Poems by George Wallace


George Wallace

George Wallace is writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, author of 39 chapbooks of poetry, and professor of English at Pace University in New York City. He is editor of NYC FROM THE INSIDE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF NEW YORK POETS (2022), and curator of POETS BUILDING BRIDGES, an online international gathering of poets. George travels internationally to share his work. Shortlisted for Poet of the Year for the 2022 Boao Festival in Hainan China (announcement of winner TBD in Sept 2022), recent international recognition includes the Naim Frasheri Prize (Tetova, North Macedonia); Corona d’Oro (Korca, Albania); Orpheus Prize (Plovdiv, Bulgaria); Nelson Mandela Award (Morocco); Alexander Gold Medal (UNESCO-Greece); and Centro Studii Archivio d’Occidente Award (Lavis, Italy).



the poet is an
abandoned room
in a terrible city,
he lives with
he lives with
the dead, he’s
haunted by
a naked
light bulb
inside his head
jaguars prowl,
jaguars and jackals,
the poet spends
all day filling
his head up like a
faucet leaking into
a clogged sink, he’s
a man on a mission, he’s
a man with a small
gambling problem,
he is filling out a
lottery ticket with
all the wrong numbers,
what a laugh! the poet
is a detective without a badge,
he is present at the scene of the crime,
everyone ignores him, who is this
guy anyhow, after the cops leave
he tries on all the clothes
in the closet, nothing fits him;
he lines his pocket with hard candies
and skin creme; he is a rag picker,
he is all of the above, human history
is knotted up in his fist like a noose,
he is fair game for lovers and
merchants of dreams, he speaks
all languages, all the uttered phrases
of lost nations are at play
in his head, his brain
is fire, his brain is smeared
concrete, his brain is
hieroglyphics, he lives in
the tomb of the forgotten kings,
his tongue is cave paintings,
his will was written
by a frightened child,
and the city loathes him,
he has no spending money
and nothing to offer
except words, words, when
the landlord comes to the door
he pretends he is dead.



I am from the dead

not of them

i am from the alphabet

not the written word


filthy rank of


is not my destination

I am from the future

custom is the fertilizer

out of which I flower

not the blueprint

for my song

I am

the raw ingredient

my own seed


in my origination

screw you

and your pre-


I am from

the trajectory I choose

a man not

a memory

modest to my means

no slave to the past I will

propagate and bloom

in the four directions

no wind

no tide

no hell of

bible or clan

shall be my rudder

nor select

the field in which

i make my stand

the past is dead!

Long Live

the lilies of the field!

read all

about it

in my poem.



I am in my tender years

I have calluses on my fingers

I have a twelve-string guitar

and live in your town, I am

six miles of pickup wire

and a real cool amp, I am

blind in the stagelight to

everything but the song,

barely 17 in the crucible

of time literal as fuck

slick as liquid nylon

what I know of love

I can hold in the

palm of my hand

what i know of desire

can be stuffed into a

pair of kick ass jeans;

set off like dynamite

I am vagrant I am

plugged in I am

perpetual, a rotating

spinmachine an

American dream;

boys envy me girls

ride home from

the dance in the back

of daddy’s car


I am holding hands

with them; I am

too much smoke,

riffs like thunder,

the drummer’s

uptight the lead

singer’s high on coke,

this gig’s going no

where so what there’s

always tomorrow night

and another dive bar to get

lost in; I am playing

a lovesong too

hard for love, I am

too bold too idealistic

too punk my guitar won’t go

where my heart leads me

I am too restless too

contrary but I am

playing for you,

only you, I am your

very young lover

I will live forever

on the precipice

of this game,


hell out of

every lie ever told

in this sorry little town.




if i told you once

i told you a thousand

times, brother!

tractors maul

the hillside,


paw the earth;

men with more

sense in their peckers

than in their hearts

rule the air waves

they have bullets for brains

they will shackle

your bowels


your children

they will lock up

what they fear losing

they will hogtie

the poor with lies

disturb the gentle

thrashing of nilotic waters

in the yellow month of june

and call themselves just;

if i told you once

i told you a thousand

times, sister! men are dishonest

their laws are lies and seldom to be trusted;

their tongues are crocodiles

their hands are guillotines

their bootsoles

spiked with malice;

they will rob you

of your ovaries

they will rob you

of your mind

they will place you

under house arrest

and walk away smiling;

treasonous to nations,

gods, fisheries,


they will lay waste

to oceans

they will haul

thru your privacy

like armored vehicles

thru peaceful cities;

men are not worth it

i have told you this

a thousand times,

ten thousand probably

— not useful for

peace or for love —

made for dominion;

if you want to

stop them

silence their

war machine

strip judges


and politicians

of their power;

restore to the forest

its green natural


and glow


scuttle the ship

demote the barge

rock the manger.


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