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Richard Beban's first poetry collection, What the Heart Weighs, was just published by Red Hen Press of Los Angeles, which will bring out his second book, Young Girl Eating a Bird, in October 2005.

Beban turned to poetry in 1993 after more than thirty years as a journalist, then a television and screen writer. He holds a BA in Liberal Studies, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. His poetry has appeared since 1994 in more than forty-five periodicals and literary Websites, and in sixteen national anthologies, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. With his wife, the writer Kaaren Kitchell, and three other poets, he helped organize and run one of Los Angeles' most successful weekly reading series at Venice's Rose Café. He and Kitchell also produced the 2003 Freshwater Marsh Ecopoetry Celebration at Playa Vista, California, a five-hour celebration of the new freshwater marsh constructed to help restore Ballona Wetlands. He has been a featured reader at more than fifty venues, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, to Berkeley's Cody's Books, to Shakespeare & Company, Paris. He and Kitchell, who co-authored a non-fiction manuscript on mythology, run a monthly poetry and fiction workshop series as The Playa Poets in their living room in Playa del Rey, California.

The River Asks

When I was nine I drowned.
Carried by a strong current,
lodged in the silver depths, 
I began to melt, the pain 
finally dissolving like a lozenge
on a fevered tongue--
when my father's sudden, strong grip
said "no" to the water.
It was like forgiveness,
like blessing, 
like saying, "I'm sorry" & finally
being heard.
Sometimes truth lies deep,
snags you like a hidden root.
A half-hour later,
curled in the back seat,
I drifted into sleep,
the river a faded promise
under our wheels.
The sound of tires slapping bridge rivets
louder than the swift water.


His Periodic, Imperfect Love Poem

Beneath every word in this poem skulks
the better word; petulant it hasn't
been used. I say, your morning coffee , which means: 
I adore you, which means: concert of heart, 
dendrites , endorphins , viscera ,
which means:
your eyes emit light visible with mine 
closed .
At your birth, the Periodic Table
possessed only ninety-six elements, 
today, one hundred-eighteen. But three slots
stay vacant, elements undiscovered 
that physicists are certain lurk somewhere.
Perhaps the best word breathes in that charmed space,
elemental, with a half-life of eternity.


The Voyage

Li Po folded his poems into paper boats, 
set them out upon the river, uncertain 
they, he, or the world would survive. 

He knew the river merged with something 
grander, but that was itself a beginning, 
not a destination at all. By the time the poems 

arrived, the ink had leached from the sodden 
paper, pictographs became dark eddies, 
whirlpools into which meaning was sucked 

& drowned. The once-words spread like 
shadows over the gathered water, broke into 
waves & set out for distant lands.

© 2005 Richard Beban


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