William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Archive for January 2021

Remember Me

Another gentle bend in the road leading nowhere. . All things testify according to their natural, light-given truth: leaves, twigs, meadows, and birds, wild streams and errant tufts of fur, dry weeds whispering remember me, baked crust of aromatic earth. I nod to the mossy water conversing fortuitously in a ditch, push back my hat, scratch my head, wonder at the miracle of melted snow. I rub dirty hands on […]

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Lemon Sun, Pomegranate Blood

Dream, memory, and the written word — in my experience, these overlap to such a degree that it would be useless to ask which has the most powerful influence on the others. Imagine three very old, sympathetic sisters. Finally, one of them dies. The surviving two follow her to the cemetery, and the conversation between the three of them continues there. . Lemon Sun, Pomegranate Blood The little unpainted house […]

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The End of the Rainbow

What happens when you add fifteen years to memories that were forty years old when you first wrote them down? The answer, expressed mathematically, is this: 40 + 15 = surprise x gratitude. . The End of the Rainbow When I was in the fourth grade, our teacher gave us a short reading assignment about a porpoise. Since I had never heard of the animal or seen the word porpoise […]

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Grief’s Exile

Our family library contains more than books. It contains cousins, uncles, and a wealth of secret, sacred knowledge which would be comical to some, useless to most, and inspiring, if not dangerous, to eager, impressionable young minds. For it was this knowledge, embodied in these living examples, that made me want to be a writer long before I knew the real meaning of the word. Dangerous? Oh, yes, when one […]

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Bridge Across the Bay

My mother’s mother was the daughter of Henry and Eliza. Saying so is a bit like imagining lines between stars that twinkle brightly some nights, less so on others. But even when it’s cloudy, I know they are there. . Bridge Across the Bay When she was twelve, my mother’s mother rode a horse into the rugged mining town of Bodie, California, to get supplies. When she was fourteen, she […]

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Village Song

Sweet sadness, I will never turn my back on thee. . Village Song I have been long away But now I’m coming home Bright gold in my pocket A new bride on my arm. Come to the door, Mother, Is Father in the field? Come to the door, Mother, Is Father in the field? We climb the old stone steps To where my mother lay In a bed of flowers […]

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James Joyce Singing

James Joyce is an experience. I’ve read him in English. I’ve read him in Gibberish. I’ve even read him in Armenian. In Finnegans Wake he made use of sixty languages. I read the entire work aloud. I did the same with Ulysses. I’ve been in Jerusalem. I’ve been in Paris. But my tongue has really been around. . James Joyce Singing Like his wife, I can only understand him when […]

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Letter to a Friend

Again, in preserving some of these older pieces, I find I must be willing to overlook what I feel are certain obvious weaknesses. In the present case, I do it for memory’s sake, and for its biographical and autobiographical value. My friend’s death when we were eighteen, the time that led up to it and which immediately followed, I count as one of the saddest, most fortunate experiences of my […]

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Highway 99, San Joaquin Valley, California

In this entry from Songs and Letters, I wrote about my growing-up place as it was — or, perhaps more accurately, as I was, and am, except for a thousand changes mean and profound, down to the sound of my voice and the rhythm of my worn out shoes. . Highway 99, San Joaquin Valley, California In the old times, before roads and barns and dams and ditches, a giant […]

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