PHILOMENE LONG

ZEN HERMITS IN GREATER LOS ANGELES

Los Angeles has its hermits

Some take to Disneyland
For their annual retreat
But they never return

One hermit is a
Los Angeles Laker basketball player
The best kind of hermits are those
That don’t know they are hermits

There are those who lose their voice
If they look hard enough they’ll find it
In their second pocket of their second suit

Then earthquakes come, jumbling it up again
Like a residential milk shake so that it
Takes an act of faith to believe in sunrise


Philomene Long was born in Greenwich Village and cut her literary teeth listening to poets
verbally sear the paint off the walls of their private hells. Later, after escaping a five-year
sentence in a Los Angeles convent, she migrated to Venice, California, wrote poems and
was crowned Queen of Bohemia. Author John Maynard, in his book Venice West: The Beat
Generation in Southern California, describes Philomene as mercurial and very Irish. "She was
a regular feature of the Ocean Front in her tennis shoes, black thrift-shopdresses, long,
straight hair, alarm-clock pendant, and heavy silver cross." Still, somehow, considering herself
a nun, she joined the world and still lives the old ethic and upholds the old dream of salvation
through creativity and counts poverty as a sign of grace.

Her books of poems include The Book of Sleep, The Ghosts of Venice West,
and Great Zen Masters & Other Holy Fools.






© 2003 Underground Voices