Philomene's Page

• Philomene's Page
• We open a door - Philomene Long
• Philomene - Scott Wannberg
• Eau de Bohemia - Susan Hayden
• For Philomene - John Macker
• Philomene Long Thomas - Pat Hartman
• AMERICAN SONNET (41) - Wanda Coleman
• LAUGHED/LEFT - Alan Rodman

Philomene’s Page

Last month the Beachhead devoted its issue to a memorial for Philomene Long, Poet Laureate of Venice, aka, Queen of Bohemia.
That issue sparked more remembrances of Philomene, some of which are reproduced on this page.
Philomene will live on in our hearts as long as there is a spirit of Venice that values poetry and beatitude.


We open a door
To where
There is no road
We take it

–Philomene Long



She invented dance
in the deaf end of town.
Vulnerable solar systems
played basketball according to her vocabulary.
Meet me in the rhythm
by which she built us up.
The roads all smiled
when her barefeet reached apogee.
Waltz soft tonight
through all argumentative weather.
Philomene, fair lady
of the castle of you got it.
You and John are toe to toe
on the ongoing process of hey.
Feel the backbeat rise up to all tasks.
Today I hang my mind’s history
from her driving sky.
She active nouns the textbook of soiree.
Smile. Wash my hair. Around and around
we roll. Philomene
created the party.
A time and then some
was had by all.

– Scott Wannberg
remembering Philomene Long


Eau de Bohemia

by Susan Hayden

For Philomene Long, in beloved memory
“It will be apparent that it is difficult
to discern which properties each thing
possesses in reality.”
(Democritus, 8th century B.C.)
If you were a perfume, it would be Earthy,
the top note a forest blend
that would descend into oakmoss
and fresh mown grass,
a mercurial bath of Irish whiskey.
It would smell like your dreams,
the ripening of first fruit
and bloodroot
with heart notes of orange groves;
Los Angeles,
before the permanent roads.
The dry down would reveal
cracked leather and lavender rose,
poetry and prose as a saltwater path
toward the Boardwalk sun;
at once a yearning and a leap
of heat meets alchemy.
Your scent would be worn
by both peasants and royalty:
Slaves to the half-open window,
queens beneath the arch of the doorway,
counting the days in sighs
while memorizing escape routes.
Eau de Bohemia:
A tenacious fragrance
with a lasting theme
and a dreamy aroma that lingers.
The wearer will feel signs and seasons.
The wearer will feel worthy of anointment,
with good reason.


For Philomene

I believe in the wanton fertility
of hope
a star cluster rings the sun
coyote brandishes a
mouthful of seeds
in the yellow dawn heat
I believe in the beehive creek
the sturgeon’s river
ancient trees
the dakota snow
the Pacific Ocean out
her candle shrine of a window
my old black dog
hobbled by immodesties of age
still barks at the
howling butterflies of
the summer moon
over Venice
Philomene Long fallen
catholic into the lap of zen
ocean goddess of
gull love: only once I kissed
an Old Growth Tree
growing feather words
wrapped in black beach blanket
queen of bohemia we love
you in the lonely gull coming
autumn mime of morning.

– John Macker


Philomene Long Thomas

I call her that because some of the changes I made to the web pages about Philomene and John were due to the evolution in her thinking about what to call herself. In addition to all the contributions to her own pages, she was beautifully supportive of the whole project. Actually, only one other artist has had so much impact on the site.
This is an excerpt from “My Philomene” (first published at

“Of her I had only had the tiniest sliver, the most miniature facet: an e-mail correspondence about shared interests. She was a lot of other people’s Philomene, to a much greater extent and in very many ways - wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, teacher, filmmaker, mentor, guru, Poet Laureate of Venice, keeper of the flame of memory, Queen of Bohemia, and living national treasure. She was one of those people where you say, “They broke the mold.” Of the Beats, one of those small enclaves of like-minded geniuses who inspire whole subsequent generations, she was almost the last remnant.

Others knew a different Philomene Long. All I can speak of, selfishly and from a limited perspective, is the Philomene who was mine. I never even met her. “What right do I have to cry?” I ask myself. “Quit being a drama queen,” I tell myself. Yet people cried for JFK and Dr. King and Princess Di. They too were iconic figures who represented something large and significant.

When I wrote that, it seemed there was something missing. I thought I remembered a message that was very positive, but couldn’t find it. Without explaining my complicated prioritizing system, and less-than-optimal method of copying e-mail into word processor documents so the memory in the e-mail program doesn’t choke, it’s enough to say I found it later, misfiled. I think it dates from mid-June. I’d written, “I hope things are going well in your world.” Philomene replied, “I have entered a new - not page, not chapter - but new book in my life. After five years of deep mourning, I have been released from intolerable pain. Not that it will ever go completely away, but now tolerable enough for me to begin work on his manuscripts - which I am doing simultaneously. My love for my husband expands.”

– Pat Hartman



–Aya Rose

born on the steps of the nunnery
you couldn’t wait to climb the wall,
become the bride of god,
be safe within your faith.
your devotion devoured you
you believed it was Him--
but it was only your passion
waiting to hear from you.
you bolted the wall to freedom,
invoked poverty,
moved closer to the bare bones
of truth and tenderness.
you barely sat still
between birthings,
between the buddha’s arms,
between lovers.
you gave everything you had
and they took it all
--who wouldn’t want a burning heart
a holy muse to love you?
you brought down the heavens
and washed it clean with sea water
and like all the fools before you
melted into love.
you skated on the edge of death
blew roses over your gods incarnate,
living on the litanies of poet songs,
wearing the crown of a ghostly queen.
then love died, one by one
and you spiraled into the cold night
with grieving irish lullabies,
endlessly weeping, ashes on your lips.
did we embrace at our last meeting?
i can’t remember much--
all i recall is a pair of wild cat eyes
staring at me in a noisy darkened room
and numbness, and me wondering;
are we miles from a state of grace
or have we finally made it home?
then you were swept away--
and when i reached out
you were gone from sight;
not even a small shred of fur left
for me to cry over,
or set upon my altar…



By Wanda Coleman

every death a haunting/deep sleep of word
lives pass and overlap their cadence a farewell
dreamlessly streaming in slumber in rising
feet glow and drop to the floor/blooms
taking root, becoming limbs, climbing after light

it is unfashionable to rhyme, to adorn sound with
pain, content with manner, to spitefully whisper
in Spenserian ink or Shakespearean blush. it is
passe to slip into paper/wear parchment’s timbre
stained saffron and rose with splendor’s overflow
crosslegged, the poet dripping moon
from spirit torn collects
the leavings of her pillow
and pens her book of stone

from Bathwater Wine, Black Sparrow, copyright for Wanda Coleman 1998, reprinted here to honor the Home Going of Philomene Long on August 21st 2007.



Not long
for Philomene Poet
of power passing beyond
gone even beyond
A silent pond at
Shining unseen in reply
to questioning asked by the moon –
Where now are you not?

–Alan Rodman

Posted: Mon - October 1, 2007 at 08:06 PM