Michael Vitaly

theatre maker, writer, artist

Month: May, 2012

Lines after St. Michael’s Cemetery

Frozen angels stand guard over the Dead,
While speeding cars on rainy roads bring dread.
Long green or freshly brown they watch the ground
In silent remorse with no one around
But the constant onslaught from up above
Softly falling, slowly washing away
The sins and sadness, stories and madness,
And acid rain in time erases all
These names, while the Lord of Time does his dance,
Locked in his embrace, lost within his trance,
The World spins and reels, stumbling and mumbling
Its philosophies in any language
It knows to any open orifice,
Through hatred or acceptance, bigotry
Or love or carnal competition it
Screams from giant L.E.D or neon
Letters burning through to you telling you
What to do, what to buy, what to feel and
“All is nigh!” “Now is the time!” “it’s all yours!”
“Take it, it’s your right.”

Lost in time and frozen in time, Angels
Guard over the Dead.


DOESTOYEVSKY. the quote that started it all.

They sometimes talk about man’s bestial cruelties, but that is being totally unfair and unjust to the beast.  For a beast can never be as cruel as a man, so artistically so picturesquely cruel. 

The Door to the General Store.


This door once swung between childhood and sweaty nights,
Soda shop fountains and cigarette kisses.
Touching on dreams on a rooftop in Brooklyn
seemed so far away on this porch in your arms.

For dreams seemed as far as the stars
and now I have everything I need.

This door once swung between my fingertips like the sands of time.
And now the time between my fingertips have sagged for years.
Like the kite we flew in Prospect Park that Memorial Day Picnic
when we first met.
Skin on tethered bone.




Cole Porter

I love his music.

I had the pleasure of coming across a lot of Cole Porter my senior year in college when I did their production of “Kiss Me, Kate.”  I played Fred Graham and he played Petruchio, but when I auditioned I just wanted to be one of the hoods who approaches him, threatens him, and ends up stealing the show with a little soft shoe.  I did however get to sing some beautiful material, one of them being “So in Love” after my ex-wife just leaves me up center and I stayed relatively still and sing this ridiculously painful song.  I’ll never forget that song.  The moment on stage was gone as it was happening, but I remember feeling invigorated.  Alive.

So then comes a few years and many miles from those boards, and I’m barefoot on the cooler hardwood (vinyl tile) boards of Brooklyn on the first floor hearing the S train go by, opening up my little book of songs and coming across this one in the still of the night.

In The Still of The Night   By Cole Porter


Lines on Richter


Washed aside and blown asunder,
In between the rolls of thunder
And the cries of languid heaven,
You stand there lashing at my heart.

Smoke and ash and bitten memory,
Bitten off more than I could chew,
Bitten by the love we once knew,
Your face and heart, like smoke and ash depart,
Linger for a time and then become sweet rhyme.

Etched into my memory,
Like a simple melody
Fiery, pure, and fleeting,
Like constellations unconnected,
You stand there washed away
From the future unprotected
Though safely locked inside my heart.

I’ll hide you there for God knows how long,
And then one day Time will take you,
Wrestling my heart to the ground
Setting you free little by little,
Washed away though etched for always
Inside this tender heart of mine.


Once in a while you need to not listen to anything else. You’ll find him.


“Only time can stop time…” I think, beneath the guise of rich green treetop canopies softened and sweetened by recent rain. A long needle nosed tower stands above the brick and green lined horizon like a flag pole to a bygone era. I sit and wait for a bus on Massachusetts Avenue watching cars and people and Robins go by. Most notably, the robin whose brushed brown red and orange belly was a perfect sphere under its grey and black streak of a body as it swooped across the scene crying out, “Me! Don’t forget about me!” Only time can stop time. Only time can interject itself into your life at moments when it so chooses. “Take a look at me,” it says like a grandfather clock in the hall every hour. “Look over here.” glares the neon green from your desktop shelf the night we stayed up till dawn talking about our stuff. “Come on,” cajoles your conscience as you know this is wrong but you know it will be over soon so get on with it already. Time. Slows down to a hilt always at your side. Ready to fly away at times delightful and stay, steady and slow, during those times quite painful. It’s an amazing thing that only purveys the forefront of your thought how it wants, and whenever it wants as well.

Swallows on a Sunday Afternoon

I found this in an old book of mine.
I had written it one morning while in DC .


The swallows overtake the sky
Like bees out of the hive,
flying this way and that
among puff-white mine fields
that hang quietly in the blue,
they swoop and flutter like fighter pilots
on a friendly flying mission.

“I wonder if somebody died,” I say aloud
as I watch a yellow monarch flutter past my window.
The two emergency vehicles were cause enough for concern.
“It wouldn’t be the first time,” I think to myself,
“that somebody dies on a clear and sunny Sunday afternoon.”

Mandla Reuter. Lines on The Gate.

Mandla Reuter

Mandla Reuter:  The Gate. from Galerie Mezzanin

Caught between you and your memory
And now caught on the other side
of what once was a threshold
you slip now from seen and unseen,
in and out of focus,
here and then not.

Like the long heavy closed eyed yawn,
now here and now gone.

You, always there,
never coming or going,
standing still but separate
the both of you
not facing each other
not wanting to connect any longer.

You, old and new,
Did you one night,
with Lorca’s dying Orange Tree,
cut the shade you used to cast?

No more in life if no more with her?
Is that the end you choose for you?

To welcome interruptions
but  never anyone home,
To welcome interruptions
but never anyone home?

There you stand ready and waiting,
and yet I walk through you
and through you, and through you.


Grown apart
older now
both have bled
both are rusty,
one seems closed off.

One seems empty.

Both led home,
Now they stand apart like
but not quite



Mozart and the MTA

Something in the truth stirs the sound receptor in my mind and I only hear the sound of mumbled marbles through choking mouths — like when I rushed to my Harlem bedroom window after hearing a plane passing really low, hand to mouth, rushed and stood pressed to glass — I could only hear the rumble of plane and whir of my imagination. And this only a month ago.  I suppose it was nothing.  Or at least no one ever heard about it.  So whether violins or groans from underground brought me there it was something about the truth that stirred in me on this train headed to lots of places.

But now all I hear is the “routine” from a man in the subway.  He parked himself in the middle of this uptown 4 and immediately took to two children on the laps of their parents.  Now those kids are gone, scared off at Bowling Green with its orange painted brick stretch of walls, but the man continues, he’s moved up and down the train after apologizing for interrupting the day, the passage, the read, the concert etc. and has proceeded to entertain the train with imitation train noises for starters… This was actually met with delightful curiosity by the sister in a pair of children, whose haircuts were almost the same save a distinguishable few curls that sort of went through her head precociously, making her a cute but muppet-looking little rascal.  And as the doors closed they “chimed” together, the man and the kid, and the ultimate showman exclaims proudly but still in his gruff tone, “she’s my partner, ladies and gentlemen. One more time…” and she never repeated the sound.  Even I entertained the notion to help the faltering show. But he was fine, he was obviously some sort of falsetto genius and man about town — the underground town.  Now he’s on to jokes and has quite a few people laughing or at least smiling.  Even me through my Mozart, through it all.

I enjoy listening to Mozart underground because it seems to add a sense of driven purpose or at least justification for things I’ve seen down here. I like when the tender lush swells match a starting train before it catches hold of higher speeds.  And twinkling piano trills ringing against the sea of squeals and even now the train runs smooth and these strings rage onward through the dark layered forest.  The soot is a stream of midnight water and we go forth into the nothingness until the mechanics gives way to the logistics and the MTA fails Mozart.  But here again the flight of keys black and white, up and down, a confluence of birds like people, perched or running, never flying.  Reaching stretching all within Mozart’s grasp, it’s all within my grasp until even Mozart has to stop.  And the steady mechanics of the track click track click track click takes hold of my heart and steadies the chaos once more.

But whether it be truth or chaos. The subway and Mozart are great antidotes.