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Friday, April 17, 2015

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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