Phyllis Segura

Jack Micheline Story

MANJUSHRI: Painter, Phyllis Segura; Collection, Denis WrightAbout a week ago I heard Jack died on the BART train—a heart attack while going somewhere. Today I ran across a copy of Third Rail and found something he'd written—a lengthy, complex, and warm memoriam to Franz Kline. The entire issue was filled with people whose lives have crossed with mine.

A vivid memory exists because I took a photo of Micheline at the Jack Kerouac Art Exhibit in Boulder. It was around 1981 or 82. As the curator, I'd made a spot for a book Ira Cohen had sent of photos and writings. Ira's book was placed on the table with a chair next to it. At the opening Jack slouched into the chair to read it. My daughter, Una, in that striped shirt she didn't like, looked over his shoulder as he read aloud to her with his head twisted back. I took a picture of them. I see that picture clearly in my mind now.

Jack was rough, and I never really knew him well; instead I acknowledged him, in my bewilderment. Maybe he looked like my father and I wondered how he had gotten to be this rambling-around rough poet guy and how my father hadn't.

I met Jack in a peculiar way even by my standards. I recall walking around in San Francisco in the early 70s—maybe it was near Union Street. I don't remember where I was coming from but surely I was walking home to an apartment on Polk Street. For unknown reasons I looked at the mailboxes in the entrance way to a dark brick building—not red brick but that older striped brown kind. Set in a wooden holder under the mailboxes was a turquoise feather attached to a manila envelope. I couldn't resist that feather. I motioned to pick it up and saw a note attached to the outside of the envelope asking for help in typing the manuscript which was in the envelope. I did an outrageous thing and read it, read someone else's mail, and looked at the manuscript. I left it all there but took down the phone number and called Jack and offered to type it. I didn't even know him. I had never heard of him. Did I even have a typewriter? Why did I call him? What did the manuscript say?

Photo Credit: Phyllis Segura

Photo Credit: Phyllis Segura

Eventually he came by the flat, and I didn't want him to hang out. I don't know why. Maybe I was afraid he'd move in and I'd have to take care of him. Maybe I'd never get him out. I remember trying to get other similar types to leave. I was a single mother and didn't need any more penniless poets hanging around to cheer me up and weigh me down.

We never had much more of a connection, but there was always my memory of the turquoise feather, which allowed a special place for him. Later I would run into him when he came to Boulder and then again in New York.

Photo Credit: Phyllis Segura

The first time in New York must have been when I had just returned after a long while away. Maybe it was 1983. I was walking down St. Marks Place after this long time—maybe more than ten years—wearing very dark sunglasses. Jack was sitting in an outdoor cafe. He looked up and said, "Is that you?" I was shocked that anyone could recognize me, and for a moment I felt like I was wearing a wig and the wrong person's clothes. But actually, yes, it was I. Another time he sauntered into an opening of an exhibit of my paintings and I was glad to see him.Issue of Broadshirt that Ira Cohen co-eited

When I did the Beat Issue of Broadshirt Poetry Magazine I made sure he was in on it. Maybe that was the last time I saw him—1994—same year that it was the last time I saw Jeffrey Carpentier at the same NYU Beat Conference—but that's another story.

So goodbye Jack—go go go far and near. I mix purple with that feather and lines of Naples yellow and new socks. In Buddhism there are instructions to put the deceased's favorite drink and food on your shrine as an offering. I have no shrine now, but in my mind. I offer you a calm heart and a painless brew for whatever our crisscrossing has brought. It rests purely on its own with no embellishment or further discovery. Just that feeling.

Phyllis Segura, paintings and drawings

Essay © by Phyllis Segura
March 23, 1998
Artwork © by Phyllis Segura

Photo captions, in order:

Manjushri. Collection: Denis Wright. Painter: Phyllis Segura.
2, 3, & 4  Photo credit: Phyllis Segura. Jack Micheline and Una Morera looking at photos of Ira Cohen at the Jack Kerouac Conference Art Exhibit, 1982, Boulder, Colorado. Paintings by Gregory Corso are in the background.
5  This is the issue of Broadshirt that Ira Cohen co-edited. (Broadshirt Poetry Magazine, by Phyllis Segura.)
6  Phyllis Segura's Paintings & Drawings, May 2000, Freelance Café, Piermont, NY. Times Square Newsstand Murals (44th & Broadway/51st & 7th Ave. New York City, thru June 2000.

Excellent quality prints may be purchased from the photographer, Phyllis Segura. Costs are $100 for a 5x7 print and $175 for an 8x10, per print, and sent priority mail through the U.S. Post Office. Inquiries should be sent to: Phyllis Segura, PO Box 510, NYC, NY 10159-0510 or by e-mail to

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