William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings


This afternoon I’ve heard an assortment of vehicles stop in front of the house, but each time I’ve gone to the window to look out, the street is empty and no one is there. I’ve heard small cars and big cars; mostly, I’ve heard delivery vehicles. All, though, without exception, including their drivers, have been of a phantom nature. Why they are on this particular street, and focused on this particular address, I have no idea. The doorbell doesn’t ring. The front step remains devoid of packages — or, rather, it’s piled high with phantom packages: invisible boxes of invisible books I’ve only dreamed of ordering; bookends and vases; flowers commemorating unknown occasions, some solemn, some festive; a new kitchen stove; an old-fashioned chifferobe — each and every item thinner than mist and lighter than air. I’d walk through them but it would upset the whole lot; I might break something — and what if it needs to be returned? Who would I call? And what if they answered? Oh, God — it’s almost as if I’ve embarked on an afterlife in which I forever lose track of my purchases, and in which I’m always expecting something without knowing what it is, the only comfort being that if I ordered it, it must be something I desperately need. Desperation — that’s it. I’ve become the ultimate consumer, and the afterlife is no life at all, but merely an empty present — in other words, I’ve become a character in a 1990s short story from The Atlantic or Harper’s, where nothing matters, nothing ever did matter, and all is the result of the strategic piling on of credentials and self-absorbed academic boredom — not like the professional fiction of today, where everything is vibrant, vital, and interesting. Wait. Do you hear it? Here comes another.

September 21, 2020


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Categories: New Poems & Pieces

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