George Wallace

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(Writers Ink Press 1999)

(Bootleg Press, 1993)

(Writers Ink Press 1992)

(Cross Cultural Communications, 1989)

(Explicitly Graphic UK, 1986)


(Writers Ink Press 1992)

whenever the bank teller gets married i have to

make friends all over again
it doesn't matter if i liked her
or if i am going to like the next one
she could have teeth like tombstones
and i would still smile at her

i have noticed that nobody else bothers with such niceties
and they can still get their checks cashed
a minimum of bother

whereas i will even talk to the automatic teller if nobody's looking

this is one of my biggest faults
but it has also made me famous
among grocery clerks and waitresses
it has even made it possible to pass a bad check or two
in one local establishment which shall remain nameless

management of course is a different matter all together

management doesn't want to hear about it
they think it is subversive
to break the barriers of position and rank like that
they're right it probably is
you be the customer and let us be the gatekeepers
of free enterprise and orderly business proceedings
they say

but i just go on sailing deposit slips
through the teller's window
insulting the interior decorator
and generally teasing the moon
out of some poor kid's eyes

if i was in management's position i would frown on it too
but the days pass more pleasantly this way
for me anyway
and things are tight all over
they need me

besides the last time i checked
they hadn't found a way to create automatic customers yet

stupidity takes practice but it is a necessary commodity

at fiftyfive miles per hour
on the dull highways of america
especially after dark when

silos sleep standing up with one eye open to the night
you can hear the occasional yawn
oh and now and again (i've seen it) one of them will
swallow a low-flying star
which is an interesting phenomenon but in general
nothing much else happens

anyway i like the stars to keep their distance
not only because they refuse
to obey the normal rules
of mortality

but more to the point
there's no room on the interstate
for us and them
at least if making omaha by morning
is an issue

it's like the state troopers i know they represent good government
and protection of the honest citizen from himself
but at fiftyfive you could get a degree
in cornfields not to mention

uh oh speedtrap better slow down

isn't that venus?
isn't that orion? and isn't that
the president again on the radio?

i can still recall the sound of the president's voice
something less than a glitter something
more than a gleam
oh he is clever president full of
clever words full of dull american charm he's the guy who said
read my lips oh mister president!

i can see your face peeking out of every silo
i can hear your voice in the hum of the eighteen wheelers
sweeping by on the downgrade oh you are a clever president you
can understand that i can't do fiftyfive anymore
it's three a.m. and this is iowa mister president i
cannot do fiftyfive this country is just too big for fiftyfive oh

hey mister president read my finger!

i know a man who sleeps with a cheese

tucked in the crook of his arm he says
you wouldn't believe how restful
that can be until you've tried it

yogurt he says is also supposed to be fine

if you can manage to keep from moving too much
you can rely on having dry sheets in the morning

ever since the bad knees
forced him to give up running
ever since he learned the limits of beer
and his career in management turned sour and
there was no more europe on five dollars a day

ever since muhammad ali went soft in the head and
women went hard in the mouth and sex
without a condom became more or less dangerous

he sleeps with a cheese
limburger camembert gouda brie
it apparently makes no difference to him ever
since his wife left him for a career in acupressure

he sleeps with a cheese
he sleeps all morning and he dreams and dreams
and the dream is always a peaceful one in fact

he dreams he is a small boy living
on a dairy farm in connecticut
his father grew up there in the days before
electricity and they keep the milk in metal cans
under the hot summer sun they haul the milk
to a cold stream and they leave it there
while they eat sandwiches in a field
of sweet smelling grasses

then one day a storm comes up lightning hits
the water and all the milk turns sour and before
you know it there is an interstate running
straight through the place where the cows used
to graze there are alarms bells ringing
in the connecticut sky and everybody is running
and he wakes up and finds that he really isn't a man
who sleeps with a cheese at all

he notices in fact that he is sleeping with a woman

listen to what the landscape architects say

about sod, soil and oriental texturing if you want to

but for a garden that will last
give me pokeweed, brush and poison ivy
god has given us plenty of the common varieties
to play with after all and besides
he has his own ideas about what groundcover
in these parts should look like

but look what we have done

surrounding nearly every home every cottage
quarter acre by quarter acre on at least
fifteen thousand acres of this our formerly natural
woodland we have recreated
some sixty thousand miniatures
of the african grasslands
and we have named it suburbia

now i recognize that the savannah may be man's
common homeland that when we came out
of the trees to peer over the tall grass
in search of running meat
it was comforting to have a clump of trees
nearby to get a hand up and swing our way
out of reach of tiger claws

but conditions change
other people make the kill for us
and at considerably less risk in doing so
in fact nowadays there are damn few killer tigers
in cattle country
and as for us we get our meat from the freezer rack
the only hunter you see around here
is the neighborhood cat
and i can't see having to bulldoze the woods

for his sake

i would point out that i have the same horticultural
tendencies as the next man i just think
nature was doing a pretty good job
without our interference and besides
if you want to hear god's voice in the back yard
maybe you have to turn off the lawnmower on a sunday morning

and listen to the stirring of new oaks and sugar maples in the wet wet earth


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