Ringo Starr Answers Questions on Larry King Live
about the Death of George Harrison
By Roy Bentley
First, Larry King mistakenly calls Ringo
George then asks him whether his passing,
George’s, was expected. He answers that it was.
Says they knew he was sick. Had lung cancer.
I’m watching, though it’s none of my business
how grief-stricken Ringo Starr was and likely
still is or whether he was there, at the bedside,
at the moment George left his life for some other,
if you can believe what George believed, which
was that we keep coming back till we get it right.
And when Ringo is about to let down his guard
and be a bit more self-disclosing, even honest,
Larry interrupts, asking, Do you ever want to
pinch yourself? And Ringo Starr says, Sure.
In 1988, years before, in another interview,
with George, this years after Lennon’s death,
Ringo confessed that he was the poorest Beatle
then laughed and blew cigarette smoke upward.
Which must’ve seemed terribly funny to George,
an inside joke, because he said Hello, John to
the smoke like it was Lennon (by virtue of his
acknowledged wealth) or some spirit he used to
conquer worlds with. Ringo says he was shocked
upon hearing the news of the death of John Lennon,
but that George’s death was another thing entirely.
He doesn’t quote from the Bhagavad Gita, but it’s
as if he wants to say we continue on, are these spirits,
a sort of outrageous bliss even to think it, dumb luck
on the order of being hired as the Beatles’ drummer.
Maybe he would have said it, with respect to George
or ventured his own beliefs, if Larry hadn’t butted in
to ask him which of the Beatles was the best musician.
You mean, now? And I want to laugh now because
maybe Ringo’s imagining how hard it is to move
your hands after you’re dead, or to move at all,
and how impossible it must be to keep time
and tempo in all that anonymous blankness,
the dark become your most imploring fan.
This poem first appeared in Rattle
About the Author: Roy Bentley has published five books of poems, including Walking with Eve in the Loved City, which was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and is available from the University of Arkansas Press or at Amazon. Bentley’s poems have appeared in Able Muse, Rattle, Blackbird, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council.