(i) How To Be a Better Elvis The Parkes Observatory, surrounded by its wheat and alien sheep, listens to the stars. The town statue of the Founding Father looks to be singing or preaching, an over-sized book in hand. In January, the Elvis Festival herds in the over-weight men, the Priscilla look-alikes, the memorabilia’s promise of a Golden Age. I’m not interested in the Vegas era. I return each summer like an old-time itinerant, getting younger every year, reaching back, until I find that boy in a Tupelo shotgun shack, crazy for music and listening for God. (ii) Monody: Joni Mitchell Recalls Laurel Canyon I arrived just after the Manson murders, in another part of the hills, when everyone locked the doors of their cul-de-sac homes. Some nights I would think of the day in Canada when I gave away my child. I left for Malibu before the killings in Wonderland Avenue. Had I come to the Hills because of the names, the poetry of it all? Mostly now I remember the endless talking; the songs we wrote so quickly, in answer to one another. Why should I not prize words, despite the times, like some love-sick swain? Where but in language would you find cloudberries, ukulele, riverbed, and dépaysement? How else would I save the canyon now, as I recall it best: the lens-flare of afternoon driving, as the sun stretch’d out all the hills?