William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Archive for November 2018

The Enigmatic Child

Maybe you really can make something of yourself, as the time-worn advice goes, or threat, or promise, or admonition, depending on who says it or thinks it and under what circumstances, including you and your own. Maybe you really can become something or someone, a person worthy of respect, and on, and on, and on. I don’t know. It all seems rather strange to me. In a way, isn’t it […]

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My Old Black Sport Coat

Today is our eldest grandson’s eleventh birthday. This poem was written not long after he was born. The coat in question is a thirteen-dollar woolen thrift store affair. I bought it in 2001 to wear to a wedding. It was made in Hungary. I liked it so much, and it held up so well, that I wore it regularly for a good dozen years, until it finally gave out. But […]

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A Stranger Looking In

Now and then, someone will tell me my work deserves a wider audience. The truth is, I used to feel that way myself, and I tried everything I could think of to enter that magic realm. But the years went by, and the need fell away as I came to understand that the perfect number for an audience is one, and that this relationship we have — yours, mine, ours […]

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Long Story Short

William Michaelian, No Time to Cut My Hair

These days, my hair and beard are long — depending on the light, home to an early winter, or to all four seasons at once, like one of Gramp’s old work shirts, blossom, grape, earth, leaf, frost. I practice simple daily cleanliness, wear clothes to match, and which require almost no closet space. And so I wonder — is my natural unadorned appearance a public invitation to set aside what’s […]

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Stream of Consciousness

It’s easy for me to be alone, a natural thing, as inevitable as a stream in its bed, first the stream, then the bed, and then the other way around, each by and for the other. And when, after its long descent, a leaf falls in, and that leaf is you, that too is a natural thing, and for a time we are mirrors.   Stream of Consciousness He didn’t […]

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Autumn Detail

Usually, when cold weather arrives, we move our jade plants into the garage, where they spend the winter with who knows what thoughts — summer, shine, patience, glory, generations and generations of hands. Come spring, when we bring them out again, it takes them a few weeks to get going. Which way do we turn? What is that sound? Is that a squirrel? A worm? The swish of a broom? […]

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Days of Future Passed

William Michaelian — Photo by Tim Hinshaw, 1997

This picture was taken by a late writer-friend, Tim Hinshaw, to accompany my first published story, “Naneh’s Melon Thieves,” which appeared twenty-one years ago in Ararat Quarterly. The print was given to me in 2010 by Tim’s son after his father’s memorial service. The scene is Liberty Street, in downtown Salem. I’m looking west. Some thugs had just stepped off a city bus. Present and accounted for, I was ready […]

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Prophet

Not far east of here, at the corner, across the street from the first stop sign, between two houses, there are two large redwoods. Last night, approaching them in the dark where they stand solemnly together, whispering, touching, knowing each other by their intermingled roots, I heard an owl calling from the tree behind in dread-multiple whooos; this was followed by a wild, eerie cry, which sounded like the lost […]

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These States

If words had but one meaning, I would have died long ago and found no rest. Instead, I wept a while, and when it passed, I found this, my gravestone in the grass. It is a dictionary. And my name is filed neatly in the back, beneath Weights and Pleasures.   These States Winter one day, fall the next, sparrows in beds of leaves, birch-bright colors float in cold stone […]

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The Good Life

Untrimmed Edges, Tobias Smollett Novels, London, George Routledge and Sons, 1884.

Truth be told, I’m as content to face a gale as I am to sip rare verse — even when, a moment later, I forget the blessèd words.   The Good Life Let’s say you’re bathing in an eighteenth century English epistolary novel, in which words are soap bubbles, and paragraphs are beads draped by the door, when you hear the footsteps of someone you love cross the floor; The […]

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