William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

The Wise Old Man

Autobiography is the strangest thing. It’s about everything, and nothing, and no one, and everyone, all at the same time. To be of use — is there anything more to ask?

March 23, 2020

The Wise Old Man

The wise old man noticed he was hungry. Then he remembered he had no food. “Ah, yes,” he said, “there is that.” A very serious-looking man entered his hut. “You owe us your taxes.” The wise old man gazed around the empty space and said, “Everything I have is yours. Take it.” And so, impatiently, the serious-looking man dismantled the hut, put the pieces in his cart, and hauled them away. Sitting calmly where his hut used to be, the wise old man smiled. “Free at last,” he said. A little bird arrived. Finding nowhere to perch, she settled atop the wise old man’s head and began to sing. The wise old man joined her. They sang awhile together, high and low and in between. A cloud arrived. It began to rain. It rained exactly one bowl of warm, wonderfully cooked rice. The wise old man ate the rice. As he ate, he offered some to the bird. The bird was no longer on his head. She was now a young woman, now old, now his wife. “Dreaming again,” she said. “Who knows?” the wise old man replied. “One can never be sure.” And all was well. Hut or no hut, bird or no bird, all was well. Now, you may ask in what way the wise old man was wise. In his wife. In his wife.

Recently Banned Literature, March 23, 2018


Today the governor of Oregon issued a state-wide stay-at-home order, closing, until further notice, all but the most essential businesses, and directing all others who possibly can to work from home. It had to be done, and is for the public good. Now it is time for each of us to be the Emerson and Thoreau of our own immediate surroundings — indeed, it always was — to know each window sill and lamp shade, each blade of grass, and each speck of dust — to watch the birds, and to distinguish our needs from our wants — to go deep into what gives us joy, and whatever frightens us — to hold everything and everyone in high reverence — to be Van Gogh and Abraham Lincoln, Don Quixote, Mother Theresa, and Bach — or, to put it another way, to love one another and all things great and small — for that is the way of this earth. Her lesson is a great one. Be eager to learn.

March 23, 2020. Late Afternoon.

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Categories: Everything and Nothing, New Poems & Pieces, Recently Banned Literature

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