By | 31 October 2021

Elvis and his dead twin, all grown
up and etched like a tattoo sleeve in silver
on black galaxy granite bear a striking resemblance
to the holographically rendered
aryan Jesus in my grandmother’s hallway –
another devotional grotesque proudly brought to you
like a dream within
a dream that’s been decoded
by the Elvis Presley Fan Club of Victoria
with special thanks to Giannerelli & Sons
who dug up the granite in Thomastown
somewhere along the creek
suppliers of granite spaceships, newer graves
mostly Italian, that line the narrowed paths
like a parade

If the monument had a twin
it wouldn’t be Graceland
probably the memorial in Kraków
Elvis’ head suspended in resin and his hair stained
shoe polish black by a concerned citizen
of the night

No heads here, just the profane double
twin birds of paradise and an empty white vase
several bunches of silk and plastic flowers, mostly roses
scattered with milky beads of plastic dew
or rubbery white lilies, a coral pink lei
and an asymmetrically stapled
screenshot of Elvis’ first on-screen kiss
Dolores Hart is a nun now
not only alive but actually chanting in Latin
eight times a day
here she’s only a pretty ear and a slice
of chin, the shape of clean blonde swept out of frame
polka dot grid of white tissue body pressed
to coarser material, Elvis

Elvis kissing Dolores forever and
not kissing Dolores at all
kissing to the side of Dolores or kissing
the audience
of which Dolores is no longer a member
fringe falling in sharp rays
silhouetted century plant on this
grey Carlton afternoon




Dolores laughs
the limit for a screen kiss back in 1957
was something like fifteen seconds
and this one……. dwells forever
in the evergreens or somewhere grainier
polka dotted paper flecked
the exact texture of galaxy black granite
eternal and finite, endlessly reproducible and
completely concrete
someone’s staples rusting and white paper frame
warping Elvis’ cheeks or
maybe Dolores is right and time
is the illusion
padding out the space between
wide-legged and falling on tip toes, crooning with our eyes closed
or silently screaming depending on the angle
someone else’s battle hymn
sheltered from the elements between two thick sheets
of clear plastic

In the grotto
two bibles and a clear plastic binder
protecting typewritten passages from Plato’s Cratylus
there are many kinds of desire
aren’t there, Homogenes?
but surely he would bind them with
the strongest one of all
naturally occurring sculptural chunks of Cape Schank
limestone glued with pale cement and reinforced
by rusty metal beams exposed on the roof
like a cake with not quite enough icing
or a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party
a gingko leaf and bright scraps of advertising material
placehold the tower of Babel, various psalms
and Daniel’s vision of Israel
as the four great beasts – talk about grotesque
honeycomb limestone strung by a thread
that cannot possibly support it
like a horse with legs
and countless other impossible absurdities
green chins of irish roses glowing
semi translucent through the concrete
sky light looming
pigs ears and cape province pigmy weed
inhabiting clefts along the outer wall

‘What could be more like Gladys
or a fitter background for her son, the flirtatious
male truck driver
who lounges against a rock in the sunlight
never doubting that for all his faults he is loved
and whose works are but extensions of his power
to charm
from weathered outcrop
to hill-top temple, from appearing waters to
conspicuous fountains, from a wild to a formal vineyard
are ingenious but short steps in a child’s wish
to receive more attention than his stillborn twin?’

So we constructed him a tomb
in the grand manner
a masterpiece of hylomorphic Victorian
aesthetics catering to the perambulatory genteel class
who promenade around the grounds, visiting
the coastal formations

The paths a little narrower these days
and the grotto brake into pieces, residue stamped
and scattered to make room for mausoleums and the Elvis Presley
memorial shrine
lonely islands of succulent Gracelands
waiting to be featured in a coffee table book
along with fading back street milk bars, hand painted
garden gnomes and retired locksmiths
robot goldfish breeding in a verdigris fountain
or a Paul Yore installation, the kind that doesn’t get banned
and poems, I guess like Diane Fahey’s white paper flowers
blooming piñata guitar
always kind of dismissed her as a nature poet
and yet here I am running evergreens
through a plant identifying app
every variety of artificial flower doomed to return
the same error code


Passages in inverted commas lifted, fairly intact, from W H Auden’s ‘In Praise of Limestone’.
Special thanks to Tim Edensor’s ‘Stone: Stories of Urban Materiality’ and Davis Jones’s ‘A Craftsman
of Rock: The Work of Charles Robinette’

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