“Perfidious Under Fire” by C. Wade Bentley

C. Wade Bentley


We like to imagine our doughty news
anchors in military helicopters taking fire
over foreign battlefields, our Secretaries
of Veterans Affairs all butched-up
in black ops and Special Forces.
Our former presidents are the sort
who tell the truth about cherry trees
or semen stains, who single-handedly
take San Juan Hill. Our parents, paragons
of honesty, laid out for us precisely
what would happen when a man
and a woman came to love each other
very much. Our lives are seventy-five
years of finding out the lies and the liars,
though we know the truth in a fraction
of that, spinning new anchor threads
whenever a fat crow flies through the old
one. Mary Oliver catches me as I plummet
from the misanthropy of Robert Frost,
but only if I avoid listening to her read
“Wild Geese” on the radio—is that
her voice? I don’t want to know
if Elizabeth Warren has offshore accounts
or if C. S. Lewis yelled at the man who cleaned
his shirts. In my world, quinoa is the super
food that will end hunger. A unified
field theory will soon be explainable by power-
point and cardboard diorama. Shakespeare
not only wrote all his own plays, but did so
while taking shrapnel in the Falklands.

Poets Respond
March 1, 2015

[download audio]


C. Wade Bentley: “This poem is responding to the recent revelations that Brian Williams, Robert McDonald, and Bill O’Reilly have been less than accurate in recounting their battlefield experiences. I am amused by how aghast and condemnatory we seem to be when this sort of thing happens, knowing, as we must by now, that they happen all the damn time. For me, it connected to the broader myths we tell ourselves, our virtual realities that we must constantly adjust to account for actual reality.” (website)

Rattle Logo