Tom Malloy — Roof-Tops

‘Roof Tops’ by Tom Malloy.

Poet Doughtry “Doc” Long, whose death was announced on January 27, was a longtime maker and supporter of art in Trenton. We remember him with a poem he wrote in honor of his artist neighbor, the late Thomas Malloy. Better known as simply Tom Malloy, the watercolor artist spent decades capturing the changing shapes, rhythms, and tones of the city.

Yet in many ways, the 77-year-old poet did the same thing in his writing. And through his long career as a literature and creative writing instructor at Trenton Central High School, he also shared rhythms, images, and tones with thousands of Trenton students and exposed them to the everyday beauty Malloy coaxed onto his paper and Long sang to the page.

Towards a Definition of Art and Man

(For Thomas Malloy)

Light runs, and speaks darkness

darkness runs, speaks light

line speaks void

void speaks line

vanishing point speaks nearness

nearness speaks vanishing point.

Canvas and artist struggle in dialogue,

eye captures illusions

fire in a brush stroke

colors explode. Light.

Light is only light

because darkness is

darkness only dark

because light is.

They say you drew a black line

in the red dust of a blue Carolina afternoon

and the line spoke and said something, meant something.

Say you drew an indigo line in yellow dust

of a pink Carolina afternoon

with a green stick that

a purple God had given you.

and the line spoke

and the dust spoke

and the colors spoke

and God spoke

and you spoke

everything spoke and asked

What is the color of truth and beauty?

Just what is the shape of beauty and truth?

And you drew a turquoise line in the ocher dusk

And it replied in infinite, brave dimensions.