Stealing Men’s Magazines at 11: Life Poem by Roy Bentley

Cover image of May 1964 Playboy magazine

Stealing Men’s Magazines at 11

It was an ancient springhouse—brick
over a rivulet—and we had discovered it.

And my friend Gary fed the rope and me
down into our tiny clubhouse-as-America,

territory we shared with the neighborhood.
It hurt being trussed up of your own free

will. And I felt as if I were being impaled.
Oscillating, I had to release the Ray-O-Vac

camping lantern I had appropriated. Stolen.
Hand over hand my friend paid out the sack

of me petitioning for the hard work to end.
Then I was standing on a dirt ledge. Then

holding a Playboy from 1965. Hugging it,
my cargo of futurehood older boys had left,

I rose. In the dark the centerfold fell open.
From a blue sky, Gary called out. Pulled

and pulled some more. I was overjoyed.
I felt hands. Then breath. Then the day

or that portion of the hour mostly boy
as secret sharer—if by “secret sharer”

we mean what a soul weighs in Ohio,
given that blackness is where we go

before being conveyed to the surface
with dubious, light-struck treasure.

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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