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Mel Belin

The following poems are from Mel Belin's first book of poetry, Flesh That Was Chrysalis, published by The Word Works, Inc., in September 1999. A vital and energetic presence on the literary scene, Mr. Belin has been the winner of Potomac Review's third annual poetry competition, and on two other occasions, a finalist. He has also been a runner up in Antietam Review's annual competition. An earlier version of his book-length collection of poetry was a semi-finalist for publication with the University of Wisconsin press. A poem of his was selected in the Moving Word Poetry Competition, and exhibited on Metro buses in Northern Virginia between July through September 2000. He was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, has a B.A. from Dartmouth College, and a J.D. in Law from George Washington, University.


He is a juggler. Up into the air--
one ball, two balls, three. The entire show
is spinning through his hands. He does not know
how long to play the game. He does not care.
He plays it day and night, and with a prayer
he keeps it going even though the snow
has started falling softly, even though
the bombs are falling. There is no despair.
He is a juggler. One ball, two balls, three.
And as he tosses, nations rise and fall.
Under a Torquemada men may bend
or break. Then in a flash they're standing free
and tall. For centuries, he's seen it all.
He juggles balls.
                         He'll be here in the end.

Pas De Deux

When Marguerite danced around Faust,
supple and girlish, a swirl in the white
silk dress, a blush on her cheeks,

caught him in the worm of her smell--
a sachet blend of herbs, flowers--,
with the hook, Mephisto, grinning

like a pitchman at some sideshow
rubes. When she flashed eyes shimmering
their moonlit lakes, and in the surrounding

brush, a savant, wrinkled, hungry
for communion,
                       touched him where God
was not, he signed the contract on the spot.

Because He Didn't Ask For Directions

He was lost and found a yellow warbler
on the wrong path, saw a caterpillar
that wriggled through the grass not knowing

what one day it would be, wind blowing
in his face hard. He was lost and missed
the ferry at the time planned, criss-crossed

Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, sat down
in a café beside the woman
with pouf hair and an expansive look . . .

He said something light in the time it took
to quaff a beer. And she'd retell it
that night, but with her own inimit-

able slant, from which it took on
a strange life . . . He didn't ask direction,
somehow found his way back to the dock

and the ferry, while from out of the cloak
of the words he'd spoken, it was as if
a magus' rabbit had darted off,

become a sea gull rising, soaring . . .
Because he was a man without mooring,
he stumbled upon the tiny girl

on the deck (as the boat in a swirl
of motion headed back for Wood's Hole),
her face lit with a mischievous smile

(a potato chip held as lure over
the side), transfiguring to rapture
when a gull swooped down, half in play,

     half in hunger, carried them both away.

Copyright © 1999,2001. 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 non-commercial purposes.


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