Editor's note: We asked poet Gregory Crosby to write a poem in response to the image above.
Song for the Shade of Elvis on Juneteenth, 2020
“The King?” There’s no such thing as a good king.
Isn’t that what the Revolution was
about (among other, terrible things)?
When you shook Nixon’s hand & gave the War
on Drugs your pill-popping, sequined seal
of approval, whose voices were singing
in the back of your mind, far & away
on a sweltering late summer night in
Tupelo? Whose voices? From what bodies
did those souls in their sufferance lift up
your heart until it was in your own throat?
Where do you suppose those bodies are now?
What dark, beating heart incarcerates them?
What throne? What pretender? If I could find
a white man who had the Negro sound &
the Negro feel, I could make a billion
dollars. Ghost, specter, possessor no
one (not even Public Enemy) can
exorcise, tell all the discarded lives
whose songs you sang in the innocence
that is not innocence, not now, not ever:
Are you lonesome, tonight? Are you?