William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

One Hand Clapping — October 16, 2004

This is one of 730 entries that make up the daily journal and massive doorstop, One Hand Clapping. Each entry was published the day it was written on my first website, I’m Telling You All I Know. In that online version, the book was divided into pages by month. Atop each page was the following statement:

The purpose of this daily journal is to see if I can find a way to unclench my fist and turn it into an open palm — a palm of generosity, understanding, compassion — and to see if I can capture, in words, the thunderous sound of one hand clapping. To put it another way, it is my publicly insane response to a world gone mad. It is also a way of reminding myself, and anyone willing to listen, that the madness will someday end.

Lofty intentions, self-centered, arrogant, or simply naïve? Of course, we know now — or at least some of us do — that the madness cannot end until we end it in ourselves.


October 16, 2004

Every so often I think of renting a small storefront downtown and using it as a place to work. When I’m there, people would be free to come and go, and to sit, read, talk, and drink coffee without anyone trying to sell them anything. There would be no sign outside, though I might put my name on the door in simple small letters with the word “welcome” beneath. The rest I would leave to chance and human nature. I would keep regular hours, as I do now, and take interruptions in stride, as I do now. If I felt like taking a break and walking around town for an hour, I would lock up and leave, or let someone keep an eye on the silverware. I would slowly fill the place with books, which visitors could read and examine while they were there. If I did this, I wonder how many visitors I would have? On most days, probably none. But it seems likely that, little by little, a handful of people odd enough to appreciate such a haven would find their way to my door. Some would be writers; some would be bums; some would be writers who are bums; some would be city employees trying to figure out the arrangement; some would be working for the daily paper — that is, if they weren’t too busy chasing down stories meant to please their major advertisers. The point is, most people would walk on by. They might glance in and wonder briefly, but without an explanatory sign or a window full of merchandise marked with half-off sale stickers to captivate them, they would continue on their way. Only the truly curious would stop. Only those unswayed by commerce, and unafraid to discover something new, or to appreciate something old that everyone else thinks has gone out of fashion. Now, the interesting thing about this is, to a great extent I have also described my own writing. Of course, my writing has readers other than writers and bums. Over time, it has attracted all sorts of pleasantly weird people — and by pleasantly weird, I mean people who haven’t given up on living a full life that doesn’t seek guidance from advertising, or depend on religion and politics in their current destructive forms. I know this because a certain number have told me. More typically, though, they just laugh — another sign of my success.

One Hand Clapping
A Daily Journal in Two Volumes:
March 17, 2003 – March 15, 2005,
I’m Telling You All I Know

Author’s Press Series, Volume 3, 444 pages, 2010


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