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audio: 1975
audio of Roy Bentley's poem, 1975

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Roy Bentley



        Once upon a time you dressed so fine
        You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?

              — Bob Dylan, “Like a Rolling Stone”

      My girlfriend Sherry asks why Lindsey Buckingham
      is so thin as she cradles the album Buckingham Nicks.
      This is before he and Stevie Nicks join Fleetwood Mac.
      I tell her he’s a rock star and that rock stars are ghosts.
      A turntable spins. The small apartment smells of sex,
      marijuana. Most of one wall is an Easy Rider poster.
      Fonda and Hopper on Harley choppers. In a corner
      of the poster a DISCOVER AMERICA sticker.

      Saigon is falling. Sherry shows me a Newsweek
      pages of color photographs of helicopters, sailors
      shoving them from the deck of the USS Okinawa
      into the South China Sea, chopper blades nicking
      the rough waters of the Pacific, spinning to a stop
      on a turntable-axis of collective national disgrace.
      She points to the regimental insignia and US flag.
      I rise and stagger to the turntable. Lift the needle.

      I know what she wants: any album by Bob Dylan
      where two lovers are the A-plus-B in a mathematics
      of fulfillment-for-a-little-while, that equation solved
      though the republics of the sad earth slide into collapse,
      ruin, refugees crowding onto last ships where the deck air
      reeks of diesel and human sweat and a blue transistor radio
      blares: I see your hair is burnin’/ Hills are filled with fire
      If they say I never loved you/ You know they are a liar.