November 2000

Jeff Baker


Jeff Baker grew up on a small tobacco farm in rural East Tennessee, very near the birthplace of the Cherokee genius Sequoyah. He received an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1999. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Hollins Critic, New Zoo Poetry Review, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Graceland    Click to hear in real audio


It seems I've found a new place to dwell. 
All day I fire my .38 into a television the size of god.
Being risen, my kung-fu jumpsuit is brilliant.
Even the angels must look away—and Christ
can be seen, at a distance, fingering his ancient rags.


I believe this'll be the swingingest eternity ever.
But some nights one improper shimmy of the hips
and the jungle room gets turned to desert
and all the Harem Scarem girls are salt.Then, centuries
of sleep, teeth floating around the head like thorns.


These sideburns descend all the way into hell.
This happened when Lucifer cried Rapunsel
and climbed from the pit with his entourage:
the minor demons wailing rockabilly, the debutantes 
in their burnt corsages, the sausage grinder and his monkey.


I am not an official product of the Elvis Presley Estate,
but my heart still sings in its colonnades of fat,
the bones in my hands are still packed with suns,
still there are long nights when my face falls off like a sheet
and the wind leaving my body says Graceland, Graceland.


The king don't leave a clambake 'til it's done.
The girls like to get recumbent under my swaying grass skirts,
while I play both ukuleles at once.  
The first just to make the stars burn,
while the other one says to the sea: c'mon, shake your ass.



Jeff Baker: Poetry
Copyright 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 14The Cortland Review