Richard Beban


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.

First appeared in On Target (Sabado Gigante #2, 1996); in the chapbook Fried Eggs With Lace (Canned Spaghetti Press, 1996); in Richard Beban: Greatest Hits; & won a first place from the 1997 Morris Center for Healing Poetry Contest. It also appeared in What the Heart Weighs, from Red Hen Press, 2004