Balboa, the Entertainer

By Amiri Baraka 1934–2014 Amiri Baraka
It cannot come
except you make it
from materials
it is not
caught from. (The philosophers
of need, of which
I am lately
       will tell you. “The People,”
(and not think themselves
to the same
trembling flesh). I say now, “The People,   
as some lesson repeated, now,
the lights are off, to myself,
as a lover, or at the cold wind.

Let my poems be a graph   
of me. (And they keep   
to the line, where flesh   
drops off. You will go   
blank at the middle. A   
dead man.

die soon, Love. If   
what you have for   
yourself, does not
stretch to your body's   
      (Where, without   
music trails, or your fingers   
from my arm

Amiri Baraka, “Balboa, the Entertainer” from Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961-1995 (New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: Poetry (April 1962).


This poem originally appeared in the April 1962 issue of Poetry magazine

View this poem in its original format

April 1962
 Amiri  Baraka


Poet, writer, teacher, and political activist Amiri Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. He attended Rutgers University and Howard University, spent three years in the U.S. Air Force, and returned to New York City to attend Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. Baraka was well known for his strident social criticism, often writing in an incendiary style that made it difficult . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Poetry & Poets, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

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.