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Featured Poet George Wallace

Featured Poet George Wallace

George Wallace is well known as a jazz poet, for his energetic and rhythmic voice. Yet he can be operatic. He writes passionately about society, and often more personal songs. He has the ability to take longing, and even grief, to an abstract level so it speaks to humankind, with historical sensibilities. But at the heart of it is the man who calls for love. We like Palestine “shining” in this poem, an unconscious wish, perhaps.  - Grace Cavalieri


THE VERY ACT OF YOUR EYES, SHINING LIKE PALESTINE

 

Thistle goes to seed and so do men,

and no I am not religious and neither

am I dying, not just yet, I am night,

night is steady, night is a map with

no stars, how many thousand years

have come and gone and I am all of

them and only a few, there is no guide

to go by, and that's okay, the wisdom

of centuries is an old-fashioned notion,

the lines in the palm of our hands

are message enough

 

This weak signal, this alien intelligence

which rules our lives, Dante wouldn't

like that, what is wanted is a fixed point

in the night, something steady we can

go by, something reliable as perfect lovers,

breathing together, internalizing each other,

or this small cloud which crosses your face

at night, like the ghost of a Jesuit priest

slipping through a courtyard, like doubt

or the wind, like a grain of sand from some

apostolic desert captured in a jar, like you

lighting a cigarette, or me lighting it for you

 

Like time itself, lighting itself up, because

time is immortal and it doubles back on itself,

and wind blows smoke into your face like

the sulphur of Troy and night is the skin of

Saint Sebastian pierced by a thousand arrows –

and yes you are absentminded sometimes and

anyhow love is accidental, we were all young once

and loved, though not in equal portions of pain

 

Share your mouth with me or with the limpid moon –

press your mouth to heaven -- say whatever you

wish, speak into the abyss, that's why it is there –

with your voice which is satin, with your lips

which are freed slaves and the color of brushed

gold, with your eyes which are Andalucian, your

small voice singing like an orange grove in rain and

on a night like this I can imagine you in a previous

life, a pony in a corral, your blood racing, hooves

trampling everything in your path, cactus and rock

and clod of earth

 

The very act of reincarnation, your body a Lydian harbor
 

The very act of your voice, mortal as a thousand Greek sails
 

The very act of your eyes, shining like Palestine


George Wallace is a New York City-based poet and writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. Author of 30 chapbooks of poetry, he has served as first poet laureate of Suffolk County, LI NY (2003-05) and the Beat Poetry Festival (2015-16). Editor of Poetrybay and co-editor of Great Weather for Media and Long Island Quarterly, he studied creative writing with Marvin Bell, Joe Millar, and Dorianne Laux (MFA, Pacific U), W.D. Snodgrass, and Donald Justice (AB, Syracuse U). George is adjunct professor of English at Pace University in Manhattan and travels internationally to read his works and lecture on literary subjects. 

Artist Interview - Matt Talbert

Artist Interview - Matt Talbert

Maureen Seaton

Maureen Seaton

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