“Being There” by Tony Tracy

Reading by the author

They’ve turned Graceland into
a meat-market, no sooner had I come
then I wanted to go— endless lines
lurching, shuffling forward as
some nondescript Elvis tune
is piped in as we inch towards
our waiting headsets and iPads,
a touring bus to carry us across
the road to the house at 3734
while John Stamos narrates from script
a private life he knew nothing about.
To call this a “mansion” a far stretch,
as it severely lacks the European grandeur
and opulence befitting of any dynastic
king. After all, Elvis Aaron Presley
was more of a jester, a Yorick of sorts,
entertaining us in some court
fictitious as Kennedy’s Camelot—
the green shag Jungle Room with
its once gurgling fountain and boutique
bar could attest to that. There is simply
no flow: each room reflecting the capricious
whim of a bachelor at heart. May The King
forgive such irreverence, but he wouldn’t
respect me if I told it like I think
you’d want to hear it. The obelisk
and Tiffany crystal vase and bowl
setting on the gold leaf and inlaid
table a nice touch, however plainly
incongruous when taking into account
the rooms’ overarching theme of
stained glass peacocks… kitsch,
a generous word, when considering
the gauche Primitivism of the 70s.
And the abundance of mirrors
throughout the house a testament                                          
to the psychology that “reflections
make things seem bigger.” And though
each room has charm, and there are
framed receipts to prove EAP spent
copious amounts on renovations
hanging from the corridor walls
also family photos, letters and personal
effects pay testimony to his life
and rock’n’roll. Each room has
the appearance of being in
its separate universe, as if a different
woman had him in their orbit
as he looked to their blessing
for its signature appeal. But lets
not kid ourselves, everybody wants
to ascend the stairs and enter
the hidden closet, everybody wants
to make their way through
the master bedroom to the bath
to see where Elvis fell over,
to see where Elvis took his last breath.
Death is funny that way. Death is
interesting. But the powers-that-be
have kept the upstairs cordoned off
since the opening of Graceland.
40 years now and counting.
Some people would drop to their knees.
Some people would utter solemn prayer.
Some would finger rosaries while
others would simply faint. But most
would stare at the spot where there’s
nothing to commemorate his passing;
no trace or spot you could see.
Just the notion that once, however
briefly, behind a closed door
sat The King.

Tony Tracy is the author of three collections of poetry: The Christening, Without Notice, and Welcome to Your Life. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in I-70 Review, Briar Cliff Review, Hotel Amerika, North American Review, Tar River Poetry, Poetry East, Painted Bride Quarterly, and various other periodicals and journals.

Image: “Having Fun with Elvis on Stage RCA CPM1-0818 back cover

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