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.