Sam Shepard (1943-2017)

July 31, 2017

Tags: San Shepard

Shocked & heartbroken to hear of the death of the great writer Sam Shepard. I've been a fan since the late 1970s, when I reviewed Buried Child for the City College newspaper. His genius was that his characters talk plain prose that’s also perfect poetry: how people should talk if they talked as they should. (more…)

Johnny in action, 1991

July 30, 2017

The back steps of St. Mark's Church in the Bowerie, home of the Poetry Project.
This was taken while he was being filmed for a (never finished) documentary about Jack Kerouac. I haven't seen the footage for a long time so I don't remember what he said, but he emphasized his points by bouncing down the steps. One of the few participants who was theatrical as well as smart.

I love this guy.

Update: This was the same project we filmed Sam Shepard for. Funny that I posted this picture the day he died, without knowing it.


July 28, 2017

Tags: Nikola Tesla

Tesla! I would just regurgitate the link, so go there—it's a comic—you will whiz through & be amazed!

Is it true that Edison mostly stole other people's patents? I used to spend time in northern Ohio, & I believe he's from Milan. Or am I somehow mixing him up with the Milan (pronounced MY-lin, by the way) Melon Festival? I must have read a kids' book about Edison—I remember he was deaf or near-deaf because someone boxed his ears on a train, & I spent a long time trying to understand how one's ears got boxed.

See, I'm doing the same thing (more…)

My window

July 27, 2017

I like that this photo makes it seem like my house is spare & serene, & practically in the woods. It is none of those things. We are borderline hoarders & have a giant cat who likes to leap out of nowhere & scare the bejesus out of us, & our courtyard is a dump. Also, the curtains & windows need to be washed, & we don't really get any sun.

Oxford treasures

July 26, 2017

A faire felde ful of folke
"500 Years: Treasures from the Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford" was the show we went to this afternoon at the Center for Jewish History. Early books—some handwritten, some printed—in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Anglo-Saxon, & Middle English, that have survived for hundreds of years. Works about the King James bible, biology, astronomy. I was moved by much of what we saw, maybe especially this page from Piers Plowman, because I know some of it & in fact borrowed a line for my "found" manuscript of medieval baseball: (more…)

Scientists embark on expedition to submerged continent Zealandia

July 25, 2017

Tags: Zealandia

It's like science fiction! Or the crazy UFO-history channels: Atlantis found! What makes our hearts beat harder than a "lost continent"?

Zealandia is half the size of Australia & surrounds New Zealand. It's an actual continent.

Read the article (link on photo caption)—it's interesting but I can't boil it down. I guess file this post under gee-whiz-science that I am interested in knowing exists but not so interested that I want to learn more.

October 3 Update The scientists are back & excited:


July 24, 2017

It's quiet & golden on the roof of a morning. It's like a midwestern dawn, with the air as sweet & fresh as silence.

I love the hectic city & I love the sleepy city.

Into the Valley of the Dolls Rode the 600

July 23, 2017

How is it I never used this title for a poem?
How is it I never wrote a whole book with this title?
Another wasted opportunity.
It's so good I wonder if I stole it
except I found it in a file more than 10 years old
so the answer to provenance—
one way or the other—
is, I'm sure, permanently gone.

Body by Mary Shelley

July 21, 2017

Johnny in a non-Armani t-shirt that he had made about 1990, lost recently, & just ordered again.
At the Armani store on Fifth Avenue, which we only went in because some guy at the bus stop said go, it’s amazing.

Johnny immediately said, let’s get out of here, I don’t like to be greeted so much.

I made him look at these wispy little shirts, quite ugly, with sequin butterflies on them, & others similarly kitschy. I can’t believe that wife beater is $345, I said.

It must be a trophy wife beater, he said.

Mysteries (part 2)

July 20, 2017

This was on my roof. It's a crocheted cover, covering something bigger than a pumpkin (& displayed on a cloth). I confess I was afraid to poke at it.

Mysteries (part 1)

July 20, 2017

I don't know how to get 2 pictures into one post, so there'll be 2 today but it's really one, & I have one question: What the hell are these?!?!?!

This one was outside my office on 5th St. It is foam with some cement stuck to it. A giant drain stopper, it looks like, but what? what? what?


July 19, 2017

Tags: Rachelle Garniez

My long-time neighbor & friend Rachelle Garniez is an amazing songwriter, musician, & performer. We went to see her last night at Rockwood 3, right around the corner on Orchard Street. Accompanied by a stand-up bass player & a violist, she sang a few new songs + a couple of familiar ones, with a little Mose Allison-Leonard Cohen medley in the middle. As Robyn said, (more…)

25 Things About Me

July 18, 2017

Another work that turned up in my vast sweep through the vault & files.

25 Things About Me

1. I like to get fired. Time off & something better always seems to come along.

2. I’ve been to 49 states. Lately rethinking my ambition to round it out by going to Alaska.

3. No matter how many times people learn that I’m from South Dakota, they usually remember it as (more…)

Beach house!

July 17, 2017

This is on the roof of a building on my corner. You can only see it from kittycorner across the street. I once heard that the guy who built it said all his friends had houses in the Hamptons & this was as close as he could get.

It's for sale! $3.5 million. You also get (more…)

Notes on being a Jew/Jewish writer

July 16, 2017

This piece, published probably 20 years ago, resurfaced & (unsurprisingly) still has many of my concerns & thoughts.

Notes on being a Jew/Jewish writer: the start of my questions
(one Jew, six opinions—old joke)

“To be Jewish is to have left home early and arrived nowhere.”
—Edmund Jabes

I am a Jew because (more…)

Jack Collom: Poetry Everywhere

July 14, 2017

Tags: Jack Collom

Sad to learn about the death of poet Jack Collom out in Colorado where he had lived for many decades. He always used to point out that he was older than Ted Berrigan, so I knew quite well he was older. I have so many memories—of him calling me late at night from Idaho, where he was teaching & lonely. He would sing & yodel & I would be half-asleep. Of going bird-watching at Jamaica Bay with Jack, Doug Oliver, & Shelley Kraut. They were birders & I had a car. Of poetry being at the center always. Of how useful his Teachers & Writers books were in every class & workshop I ever taught. How kind & encouraging & responsive he was. I hadn't talked to him much in the last couple of years, but as I've been typing up poems, I have found several with or for or about him.


July 13, 2017


rain later?

Jubilee year

July 12, 2017

Liza & my new scheme is for there to be no internet every seventh year. We all get a break from email & the rest. I had that today—apparently Time Warner was out everywhere & that's my office wifi. So I couldn't know that anyone was looking for me & had a lovely few hours of typing & revising lots of poems. (more…)

The Poets Play Baseball

July 11, 2017

in honor of the All-Star break:

The Poets Play Baseball

1B—Gertrude Stein
2B—Bill Luoma
SS—Hart Crane
3B—Walt Whitman
LF—W. H. Auden /Muriel Rukeyser
CF—Ron Padgett
RF—Charles Reznikoff
C—Bernadette Mayer, Elinor Nauen

Charles Olson
Hoa Nguyen
Jim Behrle
Anne Waldman

Middle relief:
Alice Notley

O’Malley (Tony Dohr, Dgl R)

General Manager: Anselm Berrigan
Manager: Edmund Berrigan
3B coach—Frank O’Hara

compiled by O’Malley, O’Malley & O’Malley

Woody Sez

July 9, 2017

Tags: Woody Guthrie

Saw a wonderful show at the Irish Rep yesterday, a revue of the life & songs of Woody Guthrie. It made clear his incisive commitment to justice & fairness, & was fun. I don't think there were any songs I didn't know.

We didn't stay for the hootenanny but maybe we'll go back one Sunday for it.


July 9, 2017

It's already a few weeks since we saw this movie—I even had to look up the title. Sometimes early enthusiasm wanes & sometimes I like a movie more in retrospect. This one I guess I was indifferent to or bugged by from the start.

Richard Gere just didn't seem Jewish, & that was an essential component of his character & the world he lived in. And Steve Buscemi as a cursing, shoving, garbage-kicking rabbi?!

Could Norman really (more…)

And for good measure, an essay regarding fireworks

July 7, 2017

Tags: fireworks


In 2007, my birthday fell on the Chinese New Year, and for once, fireworks were legally allowed to be set off in Chinatown. What a thrill to walk just a few blocks and get both fireworks and birthday at one & the same time.
Fireworks are like birthdays. You grab ‘em as they (more…)


July 6, 2017

Tags: fireworks

We always go on the roof because we can never remember if we can or can't see the fireworks. I finally figured out, after living in the Ezra Pound for 40 years, that some years we can see them & some years we can't. Which is why we can't remember!

Last year they were down at the Seaport or out in the bay, & if we leaned out (dangerously) (more…)

From the vault IX: America the Most Beautiful

July 5, 2017

America the Most Beautiful

Your Brooklyn Bridge
   flung across some great water
      o worthy son of our Great Wall!

Your graffiti artists
   scribbling black jokes on the Mack trucks underground
      o worthy sons of Mayakafka!

Your buxom women
   their charms slung like rubles in a samovar
      worthy daughters of the blue suede shoes! (more…)

Que Seurat, Seurat

July 4, 2017

Tags: Chris Christie, Seurat

Sunday in the park with Chris
I'm so frigging pleased with myself for thinking this up & then doing the (OK, primitive) photoshopping.

Chris Christie is a joke.

* Thanks to Peter Cherches for the title of today's post.


July 2, 2017

I remember once, years ago, headed home & all I wanted in this life was to take my shoes off & lie on my bed. And I was struck by how that simple wish was out of reach for homeless people. I'm never not grateful for my pleasant house. I took this picture lying on the bed, Johnny and Buster asleep next to me. I'm happy whenever I remember the ecstatic fact that I will never run out of books to read.