and violence must be our daily commitment. Or at least mine.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


So I took part in a poetry reading Thursday evening at the Montclair NJ public library. It was the publication reading for the 50th issue of the poetry mag LIPS, founded in 1980, and edited then and since, by Laura Boss who has sustained it with the help of Jim Gywn, and both are to be commended.

It was one of the best group poetry readings I've been to in many years, and the reason is because everyone who read a poem from this issue read well and all the poems were good, many of them simply terrific. I highly recommend you buy a copy of LIPS 50.

Here's the poem I read and is in the mag:


I have no fuckin’ clue what that’s supposed to mean.
Time is a human invention.
What’s a date to a fly?
What’s a day to a fly?
A lifetime.
What’s a day to a tree?
One breath.
Does my hair mean the 1960s has cast a spell on me?

Maybe it means the reason I love to watch
Old black-and-white movies on TV is
Because they remind me of my childhood
When my parents were still alive
And my three oldest brothers and
My oldest sister who I adored
And my aunts and uncles and older
Cousins and despite, or because of, the war
And all its horrors and the post-war challenges
The future looked bright and inviting
and my immortality certain.

Or, maybe it means despite the ways you’ve aged
When I heard your voice it brought back every
Moment of pleasure and joy we shared when
We both were young enough to still be ambitious
But old enough to appreciate an interruption of
That to take time for new love.

Or maybe it just means I’m old
But carry with me in every moment
The sum of my experiences
The total array of emotions and
Thoughts and all that I’ve witnessed.
So that in any situation or circumstance
The history of my life is there
With me, reminding me of how
Much time matters
When there’s so little left
To cast its spell.

Thursday, June 6, 2019


On this 75th anniversary of D-Day, a photo of me and my five siblings (there was another brother between me and my sisters who died as an infant) in 1944, me in my oldest brother's arms, he had joined The Army Air Corps (they became the US Air Force after "the war" as we called WWII), and my next oldest brother to his right (viewer's left) soon would join the Navy before graduating high school because the government, in need of more troops, offered high school diplomas to volunteers in their last year of high school. Everyone gone now except for me and the youngest of my two older sisters, Irene.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Me and David Milch being oversolicitous to each other on the set of DEADWOOD. I had the privilege of playing a character (Captain Bubb) on the last episode of the first season and thus becoming a small part of TV history. Many have called DEADWOOD the greatest TV show ever, even compared the writing (by Milch, the creator and main writer of the show, and full disclosure an old friend) to Shakespeare. And the recently aired ten years later sequel to the abruptly ended series—DEADWOOD: THE MOVIE—despite David's health challenges, lives up to that praise in too many ways to count. If you haven't seen the show the movie is still well worth watching, but I recommend watching the whole series and then the movie coda,

Sunday, June 2, 2019


Marched in a local Pride Parade today in the town I live in. A short march included walking through a famous intersection where the crosswalks are painted with the colors of the LGBQT etc. rainbow flag.

I marched in some of the first gay pride parades in DC and NYC and elsewhere, so this got me a little wet-eyed thinking about how far we've come and how far we still have to go. I'm grateful I've been a small part of LGBQT etc. activist history.

[photo by Chad Hunt]

Saturday, June 1, 2019


"It seems to me that everything in the light and air ought to be happy,
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave let him know he has enough.

—Walt Whitman (from Leaves Of Grass)