George Wallace

I Want to Go Where the Garbage Men Go

I want to go where the garbage men go
I want to ride where the garbage men ride
it is Friday night it is eight pm I want to
go where the garbage men go
when they gear up
when they get in motion
the garbage men the garbage men
cruising the city like a shooting star
like a desert consuming itself
they ache for garbage from their biceps
to their toes like Columbus ached for America
like kids ache for the Good Humor man
like a robber emptying a cash register
at a 7-Eleven aches for money
in t-shirts and stained jeans
with their jaws stuck out
like Ethel and Fred Mertz
with their heads like steel plates
and their va va va voom
the garbage men do not mind
they do not care it is hot it is cool
what's the difference? It's all work to them
and they love to work
with their leather gloves
on their leather hands
and they are high above the crowd
and the stench of it all
and it's good damn money besides --
good damn money! Who's going to tell them different?
They are tall they are muscular who is going to tell them?
They have good teeth and hair like Greek gods
and their language is perfect!
Their muscles shivering like primitive seas
their bones shaking like javelines
and the blood of centuries dries on their hands
they are big as beer barrels
and they love to talk like pirates of the Aegean
and wrestle with each other like animals on the ground
they are jackhammers in Mamaroneck
they are tugboats on the Sound
from Brooklyn to the Bronx from trash can to sea
to shining sea I want to roll along on the rain spattered roadway --
I am perfectly serious about this I want to

go with the garbage men!
They are calm they are professional
and they're loud as fists striking solid steel
they are polite to the mayor
and if they whistle at the pretty mamasitas
it is only for show it doesn't really mean anything
they brush flies away from their faces
nothing bothers them at all nothing!
Not traffic lights not fender benders
not bosses or banana skins
not razor blades or twenty dollar bills
not a box of taco shells and not the Daily News
and when the wind picks up they shout back at the wind
and the wind gets the hell out of their way

and when they wave to the driver the truck takes off
and the traffic parts, like mountains part
for Colorado mountain men
and they ride away
and where do they go
with all that garbage?
They go to the landfill
they go to the loading docks
they go to trailer parks
they go to the windy gap
they go to the incinerator
they go to Staten Island
they go to the ocean floor --
they go home to their wives and mothers
their sons and daughters
to their neat little houses
in their neat little suburbs

they climb out of their trucks
and they pull off their clothes
they climb into their beds
and they pull their wives to them
and they make love to their wives properly
and then they go to sleep
and if they dream at all
it's no big thing! No big thing!
After awhile they stop dreaming
and they are dead to the world
and their sleep is dark and perfect
as night is dark and perfect
and they are the Lords
of everything they survey

Subway Music

The subway is full of high driving music
tonight -- round eyed men & women
jazzified in the hot wet tunnel -- eyes
flashing hips moving in & out of the
crowd moving in & out like a slide
trombone -- at 14th Street it's the
flyaway boys from the foothills of
North Carolina playing the gospel
banjo - next stop West Fourth St -
cool, some cats have set up shop
got brass instruments & are wailing
an uptempo version of 'Don't Blame
Me' by the light of the A train passing --
the steps go up the steps go down --
it is a whole shifting mess shifting
imperceptibly like a mule team on
delicate hooves across the Great
Continental Divide -- or the last true
juicer teetering down Bowery -- like
a Latin cat in street clothes, who is
that man? -- He just walks up calm
contemplative & empty of desire --
he is whistling something between
his teeth -- a couple of school girls
out too late giggling & watching --
here comes a pale green monster
of a man unconcerned & in uniform
he was just cutting by doing his job --
but now he's standing still as a broom
handle stiff as broccoli & not ashamed --
listening to it all soaking it all in --
the subway music the subway music --
which way's up which way's out of here -
you can't turn a good man down not
with your ears i mean not when he's
playing music like that -- o what can you
say what can you tell me -- name your price
New York City o here comes mister surefoot --
man he's doing a two step hustle a hip
little street shuffle -- a junkie nod --
some hot tempered boys stomp
around in a circle -- astronauts
in the all night dark & pretty women
rub their eyes they have just woke up
they've never been kissed -- young girls
made to last or take to bed what do you
want from me! What are you listening for,
clustered together in the hot wet tunnel
for the first time in your lives? -- We're
going through with this thing yes we are
we're going through with it together --
our slice of paradise -- our piece
of the underground puzzle -- our
zipped down washed up shook
out apple pie -- oh yes like Noah
oh yes like an isotope -- Oh yes!
The sexless gringo from the suburbs
the hopped up kids from Paris France --
yes, the scrubbed down impossible
to understand Midwesteners! Asian
travelers! Multilingual all-sorts! Sub-
continentals! A musical salute to you
all! all in, to everybody a piece of
the action! let's go looking for
the radioactive Easter Egg,
together at last -- in the
greatest & most joyous
last chance playground of
American undergound
musical innovation &
slim possibilities -
rainy New York City on
a sad lost subway
Saturday night

Songs of Towns

Hip talk, loose dreams, songs sung
in parking lots, songs of the tribe,
schoolbooks laid out on a farm table;
match books, account books, paperback
novels with broken spines; comic books,
coat buttons, bottle rockets, produce sheds,
hardware salesmen, cattle market men,
auctioneers and Hungarian bakers; road
surveyors, men who take risks on the
interstate in trucks; summers plunging
off a bridge into a muddy creek, the rust
of railroad tracks returning to the earth;
clamshells, sardine cans, dogs with sad
haunches and mouths swung open
like sliced watermelon; questions
with no answers, horses no one
can ride, a panhandler mooching
through the backyard; a firehouse
plot that thickens; towns, towns
and more towns; men who are
consumed by them, men who
work outdoors in the rain,
bankers and wildcatters
and rodeo boys, tractors
crawling across the horizon
like snails; men with
slouch hats blocking out
the sun, men in barbershops
and women in beauty parlors;
gods that exist in sullen wicked
hearts; concrete which hardens
in the most solemn sets of eyes;
a saloon in every town, a mason
jar, a stump hole, a chicken bone;
a half bottle of rye whiskey left out
on the porch; a wrecked fence; a swing
slung low from a huge old apple tree;
decent men, decent women, children
who come out of nowhere; their silent
faces, their delicate faces, like dew on
flowers, like clay baked in a ferocious
oven; furious, silent, lonely faces,
lonely as flower pots; the silence
of words that remain unspoken, lives
translated out of silence and back into
silence again; a silence which retains its
tragic simplicity; like music which
exists inside music; the kind of
music that is trapped inside itself

About the Author

George Wallace performs regularly in the greater NYC area, with regular appearances at the Parkside Lounge and the Poetry Barn on LI; and from the Howland Center in Beacon to the Colony Cafe in Woodstock. Author of twenty-eight chapbooks and two CDs of poetry (including Summer Of Love Summer Of Love, Shivastan Press, Woodstock, 04; and Poppin Johnny, Three Rooms Press, NYC 11), he performs regularly at the Woody Guthrie Festival, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, Howlfest, and tours the US and UK to give poetry workshops and readings. In 2011 he was named writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.

George's latest chapbook is EOS: Poems in Greek and English (Three Rooms Press, NYC, 12).

Look for his stuff online at,,, and at the youtube account flingit55.

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