Uncle Elvis: a poetic contemplation upon visiting Graceland

He dresses and fixes his hair like the King,
worships him like a deity,
and has even grown the matching pot-belly
that comes from regal years of bacon,
banana, and peanut butter sandwiches.

He forces his fat feet into the needlepoints
of his shined leather boots,
squeezes inside skin-tight suits seven sizes too small,
and instructs his stylist to give him the characteristic Elvis swoop,
kept in line with enough hairspray to embalm him.
For the next week,
he will sleep without moving, like a man dead,
pretending to have died just to save his hair.

He considers a man’s success as his being able
to take his pick from the throngs of women
throwing their thongs at his bedroom window –
just how the hillbilly cat’s pelvis handled dating.

He’s rebuilding his collection of 33 Elvis movies on VHS tape,
reigniting the star that was once the only sure thing in Hollywood.
He’s never seen Hawaii in person,
but he’s practiced in surfing the channels
in search of some direction for himself –
memorizing the catch phrases so
he can unveil them at convenient times
during impromptu reunions around the old neighborhood.

He once owned all 22 Elvis albums on cassette;
now he just listens to the greatest hits on compact disc.
He inserts the compilation into

the stereo receiver of his boxy Ford pickup,
cranks up the stock speakers until they crackle,
and relives his glory days in memories that matter only to him,
hung up on the girl who left
him empty-headed at the heartbreak hotel –
the devil in disguise he still can’t decipher.

My uncle tried living life like the King,
and he’ll probably die the same way –
as a man who’s become a parody of his former self,
mocking his own strength and wealth
by ignoring his flagging health –
placing high-stakes poker bets
from a porcelain throne
with his life already flushed.

The Gates of Grace. [Original photo by user Pictophile (Flickr).]

The Gates of Grace. [Original photo by user Pictophile (Flickr).]


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