Roy Bentley

We had the aeronautics of loneliness and
a documentary cinematographer in common.
A newsreel man who followed us—her mostly.
She had ambled the White House grounds with
President Hoover by the time I’d fallen for her.

A woman who slept, for three nights running,
in her leather jacket. To give it a worn look.

George had just proposed for a sixth time.
George who’d arranged the Atlantic flight.
We should have stopped then. We couldn’t.
An injury happened in the nineteen-twenties.
To her brain, she said, when she crashed a lot

and finding a really great love was nothing if
not unlikely. In bed, and catching our breath, 

she might talk horsepower-to-weight ratios,
why she had written out terms under which
she would consent to marry. Said she meant
to keep her name, meant to marry and cheat.
She swore to rest after the last 7,000 miles.

To walk to me with goggles pushed back
on her bobbed-short haircut like a crown.

I waited in Honolulu by a sea wall where
I first kissed her and she kissed me back
and evening felt more or less like flying:
the roller-coaster mounting joy at rising
above the greedy ethos that is America.

I prized her talk, the leather smell of her,
engine scents she wore perfume to cover.

Roy Bentley

after Ron Koertge

You said that some evenings in Metropolis
light pixilated like distant, fast-moving satellites. 
Whatever the dilution factor of Observation,

you said it like beauty is always the message. 
Just your showing up in a rocket ship decrees
that light has to answer a gavel of new rules.

The fallout from your trans-galactic escape
is a question mark about the size of the Earth.
You said so yourself. Still, Ma and Pa Kent 

kept you honest. She scolded viciousness.
He said not to x-ray-stare bras and panties.
Bought you Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders

from Mars—that glam head banger stuff.
You shunned traditional swag afforded
heroes in exchange for the oh-yes look 

on the face of Miss Lane as you let her
down out of your arms after liberation. 
And I was sorry to hear she left you—

she is right, though: about perfection
(deathlessness) being a deal breaker. 
Maybe a bit of erectile dysfunction

would help, the theater prosthetic
S as flaccid as linguine al dente
Maybe a rapscallionesque tattoo 

with arrow-shot heart and L.L.
and either invented name
she knows you by.


Your pal,
Jimmy Olsen

Roy Bentley is the author of four collections of poetry, including Starlight Taxi (Lynx House: 2013), which won the 2012 Blue Lynx Poetry Prize, The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine: 2006), which was the winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize in 2005, Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books: 1992), and Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama: 1986), which won the 1985 University of Alabama Press Poetry Series Award. Recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, six Ohio Arts Council fellowships, and a Florida Division of Cultural Affairs fellowship, he has taught in colleges and universities in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, and New Jersey.