Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Poem

My parents sat me down in front of a circular-screen tv.
Shoved a white Tupperware of buttered popcorn in my lap.
And I saw the actor George Hamilton lip-synching Hank Sr.,
singing onstage at the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry.
My parents had spun his records most nights on an RCA turntable.
So what if the sheet music flying by in black-and-white montage
bore the likeness of Hank and not George Hamilton. So what if Elvis
tested for Hank and was rejected by Miss Audrey. And so what if she,
Hank’s wife, Miss Audrey, a redhead, was played by a platinum blonde.
Hank Williams sang about a light and dark that he carried, of shared pain,
of the burdensomeness of being poor and alive and just trying to hang on.
The gospel of the heartbreak that happens all the time to ordinary people.
So what if Hank slumped over on the road somewhere in West Virginia.
Died without any memorable last words in the back seat of a Cadillac.
He was on his way to a New Year’s Day concert in Canton, Ohio—
we were in Ohio, refugees from the collapse of the price of coal,
he was one of ours, a friend. What’s a little morphine sulfate
with a shot of B-12 (and a booze chaser) between friends?

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama Press), Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine Press), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House Press). A new book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has been selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and will be publlshed in the spring of 2018 by the University of Arkansas Press. Work from that collection has appeared in Shenandoah, Pleiades, Rattle, Blackbird, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

Speak Your Mind