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Michael Lally

Michael Lally: Pick of the Week [ed. by Terence Winch]


















Michael Lally, ca. 2008

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.


A former jazz musician, Hollywood actor, and radical organizer, New Jersey-born Michael Lally is first and foremost a poet. The author of more than thirty books of soulful, outspoken poems that have inspired many other artists, Lally writes with wry humor and the simple grace that is the mark of deep thought and conviction. He is the recipient of an American Book Award, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and other honors. Commenting on Lally’s landmark selected poems,  Another Way to Play: Poems 1960-2017 (7 Stories Press, 2018), Charles Bernstein wrote:  “Michael Lally’s risky, talky, autobiographic, ethnic, disarming, poignant, desperate, consoling, elegiac, wily, vernacular lyrics have been challenging the poetry world for half a century.” 



July 04, 2021

July 14, 2020

January 27, 2018

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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