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Michael Lally

Michael Lally is the author of several books of poetry, including Swing Theory (Hanging Loose Press, 2015); March 18, 2003 (Libellum, 2004); It Takes One to Know One (Black Sparrow Press, 2001); and It’s Not Nostalgia (Black Sparrow Press, 1999), winner of the American Book Award. He’s also the recipient of the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey.

By This Poet


Forbidden Fruit

all the forbidden fruit I ever 
dreamt of--or was taught to 
resist and fear--ripens and 
blossoms under the palms of my 
hands as they uncover and explore 
you--and in the most secret 
corners of my heart as it discovers 
and adores you--the forbidden fruit 
of forgiveness--the forbidden fruit 
of finally feeling the happiness 
you were afraid you didn't deserve-- 
the forbidden fruit of my life's labor
--the just payment I have avoided 
since my father taught me how-- 
the forbidden fruit of the secret 
language of our survivors' souls as 
they unfold each others secret 
ballots--the ones where we voted 
for our first secret desires to come 
true--there's so much more
I want to say to you--but for 
the first time in my life I'm at 
a loss for words--because 
(I understand at last) 
I don't need them 
to be heard by you.