Save the Last Dance For Me Richard Beban Poetry

local_library Save the Last Dance For Me

by Richard Beban

Published in Issue No. 109 ~ June, 2006

My brother still plays the vinyl

Weighs down the tone arm

of his record player with

more & more pennies,

stacked on, taped on, so

the needle will never jump

out of the groove.

The old music soothes him, doo-wop

three-chord rock, slow ballads with strings,

easy dances from an easier time

he won’t leave.

“It was the best time,” he says

of 1961, when he was fifteen

going on sixteen & The Drifers’

“Save the Last Dance For Me”

was barely a year old.

He knows by heart the color

of every 45 label.

coral, orange, red, yellow, black –

on capitol, Argo, Veelay, Tamla, Everlast –

what was on the flip side,

how long the cut,

how high it peaked

on the Billboard chart.

The music plays, drowns the sound

of father’s drunken beatings, of mother’s

obsessive attention to his erupting

skin, the constant wails of miserable

siblings he, as firstborn, was forced to raise.

With the sound cranked loud he can’t hear the

crackle of coral, orange, red, yellow, black

from our childhood house, the one he

set fire to, consuming his own rage

in those dancing flames.

From: What the Hearts Weighs,

Red Hen Press, Los Angeles, Copyright, 2004

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Richard Beban is the author of two books of poetry, What the Heart Weighs and Young Girl Eating A Bird (Red Hen Press, Los Angeles, 2006). Beban turned to poetry in 1993 after more than 30 years as a journalist, then a televison and screen writer. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles.