Woodstock

By Peter Balakian b. 1951 Peter Balakian
In the mud of a tire rut,
         we were the filaments.

We said if Mrs. Agnew could make music   
         on Spiro’s flute

we said the clubs in the hands of the Chicago cops   
         would liquefy.

The trees shook with the throb of steel.

What did we do to be so red, white, and blue?

We were inexorable
         like the dialectic unraveling from Hanoi   
                  to the Jacksonian grass.

We were the inebriates of vitamin C and cocaine,   
the daughters of the gray flannel suit.

And when the shaman spread his yellow robe like the sun   
he was all teeth and amp

and what were we?

Peter Balakian, "Woodstock" from Dyer’s Thistle. Copyright © 1996 by Peter Balakian.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: June-tree: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2001)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Peter Balakian b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Music, Midlife, Living, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Activities, Arts & Sciences, Sports & Outdoor Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Peter  Balakian

Biography

Peter Balakian is the author of several collections of poetry, including June-tree: New and Selected Poems 1974–2000. His recent book, Ziggurat (2010), wrestles with the aftermath and reverberations of 9/11. His poems have been widely anthologized, including in the 1985 Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets, and have been translated into several languages. He has published essays on poetry, culture, and art in . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Music, Midlife, Living, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Activities, Arts & Sciences, Sports & Outdoor Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.