Dream as Melvin Dixon

Artefact: Interview, ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’, written by Clarence Bard Cole, Christopher Street magazine, volume 14, number 1, issue 157, March 1991. 
Melvin doesn't dream poetically
(One breath)
Prosaic, blunt, reality statements
Hard glimpses
And aphorisms
Laid out anew
On a slowly turning
Assembly-line of the mind

This dream, however
Doesn’t match the usual staccato brevity
Melvin’s in a European capital of the future
Year twenty-eighteen

Ghostbody Melvin eating a plate of falafel
Salad, cous-cous, rice
Some hot red sauce, orange sauce
Some white yoghurt
In a small place
Two streets over from the theatre
Where people are rehearsing a song
With lyrics that he wrote
Not as lyrics, originally
As a poem
But the Europeans who have been digging around in the past
In the volume published
Have now decided to sing these words of his 
In clean t-shirts
With music composed
By a man whose surname indicates European wealth
And who has a girlfriend
Is not interested in guys, queers
Can write contemporary music
Is interested in his career
Melvin suspects
Reading the programme notes
Which have soaked up some of the grease from the small tabletop

Ghostbody M pays the guy at the counter
Sweaty tight polo-shirt and sparkling smile
Leaves a tip
A wink
And strolls around the block
Through the courtyards
To the old building
A revolutionary hall
Where they’re singing his words
Two flights up
Practising those couplets
Into pale skin-tone headsets
Out to big black speakers
The spaces between the words
Redistributed across four harmonies
Rearranged into new complex arrangements
Hard to sing
Easy to get lost
Though when they manage it
It’s very impressive
Thinks Melvin
A highwire
Quite beautiful

Ghostbody sits on the front row
There’s no audience yet
Just the small team, the performers
Afternoon light coming in through unshuttered windows
Open for a breath
While the video designers take five
He sits next to a queer
Who’s holding a notebook and four packs of rechargeable batteries
Waiting for the rehearsal to end
So they can swap out the tired headset energy
And replenish it for the evening show
Melvin looks at this queer
Who’s looking at the stage through their big round glasses
Looking and listening, intently
But without power, Melvin notes
An assistant
Someone on the edge of the team
Something about the body language
Place in the room
The batteries
Melvin checks their watching eyes
Freckled skin
And is instantly certain that nobody has told them where the lyrics come from
From him
Has not had the foresight
Or time
To look their provenance up
Thinks Melvin

Ghostbody starts to slip back to consciousness
And has no voice in this particular dream, it seems
So he shuffles along the first row
Plastic chairs creaking
Until he is right next to the assistant-queer
Thighs touching
Places his hand
The one that wrote the poem
Over the queer’s beating heart
Applying some firm pressure
Sending heat into the skin
Into the breathing chest
Leaves it there for a while
It’s not the best method of communication
But it might dislodge something
Produce an uncertainty
A seed of doubt 
A small knot to untangle a few years from now
So when the queer hits a link
On a delayed train heading west and home
And their phone pings up brightly
With those familiar lyrics
Heard and heard
They’re now titled
And authored
Melvin Dixon
In a strong serif font
Black-on-white glow 
Thank you
Melvin sees that timeline play itself out
Removes his hand from the heart
Notices the faint impression of fingers and palm
On the queer’s faded t-shirt

Ghostbody melting, now
Falling back to the nineties
And all that beauty and horror
Leaving the Europeans to their twenty-first-century singing