the museum of americana

a literary review

Two Poems — by Chris Haven

 

The Tonight Show May 4, 1970

Johnny Carson, Carnac the Magnificent,
did not put an envelope to his head,
mutter football field, nor did Ed boom
Foot. Ball! Field. — as if the phrase made no sense,
Carnac giving Ed a withering look,
beleaguered, funnier than the punch line,
and he did not open the envelope,
blow into it, and retrieve the answer
and read, “The average distance the victims
of the Kent State shootings were from the shooters,”
because that would not have been funny,
and because Ed would have laughed anyway.
They couldn’t stop that guy from laughing.
 
 
 
 
The guests were Tony Randall, Gore Vidal, and Charlie Callas, a comedian who could have done a fair impression of the sound of 67rounds of ammunition, if called upon.

 

Elvis’s Last Concert, 1977

Elvis is Doctor Feelgood

Elvis is a slurred lyric

Elvis mixes everything up

Elvis is Howard Hughes’s fingernails

Elvis is inflation

Elvis is the Goodyear blimp

Elvis is Bruce Lee

Elvis is a Close Encounter of the Third Kind

Elvis is phoning it in

Elvis is not a crook

Elvis is a blown-out television

Elvis is the King of Lock and Load

Elvis is a rhinestone drugstore

Elvis is Who loves ya’, baby

Elvis is Kunta Kinte

Elvis is Biko

Elvis is Huggy Bear

Elvis is Carl Sagan’s sweater

Elvis is a hospital room with tinfoil on the windows

Elvis is three disloyal bodyguards

Elvis is Gary Gilmore’s bullet

Elvis is Skylab

Elvis is swing low chariot come down easy

Elvis is a Verti-bird on a boy’s patio before he hears the news

Elvis is Walter Cronkite’s killing voice

Elvis is Bigfoot in a casket

Elvis is Secretariat’s heart

Elvis is national malaise

Elvis is Good night, John Boy

Elvis is the flames are now licking my body

Elvis is Charlie’s voice speaking to angels

Elvis is way down where I never could

Elvis is why didn’t that camera crew do something

Elvis is how many times must a man

Elvis lathers

Elvis repeats

Elvis rushes in

Elvis’s last note

The acoustics are always great in the bathroom

 

~  ~  ~

HavenChris Haven is working on a series of poems about the 1970s. Other work from this series has appeared or is forthcoming in Fugue, Los Angeles Review, Passages North, Sugar House Review, Linebreak, and The Minnesota Review. He has recently completed a novel set in Oklahoma in 1955. He teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisLHaven.

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