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Monday, April 9, 2012

In Honor of National Poetry Month - Nan Dillingham

Elvis Redux
by Nan Dillingham


is Elvis growing up in Tupelo
in a close-knit family with little money
attending the Assembly of God Church

music and preaching registering deeply
moving to Memphis with his parents
living in public housing and low-rent homes

roaming Beale Street for clothes
absorbing black blues and gospel
wearing his hair long

letting his sideburns grow
roaming the halls of Humes High
dreaming of singing with the Blackwood Brothers

working after graduation at Parker Machinist Shop
Precision Tool then Crown Electric Company
driving a truck and going to night school

dropping by Sun Studio
making a demo for his mother
then later cutting “Big Boy” Cruddup’s

“That’s All Right, Mama”
backed by “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
rebuffed by the Grand Ole Opry

officials suggesting he go
back to driving a truck which he does
but not before appearing on

“Louisiana Hayride,” the Opry’s rival
meeting Colonel Tom Parker, ex-carney
refusing his contract

walking into the induction center
speaking courteously
“Sorry, Sir, I’d like to serve

but my mama’s got this heart condition
and my daddy needs me”
holing up in his cab on a layover

reading the Bible
listening to pop tunes
and country music radio

seeing Ann-Margret, Swedish sex kitten
on a billboard
on a long haul to LA

lusting for a moment, then coming home
to his doe-eyed wife Pris
and daughter Lisa Marie who favors him

all full lips and limpid eyes
sometimes sermonizing
in a white frame church

on Sunday morning
singing with the quartet
letting the sweet, sweet Spirit lift him up

sitting on the front porch swing
of his doublewide
strumming his guitar

in the honeyed twilight
of grace land
hair white like Vernon’s

an ironic smile playing on his face
wondering only once in a while
what might have been

an angel hovering

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