11 April 2006

David Wojahn

[from Mystery Train by David Wojahn]

The Assassination of Robert Goulet as Performed by Elvis Presley:
Memphis 1968

                That jerk's got no heart.—E. P.

He dies vicariously on "Carol Burnett,"
Exploding to glass and tubes while singing "Camelot."

Arms outstretched, he dies Las Vegas-ed in a tux,
As the King, frenzied in his Graceland den, untucks

His .38 and pumps a bullet in the set.
(There are three on his wall, placed side by side.)

The room goes dark with the shot, but he gets the Boys
To change the fuses. By candlelight he toys

With his pearl-handled beauty. Lights back on,
But Goulet's vanished, replaced by downtown Saigon:

Satellite footage, the Tet offensive,
Bodies strewn along Ky's palace fences.

Above a boy whose head he's calmly blown apart,
An ARVN colonel smokes a cigarette.

Elvis Moving a Small Cloud: The Desert Near Las Vegas, 1976

                after the painting by Susan Baker

"Stop this motherfucking limo," says the King,
And the Caddie, halting, raises fins of dust
Into a landscape made of creosote,
Lizards, dismembered tires. The King's been reading

Again—Mind Over Matter: Yogic Texts
On Spiritual Renewal by Doctor Krishna
Majunukta, A Guide on How to Tap the
Boundless Mental Powers of the Ancients.

Bodyguards and hangers-on pile out.
His highness, shades off, scans the east horizon.
"Boys, today I'm gonna show you somethin'
You can tell your grandchildren about."

He aims a finger at Nevada's only cloud.
"Lo! Behold! Now watch that fucker move!"

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