Elvis, 1968: A Not-So-Lyric Poem by Roy Bentley

Handlers had poured him into black leather,
another whole solar system of show-biz dark,
then asked him to go easy on the Benzedrine.

Presley had let a laundry list of pain add up
to trying to knock the Beatles off the charts.
In 1968 you didn’t need to have been born

poor in Tupelo, Mississippi to tire of news
of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Stage lights
fletched the mane of hair with astral dendrites

and I-really-love-you-baby impressive rosettes.
Years of pharmaceuticals had addled his brain.
Maybe he had to slip on a second skin of light,

voices rebounding, the uproar shouting his name,
to refurbish the golden-years tchotchke-as-Elvis.
Lawn-angel luminary with the young-once snarl

sure to be resuscitated on telescreens on starships,
and by the newest cyber-biology of disappointment
leaning over a shoulder to ask, Comeback Special?


Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of four books and several chapbooks. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Blackbird, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere, as well as the anthologies New Poetry from the Midwest and Every River on Earth. His collection of poems Nosferatu in Florida is currently in search of a publisher, having been a finalist for the New American Poetry Prize (twice), the Moon City Review Poetry Prize, the Gerald Cable Book Award, and the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. He has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry) and fellowships from the arts councils of Ohio and Florida. He lives in Pataskala, Ohio.

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