There are so many delightful poems by Faith Shearin that it can be difficult to select just one to show you. This one is from her sixth book, “Darwin’s Daughter,” published in 2017 by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Faith Shearin lives in West Virginia.

Blue Elvis

 It was August 1977 when Elvis Presley fell

 face down on his Graceland bathroom floor;

 by the time paramedics arrived, he was


 cold and blue. I knew this because I was with

 my grandmother, Belle, who called her sister,

 Geraldine, who came over at once so we


 could watch the news. My grandmother knew

 Elvis liked peanut butter on white bread

 with American cheese, eaten in his jungle room


 which had Tiki chairs, fur lampshades,

 a waterfall. Other neighbors arrived:

 women in short skirts, women who


 brought with them more of the food Elvis

 loved: coconut cakes, fried chicken, bacon.

 Elvis was dead, and summer had been so


 hot the things we touched burned our hands:

 handles of garden hoses, car doors,

 the metal swing set my grandfather


 built for me on the back lawn. I listened

 to the sound of southern women’s voices

 expressing disbelief; they said I swan


 and I pictured something rippling

 and solitary; they said Well, shut my mouth and

 I saw blue Elvis, falling.


We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Faith Shearin, “Blue Elvis,” from Darwin’s Daughter, (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Faith Shearin and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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