National Anthem? “What the Lead Guitars in Hotel California Say and Do Not Say”: Poem by Roy Bentley

Image of Hotel California remagined

Who would believe ultra-rich Hollywood
would slander itself? This dilapidated hotel
has mirrors on the ceilings, pink champagne
effervescing 24/7 in lighted fountains—
all right, it’s California and, by extension,
the republic of sunlight and worn-out souls.
If you listen, what you hear is the vox populi
of Failure. Hear it? You could do worse

than remember the message of some music
is the truth because what it says, in any case,
is We Have Blown It. Which is accurate and
true. And so after “you can check out anytime
you like but you can never leave” breaks off,
that other national anthem, beautiful light,
plays and the wrecked world assumes
an ordinary but recognizable shape.

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of four books and several chapbooks. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Blackbird, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere, as well as the anthologies New Poetry from the Midwest and Every River on Earth. His collection of poems Nosferatu in Florida is currently in search of a publisher, having been a finalist for the New American Poetry Prize (twice), the Moon City Review Poetry Prize, the Gerald Cable Book Award, and the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. He has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry) and fellowships from the arts councils of Ohio and Florida. He lives in Pataskala, Ohio.


  1. Kathleen S. Burgess says:

    Another gorgeous offering by master poet and truth speaker Roy Bentley.

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