Balaban by Jack Hirschman


I ran down the street and into the house smelled
of oregano and shook Mickey Monaco, said
C’mon, Balaban’s got a breadloaf
climbing over old Gruber’s fence, he thinks
the mad dogs is doves.

But Mickey grew up in the bed till he was too old
and besides Balaban was crazy, he sucked
his tongue and got left back twice.
So I ran to Joey Bellino’s house but his mother’s
black stocking said Joey was out early shoe
shining. And besides a, that Balaban he’s a
crazy a kid, he suck a the tongue and Joey says
he get lefback three times.

So I banged on Bitsy Beller’s window yelled he was
near the top, the mad dogs waiting down
below he thinks is doves.

But when Bitsy stood up he turned into a stiff
cue stick. And didn’t want nothing to do
with nobody cracked upstairs.
And Dickie Miller became a semipro. And Howie Fish
a doctor. So I ran down the street full of hope

by myself because I was on fire. But I got there
too late for Balaban. Two of them had a stretch
of skin between their teeth fighting over it,

and the foam of their mouths and Balaban’s blood
spattered in such a way, the most the greatest
picture looked me straight in the eye, made me
sit in the gutter and cry,

and when I got up vow to be
Balaban from that day on

Jack Hirschman
Born: 13 December 1922, New York, USA
Nationality: American

Hirschman is a poet and social activist, with an oeuvre of more than fifty volumes of poetry and essays. Born in New York City, he received a BA from the City College of New York in 1955, MA in 1957 and PhD(from Indiana University) in 1961.While studying at City College he worked as a copy boy for the Associated Press. At the age of 19 he sent a story to Ernest Hemmingway, who responded ‘I can’t help you, kid. You write better that I did ay 19.’ A copy of the letter was left with the Associated Press. When Hemmingway killed himself in 1961 ‘Letter to a Young Writer’ was disseminated by the wire service to be published around the world.

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