Mel Belin's first book of poetry,Flesh
That Was Chrysalis, is published by The Word Works, Inc.,
in their Capital Collection, which features outstanding writers in
the Washington, D.C. area. A vital and energetic presence on the literary
scene, Mr. Belin was, this past year, winner of Potomac Review's
third annual poetry competition and a runner-up in Antietam Review's
annual competition. His book length collection of poetry was a semi-finalist
for publication with the University of Wisconsin press. His work has
appeared nationwide in magazines and journals, including Midstream,
Poet Lore, Connecticut River Review, Phoebe, The Cape Rock, Jewish
Spectator, and numerous others. He is an attorney and poet who
resides in Arlington, Virginia, and works in Washington, D.C. Born
and raised in coal country in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, he studied at
Dartmouth College, where he graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, and
George Washington University, where he received a J.D. in Law. He
is currently employed as an attorney at the Department of Housing
and Urban Development.
Contact e:mail address, Mel729@erols.com
poems are from his book, Flesh That Was Chrysalis. For orders,
please send $10+ $2 postage and handling, or $12 to The Word Works,
P.O. Box 42164,
Please include your name,
address and telephone no.
or click on the title to order from Amazon.com
The Mephisto Waltz
Around the grave, black is the color.
The earth flies back, coffin creaks open.
Bones, decaying flesh totter out.
Praise God! his wife cries out, falls
into his arms. Adult children stand
beside them. Congratulations, everyone says.
Retirement's not the thing. He takes up
lawyering, wins a big case; but his salary
drops. The kids have schoolwork problems.
Nothing to worry about, just like their ole Dad,
he hoops and hollers, chases Mom,
mesmerized by her indecently worn negligee.
The children dematerialize. He doesn't
miss them. At the wedding, his wife
is dressed in cotillion white. Solemn vows
punctuate his movement into bachelorhood.
Egad! Acne! A period of priapic concern,
loneliness, study. His comets are dreams.
He'd become a poet, grows smaller, half-heartedly
roughhouses with his brother--a little thug
not interested in Shakespeare, Marlowe.
He draws closer to Mother. Her body's a lure.
One minute he's sucking on a breast, the next
he's spanked. Finally, he's inside drifting in
amniotic fluid, thinking: all the world's a stage,
when the world blanks out. Her friends
console her. He lived a good life, they say.
When All The Doors Of The World Are Shut
Into the turning lane,
past the beggar with a scrawled sign
"lost my wife and job," up the ramp
to the mall, where he parks
the car, leaves his key--closing
the door--in the ignition
behind. O my God! He calls
AAA. No answer: "What the hell
are they doing there? He hails a cab
home. Alas, when he arrives,
the Condo Office has just closed, no chance
to get their backup key (his home key
is on the chain in the car) to open
his apartment where lying in a drawer
is a second car key. But wait!
If he hails a cab to take him to work,
there's a key to his apartment
there . . . And then doing just that,
he remembers he doesn't have his work ID,
or the key to the door of his office, feels
in that instant what it must be like, the un-
raveling, when all the doors of the world
are shut. Soon, though, he will persuade
security to help him get the key
that gets the key that gets
the key . . . And oh, the bliss of finally
driving his car out of the mall--
there's the beggar, still out in the heat;
he'll stare past him--onto the main
drag, step on the gas and forget.
Poetry And The Wall
Whitman's followers consigned the forms to hell--
sonnets, ballades . . . "Wait," cried lovely
Kyrielle in a high-pitched voice, "I've got
something beautiful . . ." But she was swept
away with the rest. What was Kyrielle like?
Shapely in a ballerina's dress, she wove
a tapestry of quatrains as she swirled in graceful
arabesques. She fell in love then with Pantoum,
who liked to dance in a huge circle, repeating
himself every few lines as if she didn't hear.
Of course, she heard: she loved him, married him,
had two children--Roundel and Villanelle.
But a wall was built, crude, thick,
and it kept her and her family away.
This was the Age of the new elite; they took
the places of the old and held all the weapons,
intellectual cannons, tanks, bombs to obliterate . . .
They called it PC, "poetical correctness."
Kyrielle went to Montauk, New York to commune
with Whitman, who as a boy had hurled
poetry at the waves there. "Why have you made
us pariahs?" she asked at the beach.
"Whoever you are, now," she heard him say,
"I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem . . ."
(Or was that just the crash of the waves?
Pantoum is my poem, she was thinking:
one should be loyal to husbands)
". . . and the pismire is equally perfect,
and a grain of sand." Kyrielle flushed red,
clenched her fists at the word pismire.
She wanted to diss him now, or wish him
away. "Free verse is dead!" she shouted
at the surf, agitated, roiling. That was for Pantoum:
when she thought of him, or of Roundel
or Villanelle, she was beyond reason or rhyme.
Copyright © 1999. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Duplication of this
poetry and/or art without permission of the author/artist is forbidden
under copyright law. Please ask permission if you wish to use for
Tuesday, July 11, 2000