Tuesday, December 1, 2009

George Wallace

Life Is Not Enough

life is not enough for some
folks they have to marry it
mob it cheat it eat it they
have to dress it up in white
satin and silk cummerbunds
they have to throw pearls
at life like hail the size of
quail eggs they have to
drink to its soul carry it
in rucksacks bury it in
olive groves wrap it up
in french ribbon trade it
like donkey flesh or skeins
of cloth pluck it like cat gut
pray for it to come back as
wine you see life is just not
good enough for some folks
they have to vote on it write
songs about it lick their left
thumbs and come out fighting
over it they have to organize it
store it stock it love it cross it off
their lists or else catalog it and
leave it to rot on a shelf or possibly
cross themselves with four fingers
cut their front teeth bite on the neck
of life wrestle it to the ground make war
on it you see some folks have to put a spin
on life spit on life or watch life die they have to
tear it up and start all over again you see some
people just can't take life as it is they build
churches to life they tell fortunes with it
they peer through it like a telescope at
distant galaxies they roll it up with
cigarette paper and get high on it
some people pick it plant it
steal it hand it over to the
authorities study it like
a holy secret or worship
the hell out of it like the
body and blood of the
sons and daughters
who have left them
for lives of their own

At Night While You Are Sleeping

at night while you are sleeping my heart
goes walking on its little white walking feet,
with a little white moon following behind it --
my heart goes walking in its sad little walking
shoes, my heart goes walking and the sky is
full of stars there's no traffic in the street it is dark --
dark dark dark! and the night is an owl
blinking its eyes and keeping things to itself
(i know you keep things to yourself and
i know i keep things to myself everyone keeps things
to themselves! the mailman the crossing guard
the cop in his cop car the thief in his mask of
fear), and my heart keeps things to itself too,
for example how much i love you, even after all
these years -- my heart, which goes walking
and sees many things -- driveways mailboxes
chimney tops bill collectors garbage trucks
basketball hoops cats in windows dogs at the
door -- many things! this is my secret, this is
who i am, a man who loves you and the world
which keeps turning with us in it, the world
which keeps on dreaming -- in fact the world
is dreaming right now as i write these words,
the world is dreaming little white dreams – like
you do, dreaming in your little white dreaming
bed, while this heart of mine goes walking

Since You Have Told Me The Birds Sing

since you have told the birds to sing
have them rise for us too have them
blot out the sky with their angry breath
have them darken the wind with their
crazy wings and strange cries -- and
since you have told the flowers to rise
have them cover the earth for us, have
them ruin the meadows with their soft
sweet petals and their unruly pollen --
have them cast their children out like
criminals into the world have them eat
the wind whole have them swallow the
sun have them walk like apostles into
the stinging rain -- and since you have
told the worms to crawl into the bellies
of men and the wolves to hunt for the
weak and the elderly and since you
have told tumbleweeds to run away
from each other and the crabs in the
sea to wave their arms like scissors --
and since you have told the horses to
race along and the dogs to bark and
scorpions to sting and since you have
told lizards to bask in the heat and
since you have told elephants to clown
with each other and the mountain trout
and the cinch bugs and the cottonwoods
down by the river – and since you have
told the people to fight with each other
and to kill or be kil led and to hunger for
each other and fear and make claim,
have them love each other too -- have
them feed have them clothe have them
shelter have them nurse have them just
love each other anyway -- and when
they’re done with all that tell them to
sing to each other too, for us

Lord of Buskers

lord of the buskers
sweet god in your
high grace teach
me the jingle that
makes men jingle
teach me the tune
that makes nickels
wiggle and sing in
the hands of all the
weary souls in the
world in dr gener
osity's pocket in
the waxy grip of
madame tussaud
o lord of buskers
let the money flow
let the coin fall out
where ever it may
so long as it rolls in
my direction through
every damn hole in
the goddamn world
hole in the bucket
hole in the cloth
hole in the steeple
hole in the skullbone
of enormous heaven
o let it roll into my hand
dear lord of the diminished e
let it roll across my teeth
my tongue my lungs my lips
with vowels like cantaloupes
consonants like spikes like a crown
of thorns hang me on your tree of money
let my throat be filled with middle c's
teach me the sweet notes for
office women who stroll
through city hall park
at lunch with sweet
voices of their own
rolling hips of their own
and lipstick for the office men
in their incredible ill-fitting
suits o lord of buskers
not so much for me
not for me
but for your song
dear lord of vagrants
innocent student of the world
with your magician cap with your
sudden spring and unexpected music
borne into the hearts of women
and men grant me the back beat and the gentle
hook get off your ass, o lord of the mellifluous
tune pluck me a chord six string god
of the strummed guitar
teach me a stray dog blues
a yawp a gypsy warble
oh god of easy smiles
and sweet park benches
send away the cop on his big ass horse
send me the rich ones
pockets full of expendible
folding money
let's get parisian
about it, you and i!
i mean to hell with eliot
and ezra pound
let my voice be heard
let it rise up like jeremiah
like aznavour of frances villons!
i am your merchant ship
i am your instrument
let your voice rise up
in me and roll on easy
over the high seas
to hong kong
to splitsville
to valparaiso

-all previously published at Istanbul Literary Review  

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