John Balaban Poems
- Passing Through Albuquerque At dusk, by the irrigation ...
- The Painting The stream runs clear to its stones; the fish ...
- For the Missing in Action Hazed with harvest dust and ...
- After Our War After our war, the dismembered bits - all ...
- Eddie Hadn't seen Eddie for some time, wheeling his chair ...
- A Finger After most of the bodies were hauled away and while...
- Abandoned House, Saigon Two swallows fly in a broken window, ...
John B. Balaban (born December 2, 1943) is an American poet and translator, an authority on Vietnamese literature.
Balaban was born in a housing project neighborhood in Philadelphia to Romanian immigrant parents, Phillip and Alice Georgies Balaban. His father taught himself calculus, invented a model airplane, and studied engineering in Romania, while his mother was a peasant with "almost no education". Balaban wrote his first poem at the age of eight or nine, and cites the influence of show tunes that his elder sisters used to sing while washing the dishes after dinner.
He became a Quaker at the age of sixteen, while searching for alternatives to the violence in his ... more »
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Passing Through Albuquerque
At dusk, by the irrigation ditch
gurgling past backyards near the highway,
locusts raise a maze of calls in cottonwoods.
A Spanish girl in a white party dress
strolls the levee by the muddy water
where her small sister plunks in stones.
Beyond a low adobe wall and a wrecked car
men are pitching horseshoes in a dusty lot.
Someone shouts as he clangs in a ringer.
Big winds buffet in ahead of a storm,
rocking the immense trees and whipping up
clouds of dust, wild leaves, and cottonwool.
In the moment when the locusts pause and the ...