The Death of Elvis

This lip, too, used to curl a little easier,
and we, all of us, must enter our Vegas years.

Blessed the pacemakers, blessed the painkillers,
blessed our famed quiffs grown flyaway, grown thin,

the gray starting to sprout under the dye.
So much to hide beneath the spit and mascara.

So much to powder puff and trim. Nose hairs,
for instance, and sideburns, the skin seasick

as we’re made to play dress-up one final time.
A daughter’s bracelet slipped over a wrist,

and, for the ring finger, a lightning bolt ring.
How far we venture from a love of peanut butter

and Wonder Bread, how far from a Stutz Bearcat
and Kahlil Gibran. From codeine, meperidine,

diazepam, the room with the teddy bears
and the empty syringe. How far

from the last book we dived into to learn
about sexual positions and astrological signs.

And far, too, from the myth of our baritones
coming alive in Tupelo, of how we could turn on

and off the rain. “That’s the way the mop flops,”
I think he’d say, as they lay him out flat

under the chandelier, then in the limousine.
“That’s the way the mop flops,” as five men

enter his mausoleum with water, cement,
and a wheelbarrow full of sand,

the instruments set down, the stage lights dimmed,
“Thank you very much! Goodnight, Graceland.”

More Poems by Ciaran Berry