William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

I Tell Myself No Stories

There’s something restful and curative in sifting through the old things I’ve written, even when what I find is weak, or in other ways not worth preserving. In most instances, the decision is obvious. In a few, though, I can hardly bear to read to the end, so familiar and juvenile are the errors. As for my ability to judge, I do have my blind spots. In fact, it’s hardly a stretch to say that I am a blind spot, my own dark side of the moon. But even when I’m persuaded by sentiment or ego, and err again accordingly, and am encouraged by others too kind to hold me accountable, I’m willing to live and die with what I’ve done. And what of the possibility that, ten or twenty years from now, I will be going over these pages? I’m just crazy enough to think it would be fun. More than once already, I’ve been tempted to go back over each entry to see if they should be discarded or improved. This isn’t as obsessive as it sounds. I’d like my best to really be my best, that’s all. In other words, laughs all around.

 
I Tell Myself No Stories

It amounts to nothing, I know,
the words, the pain, the books.
I tell myself no stories.
I simply do my work
because I am not cut out
for anything else.
Day by day, I am more insane.
In public, I ask myself strange questions.
“Have I forgotten my pants?”
Am pleasantly surprised.
“Ah. There they are.”
Move on to other conversations.
A clerk is waiting at the counter.
She remembers my name,
laughs at everything I say.
Should I tell her about my pants?
Or about the cuckoo clock
I imagine behind her on the wall?
The rustling of papers
by unseen hands,
the stamps on tattered documents,
visas, passenger lists, lonely eyes
sailing into the harbor,
the roaring crowds, angry men
with hammers and guns simultaneously
building and destroying the future?
No. And yet I have forgotten why
I’ve come. To ask her my name, perhaps.
To wonder about her children.
Is her mother still living?
Is her husband dead or blind?
She is glad to see me. Why?
The streets outside are empty.
The ones inside are full.
A bubbling spring has caused
a mighty tree to fall,
Jesus has died upon a cross.
I see him standing on the corner,
waiting for a ride. The gutter
is full of blood. “Thank you,” she says.
But when? Before or after the empire falls?
When the innocents are burned,
or when the politicians are impaled?
The ships have sailed,
but no souls ride upon them.
The moon has lost its glow.
It amounts to nothing, I know.
I tell myself no stories.
Only set down my grief each day
because I am not cut out
for anything else.
And each day,
each strange and lonely day,
I am more and more insane.

Songs and Letters, April 7, 2005

Categories: Songs and Letters

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