Friday, December 8, 2023


The Night John Lennon Died


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) 1980 Michael Lally

[from my book Another Way To Play]

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