Thursday, May 25, 2017


At supper, Dad cut a piece of meat loaf, popped it in his mouth, chewed, swallowed, patted his lips dry. "I treated that Senator Carl Curtis to coffee, and he said, 'Just between the two of us, that Bobby Kennedy sure is a spoiled brat. Doesn't have the patience to build a solid legal case against the men he's questioning. So he just engages in shouting matches.'"

Dad swirled a piece of meat loaf into its juices. His voice softened. "And guess what. Carl wanted to know if I'd be willing to come to Washington D.C. and testify on Bobby Kennedy's committee—against Hoffa.

Dad whooped. "I nearly broke his arm off, I pumped it so hard."

Just like that, I thought. A second chance to get back at that punk Jimmy Hoffa!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Black Hole

Let me "take flight / From dismal," as Emma Lazarus wrote in 1881. But that's tough. 

My bipolar disorder leaves me dismally inclined; its medicine reduces mania more effectively than it lightens depression.

On good days, I can appear civil, even though I roil in pessimism. But if stress kicks in, I simply sink into a Black Hole.

So when I agreed to have cataract surgery on June 20th, panic spun me down.

Oh, no! He'll operate on the wrong eye!

Oh, no! The surgeon will sell me a newfangled fancy multi-focal intra-ocular lens for $11,000 that will blur my sight!

Oh, no! I'll go blind!

So this email from my friend Kira stunned me: "I had cataract surgery years ago, and it made a wonderful difference. You will enjoy seeing the world with new eyes!" 

What? Joy is a possible reaction to eye surgery?

From inside my bottomless pit, I could scarcely believe Kira's words. But they gave me hope. 

So I inched out of my wretched abyss, struggling to know how I too might "take flight / From dismal."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tic Douloureux

One day in May 1954, my father staggered under a sharp, stabbing, incapacitating throb on the right side of his face. He felt like someone had smacked him with a hot poker.

The local doctor sent Dad to Mayo Clinic. "Tic douloureux is one of the most unbearable nerve disorders known to humans," the Mayo doctor said, "certainly more painful than a migraine headache, even more painful than childbirth." He set a date for surgery.

Dad returned to his top-floor hotel room in Rochester, Minnesota, to wait. He walked to the window. As he stared down at the street, he thought about jumping.

It wasn't just his tic douloureux. It was the Teamsters. 

True, Jimmy had not bothered him for several years, but Dad watched the little guy creep closer and closer to Nebraska. Along with Jimmy moved his gangsters. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

“Faster, Faster!”

I was still fifteen that May 1953 when the Harlan County Dam halted the Republican River and created a huge lake almost seven miles long.

Dad and I had looked forward to this day. Together we'd built a big wooden boat from a kit. I started hundreds of screws, and he finished them.

At last we launched the big boat. Out across the huge Harlan County Reservoir we spun! 

I took my turn with my sisters riding on the flat surfboard Dad towed behind the boat. 

How I loved the speed and the spray!

"Faster, faster," I screamed, and Dad would rev his big engine up, watch me fly across the glimmering water. 

Then he cut the engine and grinned as my surfboard slowly submerged, and I fought immersion.

  Coffey's Transfer at War with the Teamsters
A Daughter's Memoir             
by Marilyn June Coffey

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"

written for: a JoLt of CoFFeY 
 An Intermittent Newsletter
by Marilyn June Coffey

The author of:
A Cretan Cycle: "A single, sharp, funny story in verse" retells the Minotaur's myth 
Great Plains Patchwork: A lyric tale of the "wondrous strange" great plains
JackJack & JuneBug: A steamy, poignant love story (with Jack Loscutoff)
Mail-Order Kid: A popular biography of Teresa Martin, an orphan train rider
Marcella: A controversial, internationally published coming-of-age novel
Mas - tur - ba - tion: A rollicking tract on a "quite inexhaustible" subject
Pricksongs: A libidinous collection of tart poems from the turbulent sixties
That Punk Jimmy Hoffa: A memoir depicts how Coffey's father beat Hoffa
The Battle of Orleans: A documentary about a hotly disputed Marcella reading 
Thieves, Rascals & Sore Losers: Details the dirty deals that helped settle Nebraska

& publisher of Jack Loscutoff's latest books:
Aunt Gussie's Socks: A Russian-American based memoir (in fact and fiction)
A Line of Shorts: The breezy short stories and holy satires of an awesome wordsmith

Buy Coffey's & Loscutoff's books: 

Want to get off this mailing list? 
Reply and write REMOVE in the subject line. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Snoop

         "We gotta stop this snoopy columnist." Jimmy Hoffa furrowed his brow. "He can't keep his nose out of our business."

"Johnny Dio" Dioguardi then sent death threats to columnist Victor Riesel, but Riesel kept on broadcasting his anti-labor show.

"We could off him." Dio raised a single black eyebrow.

Jimmy shook his head. "Too fuckin' easy. I want Riesel to know what he did wrong."

Then about 2 a.m., April 5, 1956, Riesel left the radio station after broadcasting his usual program. He and his secretary walked to Lindy's to unwind. They left the restaurant about 3 a.m. 

Then Abraham Telvi, a slender, black-haired man, stepped out of the shadows and threw a vial of sulphuric acid into Riesel's eyes.


"My gosh!" Riesel shouted. He staggered. "My gosh!"

The secretary dragged Riesel into Lindy's to flush his face with water, but acid ate his eyeballs. 

Outside, Telvi sauntered away, trying to wipe a splash of acid off his face. 

"I should'a got more than five hundred bucks," he groused.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017



I don't know whether I should brag or complain about this: the Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, described as "broadly inclusive" and "diverse," has excluded my poetry from its pages. My poems are not among the more than 180 poems by 80-some Nebraska poets in the book.

Shall I brag or complain? 

I think I'll brag. That's more fun than complaining. 

So, why did Daniel A. Simon, editor, choose not to include me?

It can't be that I'm not from Nebraska. I was born and raised here, graduated from the University of Nebraska where I wrote my first poems in Wilbur Gaffney's creative writing class. True, I lived in New York for thirty years, but I've been back in Nebraska since 2004.

It can't be that I'm not a poet. I've written some 600 poems and given fifty poetry readings in Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and, of course, Nebraska.

Maybe my poems aren't good enough? 

But eighty have been published and several won awards: four Newark [NJ] Public Library poetry contests, one Feminist Writing Guild award at a Chicago printers' fair, and one the national Pushcart Prize:  Best of the Small Presses.

So what was it that led Simon to choose to exclude me, and two other well-known Omaha-Lincoln poets, from his broadly inclusive and diverse book?

I give up. 

You tell me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Mayor's Daughter

In 1950, my father ran for mayor of Alma, Nebraska, population 1,768. He ran against a strong, popular candidate, Paul Haeker. The April 4 election, a heavy one, drew more than three hundred voters, 162 for Dad, 148 for Haeker. Dad won just by 14 votes, but he won.
So my dad was Mayor, and I, the Mayor's Daughter. 
Almost thirteen years old, I quickly learned the downside to my new status. I felt sure my classmates would be so impressed by it that they would no longer holler at me, "Teacher's pet! Pthppthppthppth! Teacher's pet!"
I was right. Now they hollered, "You think you're so smart Pthppthppthppth! 'cause your dad's mayor!" 

  I Watched My Dad Beat the Teamsters
             A Daughter's Memoir
              by Marilyn June Coffey

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"