William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

The Fall of the Ten Thousand

Imagine living in a society that values business and entertainment more than it does the health, safety, education, and welfare of all of its members. Imagine living in a society that despoils the environment in favor of comfort and monetary gain, while shunning the sciences, the humanities, and the arts. Imagine a society that glorifies violence and war, and regards people of different backgrounds and customs as evil or unclean. Imagine all this, and then imagine thinking that you, personally, have contributed in no way to making the problems which that society faces, and that whatever problems there are, have been caused by someone else. And then further imagine that you are a proud, patriotic member of that same society, and that you think that other societies, despite their obvious similarities, are inferior to yours, that they are of little or no consequence, or even pose a threat to your precious way of life. Again, imagine. There is a word for it, a simple word that explains it all. The word is ignorance. Imagine living in a society made up of people who are such strangers to themselves, so at odds with themselves as individuals, so fearful of whatever seems to threaten the narrow concept of themselves, so desperate for any small measure of what they see as happiness, security, and control, that it does not even occur to them to walk across the street and ask their neighbors how they are, or to go next door to see if the old widow living there might benefit from some friendly conversation or help. Now, would you call that intelligence? Would you call it compassion? Would you call it love? What, exactly, would you call it? Granted, this is all just hypothetical. And anyway, why would anyone want to imagine a nightmare? It would be different, say, if one were living in a society where these things really were happening, and he had a point to make. Alas, I have none.


The Fall of the Ten Thousand

The fig tree wears
ten thousand yellowed leaves,
each a mortal distance
from the ground.

Through the window,
I see another one is down.

When this war is over,
frightened blood-sick soldiers
will contemplate their deeds,
then count them all.

Through the window,
I see another one is down,

another one . . . is down.

Songs and Letters, October 7, 2006


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Categories: New Poems & Pieces, Songs and Letters

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