A windsock for dreams, this Brooklyn bus driver.
A hope of getting one of those dreams made flesh
rides alongside him at a time they say Frank Sinatra
exudes light, that hope seeping through his capillaries
like the noises through a wall. To him, there is a power
to being a man and having Alice for his wife: the power
to haul your ass out of bed and press on after prolonged
sleeplessness. Through a humming New York City dawn.
And this is what Ralph does when he isn’t palling around
with a sewer-stinky Norton whose atriums and ventricles
lubdub an urban poo with a faint whiff of antiperspirants.
Surely, you’ve caught the reruns. Melted at least a little.
And if White Privilege is propping up Ralph Kramden,
which it is, The Honeymooners is a backdrop to falling
in love and fucking after the shades are drawn because
your Alice is frightened or Catholic. In 1955, you have
about what you want: stable employment to prison you
before and after the shudder of thrusting into her stops.
Maybe driving a bus is the metaphor for what happens
when any two hearts share quarters where one partner
has a name stitched to a uniform and the other doesn’t.
In 1955, men don’t use words like metaphor and a man,
any man, has a right to discipline an insubordinate spouse.
Ralph has seen the cowering women and called it bullying.
Then seen himself as an offender and remorseful penitent,
without referencing a nineteen-fifties idea of conscience,
though conscience—like Alice Kramden—had shouted
to be heard over the hubbub describing the cityscape.
Roy Bentley was born in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of four books and several chapbooks. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Blackbird, Shenandoah, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review and elsewhere—recently, in the anthologies New Poetry from the Midwest and Every River on Earth. He has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA (in poetry), as well as fellowships from the arts councils of Ohio and Florida. These days, he makes his home in Pataskala, Ohio.