Richard Beban spent 30 years as a journalist and television and screen writer, and then became a poet. Since 1994, his poetry had been published in numerous literary journals and websites and in 16 anthologies. He’s also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and co-authored numerous non-fiction books and collections. He and his wife, writer Kaaren Kitchell, live in Los Angeles.
His three published books of poetry include I Burn for You (1999), What the Heart Weighs (2004) and Young Girl Eating a Bird (2006). This poem is taken from What the Heart Weighs.
My Parents Watch the July Fourth Parade
Perhaps they were both dyslexic;
never clear on the difference
between marital & martial.
Thought the wedding march was
by John Phillip Sousa or Francis
Scott Key – bombs bursting in
the living room, kitchen, beat of
muffled drums, sharp staccato
racket of sticks on rims, crack of
ribs, crack of small arms fire,
small children abandoned in the
corners like spent shell casings.
The stars & stripes forever
imprinted – stars as blows hit the
skull, stripes from the slashing leather
belt across the backs of thighs. Red
welts, white skin, blue bruises never
shown at school where you stood for the
Pledge of Allegiance & learned how fine
a country this is & why our parents fought
so hard to keep it free. Learned the price
of war was high, but teacher said it
was worth it. Look at all we had
that children in other countries wanted.
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Maureen Doallas says
This is an incredible poem! Thank you for the intro to Beban’s work.