Four Poems by Michael Lally

BOMB 7 Fall 1983
007 Fall 1983

Lost Angels

I only wanted to go far, be a star,
understand the way you all are.
Love, money, friends, family,
a stimulating environment, some good books,
records, art, photographs, furniture,
place to sleep and eat and work,
make love and shower, shit and entertain in,
maybe a good car,
some free time,
your name in the paper now and then,
or in a magazine,
or on tv
your image too,
or in a movie, on a record, in a book,
or on the cover,
in the titles,
on the lips of strangers,
in the minds of a worldwide audience …

So you move to El Lay
to make money to become a star.
So you lived in New York City
to make art and smart sexy friends.
Which wasn’t enough.
So you move to El Lay where
She has almost transparently blue eyes,
so intense they give the impression
that there has never been a person
they haven’t seen right through.
She has to be over fifty,
perhaps well over, like in her sixties.
It’s so hard to tell these days;
or was it always?
Her eyes communicate such strength
when you look into her still beautiful face
you feel beyond time.
Her body gives it away a little.
Small, but not delicate,
there’s something obviously
deteriorated about it
that seems in such contract to her face,
unlike those strenuously physical
geriatric excersisers whose bodies
always seem to be made up of knots
and wires and strings and really ugly
imitations of some impossible youth.

I love her.
I fell in love with her the first time I
looked into her eyes. I can’t resist a
woman who sees right through me and
is beautiful too. She’s the real thing,
a total woman, smart, beautiful, and
old enough to be my lover, I mean mother,
maybe. Maybe not.
I’m not that young myself anymore, just
having walked through the door marked forty.
The best thing about which was
suddenly realizing why old guys can find old gals
sexy. When I was a kid I could never understand
the obvious attraction
my middle-aged aunts could still retain for
my middle-aged uncles and vice versa.
Now I know. There’s a girlish glow
to most grown women that never disappears,
and if you went through the same or close-by years
with them, you can’t help but see it,
and it makes you feel some kind of sympathy and
understanding for them, and then
on top of it they have this look
of having been through some things,
around the block as many times as you,
and that creates some crazy sexy feelings too.
It’s all so new,
being old,
I mean older that I thought I’d ever live to be
and still be me.
These are some thoughts that moving from New York
to El Lay has provoked. There’s so much space here
to panic in. The idea of “image” was crucified here
for everyone’s sins and then resurrected to be
worshipped for as long as this place lasts
and influences the rest of the world.
Hollywood, one of the greatest sources of power
the world has known, and no real throne, armies
or obvious superiority except occasionally
in technical, even artistic, ways.
But oh these fucking days of driving from one
crazy studio lot to another and feeling
as much at home as I ever did
in the apartments of my peers through all the years
of poetic ecstacy and self-destruction.
What other homes have we ever had, let’s face it,
then Hollywood, the New York of bebop & jazz
& street scenes & energy highs (& its flip side:
galleries & Frank O’Hara, off & off-off and then
on Broadway again) or “on the road” or on the tv
or radio or stereo or juke box.
Let’s face it Charlie
we coulda been real home lovers
instead of dream chasers which is what we are.
Only worse than the Romantics of old,
we can get real cold
and see right through that bullshit
as we watch, the technology unfold
into a future of dreams & nightmares we never


Another Day

“I think too much. Always have.”
William Burroughs

Betty Boop was popular when Burroughs was a lad,
being “bad” & never getting over it.
A paranoid sissy afraid of getting blown away
the way he “accidentally” offed his wife,
or so it goes in the story of his life
the way I first heard it. Now it’s us,
who grew up swinging to the last gasp of big bands
and jerking off to the minority music
in the midnight hour,
heads against the tiny speakers
of our rebuilt radios of early fifties delight,
in the dark, in our rooms, in the night,
alone, at home, the only one we “owned”:
the spirit of our beds and their dreams
where all things were possible to begin
& we could always win if we wanted to. We did.
But it was also the beginning
of the way we thought too much. “Too much”
was how we expressed our being impressed
with stuff that touched us in ways
we thought only our night-bed-thoughts could,
would, might. “Mighty nice” was the way
they may have said it in Burroughs’ day,
only that’s today according to the
who have adopted him as the emblem
of their despair over ever overcoming
their fear of the future as theirs,
afraid of their beds and the possible worlds
a kid could conjure up before the fear
of all those crazy people out there could interfere.
We are the crazy people Burroughs sometimes fears;
we mate with almost anything & take great joy in that
& plan to do much more. Any true junkie
is just the materialization of fear,
the fear of the organism’s despair,
while our dreams, our dreams transcended that,
didn’t they? Do they still? Is it a matter of will?
Let’s suppose it isn’t either,
and get on with it anyway. Another day is after all,
only another day.


Post Modern Romance

I always felt relaxed
around women and blacks
partly because they
seemed more tolerant
and less pretentious
about what they thought
they knew. Most white men
were experts on everything,
and if you challenged their
real stupidity it often
meant brutality on some-
body’s part. My heart
couldn’t take it. These
days, my experience with
blacks is limited, but
white women I encounter
too often seem intolerant
or pretentious or intimi-
datingly defensive or
at least completely certain
of their taste and opinions,
as though they knew every-
thing there is to know,
except exactly what they

It could almost
give me a headache, but
instead creates the urge
to resort to the obvious
macho tricks like “shut up
baby” or “talk to me
some other way, like say,
your beautiful body to
mine …” which despite
the new aggressiveness
still usually works, only
that ain’t usually
what I want, unless
they really do and know it,
in which case they would
show it long before they
spoke, and not by where
they bought their clothes
or whose teenaged fantasy
they might bestow on us,
but in the way they
make a minor fuss
about the chance for some post-
modern romance
and all that type-a-stuff.


For You

to Penelope Milford
“It is my rule TO UNDERSTAND
—Kenneth Patchen

I was writing that screenplay for you.
The bills are all due & someone else
knows how to make money while I got to
play games with my brains & the words
they throw at me, alone, feeling guilty
for an inability to get going on what
would have been the dream script of
our dream. It seems to have done a
fast fade, why is that? Am I dumb,
or just numb to the parts that don’t
rely on the heart for inspiration.

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we consummated our marriage / on a bed littered with sour faces / of dead presidents, liberated livestock / sweating through the dollars.

An Artist’s Guide to Herbs: Cloves by Harmony Holiday
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On resisting parasitic invasions—from the poisons in our soil, to toxic masculinity in the psyche.

A Wrinkle in Swing Time by Chase Quinn
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Friendship and the lies we tell ourselves in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time.

Originally published in

BOMB 7, Fall 1983

Daniel Schmid by Gary Indiana, Robin Winters, Lizzie Borden, Jorg Immendorf, Harry Kipper & Roger Herman, art by Carl Apfelschnitt, Kiki Smith, and more.

Read the issue
007 Fall 1983