©Welcome to Melvinís Autobiography



Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20




This is the Only Autobiography of Melvin the Poet ©


Chapter One


Prelude to Now


††††††††††† A wise man once said, ďThereís only one thing in life that a person actually owns and that is now

††††††††††† What you do with now is what makes you what you are. Do you let God shape your nows or do you do it? Once now becomes then you canít change it. To understand a personís nows you have to know their thens.

††††††††††† God is using every now to shape your life into what He wants it to be. The hard part is trying not to do it for Him. Thatís when I always get into trouble, as you shall see.

††††††††††† Everyone is suited for certain things by personality, intelligence and physical attributes. In other words, the way God knit us together in the womb. A bowling ball used in any other game would probably not work very well. Youíve got to use the right ball for your game. This is called Godís gifts for our lives.

††††††††††† In counting, the lowest number is the negative of the highest number. What is the highest and lowest numbers? Only God knows. When was the beginning of time? Only God knows. When will time end? Only God knows.

††††††††††† You donít own the past and you donít own the future, but you do own now. So do something with it right now.

††††††††††† I never did time in prison. I havenít been disfigured or crippled in an accident or a war. Iíve never lived under a bridge. Iíve never been in a gang.

†††††† I donít have any degrees. Iím not a preacher. Iím not even a very good Christian. Iím just a common, working stiff who made a lot of wrong turns in life, like 99.99% of the population. I stumble and fall everyday. And every morning my wife has to remind me, ďGod is still in control.Ē

††††††††††† I am certainly no raconteur, but I believe I have an interesting story to tell. My life has always been a series of phases and changes, probably always will be, because I get bored easily if things stay the same too long. Youíve got to see where Iíve been, to understand where I went, to know why I am where I am, now.

††††††††††† A person can only write one autobiography. This is my one. I started to call it The Anonymous Celebrity, because, as youíll see, I always thought I was going to be famous. In fact, I thought I was famous, just nobody knew it. I was the somebody nobody knew. (Öknown, yet regarded as unknownÖII Corinthians 6:9.)

††††††††††† Then I thought about calling it The Man with the Prosthetic Head, but that didnít seem to fit right. Then I thought about Wasted, because thatís what I did withover a decade of my life. But that wasnít the whole story.

††††††††††† I even thought about titling it Thank You, Jesus, because of the very fact that I lived through the first sixteen chapters. Without Jesus this book would have had a lot fewer chapters and probably wouldnít have been worth writing in the first place. If my story helps one person not waste anymore of his or her life then it is worth the time it took to write it.

††††††††††† Life is a Project and, as in all projects, it helps to have a plan. That way you donít waste a lot of time and material. You should always measure twice and cut once and you should always consider the consequences of doing something all by yourself instead of asking for help. If you donít use the right materials the whole thing can collapse and you certainly donít want to pay too high a price. And over time parts wear out. There is always something needing to be replaced, repaired or upgraded. But before you start any project you always need to know whoís in charge.

††††††††††† I want to take your emotions

††††††††††††††††††††††† Down a road,

††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††† To a place where

††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sorrow and laughter

†††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Walk hand in hand.

††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Itís a place called

††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Life.

The Last Free Exit


(If our only hope is in this life, then we really have no hope.)


All About Being Born

Soon Ike would be president and nothing bad would be allowed to happen anymore. Babies werenít conceived through sex back in those days. They were made from kits. I mean, thatís how it had to have happened. Nobody actually had sex. They didnít even sleep in the same bed together. My parents had twin beds. My friendís parents had twin beds. In all those early TV shows, everyone slept in twin beds. Nobody could have sex in a twin bed. I slept in a twin bed and I never had sex, at least not in the fifties.

It was1949 and I was having my first chance to travel after being, somehow, fearfully and wonderfully made. There was a long, dark tunnel with a bright light at the end. It was Freeport, Texas and I was being born to an eighteen-year-old girl.

††††††††††† The doctor looked like Nero through the flames. He was my first glimpse of an apparition. Of course, my eyes werenít focused yet. After all, they had been closed for nine months.

††††††††††† When that white-coated s.o.b. (sawer of bones) picked me up by the feet and slapped my cheeks, I screamed, because thatís all I knew how to do. If I knew what a fist was, I would have made one and punched that sucker. But this was my first experience, ever, and my brain was totally empty of thoughts or memories. All I knew was it was traumatic. How would that big bully have liked it if someone had picked him up by the feet and started whipping him for no reason at all? I hadnít done anything to him or anyone else for that matter. I was brand spanking new.

††††††††††† And if being born wasnít trauma enough, they cut the cord and put me in a room full of other screaming, soft-headed bundles of Id. What an eye opening experience that first day turned out to be, as I was born James Melvin Hamstrung.

††††††††††† The Gulf of Mexico was to my south and the United States was to my north. I had nowhere to run. I was stuck in Freeport, Texas, approximately thirty-five miles down the coast from Galveston, at the port of the Brazos River. It was founded by a New York sulphur-mining group in 1912. So thatís what that smell was. I thought it had something to do with me, but at that point in time I though everything was about me.

I was only there for that beautiful, reflective moonlight off the Gulf of Mexico. Well, actually, thatís why my parents were there. In fact, that crazy old moon may have been the reason I wound up being there, although I donít know how with those twin beds. What I do know is we didnít stay there very long after I was born.

††††††††††† My daddy, a nondescript country boy, was just out of the navy and working on one of the many oilrigs in the area. By the time I was six months old Daddy was beginning to get tired of working on the oilrigs. I think mother was getting tired of listening to him complain about getting tired of working on the oilrigs. They were both getting tired of me crying all the time. It was my way of complaining about her complaining about him complaining about getting tired of working on the oilrigs. So, rather than stay in Freeport and continue to complain about the oilrigs, we decided to move somewhere else and complain about something else.


The Land of the Gar

†††††††††† One year earlier, in 1948, my motherís parents (I called them Mommy and Paw-paw. She was Mommy and he was Paw-paw.) with their other two daughters, had moved from Corsicana, Texas into their American dream, a pretty little two bedroom, white-framed, post WWII house in the Land of the Gar, a small suburb of Dallas. Little did they know, they were about to have their oldest daughter, their son-in-law and their grandson move in. Their American dream was turning into an American nightmare. Even back then you could get your kids out of the house. You just couldnít make them stay out. Some things never change.

††††††††††† By April of 1949, mother and daddy and I were all moved in with Mommy and Paw-paw and my motherís two younger sisters. I was the first and only grandchild and nephew, one cute little ragamuffin with droopy drawers living with all those doting adults. Could life get any better? It was my first glimpse of heaven and I saw that it was good.

††††††††††† I was getting all the attention. Thereís something about being born that causes that. Suddenly, youíre under the lights and everybody is watching you. Thereís even a review in the paper the next day. People come from miles around just to see you. All youíve got to do is smile or scream or poop and everybody gets so excited. For a little while, you control the universe. Where the problem lies, is in the fact that all that attention goes away and youíre never quite sure why. Was it something I saidÖorÖdidnĎt say?


Double Double Toil and Trouble


††††††††††† A storm was rising out on the horizon. Daddy was thunder and mother was lightening. And I never saw it coming. There was something blocking my view. I think it was called, child-like innocence.

††††††††††† Shortly after we moved to the Land of the Gar, daddy got a job working days and mother got a job at Kraft Food working nights. They bought their own little white- frame, American dream, house about a half-mile from Mommy and Paw-paw. The in-laws were in and out all day, everyday. What more could a young married couple with a child ask for? †††† Everybody was just doing their job, but nobody was talking, except maybe me and I was just learning how. I didnít know enough words to carry on a good conversation.

I think the American dream was about to wake up screaming. There was so much friction in that pretty little white-frame house, the neighbors were probably amazed it didnít catch fire. Most of the arguments seemed to be about money. Mother liked to spend it, and daddy liked to pinch it. Mother liked to shop at Neimanís and daddy liked to shop at garage sales. There was a compromise in there, but they never found it. Just between you and me, I donít even think they looked.

††††††††††† I probably could have saved their marriage if I had known how to say more than ten words. Iím sure there were lots of other problems, too. But what did I know? I wasnít even two years old, yet.


††††††††††† I had more important things to do. After all, I was in my discovery period. I discovered early that if I found a dead mouse, I could chase my aunts and they would go spastic. They were screaming with fear and I was screaming with joy. When I got a little older I found I didnít have to actually possess a mouse. I could just holler the word, ďmouseĒ and they ran screaming. It still works even today.

††††††††††† Iíve been told that, when I was about three or four, my aunts would let me sit in church with them, especially during Sunday night services. The older of my two aunts, who was about fourteen or fifteen at the time, said that when I would sit in her lap sometimes I would pat her chest and tell her my mother had big dunkles and she had little dunkles. Her friends, especially the boys, would laugh and that just egged me on. Even at that age I was center stage, the life of the party. I could get away with anything and usually did. I was already beginning to realize that I loved to make people laugh.


††††††††††† In the midst of all this turbulence I had a friend who was closer than a sister. A brown cocker spaniel named, Dinah. She was two years old when I was born and she was always there for me. I shared everything with her including my food. When I offered her a lick of my ice cream or a bite of my sandwich that was all she took. How many dogs do you know that wouldnít have snatched the entire ice cream cone or the whole sandwich? How many people do you know who wouldnít have snatched them?

††††††††††† Dinah was my friend and I sure needed a friend at that time. I had gone from the center of attention to a lot of ďmeĒ time. The backyard of that little white house was my ďhappy place.Ē

††††††††††† By the summer of 1951, mother and daddy had been on their jobs long enough to have vacation time. Iím not sure what possessed them, but for some insane reason, they decided to take a car trip in their new 1950 Nash Rambler convertible. They were going to drive from Texas to New England, then come back via Chicago. Now, in most cases it would be a good thing to get away for a while. In fact, it could have been perfect in a lot of ways. But driving some 3,000 miles with a two year old, in the summer, in a car with no air conditioning, was not how to save a marriage. By the time we got back, I wanted a divorce.


Divorce White Trash Style


††††††††††† By the end of 1951, my parents decided on a trial separation. They were hiring in the oil fields of West Texas, so daddy decided to go out there and work awhile and see if things would be any better when he came back. He was only there three months, when one day his little finger decided to come off. It didnít just happen without reason. It had been mashed between two heavy pieces of machine metal. According to his account, he looked at the bloody bone sticking out of his hand and immediately fainted. His days as a roughneck were over.

††††††††††† When he got back to the Land of the Gar, hoping for some sympathy, mother told him she wanted a divorce. The next few months seemed very hostile in my memory, as daddy got a job and a house several miles away in a town called Grand Prairie.

††††††††††† I have one memory in particular that is so vivid I can still see the toy I was playing with the day it happened. I was sitting in Mommy and Paw-pawís front yard playing with a metal aquaplane that had a key on the body to wind it up and make the propeller spin (I wish I still had it). Daddy drove up and stopped in front of the house, jumped out, grabbed me and ran back to his car.

††††††††††† As we drove away, mother ran from the house shouting and chasing us. She got the passenger door open and I can see her now, screaming as we turned a corner and she was flung into a field. I donít remember having any emotions about the whole incident. I just sat there watching like it was a movie.

††††††††††† Daddy took me to the store, bought me a bow and arrow set and took me back to Mommy and Paw-pawís. What was that all about? There was all that frenzy and mayhem for a lousy bow and arrow set? At least he could have bought me a new pedal car or a bicycle with training wheels for all that trouble. I donít have any memory of what happened after we got back. I donít know what mother did. I donít know if daddy just let me out and drove away or what. I donít ask about it, because I donít expect I would get an unbiased answer from either one of them.


Got Your Nose


†††††††††† Time seems to go faster with each year you live, but all the nineteen fifties were the slow years for me. What makes your younger years so slow? Is it the fact that youíre learning just about everything that youíll ever know in your entire life? Is it the fact that you have no real responsibilities? No. Itís the fact that you have to put up with all those immature adults.

††††††††††† Who did they think they were kidding with that ďgot your noseĒ routine? Did they really think they were fooling us? ďOh yea, mister, I really thought you pulled my nose off. Can I have it back now? Gee, I had never noticed before that my nose had a thumb nail on it. Gosh, I thought my nose had holes in it. Please give me my nose back so I can breathe. Iím really worried. Iíll never be able to smell again.Ē No problem there, since all kids smell and I was no exception.

†††††††††† On Saturday, February 21, 1953 I went into the hospital and had my tonsils removed. Actually, my mother took me and she had the doctor remove them. I rather enjoyed it, though, since I got to eat a lot of ice cream. I kept waiting for the doctor to stick his thumb between his fingers and say, ďGot your tonsils.Ē


The Heart of a Child


†††††††††† When I was four, mother and daddyís divorce was final. I lived with my mother and he would get me every other weekend. Mother sold the house and we moved back in with Mommy and Paw-paw. I didnít know what was going on. I was having a hard enough time remembering if you scratched an itch or itched a scratch.

My mother was busy cutting daddy out of every photograph she could find, even if the picture didnít belong to her. In all the pictures of me, before I was four, thereís something missing. There I am in my family picture, this little boy sitting between his mother andÖ an arm thatís not attached anybody?Whereís daddy? Heís on the other side of the jagged edge of the photograph without an arm, the part that was thrown away long ago.



The heart of a child

Laid open and wild.

In the air with no wings,

Ears hearing crashing things.

Mom and Dad shouting.

Little mouth pouting.

The air above is full of noise.

Words hit the ground like broken toys.

Teardrops roll from weeping eyes,

As clouds of tension fill the skies.

Dark, cold words with crushing hate.

Childlike innocence obliterate.

No pretenses or hidden thoughts,

Just broken hearts, each finding faults.

But that little one down near the floor

Hears so much more than a slamming door.

So much more than fiery tongues

With angry words in shadows hung.

Thereís nightmares forming in his head,

And monsters creeping under the bed.

ďWhat have I done to cause this pain?Ē

Such a heavy question for a child to feign.

A tiny face with angel hair,

And rosy cheeks flushed with despair.

Why would daddy leave

With a little hand tugging at his sleeve?

And tears are filling every eye,

As a still small voice is asking, ďWhy?Ē


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