William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Archive for April 2019

My Next Life

High upon my crooked ladder, cloud in one hand, sun in the other. “Balancing Act” Poems, Slightly Used, May 24, 2009   My Next Life In my next life I will paint houses for a living. I will dip my brush in a quiet field beside a stream, and work from the roots of my imagining. I will paint not as houses are, but as they will someday be, families […]

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Great Gray Granite

There are all sorts of love letters in this world. This world is a love letter.   Great Gray Granite Well, I just can’t help it. I love being so old that no one knows how young I am — except for you, of course — you’ve known all along, since long before either of us was born. I was a rock — a great gray granite slab. Do you […]

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Shall We Go See the Old Man?

How many people I had been before this poem was written, how many I was during the sustained moment of its composition, how many immediately upon its completion, how many I have been since then, how many I am now, and how many I will be if I survive this unwieldy sentence, all while being who I am in any recognizable, cohesive sense, is, I imagine, at least partly answered […]

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Dusting — I Love the Little Chores

Love the objects in your care, and hold them dear, for who objects to love, cares more, for fear. “Dusting” Recently Banned Literature, September 20, 2014   Dusting I see objects much as I see words. They demand a harmony of arrangement, a certain space around them, and this in turn relates to the larger space in which they’re contained. A room is a page. A word is a hat, […]

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The End of Me

What I know is not what I think I know. What I know is a secret I am told. That the secret is in a language I do not understand is not as sad as it might seem. For if the language was one I understood, there would be no need for words like these. And poems would not fall from trees.   The End of Me cherry blossoms will […]

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Then and Now

Flies on the screen late in the fall, worn out and slow, less rumble than show, in shiny old armor. The grapes gone, the vineyard leaves yellowing, the weeds spent and dry. Not a drop of rain. Walnuts drying in big wooden boxes leaning against the shed. In front of the house, at the side of the road, a boy steps out of a big yellow bus. Thoughtfully, absently, presently, […]

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Piano Man

The printed certificate with ornamental border shows that I was born in 1956, on the twentieth day of the month of May, in the small town of Dinuba, in the county of Tulare, in the central part of the San Joaquin Valley of California, southeast of the much larger town of Fresno. The third of three sons, I was named William on the third day after my glorious Sunday afternoon […]

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First Love

It’s easy to remember a feeling that has never departed — indeed, which seems to have been with one since birth. And it’s natural enough to give it a name, and maybe even think of it as a poem. Living is like that, isn’t it? — a hook with a hat on it, a face in the mirror, a place we call home, where clouds become walls, and a soft light […]

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Enlightenment Is

I don’t have a lofty idea of myself as something apart, say, from the workings of my innards, or the flexing of my tendons and toes as I crawl around the yard pulling weeds, while my ears are engaged in the harvest of birdsong. I once entertained the time-honored belief that I might be an entity distinct from my body, but that belief has since given way to an acceptance […]

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Perpetrator, subject, and witness all in one.
Impulse, mood, and countless other things I’ll never know:
The image arrives much as a poem — which is to say,
It was, and remains, beyond my control.

Alone

Alone

Self-Portrait, August 15, 2011
The Old Language: A New Revised Edition in Armenian,
translated by Samvel Mkrtchyan,
S & H Project, 2013


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Alone