About the Author:Dameion Wagner lives and works in Columbus, Ohio. His work has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Gordian Review among a few others. He has also written reviews for Heavy Feather Review and The Rumpus. He won Miami University’s 2017 Jordan-Goodman poetry Prize judged by Janice Lowe, and most recently was the 2018 recipient of the Academy of American Poets University Prize. He received his MFA from Miami University’s Low Residency program.
Saturday Afternoon at The Midland Theatre in Newark, Ohio
By Roy Bentley
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.
Stores die with the same velocity as bugs.
One day, humming, clicking. Shiny doors
parting like beetle wings. And then, gone.
Emptied out. A shell. The sudden voicelessness
of the SupeRx, its sign darkened and waiting
to be pried from the building. The town talks
about it. This is how they mourn. And when
the people of the town encounter those
they know working a till at the grocery store,
or behind bank glass, SupeRx gets stuffed
into the quiet between them. Always Did you
hear about the SupeRx, mmhmm, isn’t it
a shame. That a strange, new business
can rise to its feet in a body not belonging
to it. Blue signage plastered over yellow.
Shameful, the brutal reincarnation
of buildings. It’s a pharmacy again within
the month, sentenced to revisiting sickness,
the earnestness with which we fix ourselves.
Hannah Stephenson is a poet, editor, and instructor living in Columbus, Ohio (where she also runs a monthly literary event series called Paging Columbus). Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Hobart, Poetry Daily, and The Nervous Breakdown; her collection,In the Kettle, the Shriek, is now available from Gold Wake Press. Recently, she served as Editor forThe Ides of March: An Anthology of of Ohio Poets (Columbus Creative Cooperative), and she is co-editor (with Okla Elliott) of the biannual anthology New Poetry from the Midwest (New American Press). You can visit her online at The Storialist (www.thestorialist.com).
[The above poem is from In the Kettle, the Shriek and is reprinted here with permission of the author.]