Letter to America: Poem by Roy Bentley

Letter to America by Roy Bentley

One Poem

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The Last Drive-In in Newark, Ohio Closes

A harvest moon hovers like a tractor’s headlight
or the pewter-colored, Frisbee-like flying saucers
in the sci-fi films where the Earth is up for grabs

and the jackbooted extraterrestrials cull conquest
at every turn. Movie light falls onto the sandbox
and playground, ponytailed sisters on the swings

in Star Wars feety pajamas. In a convertible, top
down, you hear the hullabaloo at a funeral home,
a wailing for the war dead as a light turns green

and a muscle car roars. Across gravel, a space
over, in the last drive-in in Newark, Ohio, a kid
wets his finger. Sticks it in the ear of his sister.

Onscreen, leggy popcorn boxes and soft drinks
lampoon the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes—
America, you are best as the carloads arrived

to hear Tommy Kirk ask, Can I keep him?
Maybe you are old enough to ask for sex
or refuse it with some minor key moaning.

Eventually, Old Yeller will need shooting.
And when it comes, the din of American
unhappiness, it swivels heads in starlight

by the signage with a fortuitous dark bulb
to collapse spelling locals know by heart
in the last September you may ever love.




Roy BentleyRoy Bentley is the author of Walking with Eve in the Loved City, a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize, and Starlight Taxi, which won the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize. A new book, American Loneliness, is due out in April of 2019 from Lost Horse Press.

Header photo by Peek Creative Collective, courtesy Shutterstock.

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