photo of Justin Hamm by Mel Hamm
Uncle Fat Elvis
by Justin Hamm
Petroleum-black hair gleaming,
pork chops thick and wide and meaty-meaty.
Thin wife in the trailer park,
fat wife uptown in public housing.
He Waddleswaggers through each day,
always hustling up a fresher method
for fitting his blimpy crookfingers
deep into somebody else’s pockets.
Tuesday: sells a stolen car stereo
that doesn’t even work
to a confused senior citizen
who doesn’t own a car.
Sunday: pretends himself a handyman,
agrees to build a small deck for the baker,
treats the materials deposit
with all the looseness of lottery money.
Hasn’t bathed in thirteen days
and hadn’t in seventeen before that.
But never forgets to run the comb
through every greasecaked lock of hair.
Considers himself philosophically astute
for pondering the time commitment
a third wife might require.
Can be heard whistling a mildly pleasing
rendition of “In the Ghetto”
while fingering his fake gold chain
and staring at the fifteen-year-old girls
who strut the streets of the aluminum village
with cigarettes dangling from their lips.
Uncle Fat Elvis is certainly not
by any measure a nice man,
but occasionally he lets loose fullscale
a “Love Me Tender,” a “Hound Dog,”
a “Blue Christmas” into the six-dollar recorder
kept always in the console of his creeper-style van—
and against all the odds, the sound of it
really is quite lovely.
Which is why in the quiet hours of night,
his woman of choice sheltered by sleep,
he can say to himself, “King, you’s the king.
You is truly the one king on earth,”
and the bed creaks meekly beneath his girth,
and the television hisses its snowy assent.
* * * * *
[“Uncle Fat Elvis” (c) 2013 by Justin Hamm, from his new chapbook The Everyday Parade / Alone With Turntable, Old Records (published by Crisis Chronicles Press). The poem was first published (in a different version) in The Battered Suitcase.]
Originally from the flatlands of central Illinois, Justin Hamm now lives near Twain territory in Missouri. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana and the author of the chapbook Illinois, My Apologies (RockSaw Press, 2011). His work has appeared, or will soon appear, in Nimrod, The New York Quarterly, Cream City Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, and a host of other publications. Recent work has also won The Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Award from the St. Louis Poetry Center, been featured on the Indiefeed: Performance Poetry channel, and been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. Justin earned his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2005. The Everyday Parade / Alone With Turntable, Old Records is his second chapbook.