Elvis is a Mathematical Equation
“If I can’t smoke, snort,
or swallow it—I don’t do it,”
Luke laughs. I’m going
to puke, green face blurs,
we’ve been in the car
forever. Clouds slip,
a spider winds a web from
the passenger side mirror
to the door. Shoe-laces dance
on the floor over a bed
of crushed leaves. “Real clothes
for ghosts.” A fire balloon.
Umbrella of smoke, moss
on a brick. Strawberry
hit two home runs last night
against Baltimore, I whisper.
“Our generation’s Elvis is Cobain
but it’s not the same. The King
is everywhere”—he draws a crown
in the air, Ice Cube’s The Predator
blasts from the radio—“like
the Stones do on Tattoo You. Elvis
all over: Prince, even The Godfather,
James Brown, it’s all math; I can
diagram it, Kell. The Velvet
Underground. Elvis is F.O.I.L.
Elvis is a polynomial. Multiply
Elvis there’s everyone else.
He’s not only (Luke
draws in the air) he’s the circle.
Elvis is a cartographer—
do you know what that word
means?” he asks and I say no
even though I know. I know
lots of words: palimpsest;
Pythagoras; flotsam; simulacrum;
mitigated circumstance; imbricate;
lacuna; Kepler; Pynchon; exculpate;
mercurochrome; Kafka; abhor.
I know vivisector. Luke smiles, slow-
motions the CD case. Tiny
brown lines chopped neat.
“Too much is almost enough.
Did you tell Lindsay where
you’re at, Kell? I smell perfume
on you.” My mouth tastes like
it’s been chewing aluminum foil.
“Are you ready to go?” “No.
Can I come inside and use your phone?”