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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.” 



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The Tree People | Shabana Shaikh

There are different ways in which people subsist
Some ‘live’ their lives, some only exist
No, not the unlucky ones without opportunities
But the lucky have-it-all’s bound by responsibilities
They breathe, feel hunger, go to sleep
After all these are life processes
Not for them the thrill of trying something new
Or the joy of successes
They are the ones who only watch
As others dream, plan and achieve
They can only look the other way
But they can’t get up and leave
For they are true to their root
Although they may branch out and bear fruit
They may feel uncomfortable on their tether
But they patiently wait for a change in the weather
They bear the sun, they bear the cloud
They bear the winds, but do not speak aloud
And this is how, alas!
Seventy-odd human years pass
Until one day when they are finally free
From living the life of a tree.

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Of light and darkness #poem #poetic prose #prose poem #poetry collection

He stepped into a space governed by love and hate at the same time. He did not understand how these two concepts melted into each other by means of interplay.

Light and darkness adorning the shoulder of the woman who wakes up in the arms of her lover. There is no distinction between the two. Both mold the roundness of her shoulder with its naked softness and its distinct sharpness. During the nights in which the moon is glossy and crisp like the crust of a country bread, the woman’s body gives birth to mountain chains and fragrant valleys.

The world remains the same as two lovers riveted onto themselves.

I know he loved me. Yet his mind was too pedestrian to understand.

excerpt from my book in progress: Remembrance of Love [working title]


My book, Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings, is available on Amazon here.
Please read my 2019 Author of the Year Interview at Spillwords Press here.

@short-prose-fiction (Gabriela Marie Milton)

image:  Agnieszka Barbara; Shutterstock [link]

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Nobody on earth-poet | Write Out Loud

Nobody on earth – Poet

Saturday, July 11, 2020

10:09 PM


He can never see

the depth of the sea

but can visualize the bed

and read the holy message


he can’t find an answer

but reads it later

without giving much importance

but silently avails the chance


what has he in store?

except to adore

the divine spirit

with a smile on the face to greet


what the poet has to do on the earth?

sing for humanity without fearing the death!

bring in the picture the real anguish and pain

and remain so close to their heart


he may not be visionary

with good oratory

 but shall have enough courage to convey

the real and actual divine way


nobody on earth can sing

the way he performs miracles and tries to bring

the much-awaited harmony

as wished by an almighty


Hasmukh Mehta

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"Homage" [by Tony Towle]

It was not the cup of hypnoerotic tea
but the calculation in her memoirs
that stirred the secret possum
hiding in the crowd
to dream of thermal compatibility.

As I was explicating these lines
to an immense golden hawk,
in language that I hoped it would understand,
and the leaf people jostled for position overhead
on the twigs of the sacred grove,
I heard the voice of a poet:
“Would you like me to help you cross the street?”
Or maybe it was “across the street”
but it was a real street I had to cross,
and a real poet, a poet who wanted to ensure
that I made it to my next poem,
the one where he would help me to cross a street
so I could safely attend his reading.

from Noir (Hanging Loose Press, 2017)

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A Familiar Truth | Gil Hoy

For so long as the NRA
controls Congress

With its pumping


Corrupting souls
Buying silence

Innocents will
continue to die

From high-powered
Weapons of War

Bought in America
like a bag of groceries
from a grocery store

While Wayne LaPierre
Scribbles his want list
for Republican

Bought and sold
baby-kissers counting
their bankroll gore.

If Congress had lead balls
in its hearts, brains

If images of dead
school children grew
so palpable, so intimate

That their fever
opened a passageway

To eternity and back
Would the madness
Stop then?

Would lone wolves
Still sing their rancid
Noteless songs

A Witch’s Brew of shrill
staccato tempo

Pigeons intheblinkofaneye

That numbed ears
don’t see anymore

That tastes forgotten
and too familiar

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Wanda | Roy Pullam | Best Poetry Online

Your control
Ran cool and deep
As you spoke
To power
They wanted you
To scrap and bow
As others
Of your skin
Color did
How they
Resented your opinions
That turned
Their necks red
But emptied your spleen
Black men
Swung for
Years before
But words
A free
Black woman
Confirmed by right
Stiffened in resolve
By injustice
You would not accept
I smiled
At your courage
How hot the truth
The unexpected scald
That helped them
Find their place

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My poem “She-God” published in Rise Up Review + where to submit current event poems – Trish Hopkinson

Call for Submissions

Tremendous thanks to Rise Up Review for publishing one of my more recent feminist poems “She-God” in their Summer 2020 issue along with some brilliant and diverse work I’m honored to be next to. Specifically, don’t miss “Pyriscence” by Angelique Zobitz–a prose poem in three parts, using erasure to isolate the core meaning.

My poem “She-God” is a statement of feminine strength and rejection of patriarchal myths. This poem has been aching for a good home and after 35 rejections, I knew Rise Up Review would be perfect.

Rise up Review  is an online literary magazine and “a landing site for the language of opposition.” Founded by Sonia Greenfield, they publish poetry and personal essays and will re-open for submissions in August and September for a special fall election issue.

For a list of other lit mags/journals publishing poetry on current event topics:

16 lit mags/journals to send your current event poems

If you like this post, please share and/or follow me on Facebook or Twitter. You can find all resources for poets/writers on my Start Here page.