The summer night Mark Chapman sat in the parking lot
of the L & K in Heath, Ohio, Tom Kozlowski whispered
that it might be best to leave Mark alone in the car. We
were tripping and Mark had asked to be left in the car.
We nodded. Collected ourselves. Went into the L & K
and ordered coffee. A couple of cheeseburgers. Ate slow.
We were in the restaurant for about an hour. Maybe longer.
And now you need a word: englottogaster. It means to speak
from the belly or the gut. Like a ventriloquist. Why that word?
When Tom and I got back to the Ford and we opened the door:
Guess where the fuck I’ve been? No, not just in the car? I’ve
been to the moon—the fucking moon—and I walked around.
Even tripping, if you hear a friend mention the Earth’s single
satellite as a place he’s very recently visited sans rocketship,
as if the moon is much like late-summer dark, and no biggee,
then you tend to discount what you hear. However, if what
you hear doesn’t seem to be coming from the person you
know to be someone left in a blue Ford Fairlane in Ohio
because he was experiencing some difficulty keeping
himself in check—“maintaining” it was called then—
if the voice sounds disembodied or like it originates
from a blackness dissimilar to the one in the throat,
then you hup-two-three-four back and listen carefully.
Sure, you may recall that Neil Armstrong is from Ohio
and so an American left a set of footprints in that dust.
You don’t need a tab of Blue Microdot to hear assertions
as astonishing, or the voice in which they may be offered
as of unknown or exotic origin, but it helps. It can’t hurt.
Roy Bentley has received fellowships from the NEA, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Pleiades, Blackbird, North American Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama, 1986), Any One Man (Bottom Dog, 1992), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine, 2006), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House 2013). He has taught creative writing throughout the Midwest and south Florida. These days, he teaches at Georgian Court University and lives in Lakewood, New Jersey with his wife Gloria.