Poems performed by George Wallace at SapphoFest 2015

2016.01.15 | By Keith Stone

David Scott (1806–1849), "Sappho and Anacreon" (1835). Image via Wikiart.
David Scott (1806–1849), “Sappho and Anacreon” (1835). Image via Wikiart.

Claudia Filos and I, writing as editors of Classical Inquiries, are very pleased to present here the full text of two poems written by the poet George Wallace for the occasion of SapphoFest 2015 and performed there by him on December 12, 2015.

He also performed two previously published poems, the texts of which can already be found elsewhere online: “Her Heart Was On Fire, My Heart Was On Fire”[1] and “Everything Is Going To Be Okay.”[2] Those two poems form part of his 2012 collection EOS: Abductor of Men (Three Rooms Press, NYC).[3]




to know time, know where it comes from, where it has gone,
to measure moment against moment, star gazing, love making,
the blood of heaven, the seed carried in the wind

to be the sundial, measure and not measure, open up the throat
and let the universe in, to sing and to be silent,  to be the maiden
in the mirror, the young man and the lyre

to remain the same, this cycle of song which is no song, this unbroken
counting of hours—mystery beyond counting, lyre on hip, plectrum in hand,
garlands of bindweed strung and worn in the hair

strew your bed with purple flowers, grow and stay, walk in the radiance of the sun

to pause and to move, as if you are dancing, as if you are motionless,
to move as if you are permanent, the fixture and motion of time, inside
the sacral passageway, outside in the harmonious rain of rock on rain

to be sacral with sunlight, which is day and the absence of day, to know where time has gone, where it has come from

to experience the convulsion of time as it turns in on itself—like a grey flower,
asphodel, melodic, contemplative, eternally moving, motionless as a funerary urn
to know the contexts and the conventions, the human imponderables parables
and designs,

walk like Anacreon, sing like Sappho in her sweet repose, call time by its given name, which is hora, hora

to be the sun, and not the sun—
to be the sundial, which is also the rain


written November 22 – December 12




It is all audible to me, the alchemy and the telling, triunfo
del amor, the secret telling, the terrible rosebud of your heart,
volcanic, circular as a jewelers saw, the robust harmony,
the melodramatic padlock of your circumstances, even
the sharp intake of your breath, all audible, I could listen
for hours, all night in the darkness, the shape of your living
breath a candle flame, terrible majesty, anything could move
me, what your lips say, what your teeth what your tongue,
how they shape the darkness, how in the dark darkness of
night, dispeller of gloom, an otter slips through the river mist,
blue smoke from the cabin fire, what was supposed to be
loneliness, sunburst has been held up in the clouds, this
longing to be inside you, restless, restless, to feed and
to kiss your secret mouth, be an otter a muskrat, rainbow
trout too, loon, to be fed and kissed by you, tell you
unspeakable things, sacred things, all foolish, all audible,
these wings these hands this fluttering of wings,


on the tip of my tongue, at the base of my spine, where my
manhood begins, I can taste this silver going, this snowmelt
surging, these are your earrings these your pearls, I place
them in my mouth and suck on them like stone, fill my nostrils
with them, their pitiless breathing, for you a rock to cradle,
a river to rock, you are merciful, your lips your tongue your
teeth your hair, midnight approaches, this molding to these
contours, in my imagination I am ten feet tall and naked and
yours, this falls outside the category of miracles and makes
light of material day, this zone, this hoof, flint, flint, persistent
stomping in shard of rock, some accidental category of miracles,
this triumph over the natural order, of you, in you, by you, this
makes me weep, this makes the crying of foxes palatable,
the field and restless woods, holy, holy, a brace of pheasants
I lean my ear close to you, the whirr in your throat,
your voice a thistle breathing,

all audible, this is eternity, the first embracing, all miraculous
all new and forever audible, to me, this flight of birds, this fall of
alpine water, wings and cries and icemelt, icemelt and riverrock,
I hear it all tonight, and you lying here beside me
your extraordinary breathing,
your tender gasps of miraculous wonder


written December 2–11


[1] Mason’s Road Online Literary Journal, Fairfield U,

[2] flingit55, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TW3ODfIN8c.

[3] Available through Amazon.com or the publisher http://threeroomspress.com/authors/george-wallace/.