I believe it is the act of language that makes everything that we are as human beings a possibility. I believe that in its ideal state Poetry is the purest form of that act. As I understand it, my job as editor/publisher is to find, promote, package and distribute poetry that comes as close as possible to the ideal. ~~~~~Ben L. Hiatt, Editor Digital Dawg

8/12/2004

Ben L. Hiatt

MIDDLE BEN

When I became a poet
I changed my name
to protect my father’s image

When I stared down
the boot stompers
in the smoky bars
of Eastern Oregon
and told them
“My name is Ben L. Hiatt
and I’m a poet.”
He watched from the sidelines
and bought the house
another round

When I made my breakthrough
and wrote my first
brutally honest poem
He was the first to see it
because it was about him
and a monster big buck he’d killed
and let me claim
through all those fragile years

After he died I took my long hair
back to those same smoky bars
A bag full of my books
at my side
I read them poems
About him
and we tossed off a few
for Ben Hiatt’s Old Man
while most of them laughed,
a few of them cried,
and some of them
went home with
Ben L. Hiatt’s book
of poems
in their pocket,
their money in mine.

By then
There was another
Ben Hiatt
who early on learned to be
as hard of hearing as his father
and grandfather
when we were all together
and someone called for Ben Hiatt
and our eyes would seek each other
in the crowd
as if to ask
which of us would take this call

Once when the youngest Ben
fell into the fast waters of Catherine Creek
during a community picnic
and the middle Ben jumped the rail
to pull him out
the one up on his toes on the bank
with outstretched arms
reaching for the near drowned child
was the oldest Ben

I remember the fear in his eyes
and how it turned to pride
when I handed up his
screaming grandson

Benjamin Webster Hiatt
held Benny Michael Hiatt
high in the air and they danced
a goofy, giggly, granpa dance
in the dust that day
while some folks laughed
there were some who cried
and everyone cheered

When my father died
I was no longer
the middle Ben
But I have never not been
Ben Hiatt’s son

And now as my own son
moves in his strong,
broad shouldered way
to claim his place
in the world
I find my own chest
fills with pride when
I am sometimes
called
“Ben Hiatt’s Dad”

© Ben L. Hiatt 2004