Melvin Dixon


Scholar, novelist, and poet Melvin Dixon was born in Stamford, Connecticut. He earned a BA from Wesleyan University and an MA and a PhD from Brown University. Dixon wrote the poetry collections Change of Territory (1983) and Love’s Instruments (1995, published posthumously) and two novels, Trouble the Water (1989), winner of a Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction, and Vanishing Rooms (1991). Influenced by James Baldwin, Dixon wrote extensively about the complexities of being a gay black man. Dixon produced scholarship on and translated writing by several African American writers, including Leopold Sedar Senghor, Geneviève Fabre, and Jacques Roumain. Dixon was the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and he taught at Wesleyan University, the City University of New York, Fordham University, Columbia University, and Williams College. He died from complications related to AIDS at age 42. Source


Work out. Ten laps.

Chin ups. Look good.


Steam room. Dress warm.

Call home. Fresh air.


Eat right. Rest well.

Sweetheart. Safe sex.


Sore throat. Long flu.

Hard nodes. Beware.


Test blood. Count cells.

Reds thin. Whites low.


Dress warm. Eat well.

Short breath. Fatigue.


Night sweats. Dry cough.

Loose stools. Weight loss.


Get mad. Fight back.

Call home. Rest well.


Don’t cry. Take charge.

No sex. Eat right.


Call home. Talk slow.

Chin up. No air.


Arms wide. Nodes hard.

Cough dry. Hold on.


Mouth wide. Drink this.

Breathe in. Breathe out.


No air. Breathe in.

Breathe in. No air.


Black out. White rooms.

Head hot. Feet cold.


No work. Eat right.

CAT scan. Chin up.


Breathe in. Breathe out.

No air. No air.


Thin blood. Sore lungs.

Mouth dry. Mind gone.


Six months? Three weeks?

Can’t eat. No air.


Today? Tonight?

It waits. For me.


Sweet heart. Don’t stop.

Breathe in. Breathe out.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Health & Illness

Literary Devices:

Iambic Pentameter

a line of verse composed of five iambs– an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (u / u / u / u / u /) commonly used in the Renaissance period