The Ace Hotel, Los Angeles: A New Poem by Roy Bentley

Image of Jesus Saves sign in downtown Los Angeles

Ace Hotel, Downtown LA Exterior, Jesus Saves Reverse

The reverse of lasting mystery is industrial steel and neon,
shadows crosshatched onto the Chase bank and Broadway,

above the drudgery of believing one god better than another.
From an aerial view, two red words shout across rooftop LA,

in English in all weather, day and night, which is an act of faith
in a realtor who hawked the hotel one unit at a time with always

a dozen wait-listed like first-come-first-serve rooms in Heaven.
Inside, the newest occupants watch Sugar Ray connect and snap

back Jake LaMotta’s head in Raging Bull, though Robert DeNiro
is LaMotta and this Sugar Ray is an actor who unhands the ropes

as blood drips to the canvas and onto his boxing shoes, the blood
that is a checklist of what we gather while asking, What fresh hell

is this? Everywhere else, it’s the unexpected rise of the girl who
could be any of us. You can’t elevate one above another forever

and expect anything but mistrust. Go on. Show me a better god.
I’ll show you a city and messaging constellating above a world

of brutalized actors. Show me the wide, wide shore of sorrow.
I’ll find a place out of the wind where the unlucky can pause

to knock down a wasp nest and grind it into sand-nothing,
porous death belling up as that which the angels unhand.

Photograph by Spencer Lowell.

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.


  1. Kathleen S. Burgess says:

    Prolific poet and fiction writer Roy Bentley studs this new offering, “Ace Hotel, Downtown LA Exterior, Jesus Saves Reverse” with gems:
    “wait-listed like first-come-first-serve rooms in Heaven.”
    “blood / that is a checklist of what we gather while asking, What fresh hell / is this?”
    “wide, wide shore of sorrow”
    “porous death belling up as that which the angels unhand.”
    Roy’s work, hard-won in the boxing ring of experience, never lets us down. Glad to see his work here again.

  2. Bravo Ray, Bravo-Gossamer Threads of Steel, Amen

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