Thursday, April 30, 2020


Me and my best friend, poet/Irish musician/songwriter Terence Winch in I think the late 1980s. Have no idea why he's holding a copy of Irish America with Joe Biden on the cover or why I'm pointing at it, but my guess is we thought it was funny. Man I loved that vintage shirt with the stars on the collar.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


As a response to constantly hearing the word that begins with a hard "c" and we can't get away from too easily, I thought I'd make a list of favorite movies whose titles begin with a hard 'C" starting with my boyhood:

CASABLANCA (1942, the year of my birth though it was made the year before)
CABIN IN THE SKY (1943, for the talent not the unfortunate racist tropes)
THE CLOCK (1945)
CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1962)
THE COOL WORLD (Shirley Clarke's film from 1963)
CABARET (1972)
CAR WASH (1976)
CRY-BABY (1990)
COOL WORLD (1992, Ralph Bakshi's partly animated film, I did the voice for "Sparks"—Kim Bassinger's cartoon character's cartoon boyfriend)
CLERKS (1994)
CON AIR (1997)
COP LAND (1997)

[got to be more 1980s and more recent ones but this is all I came up with]

Monday, April 27, 2020


As I've said, every month is poetry month to me, but since we're nearing the end of the official poetry month, I thought I'd list (more or less chronologically) some anthologies (selections from many writers) that I like and have poems in, (some never published anywhere else), and including the one I edited as well: NONE OF THE ABOVE. Most are out of print, but if you're into poetry, I bet used copies can be found online.

CAMPFIRES OF THE RESISTANCE: Poetry From The Movement (1971) edited by Todd Gitlin

ANGELS OF THE LYRE: A Gay Poetry Anthology (1975) edited by Winston Leyland

NONE OF THE ABOVE: New Poets Of The USA (1976) edited by Michael Lally

BROADWAY: A Poets and Painters Anthology (1979) edited by James Schuyler and Charles North

THE SONS OF THE MALE MUSE: New GayPoetry (1983) edited by Ian Young

"POETRY LOVES POETRY": An Anthology Of Los Angeles Poets (1985) edited by Bill Mohr

HANG TOGETHER: The Hanging Loose Press 20th Anniversary Anthology (1987) edited by Robert Hershon, Dick Lourie, Mark Pawlak, Ron Schreiber
OUT OF THIS WORLD: An Anthology of the St. Mark's Poetry Project 1966-1991 (1991) edited by Anne Waldman (gets my date of birth wrong so groups me with younger poets!)

MONDO MARILYN: An Anthology Of Fiction And Poetry (1995) edited by Lucinda Ebersole & Richard Peabody

GRAND PASSION: The Poets Of Los Angeles And Beyond (1995) edited by Suzanne Lummis and Charles H. Webb

IDENTITY LESSONS: Contemporary Writing About Learning To Be American (1999) edited by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan

THE OUTLAW BIBLE OF AMERICAN POETRY (1999) edited by Alan Kaufman

FIGHTIN' WORDS: 25 Years Of Provocative Poetry And Prose from "The Blue Collar PEN" (2014) edited by Judith Cody, Kim McMillon, and Claire Ortalda

READINGS IN CONTEMPORARY POETRY: An Anthology Of Poems Read At DIA 2010-2016 (2017) edited by Vincent Katz

[and as a bonus: THE POETS' ENCYCLOPEDIA (1979) edited by Michael Andre (mostly prose but I have a long poem about football! with photos!!)]

Sunday, April 26, 2020


Despite its flaws, I got totally hooked on HBO's first two seasons of MY BRILLIANT FRIEND and binged it over the past few days. Operatically melodramatic at times, with overcooked florid narration (I assume directly from the books it's based on) at least in the English subtitles, that despite my only knowing a couple of handfuls of Italian words I could still see where the translation missed, and with characters that sometimes are as frustrating as real people, nonetheless it is a compelling and engaging story of two girls born at the end of WWII in a poor neighborhood outside Naples, Italy.

I was born at the beginning of WWII so I was able to identify with the stylistic and social changes and influences in a lot of cases, and having grown up and lived in proximity to Italian immigrant culture I found a lot of the behavior familiar. Though the story (so far) reveals that one of the girls calls her more educated friend her "brilliant friend," it's clear from the get go that the friend with little formal education is the uniquely brilliant one, if also stubbornly self-righteous in her belief in her own self-taught knowledge filtered through her experience.

The series is shot, directed, acted, and edited beautifully, symphonically even. Can't wait for the third season.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


me (in glasses), old friend artist Paul Harryn, and my oldest son, Miles, when he was still a teenager, in Santa Monica sometime in the later 1980s?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Lewis was a poet, and an activist in restoring the LA River, and a friend of mine. We first met in the 1960s when mutual friend and poet Ted Berrigan sent Lewis to my place to meet me because he thought our poetry had some things in common at the time. I agreed, Lewis didn't, but he introduced himself to me anyway.

Over the years I was often envious of him. Back then he was married to the poet Phoebe MacAdams who not only was rightfully known as the most beautiful woman in the poetry scene but became one of our greatest poets. I was also envious, as many of us were, that his first major collection was published by one of the big publishing houses of the time and seemed to get the kind of establishment attention most of us downtown poets pretended to scorn but secretly desired if only to reject.

And he seemed to know all the cool people and was cool himself (he wrote a book about the BIRTH OF THE COOL (highly recommended though I quibbled with him about some of his takes in it)). He moved to LA a year or so before I did in 1982, and we did a reading together when I arrived that he set up in a cool bookstore in West Hollywood, the coolest part of LA at the time.

We even collaborated, though without my knowledge initially. He wrote a long piece years later that included some of my writing and then asked afterwards if it was okay with me, and it was. And he invited me to join him in his activism to restore the mostly concrete paved LA river to a more natural state and so I took part in many of his unique performance events along its banks.

Lewis was a big part of my life, bigger than I realized when I last saw him before I moved back East at the turn of this century. Once our competitiveness mellowed some with our aging, I could simply admit that I dug the guy. He was my friend. I already miss him a lot.

[The LA Times has a good obituary if you can get it to open without having to subscribe.]

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Based on Philip Roth's novel of the same name, the plot of which speculates what might have happened if Charles Lindbergh, the great aviation hero of the time, had run against FDR in 1940 and won. Lindy was an admirer of Hitler and an American First-er. Roth's version of an alternative history has President Lindy appeasing not just Hitler and his regime but the homegrown nazi-sympathizers and other anti-semitic and racist groups and individuals in the USA.

The novel seemed too exaggerated to some critics but has proven, unfortunately, to be almost predictive of our own times. Though not perfectly cast, the writing and direction are so compelling, at times disturbingly so, and some of the actors so good—especially Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, and Winona Ryder—that I highly recommend it.

[And as a postscript may I add that many of the details of a period and area I was born into (like the bus signs and the styles and the way the everyone was out in front of their homes on warm nights, the men standing in groups, smoking, and discussing politics, the kids staying out of the way doing their own thing, the women finally relaxing after a hard day's work, all having earlier gathered around the living room radio to hear the news and shows) were so well done I felt like I was time traveling to my childhood world.]

Monday, April 20, 2020


The group at the top should include rightwing media and qualify businessmen and evangelicals with "some"

Thursday, April 16, 2020


Every month is poetry month to me, but since April is officially poetry month I'd like to suggest that you help the publisher (seven stories press) of my last book (another way to play:POEMS 1960-2017) by buying it (a bargain for an over 500 page long selection of poems from fifty-seven years with a cover photo portrait taken by Gus Van Sant halfway through those years and dynamic introduction by Eileen Myles) and if you already own it, buying another copy for a friend, or buying another book from seven stories press from one of their many terrific authors like Howard Zinn, Kurt Vonnegut, et al.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Walking through my neighborhood, I'm lulled by the quiet,
the absence of traffic, evoking my 1940s boyhood when cars
were the exception and the pitiable whine of power tools did
not yet exist. The air as clear as memory, and everywhere else
now. The flowers blooming before most trees even have leaves,
the colors brighter in this pristine atmosphere. A masked
someone rides a bike a safe distance from me, followed by a
masked child on a smaller bike followed by a smaller masked
child on a scooter, all crossing a usually busy intersection with
abandon, no car in sight in any direction, and I think what a
blessing that the children will grow up remembering a moment
when the world was quiet and clear and slow as a heartbeat at
rest, not frenetic and polluted, distracted and driven by the
desires and demands of the greedy rulers of that other world.

(C) 2020 Michael Lally

Friday, April 10, 2020


My only living sibling, Irene Lally Koch, posted this photo (proof) taken in the Spring of 1942, shortly after I was born. I had a different proof that I used for the cover of my early book, THE SOUTH ORANGE SONNETS, but this shot from the same session was new to me, so thought I would share. My father was 43, mother 38, siblings Tommy 16, Buddy 14, Robert 12, Joan 7, and Irene 5. All gone now except Irene and me.

Thursday, April 9, 2020


Someone unknown to these skaters filmed them interacting with a little girl in theWashington Square dry winter fountain in Manhattan not long before everything changed and posted it on tik tok where it receive many thousands of likes. That's my youngest in the hoodie standing on his board at the beginning of the film and removing his coat at the end and his friends whose presence hanging out in my pad I miss, though thankfully he's here and taking good care of me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


When John Prine's first record album came out in 1971, it was on constant rotation in my house because as most folks alive then who heard it experienced, me, my wife Lee, and even our little children, as well as housemates ("commune" or "collective" was the word for group living in DC in the early 1970s) fell in love with his music (especially the lyrics).

My old friend Peter Case put it best on hearing of Prine's passing: "Thank God he lived."

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


My little Jersey village, where you usually can't find a parking space and the sidewalks are bustling and at least one of the restaurants always has a line of people waiting to get in. My apartment is right around the corner. [photo by journalist/novelist/photographer Elaine Durbach]

Saturday, April 4, 2020


APRIL 4TH, 1968

When Martin Luther King was shot I felt the
sudden shift in the atmosphere, like trying to
breathe underwater. It was three years since
Malcom X’s assassination and my new radical
friends and reading had opened my eyes to the
realities of class in the USA. Malcolm verbally
attacked white folks with impunity, but the
minute he decided it was not about race but
about the poor and the wealthy, BAM! King
spent years fighting racism and despite attempts
on his life and tons of threats seemed invulner-
able, but as soon as he organized a poor people’s
campaign talking about the haves and have-nots,
BAM! I wondered if the Marxists had it right.

(C) 2018 Michael Lally

Friday, April 3, 2020


A photo taken by I'm-not-sure-who at the reading I did at Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach CA in December 2018 with my dear friends: Eve Brandstein, and behind me in receding order Blaine Lourd, Emil Schneeman, and Flo Lawrence, a special night for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


I've had a crush on Teresa Wright since I was a boy. Having graduated from the high school behind the house I grew up in, only four years before I was born, she was our local movie star. She is one of the best and most popular stars of "Hollywood's Golden Era" and thanks to TCM you can still watch her greatest films and see why.

She is also one of the few movie actors to be nominated for two Oscars in the same year (Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress) and the only actor to be nominated for their roles in the first three movies they made. If you don't know her work, I highly recommend the four best movies she made: THE LITTLE FOXES, MRS. MINIVER, SHADOW OF A DOUBT (one of Hitchcock's best), and my alltime favorite film THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES.

[the photo is from the latter film and shows that even when crying her Irish eyes sparled]