Melvinism 101


Dear Hy,
Here is poem of which I spoke some time ago for your Melvin
Tom For Melvin's 50th Birthday Aug 6 1989
(retouched July 18 2000 after his

Jo Stafford on the Philly radio crooning:
"I'm gonna take you on a slow boat to China."
In the neighborhood grocery opening up
Mother Sarah sets out fruit and candy while Father Louis and his railroad
Labor over the iron pathways to Trenton, Reading, New York.

(A distant train whistle. The responding universe of This moment. This

"Melvin? Melvin?" the mother yells,
"Sid, Brud, Pete, find Melvin!"
but the little boy dodges and disappears,
split to the marsh
where the reeds are a hidden home and the soft wet moist smell of earth
a carpet for his crunching feet as he runs down a summer morning
swallowing the sunlight with ferocious gaiety.

He's lost to the sky this Melvin.
His jeans jammed with pebbles,
Fragments of an exploding earth.
He feels the shift, tilts back and
Drinks in the tidal landscape
The Moon Mother a crescent between his fingers.

Later much later he'll take these relics,
Memories of earth colors,
And freshen them into paints,
Stirring unknown radiances and visions that leave him
In the wilderness of his thought.

"Hu! Hu! Hu!"
The owl ruffles the night
Jostles the sleeper
Stirs the hours
As she wings moonward,
Shrieking into wakefulness
The skin, the turning limbs
That beat and bang on the bed
Clatter like a kitchen pot flamed and boiling
Until a hand reaches to touch what isn't there
What might be there.

Sleepless, he heads downstairs, makes coffee,
Covers his head like an old rabbi and sits at the window,
Studies a city muscular with motion,
He takes the ribbons of pavement and twists
And turns and disappears them
In the lacunae of his mind.

He is mist now,
He is the laughter of clouds
He is flat edged layered stone
Ripping circles into the pond.

In his wake,
Into the fairy life of trees and rocks,
He sees the old dark hidden wisdom pressed into the earth:
Salamanders newts frogs and creaking bridges
They carry him across
The labyrinth of waters
Weep and wash him down to the ocean floor.

And the Minotaur sleeps in the center of the garden
And the path unwinds like a child's slinky
Tumbling away, falling away,
Arching into motion itself.

Melvinism: the1980's

Use it.
Use it up.