“Ringo Starr Answers Questions on Larry King Live about the Death of George Harrison” By Roy Bentley

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Ringo Starr Answers Questions on Larry King Live
about the Death of George Harrison

First, Larry King mistakenly calls Ringo
George then asks him whether his passing,
George’s, was expected. He answers that it was.
Says they knew he was sick. Had lung cancer.
I’m watching, though it’s none of my business
how grief-stricken Ringo Starr was and likely
still is or whether he was there, at the bedside,
at the moment George left his life for some other,
if you can believe what George believed, which
was that we keep coming back till we get it right.
And when Ringo is about to let down his guard
and be a bit more self-disclosing, even honest,
Larry interrupts, asking, Do you ever want to
pinch yourself? And Ringo Starr says, Sure.
In 1988, years before, in another interview,
with George, this years after Lennon’s death,
Ringo confessed that he was the poorest Beatle
then laughed and blew cigarette smoke upward.
Which must’ve seemed terribly funny to George,
an inside joke, because he said Hello, John to
the smoke like it was Lennon (by virtue of his
acknowledged wealth) or some spirit he used to
conquer worlds with. Ringo says he was shocked
upon hearing the news of the death of John Lennon,
but that George’s death was another thing entirely.
He doesn’t quote from the Bhagavad Gita, but it’s
as if he wants to say we continue on, are these spirits,
a sort of outrageous bliss even to think it, dumb luck
on the order of being hired as the Beatles’ drummer.
Maybe he would have said it, with respect to George
or ventured his own beliefs, if Larry hadn’t butted in
to ask him which of the Beatles was the best musician.
You mean, now? And I want to laugh now because
maybe Ringo’s imagining how hard it is to move
your hands after you’re dead, or to move at all,
and how impossible it must be to keep time
and tempo in all that anonymous blankness,
the dark become your most imploring fan.

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This poem first appeared in Rattle

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About the Author: Roy Bentley has published five books of poems, including Walking with Eve in the Loved City, which was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and is available from the University of Arkansas Press or at Amazon. Bentley’s poems have appeared in Able Muse, Rattle, Blackbird, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council.

 

More by Roy Bentley:

Nosferatu in Florida

Saturday Afternoon at The Midland Theatre in Newark, Ohio

 

Image Credit: photo collage of Ringo Starr on Larry King Live by Chase Dimock

Saturday Afternoon at The Midland Theatre in Newark, Ohio

Montage of a scene from Bullitt and a photo by Leepaxton at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0,

 

Saturday Afternoon at The Midland Theatre in Newark, Ohio

By Roy Bentley

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Slouched in a theater seat and watching Bullitt for the third time, a look I
get from an usher might best be described as granting a general amnesty
and full pardon for my having shelled out only the one admission price.
There’s the balcony with its blue and red curved seat backs. By a door to the
upstairs men’s room a framed likeness of the Civil War drummer boy, Johnny
Clem, whose baby-faced looks and sudden-dark hair remind me of a young
Italian, then Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause. There’s that angels-in-the-
architecture grand gesture of a ceiling, the wall of drapes of eloquently
pleated purple. And there’s the screen framed in its filigree of gold and silver.
The usher is accommodating me by simply not noticing—I’m on my third
popcorn, third enormous Coca-Cola, second box of Milk Duds, when I realize
I’m happy. Elated. In Ohio at fourteen you’re disappointed most of the
time. So I want to tell Frank Bullitt just how it feels to be from Dayton and
new here, a fat-kid eighth grader at Fulton Middle School. But then, Steve
McQueen is French-kissing Jacqueline Bisset good-morning. Strapping on
a shoulder holster and .38 pistol. Now he’s stopped at the corner of Clay and
Taylor, searching the pockets of his trench coat/suit coat for change. I’ve loved
that look all afternoon. The usher reacts as if that says it, that fuck-the-world
expression of Frank Bullitt as he gives up and bangs the cover and steals a
newspaper. Turns out, 1968 isn’t for the faint of heart. You need a Mustang
GT 390. Ice water for a blood type. A tolerance for the visages of the dead
you made dead, slaughtering out of that old American purity of motive
that dissolves into a communion of terrific car chases wherein thunderous
algorithms of horsepower rule.

This poem first appeared in The Southern Review

 

About the Author: Roy Bentley has published five books of poems, including Walking with Eve in the Loved City, which was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and is available from the University of Arkansas Press or at Amazon. Bentley’s poems have appeared in Able Muse, Rattle, Blackbird, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council.

Nosferatu in Florida

Nosferatu in Florida

By Roy Bentley

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Maybe vampires hear an annunciatory trumpet solo.
Maybe they gather at the customary tourist traps
like a blanket of pink flamingos plating a lake
and lake shore by the tens of thousands to drink.
The whole, tacky blood circus is theme-park stuff
and as Disneyesque as lifting the lid on a casket
to flit about sampling the inexhaustible offerings
of O Positive like the Sunday brunch at IHOP.
But if you had a booming, amphitheatrical voice
and had been recently rescued from the grave—
if you wore the republic of the dark like a cape
at Halloween, all bets would be off by the signage
for Paradise Tire & Service, a neon-green royal palm.
Bela Lugosi could materialize on a trailer-park lawn
and the locals would miss it, though lap dogs howled
as kingdoms rose and fell. You could say a kingdom
of fangs glows and drips red by the broken temples
and wide, well-lit aisles of Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
By the shadowed homeless holding up placards
hand-lettered in English, as if the kind-hearted
of the nations of the world spoke one language
and could be counted on to forgive misspellings,
bad syntax that announces one life is never enough.
The resurrection of the body is tough everywhere.
In the Sunshine State, despite eons to shake off loss,
a body carries the added burden of perpetual labor
and cyclical, inescapable debt. The dead know this.

(This poem first appeared in Shenandoah)

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About the Author: Roy Bentley has published five books of poems, including Walking with Eve in the Loved City, which was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and is available from the University of Arkansas Press or at Amazon. Bentley’s poems have appeared in Able Muse, Rattle, Blackbird, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council.