Acolytes

Sad drunk and weeping behind
Sheer black shields.
Ass flat and chafed and screaming,
Bowels churn under another threat,
A bombardment of liquid courage:
Less courage, though, than retreat.
Floodgates open—not that they’d be capable,
Anyway.

Young or old, smooth or scarred—
Forlorn,
And staring into the bottom of a glass
That sheds its own weak tears.

The drink is gone;
His beard sags heavy.
Always, the question is the same:

Why?

Why has god—
Or destiny, or whichever force it is that drives the human condition—
Dealt me this hand?
Where has she gone?
And why is it all blue tomorrows?

And despite the fact that every bar
Comes fully equipped with a mirror,
Not a one of them—
Wrapped in denim, eyes shaded from the sunlight—
Ever looks long enough to see the answer.

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The Ballad of Denim Elvis

He buttoned up his aging soul
And packed it off to Idaho,
Where teardrops fell upon the soil.
He slicked his hair, all smeared with oil;
The chopper roared beneath his ass
Clad tight with denim, shake, and sass
He threw on a helmet, masked his pain,
But he’d taken his shot, there was no shame.

For the man called Denim Elvis
There’s nowhere left to go,
And nothing but toil in the potato fields
Of Boise, Idaho.

A rainstorm beat upon the plain,
Cut deep, but could not kill the flame
That in his heart stood stout and full
And held aloft his iron will.
He’d plow those fields, he’d show them all,
Hold caution up against the wall.
The jeers were distant echoes now,
No longer threatened by the sound

Was the man called Denim Elvis,
‘cus there’s nowhere left to go
But to a simple life in the potato fields
Of Boise, Idaho.

The farm was still and cold that night,
The moon was slung real low.
He laced a poncho ‘round his neck
And walked against the flow
Of wind that slapped him forcefully,
Cast poison in his eyes,
Wrapped a noose around his neck
And cinched a deadly tie,

But the man called Denim Elvis slipped
Away from such a bitter end.
He tossed aside a shredded rope
And, free, he stood before a friend
Who handed him a golden hoe
And set him on a different path.
The cheers had drifted silent now,
But he could only shrug and laugh,

For the man called Denim Elvis
Did fortune and fame let go,
So he smiled and dug into the soil
Of Boise, Idaho.