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 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.

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