George Wallace


Gone the headlights
Gone the highway
Gone the land
that blinded me
with its wildness
and its charm
and its bountiful
treachery, fungal and
unromantic and true
to itself and no human
hand; gone the radioactive
flamingos glowing pink
in the self-serving sun
Gone the charterboat cap’n
and his three day beard;
Gone the shellcracker haven poor
boys with their badge of whiteness;
Gone the freshwater swamp
filling up with automotive exhaust;
Gone the well digger pumping
sand in the everglades; gone
the pastel circus in its winter hq
not indigenous but quite at home;
and the tamiami trail, crawling
with pelicans and swamp panthers
and nightworms and alligators,
swallowing all the octogenarians all
the nonogenarians all the centogenarians
and leaving their bones in the sun to bleach;
Gone the gay south american diplomat
and the ageless vaudevillian with his bad toupe
and hopeless grin, the one liners he slayed
’em with in the catskills; gone the seminole
and the yemassee, gone the cypress grove and
the cajun cook, gone the tourist in the cheap white
suit and the land surveyor with the panama hat
and the snowbirds pulling in fat as sin, loading up
their station wagons with grapefruit and store-bought
seashells for the drive back north; and the thin line
of horizon that separates the pure bustle and hurl of
the natural surf from endless screened in florida porches
and last ditch desperation retirement villages; gone
henry flagler and his schemes; gone the train
that crossed the waters to key west; gone
the mobsters and the private detectives
and the movie moguls and runaway dames
from pittsburgh pa and cuban cigar rollers and
walt disney hucksters and the two tiers that ate my
innocence; gone the key lime and speedtraps
and jive bluebird hotels, gone the billboards
and the crystal meth; gone the factories
and dance halls full of underage models and
fat cat republicans smoking one hundred dollar bills;
and migrant workers picking tomatoes and strike busters
and tipplers with beaks like macaws; gone all the
redneck children, gone their barefoot song; gone the
airboat and the hang glider; gone the bad-ass jazz
musician with his saxophone and needle marks;
and the roar of daytona speedway and booster
rockets splashing into the ocean off cape canaveral like
tarpon leaping out of biscayne bay; and motor homes
circling the wagons; gone the jukecanaries
pumping nickels into the music box; gone
the grifter out on bail; gone the rich widows
and would be gigolos in their shark suits, who are
behind in their rent, and the milk money bandits
hooking latin cats from argentina and chile
and sao paolo brazil; gone steinbeck’s children,
ratso rizzo, he’s gone too, and all the hollywood
hippies and countercultralists that died with him
in the back seat of the greyhound bus; gone the
park benches and the park itself, with its speargrass
and fake palm trees perfect as post-card heaven;
too perfect; too far to walk; too far to swim;
too far to fish for pearls or dive for sponge or
throw contrails or worship god or churn the bay
like butter with jetskis and cigarette boats;
too far gone for the resurrection yet to come;
too far gone for the magazine bride and
her wedding cake groom, and the country club
president with his aviator sunglasses and
host of yes-men, and the sniper in the
radio tower and the high school senior
with his dead end dreams and job at walmarts;
and the loathsome logjam of desire that swells
in grown men’s hearts; gone the superior logic of
sudden rain that cleanses everything in its path and
chases wild birds out of the jungle; and coconuts floating in
from africa; and the sudden clearing and the sun coming
back out, enough! it could make a strong man sick!
heat and heat and malarial wind; and mosquitoes
that bite like the eye of a hurricane and speak in tongues;
and the maddening power of the sun to overtake
the minds of the most level-headed of men —
like a great river that bursts its terrible banks
and inundates all the wheat fields and
orange groves and dairy farms of
america with its living water.


George Wallace is a writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, author of 38 chapbooks of poetry, and editor/co-editor of Poetrybay, Walt’s Corner, and Great Weather for Media. A regular on the NYC performance scene, he travels internationally to share his work and has received numerous honors and awards for his poetry.