Lee Lally

Six Poems

The Resurrection Issue
Volume 14:3, Summer 2013



You told us the stories.
We did not like the heroes.
We did not like them then but
you kept us from our strength.
We could not speak.
The shovel slipped into the earth.

The horses have ridden off
with who ever would go.
the prince should have
been here by now.
We are no longer waiting.
We are writing our own stories.


Lee Lally, c. 1972.  Photo courtesy of Michael Lally

Lee Lally, c. 1972. Photo courtesy of Michael Lally


They name them after women.
You’ve been through a few
you say.
Hurricanes, tornadoes,
tropical storms,
I understand that natural rage.

Tropical storm Agnes
swept through tonight
like a real lady.
Greeted rich and poor
with equal vengeance.
The poor will remember her
with less detail.
With wild breath,
she spit.
Small rivers run
in the streets.
I understand that rage.

Tornadoes, tropical storms,
they name them
after women.



The woman will miss the typewriter.
The fence will miss the cold of steel and cash.
The junkie is on the street again
and the poems are harder
like a bad vein
every minute.



once you held me
like it mattered
to you.
I needed that
the time I could not stop
the racking sobs
brought on by
a bad party,
finding my way,
a misdirected lecture
I could not stop
wishing for someone
to hold me
without expecting
Act I
Act II
Once you held me
in the dark of early morning
Easter Saturday.
One woman
holding another
each touching each,
saying in few words
what we all need
to heal the wounds
the ones we love
inflict on us.
They hurt me.
They hurt you.
We hurt each other
and shared the pain
for a moment
as only women can share it.
that once we were holding each other
made up for all the times
we had touched without
Oh, Mama
I love you



The parts are new
and we are playing it by ear.
The prompters have gone
and the curtain has been
drawn as a quick breath
in mid winter.
There is nothing anticlimactic.
The lights are controlled
by the electric glances
we send between eyes.
There is no make up,
no need for it.
The stars are only
in our eyes.
The roses, thornless
on our cheeks.
That glint of silver
is a strand of hair
from the woman you were next to
one moment ago.
She stood there
at your direction
as long as she could
then joined us.
We love her
as she is.



I am in a room
of my own.
Mrs. Dalloway is on the shelf.
I have brought so much of the sea
to this room.
Driftwood, seaweed
dried to pale green
smelling slightly of salt
and shell after shell
after shell
touched with pink, purple,
black with dried innards
of the residents.
Double grains of sand
rattle in time
to the twist of my hand.

Virginia, what beach held
the conch so far from reach
you killed yourself searching?
Yellow pearls drowned in waves
drawn away with the tide.
Yellow pearls dragged out to sea
with the unfulfilled promises,
empty lies
and you.



Lee Lally (May 1943 - 1986) is the author of These Days (Some of Us Press, 1972). Individual poems of hers were published in The Trinity Record, The Gay Liberator, and December. A co-founder of Some Of Us Press, she served as treasurer and bookkeeper. According to another co-founder, Ed Zahniser, "Lee's meticulous attention to this critical function is the single most important reason" for the press's success. Lally, born Carol Lee Fisher, grew up outside of Buffalo, NY, and attended the University of Buffalo, but never earned a degree. She married Michael Lally in 1964, and in the Fall of 1969 they moved to DC, where her husband had gotten a job in the English Department at Trinity University. They had two children together, a son and a daughter. In 1971, they organized the Mass Transit reading series at the Community Bookshop in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, a series that continued weekly for many years. According to Michael Lally, Lee's poems were "an instant hit. Feminists adored her work and These Days had an immediate impact on many women, as well as men." He continues, "The poems in it were influenced by the blues Lee loved (Memphis Minnie was a particular icon of hers) and old timey country (Mama Maybelle Carter another of Lee's great influences and loves). And of course it was influenced by the sexual politics we were living through and experimenting out of. Lee had taken a female lover and encouraged me to take male ones, as part of what we thought was going to be the liberation of future generations from the bonds of gender and sexual discrimination." The Lallys separated in 1974 and later divorced. For a few years, the house they had shared on Emery Place in northwest DC became a lesbian-feminist commune. Michael Lally remembers that it "was a funky old place when we lived there. The neighbors often gave us a hard time for not cutting the lawn etc. in that suburban way people seem so addicted to. There was an old glass house in back of the main house. We didn't use it for anything, but there were still plants overgrowing the place from when it was in use. A great open porch, we did a lot of sitting and discussing and arguing on. A couple of nice huge old trees as well (can't remember what kind, maple? oak?). And there was a Western clothes store at the end of the street (Wisconsin? and Emery) where Lee worked part time as a seamstress. She did all the alterations for them. She was pretty adept at any kind of craft or art involving hand-eye coordination." In 1980, Lally fell ill from an ovarian infection, caused by an IUD. Complications from the surgery to remove the IUD resulted in a coma that lasted for six years. She spent those final years in a hospital in DC and a nursing home outside of Boston, and died in 1986, without ever regaining consciousness. Thanks to Lally's children, Caitlin Lally Hotaling and Miles Lally, for permission to reprint. To Read More About Some Of Us Press: Literary Organizations Issue: SOUP