MIRROR AT THE END
OF
THE ROAD

 

An American Avatar Publication

Copyright ©1971 by United Illuminating Inc.
27 Fort Avenue
Roxbury, Massachusetts 02119


 

PREFACE

 

Dear Mel,

I can't seem to not write this letter to you. I have tried, but I keep ending up here in front of the typewriter. I even tried writing this letter to someone else - it must be because I read the book all the way through the completed version last night for the very first time.

For me to approach the book to read it is already an awesome responsibility. I stand in awe of its greatness and purity - I can't believe it. It's full of miracles and its greatest miracle is its reality. It really is the new bible, born to be read and read again, inexhaustible in its capacity to teach. Sometimes I come to a passage I've read before and I say 'oh no, I can't read that one again, I couldn't stand it,' but I read it and it's not what I remembered at all, it's something new each time.

I want to take MIRROR AT THE END OF THE ROAD and wave it in front of every face in America and shout "Read this!" I can't wait until it's printed so I can go and do just that. Nowhere, ever, has such an opportunity as this book been made available to people. I want to make sure they don't miss it. They can't afford to lose out, and I can't afford to let them.

I want to go on and on, but this book is of the Spirit, and it beggars praise or criticism or personal opinion. In the past Christian martyrs died for the Spirit and Christian crusaders killed for it, but you make the greatest sacrifice of all, you LIVE for it.

Love,

Wayne

Wayne M. Hansen
New York City
March 14, 1971


If I could make wisping whirling rising towering cascading spraying
gliding smiling wordstrokes with my brainbrush
I would paint my love for you
on this paper canvas


To Judy, who made me live with
a broken heart


[contents not printed in book]

Chapter I

DIARY OF A YOUNG ARTIST

Dec. 13, 1958, hotel room, Tacoma, Washington

    I am in a state of confusion. I can feel creativeness just bubbling up inside of me...
Dec. 28, 1958, hotel room, Tacoma, Washington
    If I thought you wouldn't understand what I am going to say...
Jan. 5, 1959, hotel room, Tacoma, Washington
    Problems, problems. Car started missing like hell last night...
Jan. 7, 1959, hotel room, Tacoma, Washington
    It sure is fun sitting here looking out the window...
Jan. 9, 1959, hotel room, Tacoma, Washington
    On Departing
    Goodbye radiator with your hiss...
Jan. 15, 1959, Portland, Oregon
    I have a disease. It burns my insides out...
Jan. 27, 1959, diner, Portland, Oregon
    ...a film of grease, paint spots and reflection
March 8, 1959, Portland, Oregon
    I sit here looking at the kids playing outside and I want to join them...
Oct. 24, 1959, Vicksburg, Mississippi
    Bill and I had a long discussion this morning...
November, 1959, St. Christopher's Inn, Garrison, New York
    Night time - I am very very lonely and sick with want of you...
November, 1959, St. Christopher's Inn, Garrison, New York
    I knew when I left Portland that you disapproved of my leaving...
Summer, 1960, 514½ 22nd Ave. So., Minneapolis
    I sit here looking so cool and calm and blowing smoke rings...
December 11, 1960, Portland, Oregon
    I'm working in the store, it's raining, Albert Schweitzer says this is the beginning of the end...
Summer, 1961, North Carolina, at the end of a long haul
    Hard traveling, dust storms, hot deserts, sand storms...
Aug. 6, 1961, North Carolina
    I skinned today's groundhog, sat on the porch and drank my coffee...
September, 1961, North Carolina
    We're staying with a family way high on top of a mountain...
Fall, 1961, North Carolina
    DEAR SIR,
    I UNDERSTAND KEARPLOP IS WANTING TO HIRE AN INTESTINAL BOWEL MOVEMENT COPULATION TADPOLE-EATER...
October, 1961, North Carolina
    It is October and there is a chill in the air...
Late fall, 1961, North Carolina
    You know, I've been sitting here tearing off frantic, exhilarating letters...
November 13th, 1961, North Carolina
    Today I shit my pants. Today is my 5th wedding anniversary...
November 16th, 1961, North Carolina
    Couldn't sleep last night. I went to bed again at 2 a.m......
December 14, 1961, North Carolina
    You know what I really want to do, I want to travel and sing to people...
Dec. 17, 1961, North Carolina
    Good morning beautiful world, trees, grass, water...
Dec. 30, 1961, North Carolina
    I feel alone in this big world. Everyone is full of hate...
February, 1962, North Carolina
    Life had got to be vital. God I feel stagnated...
March, 1962, 414 E. 10th St., New York
    Walking the streets wet and slick brown cigarettes unread reread newspapers...
March 21, 1962, North Carolina
    I'm hiding. No one knows I'm back...
March 24, 1962, North Carolina
    You know, I really do sometimes try to fight my mind...
June, 1962, Arkansas
    It's so great to be free again and eat slowly and take time to shit and play music...
June, 1962, on the road, Florida
    The day is dawning on another sleepless night...
June, 1962, North Carolina
    Life is a journey. God, it's overwhelming...
July, 1962, North Carolina
    I am thinking of little children waving their arms...
Fall, 1962, North Carolina
    My mother said, "son, I want you to grow up and be something..."
September, 1962, North Carolina
    Do you know that it is just a year ago that you all arrived here...
Oct. 1, 1962, 214 E. 10th St., New York City
    It's raining outside and everything is dreary and wet and dirty and worn out...
October, 1962, North Carolina
    We were just rapping about that Staten Island invasion we made one night...
Fall, 1962, North Carolina
    Now we always say that if you aren't a nigger...
October, 1962, North Carolina
    Well yup I sure was perlighted to perceive your pen piddlings
October, 1962, North Carolina
    We here at the happy house realize you are only a symptom...
Late October, 1962, North Carolina
    Did you ever want to see someone you haven't seen in a long time...
Oct. 26, 1962, North Carolina, preparing to leave for Florida
    Today is Friday. We're making last minute preparations like painting over the more objectionable signs on the Studebaker...
November, 1962, Florida
    All you can ever really look back and say is yeah, I swung here for a while...
November, 1962, Florida
    My present situation is very grave. Once again I find myself in the midst of a chaotic spiderweb...

 

Chapter II

JUDY

December, 1962, Bowery loft, New York City
    Tonight I tried for the first time in weeks to play my banjo and it rattled and buzzed...
December, 1962, Bowery loft, New York
    It's turning cold again and the streets are full of scurrying package laden shoppers...
December, 1962, Bowery loft, New York
    We're having our first snow New York always knocking me out in the winter...
January, 1963, Bowery loft, New York
    hallucinations, hallucinations, halooneysations...
January, 1963, Bowery loft, New York January, 1963, New York
    .... and always putting off the big things, the things that are important, like happiness, for trifles...
January, 1963, New York
    Everything can be a groove when the time is right...
January, 1963, 158 Chestnut Street, Waltham, Mass.
    Tonight I went a little too far, I found myself at the threshold of a new dimension...
February, 1963, 88 E. 1st St., New York
    I'm here in Michael's apartment passing heavy time...
February, 1963, Bowery loft, New York
    Me and my cat are sitting here in front of the electric heater...
February, 1963, 43 Charles Street, Waltham, Mass.
    Times are hard here. I stay alone too much...
March, 1963, 43 Charles Street, Waltham, Mass.
    Baby I'm very very sick, sick at heart, sick wholly...
March, 1963, Waltham, Mass.
    If a man is really a man and not just a large boy...
March, 1963, Waltham, Mass.
    Because my love is not ready, nor is the world ready for the kind of love I have to offer...
Spring, 1963, Waltham, Mass.
    I'm tired of you playing with my life. You want me with no obligations...
March, 1963, 43 Charles Street, Waltham, Mass.
    Oh my God I'm in agony. The snow came and the horizon darkened and my life darkened...
April, 1963, 1004 Newton Ave. So., St. Petersburg, Florida
    A very strange mystical dreamlike night, dawn and birds singing...
April, 1963, Pensacola, Florida
    Everywhere I see couples young and old and I envy them...
April, 1963, Louisiana
    Back on the road, wow this hitchiking is killing me...
April, 1963, Louisiana
    I must stop writing, I can't stop the pictures, honey you've left me with so many memory pictures...
Early May, 1963, Tallahassee Jail, Florida
    I can't write much - I'm limited to 2 pages, this pen is almost out of ink and it isn't mine...
May, 1963, Tallahassee Jail, Florida
    Some more of the guys here just got out. They've been sifting away for the last two days...
May 16, 1963, 43 Charles Street, Waltham, Mass.
    It's 10:A.M. and I can't sleep and I'm wide awake...
Late May, 1963, 43 Charles Street, Waltham, Mass.
    Hard times. I am lower than I've ever been in my life...
Late May, 1963, 43 Charles Street, Waltham, Mass.
    Hmmph! Whew! Damn! "You'll wonder where the yellow went..."
June 1, 1963, on the way to stand trial in Florida
    I just woke up out of a deep love sleep and thought I was in Waltham...

 

Chapter III

DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

July, 1963, Hartwell Street, Waltham, Mass.
    I came home alone and stood in front of the house a while...
July, 1963, Waltham, Mass.
    Next spring will roll around and we'll be looking for sprouts and leaves...
August, 1963, Hartwell Street, Waltham, Mass.
    I arose today in my usual way
    Listening to Ray crying away...
Aug., 1963, Waltham, Mass.
    You know just living is a mighty hard row and sometimes you wonder...
August, 1963, Waltham, Mass. Aug., 1963, Waltham, Mass.
    It gets lonesome on that old lonesome road and man them bastards want you in jail...
Sept. 1, 1963, Hartwell Street, Waltham, Mass.
    I woke up an hour ago with Brother Percy Randolph playing mouth harp on my phonograph...
Sept., 1963, New York
    And the Super wakes me up at 12 noon pounding on my door...
October, 1963, Wichita, Kansas
    A TRIP TO SEE MY BABY
October, 1963, Cambridge, Mass.
    I got up early this morning resolved to finally get over to see my probation officer...
November, 1963, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    I hear the world sleeping now.
    Of course there is no silence...
Thanksgiving, 1963, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    ROUND AS A RING THAT HAS NO END
November, 1963, Cambridge, Mass.
    And so the time finally came when he had to leave and no one including himself knew if he was ever coming back...
November, 1963, Cambridge, Mass.
    I'm lonesome tonight. My my so much and yet so little...
December, 1963, 161 Huron Ave., Cambridge, Mass.
    These old sides are sure taking me on a trip, IBM, San Diego...
December, 1963, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    A POEM TO MY FIRST WIFE
January 1, 1964, Croton, New York
    All that grows beautiful, grows slowly...
January, 1964, Cambridge, Mass.
    I have some pictures to send you, a couple of Judy taken last winter...
January 28, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    And much time came to pass and many journeys did he make...
Feb. 4, 1964, St. Petersburg, Florida
    This morning I rode around the old familiar places on Ron's bicycle...
February 22, 1964, Los Angeles, Calif.
    I'm sapped. This city drains me and has no way of restoring my depths...
February, 1964, Santa Monica, Calif.
    ...and I can feel new things growing in my belly and soon I'll be able to show them to everybody...
(sometime in 1964)
    SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR COMMENTS ON HOHNER HARMONICAS...
February 26, 1964, 612 Pico Place, Santa Monica, Calif.
    I have a shriek in me tonight and it wants out.
March 28, 1964, San Francisco, Calif.
    ODE TO THE SPLITTING OF THE ATOM
April 24, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    Today my cat came home...
Late April, 1964, 100 Ave. C, New York City
    3AM
    Who can I unearth to prove my past. David's downstairs now waiting for the man...
May 12, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    Tear off your mask that you're hiding behind and show us yourself...
May 20, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass. May 28, 1964, Cambridge, Mass.
    My sweetheart is gone now and I'm alone once more...
August 9, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    The greater the joy, the greater the sorrow...
Aug. 21, 1964, Martha's Vineyard
    Well tonight it finally happened. Things have been going so well I thought that perhaps it wouldn't happen this time...
Oct. 9, 1964, Bowery loft, New York
    I have just returned from my morning "toilet" exercises...
October 18, 1964, Cambridge, Mass.
    Life is an eternal trip on an eternal road and we've all been on that road a lot longer than we think...
Oct. 21, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    Things have changed a lot for me here now. I'm getting closer and closer to the wall...
Oct. 26, 1964, Cambridge, Mass.
    Well, I finally found my cat. I let him with Ebon when I moved to New York...
Nov. 1, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    It's getting light out now. Strange, it seems as though it was this light a few hours ago...
Nov. 5, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    I know this will sound a little absurd to you but I report it with all sincerity. I am overhauling my brain! ...
late November, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    The morning is the most critical and delicate part of the day as it is the beginning from which the whole day is formed...
Dec. 26, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    I look out upon an empty world and perceive nothing but myself...

 

Chapter IV

DARK NIGHT OF THE SPIRIT

Jan. 21, 1965, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    Everything's changing around again and I'm caught up in the middle again and can feel the motion closing in...
Jan. 27, 1965, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    I'm so confused. What's happening? I think I'm falling in love and I can't quite accept it...
Feb. 12, 1965, Bowery loft, New York
    I sit here alone in the old together room quietly looking at you looking at me through the picture you made for me...
March 5, 1965, Bowery loft, New York
    There isn't much to say. I'm living here at the loft and doing what I do best, thinking...
March 8, 1965, Bowery loft, New York
    I see so many different kinds of people and they all believe in so many different ways of life and they all believe...
March 10, 1965, Bowery loft, New York
    My God Ebon I feel so good these days why I can't believe how young I'm becoming...
March 30, 1965, Bowery loft, New York
    Slowly, steadily, I am losing ground. All my life I've been resisting...
July, 1965, Martha's Vineyard Island
    PROGRESS REPORT No. Two Zillion seventy-three...
July, 1965, Martha's Vineyard
    eternal wife   eternal life
    Just 2 years today that you went away...
July 8, 1965, Martha's Vineyard
    It's amazing to me that for all I know, this great storehouse of understanding I've stored up...
July, 1965, a friend's apt., Cambridge, Mass.
    When I close my eyes I get dizzy. When I open my eyes I get dizzy...
August, 1965, Woodstock, New York
    M'God what can I say, fantastic things happening to me, living lifetimes every moment...
August, 1965, Woodstock, New York August, 1965, Woodstock, New York
    Well, here I am again, hurting inside, wanting, needing, and to think that just a few minutes ago I was independent...
August, 1965, 6 Deming St., Woodstock, New York
    Why do I suffocate my deepest impulses, why do I get in the way, why must I judge before acting...
September, 1965, Woodstock, New York
    What's the matter with me. How can I explain it. Is there something on my mind...
September, 1965, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Penn.
    I'd call you but I don't know your number or your address, I don't even know the name of your town...
Nov. 13, 1965, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    Days of darkness and housecleaning...
Jan. 17, 1966, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    The sadness of this empty room. A room full of things...
Jan. 27, 1966, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    And so the time finally came in his life when he knew he had no more choice in the matter...
March 8, 1966, Bowery loft, New York City
    Ebon this loft is truly my home on earth...
March 24, 1966, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    Who do you write to when you are trying to get your deepest feelings out...
April 3, 1966, 253 River St., Cambridge, Mass.
    Today Sofia had a baby. Joey did the chart. Looks like a Joan of Arc...
April 4, 1966, Hayes Bickford Cafeteria, Cambridge, Mass. April 11, 1966, Cambridge, Mass.
    If ever it can be said that I have any outstanding weakness it is a weakness for beautiful women...
April 12, 1966, Cambridge, Mass.
    Isn't this so beautifully corny. It reminds me of high school when I used to write notes to girls on a desk in study hall...
April 12, 1966, Cambridge, Mass.
    We are having a relationship. Did you know it? ...
April 13, 1966, Cambridge, Mass.
    I read over these two letters I have written you and I'm overwhelmed at my intimacy...
April 14, 1966, Cambridge, Mass.
    Sometimes I feel like my life is a role in a play I wrote myself...
April 19, 1966, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass.
    Being two people is no fun, especially when they are both extremes and both OPPOSITE extremes...
April 19, 1966, River St., Cambridge, Mass.
    There is nothing more to write. At this point I usually play music...
May 1, 1966, Bowery loft, New York
    Letter to a friend who died
June 16, 1966, Bowery loft, New York
    How many times, which time am I, what is this forever feeling I am...

 

EPILOGUE

Valentine's Day, 1971
Los Angeles, California

Dear Ebon,

My head reels with my pats, I mean past, lines over and over I know what I knew and knew what I know but how can we really dig the babble alone? Just working on the one where you are drawing all over the walls and floor and ceiling and I had to smoke some pot to get into it and now I'm too disabled to work so eve is doing it while I sit here with a silly grin on my face remembering those times and just how wonderful it all really was. Have been loving Bill Ryan and Ron and freight trains and hotel rooms and really there has been nothing but that frigging book and my frigging past for two weeks now and I may even be that old again. You really must come out here sometime and be nowhere with me again. My my those were such dear times such strong feeling everything was more vivid and exciting and always ready to fall off a cliff if things didn't turn out just right the very next second. Why the hell can't we go back and have fun again who the hell wants to be so damn serious anyhow. Everything is too real now I know too damn much I can't even get away from it for a second remember the night we talked about illusion and reality and we agreed that you had to have both though I knew you still leaned a little bit more towards one than the other. Well that's all right ole buddy fuck it all to hell my my ain't I just full of love and forgiveness when I smoke a little dope. And Ebon secretly wishes I was always this way why the hell did he have to go off and become a world saviour anyhow and why the hell doesn't he spell my name right he knows how it bugs me. But please now old dear eban you musn't love me any less for my great boring responsibilities and after all I'm still the same old cat underneath honest I am can't you tell from this loving letter. Aha so you think you know where I'm at now do you well I can still fool you if I want to I may just completely step out of character at any given moment there is nothing you can really depend on anymore. But honestly I do sometimes long for those good old unconscious days back then when fun was fun and we didn't even have to understand why. We had an earthquake out here, it was my fault, I was concentrating too hard. But someday we will recreate those times again, we've GOT to, I want them too much. You are lucky that you still have a great veil of illusions in you to play with, I had to get rid of mine to become a world saviour in fact that's what MADE me a world saviour, aren't you glad there only has to be one and you can still play. But I am taking up pretending, I mean really it's nothing new to me I would never have gotten as far as I am today without a great deal of make believe it's just that I have to work at making my dreams come true. I can't let the bubble bibble into space I have to catch them all for some damn reason. But one thing I am glad of that awful awful gnaw in my guts doesn't have anything to eat up anymore and though it brought me all my joy it almost used to kill me on the way. I have more freedom now, freedom to be or not to be, I just miss the intensity And I miss the confusion, the thrill of things yet to come. I really have become a staid old prick. ah ah ah don't you go agreeing with me now or I will have to find another way to impress you. Another thing I know better is the cycles, the search for absolutes to end all absolutes has dissipated into each moment being an absolute unto itself. Hey this is getting pretty good, I wonder if I can use it for my book. See what I mean, no more innocence, everything has got to have some kind of goddamned everlasting value. There's no doubt about it I really am one hell of a writer you dumb painter. If I had what you used to have I might be able to have a little more fun but then who would there be left to play with. We must play with each other in the past and try not to be too wise. When we get together now we must not let our years stand in our way. But then of course I'm not so sure you have even changed anyhow, are you??? I wish this reefer would go away so I could be clear-headed again and wish I was stoned. Let me see if I can put myself in your place for a few minutes just to be able to see me through your eyes. I am EBEN, I love myself, I know this madman who spins out crazy words trying to amuse me, he knows how much I really know him, I know him better than anybody By God and he knows it. Well that's enough of that eh, better get back to who I was, it's hard enough being me let alone trying to be YOU being me. Heh heh, a little humor there well I guess I've entertained you long enough now you better get back to the SERIOUS BUSINESS OF LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Mel

P.S. Later.... I have made a copy of this letter as it seems like it is the Epilogue for my book, it has just that perfect Mel Lyman "Mirror at the End of the Road" quality plus you finally get to spell your name right ......


 

Written By

Mel Lyman

 

Illustrated By

Ebon Given

 

Photographs By

Link DevereauxBill Harrell
Charles FrizzellMichael Harvest
Tony GloverRon McElderry
Julie Snow


Mel Lyman