“Ringo Starr Answers Questions on Larry King Live About the Death of George Harrison” by Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley


First, Larry King mistakenly calls Ringo
George then asks him whether his passing,
George’s, was expected. He answers that it was.
Says they knew he was sick. Had lung cancer.
I’m watching, though it’s none of my business
how grief-stricken Ringo Starr was and likely
still is or whether he was there, at the bedside,
at the moment George left his life for some other,
if you can believe what George believed, which
was that we keep coming back till we get it right.
And when Ringo is about to let down his guard
and be a bit more self-disclosing, even honest,
Larry interrupts, asking, Do you ever want to
pinch yourself?
And Ringo Starr says, Sure.
In 1988, years before, in another interview,
with George, this years after Lennon’s death,
Ringo confessed that he was the poorest Beatle
then laughed and blew cigarette smoke upward.
Which must’ve seemed terribly funny to George,
an inside joke, because he said Hello, John to
the smoke like it was Lennon (by virtue of his
acknowledged wealth) or some spirit he used to
conquer worlds with. Ringo says he was shocked
upon hearing the news of the death of John Lennon,
but that George’s death was another thing entirely.
He doesn’t quote from the Bhagavad Gita, but it’s
as if he wants to say we continue on, are these spirits,
a sort of outrageous bliss even to think it, dumb luck
on the order of being hired as the Beatles’ drummer.
Maybe he would have said it, with respect to George
or ventured his own beliefs, if Larry hadn’t butted in
to ask him which of the Beatles was the best musician.
You mean, now? And I want to laugh now because
maybe Ringo’s imagining how hard it is to move
your hands after you’re dead, or to move at all,
and how impossible it must be to keep time
and tempo in all that anonymous blankness,
the dark become your most imploring fan.

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013

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Roy Bentley: “I’ve been writing since I saw the movie Easy Rider in Dayton, Ohio, in 1969. Writing poetry seemed like letting your hair grow long, which my father would never allow. Writing was an act of defiance. Of course it soon became a way to make sense. And then I heard Dylan Thomas read ‘Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night’ and there was no turning back.” (www.roy-bentley.com)

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