Tuesday, December 28, 2021


A dark comedy worth watching. Terrific cinematography and editing help make this doomsday scenario compellingly deadly serious and seriously funny at the same time. As does the acting. Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Rylance, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, and everyone else in the cast are jammin'. And though I find Leonardo DiCaprio is sometimes miscast, he's perfect in this. If anyone is miscast, it's Timothee Chalamet, though he does a great job despite that. Once again director/writer Adam Mckay scores.  

Friday, December 24, 2021


Part of one of my many yet to be organized bookcases (photo by Hannah Bracken).
[click on photo to read]

Wednesday, December 22, 2021



Me in1968 (the year I ran for sheriff of Johnson County on The Peace and Freedom Party ticket) in front of my then family's (wife Lee and baby Caitlin) married-student-housing WWII surplus quonset hut at the U of Iowa, and me a month or so ago on the street where I now live in upstate NY with the neighbors' car and abode behind me...

Saturday, December 18, 2021



What I remember most about the LA writer Eve Babitz's presence are her smile and laughter. We hung out in 1980s LA and I can picture her sitting at my kitchen table, maybe wearing a broad brimmed hat or having just taken it off and throwing back her head and laughing at something I, or she, said, or tilting her head and smiling at me in a way that seemed to say, are you for real?

We came from very different class and ethnic and geographical and gender and cultural backgrounds and lots more differences, but we were close in age (both born in May, me in 1942, her '43) and shared an approach to writing that was sexually more honest than most of what was published before we came along. But she was much better at not taking herself, or anyone for that matter, too seriously.

Her books and her conversation exposed me to an LA I hadn't known about with an honesty and insight I found compelling, as I did her, even if we were so different. When we lost touch over the years, I missed her, still do.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2021


Among my r&b 45s as a 12-year-old in 1954 was this. Prescient then, history now.  

Sunday, December 12, 2021



Taffy, the golden retriever I now live with, admiring a painting by my daughter Caitlin. [photo by Hannah Bracken]

Thursday, December 9, 2021


Me c. 1978 at the only 9 to 5 job I ever had (quit after less than two years) at The Franklin Library where I designed and wrote their First Editions series newsletter (and other series readers' guides) including interviews with authors like William Saroyan, my favorite writer from my late teens to recently, 

I'm the one in the widest tie looking at Saroyan and his famous mustache instead of the camera. 

Thursday, December 2, 2021


Three years ago this month, me reading at Beyond Baroque In Venice CA, on a "national" tour for my last book, Another Way To Play: Poems 1960-2017. One of the top great poetry reading experiences of my life. [photo by Cheryl Bianchi]

Saturday, November 27, 2021


Me and my first son, Miles, in 1975 when he was still five and I was single parenting him in lower Manhattan with the help of friends and lovers...

...and Miles and me and Taffy in front of the house we are now sharing (along with his partner, Hannah) in upstate New York a couple of weeks ago before we got covered in snow today, his 52nd birthday... 


Friday, November 26, 2021


 "Stop worrying if your vision

Is new.

Let others make that decision—

They usually do.

You keep moving on."

—Stephen Sondheim (from "Sunday In The Park With George")

Thursday, November 25, 2021


My late cousin Paddy Lally in front of the cottage where my paternal grandfather, also Michael Lally, grew up outside Athenry in County Galway, Ireland. Paddy was the last one to live there before it began to crumble after he moved out and there was no longer a constant peat fire going to keep the moisture that rots out. I come from people indigenous to a land that was invaded and taken over by colonizers which led the the genocide too often called "the famine" (the English and Irish Protestant landlords didn't starve). Any descendant of Irish Catholic immigrants who doesn't mourn and honor and work to redress the genocide and colonization of indigenous people in the "Americas" betrays their ancestors and heritage.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


In the mid-1960s I sent Robert Bly a poem of mine for his magazine The Sixties (called The Fifties when he started it back then) and got a smartass rejection letter back that I responded to with a smartass poem. After four years as a low rank court-martialed serviceman in the military I had gotten fed up with poetry editors treating me and my work like we didn't know what we were doing, so I used the G.I. Bill and applied to the U of Iowa Writers Workshop to get credentials I could flash to show I knew all their tricks and supposed knowledge about poem creating but I was doing it my way with full understanding of the literary traditions and standards I was choosing to either reject for/or transpose into my own original ones. I was unique among my fellow grad students who mostly graduated from prestigious colleges in that I hadn't graduated from any yet (Iowa let me work on a BA and MFA at the same time).

Bly had attended the U of Iowa Writers Workshop earlier, but downplayed it because even though Iowa was the first, "Workshop" MFAs were seen as a sign of poetic conformity, a kind of cookie-cutter poetry/writing factory product. But I worked hard for mine, and not just writing papers and passing tests I had to get A's on to be allowed to continue to work on two degrees at once while I held several part-time jobs and was a husband and father and newspaper political columnist and reviewer and ran for sheriff on The Peace and Freedom ticket and more, so I owned my degrees. Although my scheme didn't work as, even after all that editors and publishers and critics and reviewers and some fellow poets continued to treat my poetry as inferior to what they judged as worthwhile.

But over the years I continued to run into Robert Bly or his poetry, I liked some, until the last time I saw him in Irvine California the year the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize. His people had organized a weeklong conference called Harmonium Mundi, with panels during the day that included monks and priests and ministers and psychologists etc. discussing various topics searching for agreement, and at night in a huge arena cultural events that juxtaposed e.g. performances by a Russian traditional peasant chorus followed by a Japanese Noh orchestra and a William Blake poem read by Allen Ginsberg (we had lunch with my only son then the day Allen was there) or a Rumi poem read by Robert Bly.

I agreed to MC the nightly events only if they let me organize a night of poetry, which they did, but that's another story. Anyway, the night Bly was reading Rumi, we ran into each other backstage, me assuming he didn't know who I was, but as I walked past him to go on stage he whispered, "Thank you Michael," which stopped me. I said, "What for?" and he said "For all you do for poetry." I wasn't sure what he was referring to but it made me feel good.

Bly was a controversial figure in the poetry world, and some poets dismiss his work as too egocentric or unwoke or slight or a lot of other negative judgments, but I remember a couple of great anti-Vietnam war poems he published before almost any other poet did and that "Thank you Michael" and so say "Rest In Poetry" Robert Bly, with condolences to your family, friends, and fans.

(C) 2021 Michael Lally 

Monday, November 22, 2021



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]

Sunday, November 21, 2021


Photographer/poet/performer/stylist and dear longtime friend Bobby Miller styled and shot these two portraits of my oldest offspring, Caitlin (whom he's known since she was three), in 1980 (when she was twelve) and last week, forty-one years later. Pretty cool.

Thursday, November 18, 2021


A favorite photo of my best friend, Terence Winch, and me taken several years ago in Manhattan. He remembers us first meeting fifty years ago this month in DC (I thought we met earlier), so it's likely the 50th anniversary of our friendship for which I am eternally grateful. It was a while before we discovered that his mother came from only a few miles away from where my paternal grandfather came from in County Galway in Ireland. And decades before it was discovered that the maiden name of his mother's best friend in the Bronx, where Terence grew up, also originally from the same Irish village as Terence's mother, was Lally.

Monday, November 15, 2021


Thanks to Silvia Sanza for sending me this photo of a poem I wrote to Ted Berrigan (published in "thirst #1") and never included in any book of mine, though I really like it, now more than ever (not the sentiment but the writing) [click to enlarge]:

Thursday, November 11, 2021


Me and my buddy Murph in February 1962 during basic training at Lackland Air Force Base outside San Antonio Texas. I was 19 and had signed up for four years but they added two weeks, the extra time making up for the two weeks in July of that year when I went AWOL to San Francisco. Never got more than two stripes cause of my shenanigans. But was able to go to college on the G.I. Bill when I got out in '66.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


"Suppose you scrub your ethical skin until it shines,

but inside there is no music,

then what?"

—Kabir (from The Kabir Book, version by Robert Bly)

Tuesday, November 9, 2021



I met John in LA in the early 1980s and we became instant friends. We hung out a lot through the '80s and earlier '90s before I moved back East. But even after, we always kept in touch. He had some health challenges when I met him and I knew of his recent heart attack but it was still a shock to hear he had passed. He was a sweet man, mostly mellow, a great friend and musician (I wish he hadn't lost a tape we made in his basement with me on keyboards doing some of my best improvising, he usually played drums), and from everything I could see an easy mate, and even after his recent heart problems remained grateful for what he had. It sucks that our bodily presence has to end anytime, and my heart breaks for his beloved, Ellie Mae (in photos), but he will live on in the hearts and minds of those of us who knew and loved him. 

Monday, November 8, 2021


Great visit from two of my dearest friends and part of my chosen family, Sue and Jeanne: 

Thursday, November 4, 2021



My late sister-in-law "Sis" and me in Maplewood NJ, the town I lived in for the past 22 years and just moved away from. I think it was just a year or so before Covid, when she was 90 or close to it, and I was in my mid-70s...RIP dear "Sis"... 

Monday, November 1, 2021


I'm celebrating Celtic New Year's Day (and best friend poet/Irish musician/songwriter Terence Winch's birthday (which should be a national holiday)) in my new home in upstate New York in gratitude to my older son Miles and his partner Hannah's hard work making it happen up here (shout out to my daughter Caitlin for her help since) and my youngest son Flynn and his mother, Jaina, packing my stuff in Jersey and my dear friend Spencer helping them and renting the truck (and friends Matt and his son Ben helping them load it) and driving my tons of books and bookcases and too much art for the little old (1840) farm house that is now my and Miles and Hannah's home up here.

Hannah wrote the great poem on our new home's fridge (see photo: the musician is Miles, the farmer Hannah). Spenser took the selfie with most of those who helped unload the truck.

Spencer in dark beard, Miles behind him, then me, two helpers who work with my son-in-law Ed, in blue shirt and hat, my grandson Donovan, and in truck another co-worker of Ed's and with the long blonde hair longtime dear friend for over fifty years the great photographer Bobby Miller who recently moved with his husband to the next town over.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


That's me in the floral shirt, my two oldest brothers, a Franciscan friar and a musician/high school music teacher, both WWII veterans, to my right, in front of them my third oldest brother, just leaving his life as a teamster to become a cop, leaning over his wife, daughter of a cop from the next street over, we all called "Sis," an independent working woman, my mother and her mother in front of me , in front of them my other sister-in-law, an Italian-American accordion player from DC who led an all women band during "the war," her firstborn on her lap, and my two sisters, the oldest with the then fashionable "pixie cut," the youngest about to enter the nunnery for a few years, and the only one in this photo besides me who's still alive (though she woke up recently blind in one eye and almost blind in the other), and our father, a seventh-grade-drop-out who had just started a home repair business and had installed that mirror to make our small living/dining room appear bigger.

I've known "Sis" since I was a kid, a tiny woman, deceptively tough under a sweet spirit. No matter how much my behavior might have made her uncomfortable she always treated me with honesty, tolerance, kindness, and love, with a little humor thrown in. I adored her and broke down when I heard the news that she had passed last night at 93, even though she's joined my brother, her husband and is at peace now. The Irish I grew up around, like her, always said to the families of the deceased at the wakes: "Sorry for your trouble" because they believed the departed were at peace, and it's the ones left behind who face the trouble each death presents. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved her.

[photo of Sis in her 90s]

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


BECOMING HELEN KELLER is a PBS documentary in their American Masters series. It's pretty well done and shapes a more realistic and complete portrait of one of my sheroes. I had a crush on her as a boy (I know, I know, I get crushes on almost everyone I encounter, in real life or through other means) and when I later read her writing and speeches in my twenties, she became a model for a life as an activist/writer. And I still have a crush on her.


Sunday, October 17, 2021


"While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the true light."  —Jack Kerouac (from The Scripture Of The Golden Eternity) 

Friday, October 15, 2021


Love this shot of my father; his Irish immigrant mother (who lived down the street from us with my Irish immigrant grandfather and one of my father's brothers and his family); my brother Tommy who'd joined The Army Air Corps (WWII was still happening) and would later become Father Campion, Franciscan friar; my mother's mother (who lived in Newark but would soon be widowed and my father would turn the back porch we're standing on into a bedroom for her to live with us); my mother (who I have always adored, both before and after she passed when I was 23); and scowling little me (notice the laundry line pulley above my mother and me).

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


A few weeks ago a friend insisted I watch the Disney movie POLLYANNA. I was way past Disney when it came out in 1960, the year I turned 18, so I'd never seen it. But, I had heard the term used in connection with me over the years even then (the original story came out in 1901) as a put down of what some supposedly more sophisticated people took to be my naïvete and childish optimism.

I had already written dark poems and stories about racism and drug addiction and more in 1960, but my usual attitude was based in a belief in the infinite possibilities of love, So when I encountered my first intellectuals and academics and literary scenesters, I was often treated as less intelligent because I rejected cynicism and even irony for sincerity and tenderness. The word "sentimental" was used as a weapon against me.

So seeing POLLYANNA for the first time was a pleasant surprise. First for the extraordinary cast of Hollywood character actors and aging stars, and then for the unfolding story, and then for the obvious message of love and gratitude conquering cynicism and pessimism. So much so that I found myself close to sobbing at the end when my friend, the incomparable psychiatrist author Mindy Fullilove, said: "that's you, Michael."

Though I don't think I'm ultimately worthy of the comparison to the Hayley Mills character's purpose and impact, I sure am gratified that someone thinks I am.

Thursday, October 7, 2021


My youngest child, Flynn, turns 24 today (my two older offspring, Caitlin and Miles, in their early 50s), celebrating in Manhattan where he lives and works. Here's a photo of him and me when he was in his early schooldays, and one taken pre-Covid of us goofing in a neighborhood restaurant. How precious are the days we get to share with those we love.

Monday, October 4, 2021



This Tony Soprano origin story took a while to start making sense while I figured out which actor was playing which character from THE SOPRANOS. Some did a better job than others. And though Ray Liotta is as mesmerizing as ever, and Michael Gandolfini (James's son), as the teenage Tony, does a fine job, the movie belongs to Alasandra Nivola as Tony's uncle Dickie. 

My mother grew up in Newark and her parents still lived there when I was a little boy in the early 1940s, and I went to high school there in the 1950s, so I know the city well and was disappointed to not see more iconic landmarks and more authentic row house styles and looks, but that shouldn't bother anyone else. If you loved THE SOPRANOS you'll love THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK. If you didn't, you probably won't.

Friday, October 1, 2021


It might be hard to believe, but I have very rarely looked myself up on the internet. Partly because when I first got on it many years ago and did, almost everything I found contained misinformation. I realized pretty quickly that we don't have much, or any, control over these things. E.g. when I joined The Screen Actors Guild in 1979, there already was another, older Michael Lally, who had the right to use the name and "Mike Lally" as well, and he had a son "Michael E. Lally" who had the right to use "Michael Lally" when his father died. And there was a famous actor in Ireland named "Michael Lally" (affectionately called "Mick Lally" in Ireland), some of whose credits have been at times on the page for me (SAG wouldn't let me just use "Lally" so I added my middle name, David) on IMDb (and elsewhere). But I wanted to check a show I was on the other day so looked up "Michael David Lally" and found this odd autograph page that looks nothing like my signature back when I was in the films and TV shows highlighted, and what struck me was the great hair in the photo at the top (took me a while to identify the shot being from "Hardcastle & McCormick" where I played, as I usually did, a bad guy). What a trip, and what a life, grateful for it all, even, and sometimes especially, the mistakes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021



me and my son Miles in NYC c.1975 when I was a single parent
me and my son Flynn in 2003 in Maplewood NJ when I shared custody with his mother
me and my sons Flynn (in hat) and Miles c. 2018 in NJ

Monday, September 27, 2021




                                                   [thanx to LA friend Bill Wilson]

Saturday, September 25, 2021


My daughter Caitlin and me rockin' shortly after she was born in February 1968 in Iowa City.

My daughter Caitlin and me rockin' at a party in 2019 in Maplewood NJ.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021


I wasn't a close friend of Willie Garson's, but I hung out a few times with him and others in my LA years and bonded a bit over both of us being from Jersey. He was a really nice guy, as well as a terrific actor, and completely unpretentious. Gone way too soon. Condolences to his son and other family, friends, and fans. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Thursday, September 16, 2021


People have been coming by to say their laters ("good-bye" has always seemed too final for me, so I prefer the short version of "catch you later"). Here's the old man (me, 79) with the wonderful poet and dear friend Maria Serrano in the living room of my apartment, the place I've lived the longest (out of over 30) since I left home at 18 in 1960. [PS: I've been cutting my own hair for many years and still do even with the tremors!]

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Berry Berenson was a friend to me in my early years in Hollywood. She was married to the movie star Tony Perkins at the time and until his death in 1992. They seemed really loving to each other and I admired their relationship. And I admired her.

Though she was often noted more as Perkin's wife or as model/actress Marisa Berenson's sister, Berry was a wonderful actor in her own right (see REMEMBER MY NAME). But despite her fame-for-whatever-reason, at least around me she was always the least pretentious or self-centered person I ever met anywhere.

She came to a play I was in early on in L.A, Landford Wilson's BALM IN GILEAD, and after the performance stuck around to talk to me. One of the things she said to me that night was that she had only seen one other person in her life who had the kind of glow, I think that was the word she used, that I had, and that was Marilyn Monroe!

She was wonderful on screen and off, either in front of the camera or behind it (she was a great photographer), and I only wish, as I too often do with many friends, that I had made more of an effort to see her more often. Especially after I heard the news that she had been on one of the two planes that crashed into The World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

I knew some others who went down with the towers on that tragic day, like Father Mike Judge, but Berry is the one I think of most often. As I later wrote in a poem ("March 18, 2003"), she was:

"a woman who was kind to me when
she didn't need to be[...]
How many people have died
before you got the chance to tell them what you meant to?"

R.I.P. to all those we lost on that horrific day (and those we continue to lose).

Wednesday, September 8, 2021


This was my street a week ago, just a few doors down from the old house my apartment is in. We weren't impacted much but these businesses were. I'll be moving to The Berkshires soon (my kids don't want me living alone anymore, especially with Parkinson's), so if you live near me now, call and come by to say later, and see if you want any books I'm giving away (or furniture and other stuff). Oh, and Happy Jewish New Year from this Jersey Mick.

Monday, September 6, 2021


Labor day was traditionally the last day we spent down the shore in Belmar, New Jersey. This doesn't look like Belmar. My father leaning forward, cigarette in mouth, his youngest brother, my Uncle John, behind him in striped tee shirt, and the third guy most likely my old man's buddy, Rusty Zigler. Looks like the late 1930s or early 1940s. This is how grown men went to the beach when I was a boy in the '40s.

Thursday, September 2, 2021


That's me carrying the sign that says (somebody else made it): "DEFEND WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS STOP KAVANAUGH" protesting the whiney little bully's being appointed to The Supreme Court. Anyone who doesn't vote because they believe there isn't any difference between Democrats and Republicans should tell it to women in Texas...