William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings


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 soul of a tormented child; after several more cries, knowing I was watched, half-expecting to be swooped down upon and carried off, the hooting resumed. I turned right and continued to the next stop sign. More cries. Having time enough for only a short walk, I turned around. The owl kept on, first with one voice, then with the other. On the sidewalk, beneath the tree in front, a young man passed by, looking down, intent in the glow of his phone. Another cry. The stroller didn’t pause; he didn’t look up. I thought this odd. And then I thought that maybe he wasn’t there at all. Maybe I was alone, and I alone was called. I made it home. Lights. Laughter. Sound. Or maybe this is happening now — if it is happening, or if it ever happened, at all.


Those times
when the dead
are near

when you see
their faces
in the wallpaper

when the branch
bends low

and the road
is a river

that knows
where it goes

when there is here
and far is as near

as your hand

who but you
who but you alone
who but you

to tell everyone else?

Poems, Slightly Used, January 23, 2010


From a note written at the time:

It’s been a strange, quiet week, culminating this morning with my friend’s memorial service. It was held in a fairly small room, completely filled by family and close friends. There were about a hundred of us in all. Instead of a solid wall, the west end of the room was made entirely of glass. Just outside, there was a beautiful old oak, and beyond the oak, a bright blue, almost perfectly cloudless sky not at all typical for Salem this time of year. Well. sitting there, I didn’t feel like much of a prophet. And I’m pretty sure that that tree knows and understands more than I ever will.

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Categories: New Poems & Pieces, Poems, Slightly Used

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