Robert Plant holding a dove that flew into his hands, circa 1973


The wing-flutter resolves like a breath of fog

by San Francisco Bay. Like sand or white sails.

This year, every snapshot of Robert Plant onstage

describes the outline and contour of his cock

through jeans. This is that. But the heart inside

the successful crooner is what it is: Frank Sinatra

with a smidgen of Elvis tossed in for good measure:


Shelley’s Adonais resurrected with a mane of hair

and management, a record deal and Jimmy Page.

Now the fingers tipped with nicotine gesture

to the starveling crowd about to feast—

the hand dealing with both a lit Marlboro

and a bottle of English beer. Which is when

the rock dove lands on the other hand. Settles


like news of the death of Keats settled on Shelley.

This congregation still wants directions to Paradise

if not ushered to the stairs. Taught the shibboleth

for entry. What it gets is the flight of the dove,

impromptu cooing, the talons ringing fingers

as if what we call beautiful is straightening

the curve of its spine and starting to sing.

Photograph from the concert at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco: June 2, 1973


About Author

Roy Bentley has received fellowships from the NEA, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Pleiades, Blackbird, North American Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama, 1986), Any One Man (Bottom Dog, 1992), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine, 2006), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House 2013).

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