Larry Beckett

from U.S. Rivers

American Revolution / Cuban Missile Crisis

Old Solitaire,
that gull, on the Long Wharf
Why come ye hither, long years,
signs bad weather:
the April night: October morning:
the king’s
redcoats photo reconnaissance,
the river: launch site
your heart what madness

at San Cristobal:
Kennedy:—Air strike—but then. . .
In the North Church steeple
show two lanterns
if out by water,
if by land, one:
Joint Chiefs danger
on our hills: all out invasion,
if it bring holocaust:
and the Sons of

Liberty send
Revere, riding to Lexington,
warn Hancock, warn
Oh hear ye not: stop Soviet
ships bound for Cuba but
ye’ll learn to back:
the rebel’s arrested,
and the deacon’s horse:
Strategic Air Command
goes DEFCON 2:

one slip, and the last fire:
shots, they abandon
him wild and free
as the day breaks. In secret
we withdraw Jupiters
from Turkey: cold warriors
govern by fear. The gull
lands: Boston answers:
against the easterly blow,
this vigilance.

Larry Beckett © 2017


from U.S. Rivers

American Revolution / Sixties Riots

Washington crossing,
his blue army walks
in snow, barefoot, bleeding:
Dance to the Kill
King? Power! music
assassinates the window:
Joseph, divinity
student, rounds up
East State, make peace
All we need is a drummer.

The rebels take
King, and aim the cannons:
So that the dancers Diamonds
fly off, apples,
easy chairs steal away,
golf balls stinging the pigs
on Perry just won’t hide:
this officer, cracking
off a warning, is jammed,
guns Joseph down.

Under the Battle
Monument, firebombs
kill Trenton, bricks
hail on the firefighters
the horns blowing: only
abandoned lots,
hotels: the governor holds
an ice cream cone:
Go home! over the river,
crossing Washington.

Larry Beckett © 2017