No More Work and No More Lonesome and All the Honky-tonk Angels Living It Up

— Larry McMurtry, Horseman, Pass By

 

Our national anthem is a rude cadence of jackhammers
commencing at 7 a.m. in the street outside your window.
Call it a desperate dream, but we want to fall from history.
To flee the thieving glow and pronouncement of porchlights.

Maybe move somewhere that the reddishness of an evening
doesn’t call to mind the bloodletting it took to settle there.

What am I saying? I’m saying we’re suckers for America.
Besieged citizens know exactly what I’m talking about—
we imagined the place a church, holy, blessed by God,
but it’s one big factory town with a pissed-off foreman

and the threat of lay-off to keep the day-shift on its toes.
Who could’ve predicted that patter would be as sweet
to the ear, and about as persuasive, as the Eden snake?
America, you’re like that woman most men would love

to take to bed—some women too—who’s a screamer
and a jolt to your senses but no treat to wake up with.
As gorgeous as it gets when the air fills with howling,
a depraved beauty who reminds you of a dog craving

the scent of rotted meat and landfills. A nasty bitch
with a perfect reason for every awful thing she does.

 

 

 

About the Author: Roy Bentley is the author of Starlight Taxi (Lynx House: 2013), which won the 2012 Blue Lynx Poetry Prize. Books include 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. Recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA, six Ohio Arts Council fellowships, and a Florida Division of Cultural Affairs fellowship, poems have appeared in the Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Rattle and elsewhere.