William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Archive for November 2020

Originality and Skill

One might write as well as, or better than, Emerson or Montaigne, and the sum of that writing be nothing more than an echo or derivative shadow. In any given moment, all it needs is a leap to be skyward or hell-bound. Either will do, as long as the sky and the hell are one’s own. November 19, 2020 . [ 934 ]

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Punch Line

In this wet and windy weather, it’s lucky the neighbor’s fir trees haven’t blown over and landed on our house. Day by day, the yard and roof are strewn with more branches. New gaps and sky-patches have appeared in the trees, which allow the wind to pass through them, and keep the trees from having to absorb its full impact. And as I gaze up at them and listen to […]

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The Mist and This

If I had not walked in the mist before dawn, I would not have heard the owl calling from the fir tree on this side of the wetland. And the land is wet, as were we. I need to explore the backyard, which has been transformed by the recent storms into a forest floor strewn with branches, cones, and leaves. There are fir branches six to eight feet long on […]

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Emerson, Thoreau, and a Compost Pile

In addition to the Harlem Renaissance novels and Thoreau’s journal, I have begun reading the two-volume edition of Emerson’s journal published ten years ago by the Library of America. Reading Emerson’s words aloud, as I do Thoreau’s, is more than a daily exercise in tongue and skill; the vibrations in my chest and skull create a conversational, dreamlike, philosophical intimacy that makes me feel we are together in the same […]

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Copper Rain

More than halfway through, I’m not quite sure how I feel about George Schuyler’s satirical novel, Black No More. It’s certainly not without humor, and not without a large measure of truth. In the clever guise of science fiction, it is, in effect, a witty, sharply drawn editorial cartoon on American race relations. That I find the bitter edge of its caricature unappealing, says as much about me as it […]

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Storm Poem

From midnight on, the house has been pelted with branches and cones.Their clatters and clunks sound like a roofing crew. Such is November in the ark.Will Ararat be visible come daylight? Or will it be leveled by the flood?O, wind! O, rain! Wash this blood from the breast of the dove! November 13, 2020 . [ 929 ]

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For Better or For Worse

It breaks my heart to see a long-married couple out for a walk together, but not walking together, the man ahead, the woman behind, the assumed command and superiority in his carriage, hers subservient, with neck slightly bent and head held just so, as if fearing to cause his displeasure. And yet they are out together. Why? What are their secret pains, their secret pasts, their secret thoughts? How long […]

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Almost Winter

Once inside and away from the chilly weather, the jade plants in their big clay pots turned quickly to face the tall south window. The glass is cool this time of year, as the fairy tale sunlight calls to them through the open wooden blinds. The smaller of the two pots holds three plants made from cuttings several years ago, taken from my mother’s twenty-year-old plant, the trunk of which […]

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6/8 Time

A brightly marked thrush is trying hard to clean its beak against the firm mud at the edge of the frozen dahlia bed, stopping now and again to look up at me through the window, or when it is distracted by bits of food. I wonder how much soil it takes in along with the worms it consumes, and if it notices the varying tastes of clay and silt and […]

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