RSR Featured Photography © by Tammy Ruggles
He Spent a Year Hallucinating Peace
(Honorable Mention in RSR’s William Carlos Williams Summer Poetry Contest, 2017)
and, according to The National Enquirer, another
week and a half tossed in like pennies into a fountain.
The next day the murders began. The first of the waves
of new-dead and disfigured posed before detectives who
had lost their hard edge, meaning that they choked up.
Imagine that year in which no one did anyone harm.
Imagine the exhalation from the body of the planet.
Which is to ask, what if a quantum hallucination
had taken hold? Homicide would have left the field
under skies canopying the relinquishings of anger,
cloud cover giving way to blue notional brightness.
Even in Florida, husbands might’ve refrained from
dismembering wives, though random gunfire might
have kept up throughout west Texas like foreplay.
I see peace as my best day on the earth continuing.
I think of the nesting eagles atop a dead-oak flagpole.
I see flags of wings beating against bodies, featherfalls,
the comings and goings by first light in March in Ohio.
I want to believe the hatchlings can survive whatever.
I will open a door in the hotel of my hallucinations
if you will open a door in yours and invite me in.
Woman in the Sun
—a painting by Edward Hopper, 1961
Here is a room and a naked woman standing in it.
Here is the cigarette smoldering in a hand. An hour
will do that sometimes: smolder then burn itself out.
Here are star thistles of nipple. An unshaven mound.
Here is a bed with sheets, a bedspread, the scalloped
bedding attesting to what happens in rooms like this.
If she has been luckless, she is one more Chicagoan
abandoning beliefs about deliverance and merciful
gods. It looks as if her lover is far away: reducible
to scuff marks on flooring. Maybe she has freed
herself by forsaking the one who was falling for
the beautiful stranger in the high-ceilinged room;
maybe she has gotten up to smoke in pre-dawn
before the candor of a quadrilateral of window
where, in first light, night air has the last word.
Roy Bentley is the author of Starlight Taxi (Lynx House), which won the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize. Books include The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine), which was the winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize, Any One Man (Bottom Dog), and Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama Press), which won the 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, his poems have appeared in Moon City Review, the Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, and elsewhere.