Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday's Poetry: Passing Through Albuquerque

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

My intent today had been to share Walt Whitman's poem, "I Hear America Singing," until I came across "Passing Through Albuquerque" by John Balaban, a poem which bears similarities to the Whitman classic.

I have passed through Albuquerque on several occasions, both by car and by train, and sense from my own observations that the poet featured here today has captured the essence of the city in just a few lines.

John Balaban is a gifted American poet of Romanian extraction.  He is also a recognized authority of Vietnamese literature.

I hope you enjoy his passing view of Albuquerque.

Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban

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 girl
presses her up-fluttering dress to her bony knees
you can hear a banjo, guitar, and fiddle

playing “The Mississippi Sawyer” inside a shack.
Moments like that, you can love this country.

1 comment:

Mineko said...

Nice poem, Rocky. I like it and that you shared it with the readers. I spent one summer in the late 90's in Albuquerque attending a summer school administered by Linguistics Society of America held at University of New Mexico. Me and my husband lived in a dorm on campus fighting with the scorpions that came out of the closet every now and then. Women couldn't walk around the campus after dusk without the escort service or a company, and once you went out of the campus, there were so many beggers and drunkards who trailed us asking for money. We couldn't eat on campus on weekends, so we had to go to restaurants to eat, but everywhere we went, we were discriminated against because we looked asians. We experienced both explicit and insinuated descrimination at every single restaurant we went, like given seats in Siberia when there were many sunny tables open to Caucasians, or, once at Denny's a guy even spitted on us and everyone else in the restaurant including the service staff just giggled as we went out of the restaurant. I learned it hard way that there were no African or Hispanic customers in those restaurants. I wonder how things have changed. Besides the human factors, the learning experience with the best scholars in the field from all over USA and the rest of the world was superb, and we were so fasicinated by the casinos in the dessert ; ), not to mention the beautiful mother nature.