National Poetry Month Day 28: “Rock N’ Roll” by Peter Balakian ’73

Rock ’n’ Roll

The groove in black vinyl got deeper

What was that light?
A migrant
I slid into a scat,

and in the purple silk
and the Canoe

there was sleekness and a rear-view mirror.

And the Angels flew out of the cloisonne vase
They were the rachitic forks hanging in the midnight kitchen.
And so I called you after the house was still.
My turquoise Zenith melting

And you asked:  what was that light?
I was spinning.  I was the trees shivering,
and the snake of coiled light on the ceiling
was moonglow.

I wasn’t a fool in a satin tux.
I was Persian gold and blue chenille
I was the son of the Black Dog of Fate.

I said: I saw a rainbow of glass
above the Oritani Theater.

Lord, lead me from Hackensack New Jersey
into the white streak of exhaust.



Peter Balakian, Bucknell Class of 1973, is the author of nine books, six of poetry, the most recent of which is the epic Ziggurat. It follows June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000, and The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, which won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times Best Seller. His memoir, Black Dog of Fate won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize, and was a best book of the year for The New York Times, The LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly. He is also the author of a book on the American poet Theodore Roethke and the co-translator of the Armenian poet Siamanto’s Bloody News From My Friend. Between 1976-1996 he edited with Bruce Smith the poetry journal Graham House Review. He is the recipient of many awards, prizes and civic citations, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Ahanhit Literary Prize. He has appeared widely on national television and radio, and foreign editions of his work have appeared in Armenian, Bulgarian, French, Dutch, Greek, German, Italian and Turkish.

The Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities and Professor of English at Colgate University, he was the first Director of Colgate’s Center For Ethics and World Societies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s