Dennis Hopper Rides Old Glory: Poem by Roy Bentley

Image of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the motion picture Easy Rider

Easy Rider

An ache that I was in those days waited in line
so 1969 might tie a red-white-and-blue ribbon

around the adolescent hard-on I was sporting.
My country as first love. Something like that.

I read Dennis Hopper ordered four police bikes;
had each of them painted to stand for Freedom

and giving the raised middle finger to America;
one Old Glory on wheels, one to say that flames

are forever, the trumpet-notes of Harley exhaust
soundtrack for a story of outlaws about to accept

the sword of the fucked world through the heart.
After sitting through the movie, I felt changed—

like one of those police bikes which were later
ripped off, vanished into silver-screen legend.

I’d say it, the film, made me ache for the self
to be thieved from the best of the road ahead

if the road can be right after getting you lost
in the South with long hair and a death wish.

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.

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