Poetry for and by Philomene Long

• America - Philomene Long
• Untitled - Jack Foley
• It is not the end but the becoming - Philomene Long
• They are already ghosts - Philomene Long
• goodbye little nun - Rex Butters
• Manifesto of Al-Cadence - Jim Smith
• Untitled - Hillary Kaye
• For Philomene - Hammond Guthrie
• For Phiolmene: Muse of Venice West in sad/glad memory - Bill Fleeman

(her last poem)

By Philomene Long

The light from your Statue of Liberty
Is being blown out
And your ears are so deafened by lies
You can barely hear yourself

You were young for two hundred years
So very young with
“The Blessings of Liberty to ourselves
And our Posterity” and “We, the People”
“Yearning to breathe free”
Beginning, always beginning
Your power, now being smothered
By the age-old will to power for a few

Your sense of truth and justice
Is being snuffed by those
Claiming truth and justice
Sending “The poor, the wretched” to prison
Often to “cruel and unusual punishment”
By ones who themselves should be jailed

You are dying
Lying on a floor in a jail cell
Gasping for air
Calling out for yourself

We are America
We are calling for ourselves
When things fall apart
Our center does hold

America hears you
We will begin again


Is it possible to imagine a smiling tidal wave bearing flowers and a guitar?
And rushing into a room to give them to you?
Is it possible to imagine Philomene
Who imagined herself so beautifully?
Is it possible to imagine
The love she bore to her husband John
So that his death was only the slightest interruption of their conversations?
Death, pooh!
“I do tend to fill up a room,” she said.
What happens really is that the room suddenly feels cold.
Whatever happened to the sun? it asks. Will it ever return? it asks.
And then it sees Philomene
So it wraps itself around her, curls up at her feet like a kitten, covers her like a cloak
It becomes a MUCH livelier room,
Offers witticisms, flirts with everyone, quotes Rumi (its favorite poet).
Philomene could make a room talk
But she also listened
Is this not the first lesson in compassion?
What waves of intellect come from Philomene when she speaks
What flowers of poetry
What echoes of music as from instruments.
There are no smiling tidal waves bearing flowers and guitars.
Everyone knows that.
But there was Philomene

There was Philomene

–Jack Foley


It is not the end but the becoming
It is not the beginning but the becoming
It is the becoming the becoming the becoming
The seed sprays the scent
the scent the mystery
the mystery the unraveling
the unraveling the unraveling
It is the seed unraveling
the dissolve
the cut
the pruning
the opening flesh flower
seed inside seed
womb within womb
becoming becoming becoming
the joy is becoming
the joy is becoming
It is coming it is coming
the becoming is joy
the becoming is joy
the seed. the opening, the scent, the spray
the mystery raveling, unraveling in the joy of the

–Philomene Long


They are already ghosts
John and Philomene
As they pass
Along the Boardwalk
Where ghosts and poets overlap
As they pass, the gulls
Ghosting above their shadows
Everything’s haunting everything
Already ghosts
John and Philomene
Under the ghostly lampposts
Of Venice West
Their cadence
The breath of sleep
At rest
Lost at the edge of America
Already ghosts
And each poem
Already a farewell
Everything’s haunting everything
The sea is the ghost of the world

–Philomene Long


goodbye little nun

black unseasonable skies
over Venice
gray grief rain streaked
oppressive humidity
overwhelming yin
gulls cry
no dolphins leap
has no one cued the ravens?
palomas reel
flock and search
thunder monks rumble chant
dorje tongues flash
a bell rings the empty sky

the boardwalk boasts more ghosts
lurking near disappeared benches
the restless walking
haloed, nonetheless
their ritual march
imparts our blessings
our village
our elders
real estate erased

goodbye, little nun
gone for the strong coffee
of Venice West’s Summerlands location
drinks it black with Stuart and John
a bibliographical Boudica
wielding Manjushri’s flaming sword
in the beginning was the Word
daughter of poetry
daughter of fire
daughter of Brighid
Goddess and Saint

we never met
I read to her once
an inept jester before a moody
brooding queen
another time
we sat opposite table ends
too noisy at Danny’s
in the old St. Mark’s
mother ocean pounds funereal drums
and Mannanan parts the veil

–Rex Butters


Dear Philomene, you got me thinking of poems as

Manifesto of Al-Cadence

We will no longer accept your war,
your TV, your goddamn rents

We would rather live in huts on the beach
than be herded into your condo reservations

Fuck your electricity, curse your cars
We’ll piss in the sea like fish

We’ll regress one hundred years, 1,000 years
for what is time, when freedom is at stake?

We will wield our pens, our brushes, our words
until your pillage is nothing but a song of legend

Set this poem on fire
and hurl it at the invader

-Jim Smith


For Philomene

Years passing her and her sister on the beach
and later in passing sharing a poem
at a tribute to John Thomas
in passing
and later inspired to hear her reading
and telling her i loved her fucking poem
and her signing her fucking red book for me the color of
and thinking on what kept us apart
in passing
when i knew i loved her and tried to be her friend.
after the deluge
after the rain
after the second coming of age
could we meet on the same ground
“Everything that rises must converge”
so we find ourselves
on a path
though narrow
well lit by her words
and presence

–Hillary Kaye


Sadness with joyful understanding -
loss with blissful transformation
my dear friend Philomene Long
passed away night before last.
A sudden event - just a breath away,
but then it always does comes suddenly -
however long it takes.
In loving memories time -

–Hammond Guthrie


For Phiolmene:
Muse of Venice West
in sad/glad memory

It was just like you
to leave that way,
same as you left the
convent unannounced--
and why?
to run barefoot across
Venice Beach
to feel the ocean
tickle your toes.
I know.

Bill Fleeman

Posted: Sat - September 1, 2007 at 08:10 AM