PUSHING POETRY


 

I’m reminding myself to write more poetry.

DOUBLE VISION 1996.     I was empty pocketed then. Thinker

Neckties choking thin men with beepers

I want to strip the needles pricking inside their ambition

Stone the waxed smiles spitting false promises

Shatter the pointed arrogance

Wrapped in crisp bills

Inside brand wallets

Strapped on trendy trousers

Driven by rovers and jeeps

Never been on life’s edge

Save the Artist

Who wears his life holy

Waiting for the moments to create

Starved from meat and wine

Sits on a ray of light

Enraptured

 

 

 

 

 

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Santa Fe today

Santa Fe today, Friday the 13th. Listening to soundtrack of Man & a Woman, my lyrics, my movie. The end is what I imagine mine. The day was blowing cottonwood  and white wisteria  in a blow glow of dance.  There is a certainty about my movements, different than yesterday. I declare this day of summer, sandals,pedicure, trying on my bathing suit, making a palette change, and putting on the ritz. The gloss and bronze, and maybe even going outdoors.  Shopping and going to the Lowriders Day in Santa Fe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOVING WITH MILES


Listening to Miles I imagine my pen moving on paper in straight lines and indentations. The beak of the pen breaks out of its shell and abstractions of thought spill. Without prior meditation, feelings form the thoughts. Emotion versus reasoning. Miles musical pen is all emotion. That’s Jazz music!

GALLERY LOULOU 8 2012K 001

 

YOU’LL FEEL BETTER IF YOU TALK ABOUT IT


The throw of the dice this week lands on Adventures in Livingness.  The last time I wrote a column about life beyond the book was the Malibu series.  I’m still tainted by the U-Turn out of Malibu, but as Dad always said, ‘If you fall off the horse you get back on!’  That’s what this book is all about;  just how impressionable we are as children.

 My pals who have commented after reading this material in six different memoirs are immensely important to this writer. Word press followers, you are recognized with every comment!  Pals, Baron, Blair, and Stone who took my hand into the offices of agents and editors thank you for believing in my dice!

Santa Fe. NM 3/26/2016

A photographic day for capturing the stillness of light on the rose  20160311_112156[1]buds. Winter was a lot of writing, editing, and films. I must have seen a hundred this winter. All easy paved paths to escape.  The one I’d recommend is Divided We Fall; a Polish film set during the occupation of Poland. The Director managed to weave suffering and horror with extraordinary hope and brotherhood. If you like mystery-crime dramas,  Nine Queens, an Argentinian film that rattles the roots of a cheaters.

A FEW DAYS LATER

Today is sprayed gray and white cloud cover, and tiny drops of wet snow. I call the climate of Santa Fe, a woman with PMS.  I’m listening to Nat King Cole and withering under a  hang-over after a sensational evening with Brother Marc, (the son I wanted) White Zen, his Mother, and Rudy. I’ve watched Marc grow up. Over the last seven years he’s transformed from a shy, confused young adult, into a man of the mountain; wilderness is his passion.  He drives those big snow plow machines and grooms the mountains in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He works at night and when he takes a break he  looks at the stars.  Six-foot thin muscle, shoulder  brown curls, and eyes  shaped like two row boats filled with blue water.  He’s not only handsome, his instincts, original expression, and amusing bellowing deep voice tie this lad up in someone you love. He’s an original. You never get the question or answer you expect;  he pulls wisdom from his head and heart as easily as folding a napkin. One two three–a brand of thinking shoots out and I just look at him bewildered. Marc is a twenty-nine year old frontiersman and  has been since he was knee high on a San Francisco skateboard. The Revenant!

Easter brings people together and I’ve sensed a developing  surge to be in a group. Distanced friends come closer, family is the bread and butter of vacation, I see so many of them at La Posada, and couples are cooperating.  No one needs to hug a pillow when they go to sleep  is my motto.

My rise above familiar surroundings and comfort began the day Brussels was terror stricken and  all Belgians  became one. I checked on Twitter that day, and was touched so deeply when I read the dozens of tweets offering shelter, food, and clothes for those in need. If I were a lifestyle journalist I’d go there and write about the emotional and physical patterns that will change over time. Imagine the consciousness’ of those personally affected after experiencing a bomb exploding beside them. I’ve asked a few people how they feel about terrorism. Some are inflamed and others refuse to discuss the matter as it elicits political commentary.   Terrorism has infiltrated the shuffle of disappointment and raised the inner riot in my head to world events. The importance of conversation so we don’t feel alone is vibrating. I don’t mean in text and twitter. It is too instant to embrace.   What happened to,

         ‘You’ll feel better if you talk about it’ psychology?

 After a few weeks of submitting the book and reading rejection emails,  I realized I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.  Not taking rejections personally is like a handshake after you’ve been swindled.  I moused over to JK Rowlings and read a few rejection letters she posted after submitting a manuscript under the name of Richard Galbraith. One of the letters suggested she join a writers workshop!   Anonymous writers like actors, musicians, artists, and photographers  are caught in the storm of celebritism.  If you are unrecognized the  brick and mortar you have to break  through is an Olympian challenge.

I was writing a lengthy portrayal of Ben Siegel one day and it occurred to me that he had become a major character in my life.  He played a role that someone else should have; a noted author, or journalist, or poet.  Ben Siegel changed my history because I had to learn to love him.  Learning to love him meant erasing everything I had read or heard. It is said he was a ruthless killer, a savage, violent, and that he loved to kill. I turned to look at a photograph of my mother.  I was told that she loved Ben too. Where once I believed my mother was naïve and uninformed, I know this wasn’t the case. She knew from the beginning. Mom fit into this strangely singular and controversial group of people. I see her in the full frame of who she was. (she is on the right in MGM Ziegfeld Follies 1946)get-attachment.aspx  I like her this way because it raised my self esteem; my rebelliousness came from both parents.

While writing about Dad I questioned my prolonged interest in his choices, behavior, and his secrecy. I asked Uncle Myron who shared the same history.   Myron reaffirmed that my father was a true to the code gangster. No one ever got him to talk about what he knew or had seen.

Children feel the repression of truth as clearly as they do the pain of bruise.  The more you hide or bandage the more they seek and peek. At my root is the inclination to question the world around me, and to mend the breaks in life that molded my identity.

Along the way of the first chapter, I discovered that people like to know how it works; how we write in a state of solitude and selfishness.  A story or any work of art lives in the artist and God. Miracles do happen!

HONK IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE


 

SMILEY’S DICE
Growing Up with Gangsters
By: Luellen Smiley

Synopsis
The memoir is written in the Creative Nonfiction genre and is ninety-two thousand words.
Writing my way home began as a compass to my secretive and dishonorable family history. This is the story of a woman whose survival was wedged between shameless love and immobilizing fear of her father.
After my almost perfect mother, Lucille Casey, an MGM musical actress died, Dad gained custody of me. I was thirteen years old. What followed was a nail-biting tumultuous father daughter relationship between Allen Smiley, a Hollywood gangster, and his teenage daughter, that I’ve named Lily.
As Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s best friend and business partner from 1937 until his death in 1947, Dad acclaimed Ben Siegel. He was seated next to him the night Ben was murdered. The fatal outcome was speculation of his involvement fed by the FBI to the media, death threats from Mob associates, and vicious harassment from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
I’ve learned by this time Dad had amassed a weighty criminal record, was under indictment for false claim of citizenship, perjury, and an order of deportation. After demonstrating to the Mob he wasn’t going to seek immunity offered by the government; they honored and protected his life. Their methods are described in transcripts from the FBI files; amusing, violent,and illegal. Dad served the organization until his death in 1982.
Faced with an identity meltdown ten years after Dad died I implored his friends, associates, attorney, historians, FOIPA, Immigration and Naturalization Agency, and Archives of the Department of Justice, to build the branches of my family tree. Along this irreversible journey I suffered disgrace, rage, and Dad’s ghostly disapproval as I delved into the files and discovered the family secrets.
Simultaneous with the reading is a dissection of my reactions to his criminal activities, gambling addiction, attempt at reformation, and hatred for the government. The vendetta the government placed on him for not informing earned my mother’s silent devotion. In the end they won. She divorced him.
I could be mute about the subject, or expose what I know because I’ve made the family history mine.
Incorporated within stories of discovery are government surveillance records, newspaper articles, court testimony, and criminal activities that defamed his reputation and our family.

As the discoveries occur the reader is taken inside the transformation of my identity. Once liberated from Dad’s paranormal disapproval of my investigation, I break my silence and begin writing columns about growing up with gangsters. This opened the doors to unknown relatives, mob friends, and an identity that suits me well.
A startling yet an inspirational look inside the struggle of a gangster’s daughter to understand her father’s allegiance to the Mob.

Excerpt from Smiley’s Dice.
I don’t know how much more of this I can process. I don’t feel Dad’s disapproval as strongly; this expository involving my mother is deepening my resentment for the government. This is just one binder of two-hundred pages, and I have fifty binders. I’ll rearrange my dresser drawers or hand-wash sweaters for awhile. It’s too early to have a glass of wine! Two days have passed, as my resistance to more reading of these FBI files was due to a suspended state of melancholia.
April 13th- FBI file

“Smiley received a call from —— and told Smiley that he was thinking of going into business with —–who is making twelve thousand a month putting on stag shows. Smiley told him not to get into the business. —told Smiley that he had attended a ball game and noticed that George Raft was there. Raft is now sporting a mustache and his cheeks are all sunken in, making him look like a drowned rat. Smiley did not like this comment.”
“____ asked Smiley how his case was coming along, and Smiley replied,” They are going to ship me to Singapore”
After the forgoing call was made, the conversation continued concerning _______ between Smiley, paramour of Jack Dragna, and Lucille Casey. While Casey was getting ready to go out to dinner, this unidentified woman, became very cozy with Smiley, according to the informant, and stated,
“ Take my advice and don’t talk on the telephone. You can sit right here and they can listen to you from over that hill. I know this because we have been on the other side all the time.” Smiley replied he had an idea of that and she remarked that Smiley was a good guy, and she thought she should warn him.”
Signed R.B. Hood
Special Agent in Charge.

 

WHO IS BUGSY?


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LUCILLE CASEY SMILEY

MGM MotherAll my life people have asked me the same questions:” What’s it like knowing your father is a gangster? How old were you when you found out? Aren’t you afraid of his friends? You know they kill people.”
I live in a temporary tide-pool, a lily
floating against the current, weighted
down by a suit of armor that shields me
from the beauty, love and freedoms stirring in my bud.

What seemed insignificant at the time was the diving board into my Dad’s history. I was watching a Bugsy Siegel documentary on my television in San Diego during 1993. It was the first one I’d seen. Three historians joined in on the violence Bugsy honored and esteemed. Half-way through the celebratory lynching of Bugsy and his pals, a reporter made the statement that ‘It’s obvious Allen Smiley was there to set Bugsy up for the hit.’ Andy Edmonds stated that Dad conveniently disappeared into the kitchen during the time of the shooting. It wasn’t until a photograph of my dad appeared on the screen; a man with thick graying hair that I noticed an expression I’d never seen, horrifying misery. I moved closer to the television to see his face up close. A kaleidoscope of emotions rose to the surface: anger, shame, curiosity, and disbelief. I was forty years old.
smiley aThe first time I’d seen those photographs of Ben Siegel slumped on that sofa; an eye bleeding down his face was a day back in 1966 at the age of thirteen. My best friend Dena lived in Brentwood with her divorced mother and siblings. We hooked in the unfamiliar and confusing imbalance of a broken home life. Dena was suffering depression after her parents divorced and I was dangling from my father’s fingertips hopelessly conflicted after my mother died. Dena wouldn’t let a day go by without calling me. ‘Are you all right?’ She didn’t like my father and her reasons were mature beyond her years, ‘Your father scares me.’ After school one afternoon we stopped in the Brentwood Pharmacy. Dena was looking at the book rack and I was following along.
“Lily, my mother told me your father is in a book, The
Green Felt Jungle. It’s about gangsters. Wanna see if they have it?” I agreed to look because Dena was interested, but it meant nothing to me. She twirled the book rack around as I stood behind her watching.
“That’s the book! Let me look first and see what it says,” she whispered. I could feel her arm tense up as I grasped it.
“Oh my God! There he is,” she said. We hunched over the book and read the description of my father, “Allen Smiley, one of Ben Siegel’s closest pals in those days, was seated at the other end of the sofa when Siegel was murdered.” Dena covered her mouth with one hand and kept reading silently.
“What does that mean? Who is Siegel?” I asked.
“Shush–not so loud. I’m afraid to tell you this. It’s awful.”
“What’s awful? Tell me.”
“Bugsy Siegel was a gangster in the Mafia. He killed people. Your father was his associate.”
“I don’t think I should see this.” I turned around abruptly to leave the drugstore. Dena followed me out.”
“Lily you can’t tell your father you saw this book. Please don’t tell him I told you.”
“Why not?”
“My mother told me not to tell you. Swear to me you won’t tell your father!”
“I won’t. Don’t you tell anyone either.”
A few days later after Dad left for the evening I opened the door to his guarded bedroom. I walked around the bed to a get a closer look at the photographs on the wall. It was the first time I could read the inscription.

DSC01871 - Copy

 

 

 

Excerpt from soon to be finished book, Smiley’s Dice


THE SNOW SEDATED the choppy feeling in my stomach, the conjecture of  discovering why my father was wired with anxiety. His whole life was a chase scene: arrest him, convict him, send him to Russia, and never pull the tap from his apartment, or the FBI guys from his tail.

Me,  Diane Friedman and Cindy Frisch.

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Now there is a wash over my interpretation of his obsessive, protective, paranoia, distrust, and interrogation of my friends. I wonder if those gals I grew up with knew about Dad from their parents’. I relied heavily on the open arms of my friend’s families. They’re remembered more than my teachers: The Blair’s, Bourne’s, Both Friedman’s, Frisch’s, Hoffman’s, Pindler’s, Saunders, Schwadel’s,  Taubman’s, and the Tefkin’s.  Hope I didn’t leave anyone out.  I left out the Berman’s and the Crosby’s.